With the Season 4 premiere of ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fast approaching on September 20, all the hype is focused on Ghost Rider (who, of course, isn't Nicolas Cage — or even Johnny Blaze; Gabriel Luna is playing the Robbie Reyes version of the character). Episode titles and synopses are finally being revealed, which provide hints as to where the conflict between humans and Inhumans is going.
Daisy "Quake" Johnson is once again at the forefront of the conflict, fighting to save her Inhuman brethren. But this upcoming season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be the toughest Daisy Johnson has faced yet, now that Ghost Rider is presumably on the hunt for her. Here's the press release for the premiere episode, "The Ghost":
In light of the Sokovia Accords, and with Hydra obliterated, S.H.I.E.L.D. has been legitimatized again and no longer needs to operate in the shadows. Since the world presumes that Coulson is dead, the organization needed a new Director (Jason O’Mara) to be the face of the organization. Coulson finds himself back in the role as an agent and teamed with Mack, and together they are tasked with tracking down and confirming the presence of Enhanced people, aka Inhumans. Agent May is tasked with training specialist strike teams... In the season premiere episode, “The Ghost,” Ghost Rider is coming, and S.H.I.E.L.D will never be the same.
And here's the synopsis for the second episode:
In "Meet the New Boss,” Daisy sets out to battle Ghost Rider, but at a terrible cost; the new director's bold agenda shocks everyone.
Is Ghost Rider An Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D.?
So, the task placed on S.H.I.E.L.D. will be to detain Enhanced, specifically Inhumans. And Daisy finds herself in a "battle" with Ghost Rider.
With an impending conflict when the two meet each other on-screen, Daisy and Robbie Rider are going to have to find a peaceful way to resolve their differences (but not before they spend a fair amount of time throwing punches at each other). So what are they battling over in the first place?
Taking into account that Daisy is now a fugitive and that S.H.I.E.L.D. is reigning in Enhanced fugitives, Daisy is most likely S.H.I.E.L.D.'s most wanted. She's been good at avoiding detection and capture, evident by her travels, as hinted at during the "6 Months Later" clip.
Being in that position places a lot of heat on her — perhaps even the heat of a flaming skull. Someone more capable is going to be called in to take on the job of bringing her in, and that is where Robbie Reyes' Ghost Rider may fit into the picture.
Is Ghost Rider Himself S.H.I.E.L.D.'s "Bold Agenda"?
The subtext hinted at within the line "the director's bold agenda shocks everyone" may tell us all we need to know, if he's decided to recruit the young Ghost Rider, Robbie Reyes, as a bounty hunter of sorts — making him solely responsible for detaining/eliminating Enhanced, specifically Daisy Johnson.
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Since Daisy is on S.H.I.E.L.D.'s most wanted list and the episode synopsis for Episode Two has already revealed the impending battle between Daisy and Robbie, it stands to reason that someone from S.H.I.E.L.D. is responsible for sending the Ghost Rider in. And if so, that person must be the new director of S.H.I.E.L.D., portrayed by Jason O'Mara.
So What's The "Terrible Cost" Daisy Will Pay?
The episode synopsis indicates that Daisy's battle with Ghost Rider will come at a terrible cost, which likely means more casualties of the Inhuman kind. Although it's also possible that Daisy's father will be the cost paid.
In Marvel Comics, Daisy's father Calvin Zabo (a.k.a. Mr. Hyde) is one of Robbie Reyes's first adversaries as the Ghost Rider. Zabo is eventually defeated, and something similar could plausibly take place on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., only with a much more grim ending for Zabo.
Knowing that Daisy is going to start a fight with Ghost Rider that ends in tragedy, that debt may be paid with her father's life. And that's probably just the beginning. Daisy won't be the only one on Ghost Rider's target list; whoever is responsible for recruiting Robbie Reyes will probably have more targets in mind.
Is Robbie Reyes On The Hunt For All Enhanced?
The new S.H.I.E.L.D. director initiating a "bold agenda" all but says that he's going on a genocidal mission for all Enhanced. With Ghost Rider at his disposal, he'd have the only tool he needs. But an even more sinister agenda might be at hand, if he wants the entire Inhuman population eliminated — but that's purely speculative at the moment.
What's obvious is that Reyes has been recruited by the new director to capture Daisy Johnson, which means he probably has full status as an agent for S.H.I.E.L.D. To prove that, we simply need to take a look at a new promotional teaser for the upcoming season, indicating that Ghost Rider is known to the public and has been identified as a registered Enhanced, under the Sokovia Accords:
Why Is Ghost Rider So Well-Known to the Public?
Remember, the press release told us that "S.H.I.E.L.D. has been legitimatized again and no longer needs to operate in the shadows." Meanwhile, Ghost Rider's existence isn't a secret; he likely has become famous through public recognition for his "talents." Has Reyes become acknowledged as the first Enhanced agent for S.H.I.E.L.D.?
His affiliation with the organization is still quite mysterious. We don't know what circumstances have brought Robbie Reyes to the steps of S.H.I.E.L.D. But they may stem from his own comic-book origins...
How Different Is This Ghost Rider from the Marvel Comics Version?
In Marvel comics, Robbie Reyes has own his personal motivations for using the Ghost Rider possession, from taking down local gangsters to winning illegal street races. But when priorities came calling, Robbie always put his brother Gabe first; he had the constant urge to look out for his brother.
In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., his motivations might be similar, as Fear the Walking Dead star Lorenzo James Henrie will play Robbie's brother. Co-showrunner Jed Whedon explained, "We can’t say much about what we’re going to do with [Robbie Reyes’] origin, but we are doing our own spin on it.”
Altering his origin with "our own spin" could work positively for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. There's greater potential for the character to be rewritten as an Inhuman to fit within the current theme of the series. But this new version of Robbie Reyes will likely incorporate elements from the comics as well, as he has striking similarities to his comic book counterpart.
Like in the comics, Robbie's brother Gabe will likely be his sole motivator. Could S.H.I.E.L.D. detain Gabe, leaving Robbie with no other option than to work for them, becoming the sole Enhanced responsible for detaining/eliminating unregistered Enhanced? (S.H.I.E.L.D.'s methods of manipulation have been apparent since the organization first appeared in 2008's Iron Man; those same types of tactics could be utilized to coerce Robbie Reyes to do the government's dirty work.)
Or Is Ghost Rider A Lone Wolf Out For His Own Vengeance?
It's also possible that Robbie's brother will be incorporated as a victim of an Inhuman attack, which drives Robbie to enact revenge on all he sees guilty of the same types of crimes — mainly Inhumans. In that scenario, S.H.I.E.L.D. wouldn't even have to manipulate him for their own purposes.
Either way, Ghost Rider is undoubtedly going to make the biggest statement in the upcoming season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. With information still scarce, the small tidbits are hinting at Reyes's introduction as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, but if so, that doesn't mean he'll always work for them.
For all we know, the new season might conclude with Robbie Reyes joining Daisy Johnson's Inhuman cause — but that may be hoping for too much. We'll just have to wait and see where his destiny is taking him when Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns to ABC on Tuesday, September 20.