Jeffrey Mace and a team of armed S.H.I.E.L.D. troops arrives to arrest Daisy and Robbie. We also learn how Robbie became the Ghost Rider in the first place and see how his brother was paralyzed.
Tropes in this episode:
- Ambiguously Evil: Jeffrey when he orders Simmons to do some work for the U.S. government without telling her any details, and forcing her to wear a black hood on the way to the location. Simmons discovering that Jeffrey has lied about his actions during the Vienna bombing and the Deal with the Devil with Senator Nadeer put him under suspicion.
- Arbitrary Skepticism: Discussed after Jeffrey sees Robbie transform into Ghost Rider.Jeffrey: Is he Inhuman?
Coulson: Claims he made a deal with the Devil.
Fitz: Which is nonsense.
Coulson: You know, the rationalist in me wants to agree, but... the skull on fire presents a pretty compelling argument for "Hail Satan."
- Back from the Dead: Robbie honestly believes that he died in the crash that crippled his brother and that he was brought back when he agreed to become the Rider.
- Beyond the Impossible: Not only can the Darkhold-inspired machine create matter from energy, it breaks the first law of thermodynamics by producing more energy than it takes to power the machine, which is noted by Eli. Apparently, the interdimensional energy that the Darkhold lets the scientists access gives the machine the necessary energy.
- Broken Pedestal: When witnessing Robbie's brutal beatdown on Jeffrey, his brother is horrified and demands to be taken away.
- Call-Back: The experiments with the Darkhold are specifically compared to Isodyne's Zero Matter research.
- Catchphrase Interruptus: Jeffrey tries his trust Catchphrase on Simmons as he's sending her off on a mission of dubious motive, giving her a black hood to put over her head and not even giving her time to pack up for it.Jeffrey: A team that trusts is a team that—
- Continuity Nod: Some of the equipment in the original experiment involving the Darkhold was manufactured by Isodyne. Ftiz even mentions that Agent Carter and the SSR conducted research into "Zero Matter" or "Darkforce".
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Ghost Rider vs Jeffrey Mace. Inhuman or not, the Director is soon playing the role of the Spirit of Vengeance's punching bag. To his credit, Mace does get a few good hits in before the Rider overpowers him, and his resilience allows him to walk away from the beating without a mark to show for it.
- Deader Than Dead: Lucy, already a ghost, is killed by Ghost Rider.
- Deal with the Devil: We actually see how Robbie's played out — the Locos attempted a hit on Robbie and Gabe, thinking they were Eli because they were joyriding in his car, and caused a crash which paralyzed Gabe and sent Robbie flying through the air. Before he hit the pavement, Robbie prayed to every deity he could think of for help, and his prayers were answered when a voice asked him if he'd do anything to get revenge. When he said yes, another Ghost Rider (possibly Johnny Blaze) appeared and passed its power along to him.
- Double Meaning: When Lucy mistakes Robbie for his brother, Robbie says that he is "the other one". The first meaning is that he is the other nephew; the second one references Gabriel's namesake and ties in with the Hellfire burning in Robbie's eyes.
- Enemy Mine: Director Mace makes clear his discomfort in having to work with a murderer who just assaulted him, but Coulson points out that they're literally incapable of stopping Robbie and he's the only one with the power to end the ghost threat. They have no choice but to work with him.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Despite his primary goal being taking the Darkhold's power for himself and having tried to murder all of his co-workers, Eli still seems concerned for the thousands of innocent lives they are endangering, as opposed to Lucy who dismisses the risk as not her concern.
- Evil All Along: Eli has been after the power of the Darkhold since the original experiment, and he was the one who killed the others.
- Exact Words: Coulson tells Mace that Daisy and Robbie aren't in the plane. Mace sees right through it: they're not in the plane, they're in the containment module hanging from the underbelly. He's visited often enough to notice the module's absence.
- A God Am I: Eli accuses Joseph of wanting to "play God", though he secretly wants that power for himself.
- Godzilla Threshold: Since he is their only weapon against the ghosts, Jeffrey and Coulson agree on joining forces with Robbie, despite both of them agreeing that he needs to pay for his actions.
- Hero Antagonist: Jeffrey is out to bring both Daisy and Robbie to justice. While he understands that Coulson is protecting Daisy, a former agent, he doesn't have the same understanding for joining forces with Robbie, a dangerous murderer. His first priority as the director is not to give the public a reason to mistrust S.H.I.E.L.D. after all.
- Hypocrite: Jeffrey chews out Coulson for not keeping him in the loop, but it falls flat since he himself frequently keeps his agents in the dark about his plans.
- Internal Reveal: Gabe learns that Robbie is the Ghost Rider.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Jeffrey is as obstructive as possible to the team but even Coulson agrees with his desire to see Robbie pay for what he has done once the business with Lucy Bauer is dealt with. Jeffrey even points out that if Coulson had just been straight with him from the beginning, he might have worked with Coulson to go easy on at least Daisy. Of course, he's also miffed because Coulson's secret-keeping got him blackmailed by Nadeer.
- Mistaken for Murderer: Inverted Trope. When Gabe first is brought on to the Zephyr One, he doesn't immediately put together that Robbie is the Ghost Rider. Instead, he has a completely different, much happier reaction.Gabe: I can do the math. The nights you're away, the blood on your clothes, now this?
Robbie: I wanted to tell you. For a long time. Just how do you tell your brother that you're a...
Gabe: A secret agent!
- Mugging the Monster: Lucy decides to pick on Robbie, failing to realize that something took out three of her ghost friends. She pays for that mistake.
- Mythology Gag: The previous Rider, who gave Robbie his powers, is shown riding a motorcycle, implying he's Johnny Blaze, or possibly Danny Ketch. Though since a poster of the Quentin Carnival and Marvel Studios tried to reach Nicolas Cage to briefly reprise the role, it's most likely the former.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Lampshaded with Zero Matter/Dark Force.Mack: Who names these? Is there a focus group for evil things?
- No Conservation of Energy: The experiment that was produced using the Darkhold research was for producing matter out of energy — and somehow was producing more matter than the amount of energy put in could possibly make. Eli says this is impossible and that leads him to learning about Darkhold making it possible.
- No-Sell: Ghost Rider is shot several times with Icers. He doesn't even seem to notice, much less suffer their effects.
- The Nothing After Death: Robbie says he saw only darkness after he died.
- Nothing Personal: Lucy tells Robbie that both the hit and her trying to kill him now aren't personal; they were meant for Eli.
- Not So Different: When Lucy faces Robbie, she tells him that he has the same "fire" as Eli. Robbie assures Lucy that he's nothing like his uncle. He's worse.
- Not So Stoic: Jeffrey's calm attitude is put to the test when Robbie transforms into Ghost Rider; he's visibly afraid in contrast to the more experienced Coulson.
- Oh, Crap!: As always, this is the default reaction to Ghost Rider emerging. Especially when he becomes the first person/entity to punch his way out of a S.H.I.E.L.D. containment module.
- Pet the Dog: Eli at least tries to warn Coulson that staying would be a bad idea. Coulson is too noble to let Eli do as he pleases, though, so he gets zapped by the machine.
- Reality Warper: After using the machine on himself with five of the six quantum power cells hooked up to it, Eli gains the ability to create matter out of nothing.
- The Reveal: The episode features several:
- Joseph ordered the hit that crippled Gabe, which was meant for Eli.
- Eli was the one who turned Lucy and the others into ghosts, and wanted the power for himself.
- Robbie got his abilities from another Ghost Rider, heavily implied to be the MCU version of Johnny Blaze.
- Shout-Out: Coulson and Jeffrey briefly discuss Star Wars, specifically bringing up Han Solo and Admiral Ackbar.
- Tempting Fate: Both Coulson and Fitz insist that the containment cell will hold up to Robbie's assault. Worse still, Fitz doubles down on that assessment after Coulson is starting to doubt it can hold Ghost Rider in full Flaming Skull mode. Sure enough, he bashes through the doors moments after Fitz makes that proclamation.
- Title Drop: Gabe utters the very title of this episode during his conversation with Robbie and Daisy.
- This Cannot Be!:
- Fitz's reaction to seeing Ghost Rider break out of the containment cell.
- Lucy's reaction when she sees that Ghost Rider can touch her.
- Ungrateful Bastard: Coulson tries negotiating with Robbie when he's in Flaming Skull mode as he's beating Jeffrey to death and the new director just chews out Coulson for it.
- Wham Episode: Ghost Rider's backstory is revealed, Director Mace orders Simmons taken to places unknown, Lucy is killed, Eli Morrow is revealed as the real Big Bad and gains the ability to manifest matter in the process, and Coulson, Fitz, and Robbie are missing by the episode's end as a side effect of the procedure that gives Eli powers. Also, there was a four-week hiatus until the next episode is aired.
- Wham Line: When Coulson and Eli are talking about the quantum machine.Coulson: Can you help us dismantle it?
Eli: Yes, of course. But why would I, when it's taken me this long to achieve?
- Wham Shot: When Robbie is telling the backstory of how he became Ghost Rider and gets to the point where he says "the Devil" came for him, it is revealed that "the Devil" is another Ghost Rider in a leather jacket, quite possibly Johnny Blaze considering the motorcycle.
- The Worf Effect: Robbie not only gives Jeffrey a beatdown, but is also the first person to ever break out of the containment module. Defeating these two opponents makes him, hands down, the most powerful character in the TV series.