[SPOILERS for those not caught up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ahead.]
In more ways than one, season 4 of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been wildly different from its previous three. Moved to a later time slot, the series has been able to go to much darker places than it ever has before, and the show's creative team haven't wasted the opportunities either. Starting off with the addition of Gabriel Luna's Robbie Reyes/Ghost Rider, the series introduced a character who was literally the spirit of vengeance and who could force the series' main characters to question their own morality, while simultaneously adding a previously non-existent element of magic and mysticism to the series that wasn't there before.
However, the series is done with its Ghost Rider storyline (for now, anyways) after bringing the relationship between Robbie and his villainous uncle, Eli Morrow, to an end. Now, the second half of season 4 is set to be LMD-heavy, as AIDA and Dr. Ratcliffe manipulate and attack the series' main group of heroes in an attempt to accomplish an evil plan of their own; even though the overall endgame for that plan has not been made clear, as of yet.
Following an eventful midseason premiere last week as well, a brand new clip from next week's episode, 'The Patriot', has been released online; showing Mack, Mace, and Coulson experiencing some unexpected turbulence while aboard their aircraft. Judging by the clip's implications and the discussion the three characters are having when it happens too, it's highly likely that the turbulence is a whole lot more than just some kind of technical malfunction.
At first, the idea that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was already done with its Ghost Rider storyline by the time it reached its midseason finale, might cause some disappointment amongst the show's fans; especially considering the exciting mythology that the series teased regarding the past Ghost Riders, that seemed like they were practically begging to be explored sometime down the line. However, the LMD storyline is already shaping up to be an entirely different, yet maybe just as interesting, beast in its own right. Not only is it noticeably cheaper for the series to have humanlike androids as its villains, instead of CGI-mandatory men with flaming skulls for heads, but it's yet another interesting way for the series to test the dynamics and trust between the members of the core S.H.I.E.L.D. team.
Near the end of last year's midseason finale, it had seemed like Daisy, Coulson, Mack, and the rest of the S.H.I.E.L.D. characters were finally settling into their positions once again (after some major shakeups at the end of season 3 and beginning of season 4), before everything was thrown into chaos (for the viewer) once again - with the reveal that May had been replaced with an LMD version of her. Now, whether or not the LMD storyline is able to pack the same dramatic punch as Robbie Reyes' is a mystery for the time being, but it's already giving the team more trouble faster than some fans might have thought, and its potential is equally as intriguing as any other direction the series could go in. If done well, at least.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 4 continues Tuesday, January 17 with 'The Patriot' at 10:00 pm on ABC.