SPOILERS for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ahead
The latest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., 'The Return', welcomes back fan-favorite season 4 character Ghost Rider. This season of ABC's Marvel TV series has been split into three distinct storylines, with the first introducing Robbie Reyes aka Ghost Rider (Gabriel Luna), the second following Life-Model Decoys, particularly Aida (Mallory Jansen), and the the third taking the agents inside the Framework. A simulated version of reality, but with some major changes to history, the Framework has given Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. the chance to bring back a number of characters from the show's previous seasons, like Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) and Antoine Triplett (B.J. Britt).
However, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 4 has now left the Framework behind - with the exception of Mack (Henry Simmons), who stayed inside to live with the simulated version of his daughter Hope, and Yo-Yo (Natalia Cordova-Buckley), who entered the digital world to try to get Mack to return home. As the show gears up for the season 4 finale next week, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is moving pieces into place, and in the case of one character, that means bringing them back from an alternate dimension.
In the final moments of this week's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode, Ghost Rider returned from the dimension to which he dragged Eli Morrow (Jose Zuniga) in the earlier season 4 episode, 'The Laws of Inferno Dynamics'. The next to last scene of 'The Return' sees General Glenn Talbot (Adrian Pasdar) leading his team through the rubble of S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ looking for any survivors from Aida's attack, and the camera pans to a portal that opens, allowing Ghost Rider to step through - fiery chain and all.
Of course, it was revealed last week that Ghost Rider would return to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and confirmed by the season 4 finale episode synopsis, which teased an "explosive" battle as Coulson and the agents attempt to stop Aida from ending the world. The aptly titled episode, 'World's End', is seemingly poised to conclude season 4 by bringing together all the major aspects of the season's three major storylines. With Ghost Rider back, S.H.I.E.L.D. facing an LMD army in the many Ivanovs, and Aida given a human body with Inhuman powers thanks to the Framework, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has moved all the pieces from season 4 into place for a climactic battle.
Still, Ghost Rider's brief reappearance in 'The Return' doesn't give us much to go on beyond the fact that he's back. It's unclear whether he's still an ally to S.H.I.E.L.D. and if he's willing to help them face off against Aida. There's no telling how his time in the other dimension has changed the Rider - or Robbie for that matter. Additionally, since Luna is listed as a guest star for the episode, it remains to be seen whether his character will return for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 5 (that is, if the show gets an official renewal) or if Ghost Rider will get a solo series spinoff. Once the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 4 finale airs, we'll know more about how Ghost Rider fits in and what's in store for the character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 4 concludes Tuesday, May 16 with ‘World's End’ at 10pm on ABC.