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"The Laws of Inferno Dynamics" has brought us to this year's mid-season break for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and the episode was everything it needed to be; it brought events to a dramatic climax, pitting Ghost Rider against Eli Morrow but finding the time to give every team-member a chance to shine.
More importantly, though, the mid-season break also set up a phenomenal number of arcs for after Christmas. Here they are in all their glory!
1. The Increasing Importance of Yo-Yo
Mostly a background character before the mid-season break, Yo-Yo's profile is about to get a significant boost, courtesy of a surprise six-episode digital series! Meanwhile, "The Laws of Inferno Dynamics" showed Mack finally acting on his long-repressed attraction to Yo-Yo, moving the character closer to the spotlight for after the mid-season break. With Ghost Rider gone (for now), Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. should have more time to focus on this popular Inhuman.
2. Ghost Rider is Sure to Return
Speaking of Ghost Rider, whenever a superhero disappears in a scene like that you're left with one question: When will they be back? I mean, sure, he's been sucked into a Hell-dimension, but as Agent Coulson remarks: Ghost Riders have gotten out of those before.
Of course, the real question is whether or not Ghost Rider will be alone when he returns...
3. Don't Forget Gabe
In order for Ghost Rider's sacrifice to mean something it has to be brought home by revisiting the sole surviving member of the Rodriguez family — poor Gabe, who's lost both his (insane) uncle and his protective brother. I refuse to believe that S.H.I.E.L.D. will leave this kid in the lurch, and keeping an eye on Gabe will also provide a neat way of bringing Ghost Rider back into the fold when he blazes a trail back to our level of reality.
4. The War With the Watchdogs
A strange blend of the alt-right movement and the anti-mutant Friends of Humanity, the Watchdogs are an anti-Inhuman paramilitary group with some serious political sway. Jeffrey Mace's decision to declare Quake an undercover operative may have taken the wind out of their sails for now, but they're sure to cause more trouble sooner or later. In fact, his claim that Quake was focused on the Watchdogs has just upped their public profile as a very real threat, and they may well become more dangerous than ever.
5. Welcome Back, Daisy
It's good to have Daisy Johnson back in S.H.I.E.L.D. where she belongs, but how will she settle into the new, reorganized and seriously bureaucratic S.H.I.E.L.D.? How will she handle being under the command of Jeffrey Mace? And just what does Daisy's "Blue" lanyard mean?
It seems clear that Mace plans Daisy to play a unique role in S.H.I.E.L.D., as Simmons says there's never been a Blue lanyard before. But what will that role be?
6. What's Next for Jeffrey Mace?
Reinvented as an Inhuman in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., over in the comics Jeffrey Mace was actually one of a handful of people to take up the mantle of Captain America! It's fitting, then, that the costume he wore in "The Laws of Inferno Dynamics" was based on a costume Steve Rogers wore in the comics when he was commander of S.H.I.E.L.D.. But, with his leadership in crisis, what's next for Jeffrey Mace?
The position of Captain America is still open right now, and I can't help wondering if he'll pick up the shield for a while. Sure, we're all expecting Steve Rogers to reclaim his legendary mantle in #InfinityWar, but there's no reason that shield couldn't be put to good use in the meantime...
7. Rebuild Trust
Finish the sentence for me: "A team that trusts..."
S.H.I.E.L.D. may have triumphed, but the complete lack of trust has been exposed. Coulson made Mace Director, and then proceeded to go behind his back, second-guessing him at every turn. Trust needs to be rebuilt, and that's got to be S.H.I.E.L.D.'s main priority right now.
Of course, this is the worst possible time to have to rebuild trust — when nobody is necessarily quite what they seem..
8. The LMDs and Aida
Affected somehow by the Darkhold, Aida clearly has a sinister agenda all of her own. In an earlier post, I've speculated that this arc may be loosely inspired by the classic comic book event "Secret Invasion", where doppelgangers replaced the world's superheroes. Only time will tell whether or not my suspicions are correct, but whatever the case may be, this is clearly the overarching narrative of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. after the mid-season break.
9. Don't Forget the Darkhold
An ancient mystical tome, the power of the Darkhold was really what kicked off this whole series, as its arcane knowledge lead to some pretty creepy, dimension-shattering experiments! Given that Aida's gone rogue after being exposed to the Darkhold's influence, only time will tell if the 'Book of Sins' has even more dangerous secrets to reveal...
Let me give you an idea of the possibilities: In the comics, spells from the Darkhold are responsible for the creation of vampires and werewolves! There really are no limits to where Marvel could go with this one.
The next half of Season 4 has a lot of plot elements to juggle, but we have every reason to be confident, as the first half has been stellar. Whether you're talking about a continued focus on the supernatural (certain), an android infiltration of S.H.I.E.L.D., or a dangerous paramilitary group, S.H.I.E.L.D. has a lot to deal with in 2017!