Episodes 1 and 2 – Orientation 1 and Orientation 2
The long awaited season five premiere of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD finally blessed us on Friday, December 1. The two hour premiere can be described as a love letter to pop culture, especially recent pop culture. Melding together the playful heroic element that is endemic to Marvel properties (except for the Netflix series), it adds sci-fi operas like Star Wars and dystopian worlds like The Hunger Games to the mix. With such a long hiatus leaving off with the agents waiting to be punished for their involvement with the Framework, General Talbot’s shooting and Jeffrey Mace’s death, there was plenty of speculation as to what planet the team had been dropped off on, but after scanning the internet, it seems no one had pinned it down that they would be on Earth (or rather just in it’s orbit). And the show has its own discount Starlord.
While the agents of shield, minus Fitz, who apparently didn’t make the cut by the standards of the mysterious organization that sends them through space and time via monolith, grapple with their new reality. Coulson, Daisy, Jemma, May, Mack and Yo-Yo have found themselves hovering just above Earth some time in the future. The space station they are on is ran by the Kree who lead a tight order against the last of humanity. While the person with the answers, Virgil, is killed early on by a roach (Vrellnexians), the agents are left in the care of Deke and Tess, two human inhabitants of the Lighthouse to survive.
With the weird, but strangely beautiful opening number accompanied by Talking Heads’ ‘This Must Be the Place,’ it was clear from the start that Agents of SHIELD would be very different this season. And it is not a bad different in the slightest. It also raises questions of whether or not this is somehow tying in to Avengers: Infinity War; after all we do see the end of the world caused by some catalytic event. Deke posits that it was Daisy’s fault, that she quaked the world apart, but there is something about this statement that feels untruthful.
The creative team behind Agents of SHIELD dished out some great writing, particularly in storyline and in Mack’s one-liners (Coulson: How hard did you hit him? Mack: What do you mean? As hard as I possibly could.) They even managed to keep the Framework storyline relevant by making it Deke’s side hustle. Noticeably absent from the episode is Fitz, but he does appear in a scrawled message on a postcard that was found on Virgil. It is likely that we won’t see Fitz for some time but hopefully we’ll get the Fitzsimmons reunion of a lifetime, especially after Jemma has been enslaved as a ‘servant’ by a creepy Kree overlord named Kasius. He definitely tugs on ruthless Roman emperor vibes.
For the rest of the SHIELD agents, they have their own set of problems to figure out, with the priority being getting back to their own time and setting the world right again. May is also dealing a nasty leg injury, which is a work around against actor Ming-na Wen’s actual knee injury. Even so, the show still delivered on a (several) kick ass Agent May scenes.
The new cast members that have joined also throw a wrench into the plan. There’s Tess, who is intelligent and tough but also wary of the rules she’s given. There’s Deke, who as aforementioned is kind of like a discount Starlord, except he’s more concerned with not dying then saving the world. We also briefly meet the gruff Grill who seems to have the best handle of how to survive in the Lighthouse. He installs the metrics in the agents and nearly gets Coulson, Yo-Yo and Mack killed when the Kree pull a Renewal on them.
In addition to the intriguing world building, the episodes are accompanied by some fantastic VFX and cinematography that pushes the boundaries of what television can do. It is a remarkable accomplishment, from the spaceship, the devastated remains of Earth and the aliens. Also enjoyable was the nifty killer metal balls of Kasius’s right hand Kree named Sinara, who takes down a human who unintentionally mauled one of his servants, and later that servant for not being perfect.
There is no telling what’s in store for this season of Agents of SHIELD, however, if these two episodes are any indication of what’s to come it is sure to be entertaining television at its best. The show is airing at its new day and time, Fridays at 8pm EST.