We return to a divided SHIELD. Mack and Coulson are in the field; Elena is basically a contractor; May trains a new team in vicious hand-to-hand combat; Fitz is in the laboratory, and while Simmons spends a lot of time with him there (and at home – they are living together), she has been promoted to the new director’s right-hand. We have not seen the new director, nor do we hear a name. May doesn’t like the new setup, and she seems bitter that Simmons now has a higher security clearance than she does. They actually fight over this, until Simmons explains that she doesn’t like the new setup, either, but the only way she can think to retain some control over the agency is to play nice with the new director.
Daisy is in the wind, an outlaw known to the public as Quake. Though Coulson is forbidden from working on Daisy’s case, he is consumed with rescuing her from herself, and bringing her back into the fold. Daisy is in Los Angeles, following up on some mysterious case that the Aryan Brotherhood was hired to steal for the Chinese mafia. Daisy crosses paths with the Aryans as they are fleeing the theft via truck – not from Daisy, but from something else entirely. Daisy beats up one guy, who begs her for help. “He got me. He’ll kill us all.” A classic 1969 Charger appears, and races towards the Aryan’s car. One of the gangsters shoots a rocket launcher at the Charger. It lights on fire and flips through the air – but it lands, still running, and careens forward on fire. The fire lights the Aryan’s truck’s gas leak, creating a wall of flames, cutting off Daisy’s view of the driver. The driver kills two of the Aryans, kidnaps a third, and leaves the beaten one to die. Through the flames, Daisy sees what appears to be a guy with a flaming head. As the cops pull up to the scene, Daisy launches herself into the sky.
Though they are not due back to HQ for another ten days, an urgent, top secret request comes in, and Mack and Coulson are returned to HQ. It was May who called them in to go after the “flame killer” and find out what his victims stole that was so important. She didn’t want this to go out over the wire because the surviving Aryan reported seeing Daisy at the scene. May figures that the boys will have a few hours head start to try to find her before the military does. Mack meets with Elena for intel, and she is aggressively flirty. Before things go too far, Coulson comes in – they found the stolen big rig.
Daisy pays the surviving Aryan a visit in the hospital. He is in critical condition, and worried about his buddies. He tells Daisy that they were paid for a smash-and-grab job, but he offers no further details on the job or the mysterious man of flames. “They say when the rider burns you, he burns your soul, and the soul can never heal.” He gets out of bed and drops dead. Daisy blasts her way out of the hospital before the cops can reach her. She boards a bus and meets covertly with Elena, who warns her Coulson is in town, and he is going to be looking for her. Elena also slips Daisy some fast bone healing pills she was able to steal from HQ. Daisy’s powers are taking a pretty big toll on her health.
Coulson and Mack find the big rig in a large warehouse. Coulson uses his fancy new bionic hand to X-ray the truck and discovers two corpses. Opening up the cargo area, there is a lot of blood, and two dead Chinese guys. It looks like they ripped each other to shreds. They must have become crazed when they came into contact with whatever was in the package. Using the emblem on the dead guys’ coveralls, Mack and Coulson manage to track down the men who now have the package and surveil the handoff via video. The Chinese mafia boss is mad when only two delivery men appear with the package. They explain the other two went berserk, and they had to put them down. The boss is furious that they didn’t cover their tracks, and figures that the men probably saw what was in the package and were fighting each other for it. He has been told it was powerful enough to bring enhanced persons to their knees.
Coulson doesn’t want to move in yet. He wants the situation to play out, see if anyone else appears. Code words for: let’s see if Daisy shows. The boss takes a peek at his new purchase, and his eyes grow wide. A shimmering plume of smoke billows out, and the boss and his men all take a big step back. A ghostly woman appears behind the boss, and whispers something about a “breath of fresh air.” The men all turn evil-looking: black eyes, veins, and wrinkles. The boss starts shooting, and Mack calls for backup. Simmons had already dispatched May and her team, so they appear as if by magic and sweep in, efficiently diffusing the situation. The ghost passes behind May. The Chinese men are taken aboard the jet, and the SHIELD team sets about sweeping the warehouse for signs of contagion as a tech team checks out the box – which appears to be empty.
Daisy has lost interest in whatever her initial job was. Now she wants to track down the Ghost Rider. She checks with her street contacts, and one sends her to a chop shop when she says she is looking for Charger parts for her boyfriend. Ghost Rider, having killed the Aryan dude he kidnapped, is getting ready to roll out when Daisy shows up. Ghost Rider introduces himself as Robbie, and blows her off. She tells him she will come back another day, and he relents, taking her to check out a sales book in the office. He walks behind her, ready to give her a beating, when Daisy turns and quakes him back. “So you’ve got the devil inside you, too,” he says. The two rush each other and start fighting. Ghost Rider insists he only kills those who deserve it, and he is not the one who decides. His face is consumed with flames, and the skin “burns” away, revealing a flaming burning skull. He tries to throw a shelving unit on her, which she keeps off her with her powers. Daisy goads him into killing her, saying she deserves it. He simply walks away. Using her powers so much has clearly taken a toll on Daisy.
The next day, Daisy is watching Robbie from a distance. She sees him helping his handicapped brother into a wheelchair, and she realizes he is much more complicated than she initially thought.
Meanwhile, Fitz goes over to Radcliffe’s home for a football game. A naked woman scares the hell out of him, and Radcliffe comes in, frantically covering her and shuts her down. This is Aida, a digital personal assistant. He just built her a body. Fitz is furious. As part of his pardon, Radcliffe is not allowed to experiment. Radcliffe wants Fitz’s help to get her to pass for human. He assures Fitz she is not a weapon. Booting Aida back up, she tells Fitz that she was designed to save agents, putting herself in harm’s way as a decoy target. She is also incapable of killing. Fitz is intrigued and agrees to help Radcliffe, but they can’t tell Simmons, because she would be forced to tell the new director about Aida. “Not until she is perfect.”
May and Coulson have a few quiet minutes together on the jet, playing a board game. May sees Coulson’s eyes get dark and scary. She blinks it away and blames her strained response to small talk on the fact that she has had a long day.
You can watch a clip from the premiere and a promo for next week’s episode by clicking here!