Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Season 5, Episodes 1 and 2, “Orientation”
After a long hiatus, an air date change, and reportedly narrowly escaping the Grim Reaper’s cancellation scythe, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. triumphantly returned with a two-hour season premiere. Season 5 effectively reboots the entire series (at least for now) with the team in space. The episode’s title has a double meaning because both characters and audience need to acclimate themselves to their new surroundings. Here’s everything you need to know about the latest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
What’s the scoop: After a quick sequence involving a skin-shedding alien and with a Talking Heads soundtrack, the action loops around to where Season 4 left off: the team in the diner having one last piece of pie before submitting to an unknown fate, presumably prison. We learn this fate leads them to a white monolith that transports them to a spacecraft in a scattered fashion. The first half of the premiere, they have some fun with old horror and sci-fi tropes while discovering they are in the future and the Earth has been blown apart. The second half, they find themselves figuring out the how to operate in on this claustrophobic lifeboat of humanity, a cross between Deep Space 9 and the Saviors’ Sanctuary on The Walking Dead.
Meanwhile in B-plot Land: During the course of their explorations, the team find themselves breaking into factions after their intended guide gets killed by alien “roaches.” Fitz didn’t make the trip, and is presumably working on a way to bring everybody back. Mack, YoYo, Coulson and May get wrapped up with a scavenger/smuggler/shopkeeper, and the Kree aliens running the place. Daisy follows a station resident named Deke, who has some con artist in him. Deke has also pieced together a version of the Framework that operates the prison cells in Hell on Preacher, and functions as a sort of holodeck/opium den. Finally, Jemma saves the life of a scrubbed and painted member of humanity’s elite class, which draws the attention of a creepy Kree who is captivated by her unscarred skin and knowledge as a healer. Jemma is indoctrinated into this upper class of humanity complete with flowing robes, a painted forehead and a sliver slug in her ear that deafens her, save for being able to hear the master’s voice. Of course we find out this upper class isn’t an upper class at all; it’s an interstellar brothel.
What about the action: There wasn’t any singular large fight sequence, but a series of well-choreographed smaller scenes that were an appropriate way to establish a place where there is danger lurking around every corner. The environment gave you the feeling that the team is just another handful of rats in an overcrowded cage. The space effects and the planetary debris field were spot-on.
One GIF says it all
What’s next: With the groundwork laid, it’s time for the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to save humanity, maybe. An interesting twist to Earth’s fate is that Deke has pieced together that it’s probable Daisy’s powers are what ripped the Earth apart, which could make her life in the lifeboat complicated, to say the least.
Last impressions: This is a bold new direction for a show that will cross the 100 episode mark before the season is over. It needed this two-part setup/premiere to do some world-building, which as we saw with the premiere of Marvel’s Inhumans, is easier said than done. Fortunately for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., we already care about these characters, so there are automatic stakes when they are placed in peril, as opposed to the “who are these people and why do I care?” reaction when Inhumans tried the same thing. Most importantly, the series’ creators had fun with the new sandbox they’ve put their characters in, which helped this setup episode do more to whet the appetite than dull the senses.