Season 4, Episode 22: World’s End
Starring: Clark Gregg, Jason O’Mara, Mallory Jansean, Henry Simmons, Elizabeth Henstridge, Adrian Pasdar
Deus Ex Ghost Rider! The fiery skull-head returns for a blistering season finale fight with Aida – though not always in the way we expect – while Yo-Yo searches for Mack in the Framework.
“I have a cybernetic hand and I’ve been to another planet. In S.H.I.E.L.D, these things happen”
Ghost Rider is badass. That much is established in every variant, in every universe, and it makes sense that not only is Robbie Reyes back for the season finale of this ultra-hot season of AoS, but he’s the only entity powerful enough to stop Aida.
There’s no denying that Robbie steals this episode from everyone else. The team, in fact, seems to take a bit of a back seat in comparison to the skeletal rampage of the Rider, though seeing Reyes at his angriest and most powerful is a sight to behold. Hell, he manages to power through a barrage of LMDs and almost kill Aida within the span of a few minutes and he didn’t even break a sweat. Well – he’s a skeleton, so the sweat here is figurative… still, he was impressive. The action scenes were as spot on as they’ve been all season and it will leave everyone with the biggest craving for a spin-off Ghost Rider series. With anti-heroes like Deadpool getting his own movie and Punisher getting a series, there’s hope for Robbie Reyes to have his own show too.
The price of Robbie’s awesomeness, however, does come a little high in terms of the villains this week. Aida has been a fantastic villain throughout and she seems to genuinely always be a step ahead, but The Superior, as mentioned last week, really should be renamed The Inferior. Besides being a bit of a boring villain who has little place alongside Aida’s intelligent, precise evil, he’s really just a little bit dumb. While the leaders of our world might not have our faith or trust (and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D has pulled no punches in talking about that recently), the idea that The Superior, who at this point is just some random villain showing up on their doorstep, could sell them the Darkhold as a viable plan is a little stupid. There’s been some ridiculous government policies in every country but this takes it a little too far – almost laughably so, which is unfortunate, since Aida had seemed so calculating and accurate throughout the series.
Aida eventually does manage to clean up his mess however, getting the episode back on track sharply by creating an LMD Daisy to be framed for shooting Talbot. There’s so much that could be done with Aida’s character that the knowledge that her plan was coming to an end was almost disappointing, although the writers still had a trick up their sleeve to surprise viewers for the final fight. No spoilers for that particular twist here, but it’s quite the fiery bombshell – and might have repercussions to come. It did feel a bit like a quick cut-off to Aida’s half-season long reign of terror but the show has definitely benefited from her time as a strong, clever villain.
The other core of the episode was Yo-Yo’s search for Mack. Teaming up with Radcliffe, her eventually reunion and desperate attempts to save him from the Framework gave the narrative some much needed emotional weight. The culmination of the Framework brings us once more to that theme that has carried throughout, against all odds. Love, whether platonic, romantic or familial, brought us into the Framework – and it gets us back out again. It may then be fitting that Radcliffe, so alone that he created his artificial beings to be as human as possible, didn’t make it out of his own creation. Maybe it’s narcissism at its finest (a trait that Radcliffe certainly possessed) and hubris – to be trapped in his own creation – but after being such an engrossing character to watch, one can’t help but feel that the scientist managed to redeem himself through how he dealt with the maturing of his inventions, rather than being blamed for their inception.
The very end of the season finale, of course, ends on a kicker. While a little out-of-the-blue, this season’s cliff-hanger is going to keep fans guessing for a long time to come, and may be a way to begin Marvel’s plan of conjoining TV and cinema, particularly with a certain few Guardians that have recently been saving our galaxy. For anyone speculating on the surprise ending – leave a comment below and tell us what your theories are!
This season has been the best in AoS’s run by far: Emotional, clever and well-written and willing to build and revolve around the already well-loved cast of characters. Fans can breathe a sigh of relief knowing the show has been renewed and hope that it continues on the up-and-up.