Let’s be honest, any episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that features a drag-race between Ghost Rider’s Hell-Charger and Phil Coulson’s ‘62 Corvette is going to be a good one. Even if nothing else were to have happened in the 42 minutes, “Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire,” would have been a favorite episode simply because of that automotive showdown.
Luckily for viewers, quite a bit did happen in the fourth episode of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s fourth season and, perhaps unsurprisingly, Lola V Charger wasn’t even the biggest showdown of the night.
Apparently all it takes to lure Jemma “I thought you were a genius” Simmons into an obvious trap is the promise of a breakfast nook and a few bay windows. While searching for the perfect FitzSimmons abode, Jemma finds herself face-to-face with her very injured former teammate.
As it turns out, Daisy was the person responsible for sending the, “too good to be true,” apartment advert to Jemma… with good reason too! She’s got a bullet in one arm and more visible lesions than is safe in the other. Evidently, stealing information from the Watch Dogs means taking a few scrapes and bruises along the way, and Daisy needs Doctor Simmons to patch her up.
More importantly, she needs Jemma to help her hack into the S.H.I.E.L.D. databases… and is willing to hold a gun to her former colleague to make it happen.
Because nothing says, “I miss you,” like a gun to the face, right?
Anyways, Jemma is totally down with helping Daisy (the gun is just so she can say she was forced to aid the wanted Inhuman during her mandatory lie detector tests) and the two manage to get into the S.H.I.E.L.D. database quickly enough to realize that James (remember the rando Aussie Hive-follower from last year?) is next up on the Inhuman hit-list.
Elsewhere, Robbie’s mysterious Uncle Eli makes his debut when Coulson visits him in prison to question him about whatever incident occurred at Momentum Labs. Unfortunately, Ghost Rider himself makes an appearance at the prison, prompting the epic drag race mentioned earlier. It’s a victory for team S.H.I.E.L.D. who manages to bring Robbie, and his ride, in and stick him in one of the containment modules. Though, he doesn’t stay locked up for long because Coulson promptly decides to make his own deal with the devil and release Reyes.
The plan? To initiate a team-up between the Rider and the Agency.
Both Robbie and S.H.I.E.L.D. want answers more than anything and Eli is the person who can provide them. Coulson asks Robbie to pay his uncle a visit and let them listen in on the conversation. Despite the tough-guy facade, Robbie actually seems to want to be at least a somewhat decent person, and unsurprisingly agrees to Coulson’s plan.
It actually works out pretty well and Robbie manages to get Eli to talk long enough to reveal what it is that Lucy and the other ghosts are likely after: the mysterious book.
In other not-at-all-surprising news, James is not a good guy, and is in fact working with the Watch Dogs to take out the Inhumans. Of course, Daisy and Jemma find this out the hard way when they meet him at his place of work (a fireworks shop… cue Daisy’s, “Well whoever’s running the terrible ideas division is crushing it.”) in an attempt to help him. He pays thanks by trying to blow them up and kill them with some fiery chains but…
Robbie arrives just in time to show James what controlling fire really looks like.
He, Coulson, and Mack got word about James and the Watch Dogs and promptly made their way to the storage facility to lend Daisy and Jemma a helping hand. The best team ever manages to take out the Watch Dogs, and keep James alive, all the while sharing some awkward glances and palpable tension.
“Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire,” was bar none the best episode of the season thus far. Much like my qualm with the most recent season of Arrested Development, the only bummer of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this season has been the fact that our favorite characters have been, for the most part, separated. Just to be clear, the show is still undoubtedly at its peak, but an ensemble cast this good should, you know, be an ensemble. The separation of these characters is entirely intentional and necessary for the storylines currently in play, but, at its core, this show is about a team. Meaning, when all of the puzzles slowly begin to reunite while maintaining the upward trajectory, it creates literal fireworks.
Pun entirely intended.
From a plot standpoint, we finally are getting somewhere with the mysterious ghosts, and yet the information being provided isn’t favored over action and character development. We got details on the Dark Hold and a car chase and a Daisy/Simmons team-up, AND May approves of Aida. The literal best.
This episode felt, in my eyes, like the epitome of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It was a perfect amalgam of the best aspects of each preceding season and felt like a simultaneously stripped-down and suped-up version of the show that we all love. With a perfect balance of humor, action, character relationships, and actual plot, “Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire,” is yet another indicator that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is at the top of its game.
Episode Grade: A
- Where’s my Daisy/Simmons buddy-investigator spin-off? I love these two as individuals but damn did I miss them as a duo. The women share a bond that can’t quite be articulated, a genuine friendship that reaffirms that some people choose their family, and I’m glad that so much of this episode’s storyline focued on them.
- The storylines are beginning to merge and I think I can speak for a significant number of people when I say that this is a very good thing. What’s so great about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the fact that it is an ensemble show that peaks when all of the core characters are actually together, meaning I was thrilled to see so many of my favorite people sharing scenes once again.
- Ghost Rider finally got his fiery chains and they looked pretty damn cool being whipped around. The battle royale between the show’s two resident flame-throwers was another win for the VFX department.
- I didn’t love (or even really like) Hellfire last year and, though I understand his powers alone provide reason for his reappearance, he’s definitely not the departed character that I would have chosen to come back to the show. In fact, with a, “Departed Characters,” list as long as S.H.I.E.L.D.’s… James doesn’t even crack the top ten of those warranting a return.
- Okay, obviously the Dark Hold is going to play into Doctor Strange so the question is… how?
- Jemma was born to boss people around.
- “Quake and the amazing Bomb Boy.” Next Marvel comic series?
What did you think about the latest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D? Do you agree that it was the best of the season so far? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments below!