Has it really been this long since Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ended? Truth is, it’s actually been longer than you think. (You’ll get that in a minute.)
We left off season four with a broken team stumbling out of the virtual world The Framework and barely defeating Ophelia – the genetically engineered Inhuman made from the artificial intelligence of the android AIDA. (Think of her like a super-evil Vision.) Former-director Jeffrey Mace and Dr. Holden Radcliffe died as heroes. Director Phil Coulson made a mysterious pact with the Spirit of Vengeance to temporarily become Ghost Rider – and finally got with Agent Melinda May after all these years. Agents Alphonso “Mack” Mackenzie and Elena “Yo-Yo” Rodriguez started planning a family after the re-death of Mack’s daughter Hope. Agents Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons were thrown in turmoil after Fitz was brainwashed into loving Ophelia and committing unspeakable horrors. Agent Daisy “Quake” Johnson doesn’t know how to feel after experiencing a new life – one with Grant Ward and Antoine “Trip” Triplett still alive. The Inhuman Vijay Nadeer and the evil self-cloning android known as “The Superior” are still out there.
Oh, and now the team was captured by a shadowy government-like agency and are in seemingly in space.
Bring on season five!
Our episode starts with just a regular day in the life of Enoch – you know, the guy who kidnapped the team at the end of last season. He wakes up, grabs some protein shakes from his fridge laden with child’s drawings, goes for a morning swim, takes his skin off, scrubs his alien body in the shower, dresses, and goes to work. He drives to a discreet hangar and enters a disguised truck full of soldiers, where they drive to Rae’s Diner and – as we saw last season – cut the power, freeze time and arrest Coulson and his team, wrapping them in plastic dry-clean bags. However, what we didn’t see last season is that they left one behind – “they weren’t on the list”.
The team wakes up later in a dark room. At least, some of the team. Taking inventory, we can see that Coulson, Mack, May and Simmons are not the one left behind (leaving Daisy, Fitz and Yo-Yo as our possibilities). They see a large stone in the center of the room, similar to the Monolith from season three or Eldrac from Inhumans, but white and with red horizontal lines cut through it. It melts, engulfing the team. But where does it teleport them to?
Space. The final frontier.
Coulson arrives in the space station as time is frozen. It looks like he came at a bad time too, as three horrified men are in the process of being sucked out of a broken window into space. Suddenly time unfreezes, and Coulson manages to hold on long enough for one to close a bay door – though one mercenary is sucked into space. As it turns out, the taller mercenary cracked the window to kill something, but Coulson interrupts their conversation. The shorter mercenary is starstruck – Agent Coulson of S.H.I.E.L.D. is here to save them. Coulson demands answers, but something makes a noise and the taller merc demands they leave. The shorter one wants to wait for the rest of Coulson’s party to show up, but the taller merc heads out and is instantly killed by a creature. Coulson orders the remaining merc to give him answers. He explains that his name is Virgil, and he is a True Believer (nod for all you Stan Lee fans) – he believes that Coulson has come to save them. Those creatures are called vrellnexians (Thor comic fans, anyone?) but they call them “roaches”, and they surf gravity storms.
Suddenly, Mack shows up and punches Virgil out. Coulson says he was trying to get answers, and Mack explained that he saw a dirty dude with a gun standing over Coulson and he acted on impulse. He asks where they are, and Coulson says they are in space. Mack knocks on that fourth wall a bit, joking that going to space is “one thing they haven’t done yet.” They wonder where the others are.
Elsewhere, Yo-Yo teleports in to the station and is grabbed by someone with a gas mask. (Meaning either Daisy or Fitz is still on Earth.) She beats her attacker and tries to attack them with a knife from a nearby table before they take over their mask, revealing it’s Simmons. She says she was wearing a mask because she wasn’t sure if the air was safe, and gestures to the pile of bodies on the floor. Yo-Yo notes that they look like Incan mummies, and upon examination, Simmons deduces that they were drained of all fluids. They wonder what did this, when Coulson and Mack enter with the unconscious body of Virgil and tell them they are in space and aliens did this. (Simmons is pissed off that she’s in space again.) Simmons wonders what alien caused this, but Coulson wants to know who locked them in.
Suddenly, in the other room, a discount Star-Lord opens the the bay door and flies in through the broken window. His mask looks insanely similar to Tri-Borg from Mortal Kombat X.
In their new location, Mack and Yo-Yo are complaining that Coulson didn’t bring along his gadget hand, favoring a regular prosthetic. He explains that it would have been confiscated in jail, but Mack thinks he should have at least prepared and brought a hook hand. Mack is pissed off – he was in a digital prison a day ago and is “uncomfortable with the rate that they handle new trials and tribulations”. Yo-Yo asks if they are on a S.H.I.E.L.D. space station – doesn’t S.H.I.E.L.D. have a space division? S.P.E.A.R. or something? (Hitting us hard with those comic references – even if they don’t have the rights to say S.W.O.R.D.). Coulson complains that Virgil is still knocked out, and finds a flash-drive-like thing on his body and gives it to Simmons. He also finds a Lake Ontario postcard (Canada, represent) signifying that Virgil is from Earth.
If Coulson teleporting in was poor timing, May has poor location. In a different part of the station, May teleports into a pipe, with the pipe going straight through her leg and nailing her to the wall. As a roach growls nearby, she struggles to pull herself free using the clothing of a corpse nearby. The roach starts banging on the door, and May aggressively pulls herself free and pulls the pipe from her leg, wielding it as she hides behind it.
Virgil wakes up, and makes Mack, Yo-Yo and Simmons very uncomfortable by recognizing each of them and fan-boying over them a bit. They demand to know how he knows them, and he explains that he studied their history for years. They came to save them – no, not the space station from roaches. That was an anomaly. They came to save humanity. Suddenly, he is violently killed by a roach. They run from the many-legged creature, and Yo-Yo fires at it with Virgil’s laser rifle until she runs out of ammo. It lunges at the team when Daisy suddenly quakes it with her powers, exploding it.
Poor Fitz, left on Earth.
The roach kicks down May’s door, but it’s not a roach at all – it’s discount Star-Lord. He takes off his helmet and drags in the body of the mercenary sucked out of the airlock and loots it, as May hides in the shadows. He leaves the room and May steps out of the shadows, only when the man reveals he faked her out and is still in the room. They have a bad-ass fight, with May getting in some really good hits with her lead pipe and the man kicking May in her injured leg. He eventually affixes a small gravity device to May and sucks her to the far wall. He approaches and explains he wasn’t trying to hurt her, but she kicks him in the face, thinking he killed the people here. He stuffs a rag in her mouth and implants some sort of tracking chip called a Metric in her.
As the gang gets their bearings, Daisy asks Coulson what’s going on. She assumes whatever is happening is because of his deal with the Spirit of Vengeance, and is surprised to hear that Ghost Rider is not involved and Coulson is just as clueless as they are. Mack insists it’s magic, which Simmons thinks is ridiculous. She is panicking a bit, trying to convince herself that it is good that Fitz isn’t here. He’s probably trying to figure out a way to save them right now. Daisy tells them that she was the last to go through the teleporter, and that May is here too. Coulson and Daisy think they should split up to find her, but Mack and Yo-Yo hate that idea, saying that’s what happens in movies before they always die (starting with the black guy). Daisy tells Coulson it’s his call.
The team go together. Yo-Yo scouts up ahead, and finds a fresh flare. They make their way to the room where May was held, but she is gone – leaving a trail of blood. They find a water reservation system, where the station is drawing water from ice clouds in space. They realize this means they are on a colony, they have a shuttle at their disposal, and they are close enough to Earth to send a message. Daisy tries hacking the system, but it locks her out for being a human, in an unfamiliar alien language. As they begin to suspect this isn’t a human colony after all, a group of Kree kick down the door and capture the team.
In their jail cell, Daisy asks what they are going to do with Mack and Yo-Yo. The Kree responds that they broke the rules, so he will do whatever he wants. All they can do is beg for their lives as humans always do. He enters the next room, where Mack and Yo-Yo are tied up like slaughtered pigs. Mack asks the Kree if he speaks English, and he replies in the affirmative. Mack asks him to let Yo-Yo go, and he beats him saying he doesn’t want to hear English. In Spanish, Mack asks Yo-Yo how she think they feel about Spanish, and the Kree hits him again.
In the cell, Simmons deduces that this is probably an outpost for Kree to experiment on humans and potentially make new Inhumans. Suddenly, May and her kidnapper show up. He puts on a cheery voice and whispers for Coulson to go along with it, pretending that they are new here and under his watch, and they were scammed by Virgil so he could remove their Metrics for some credits. Coulson tells him that Virgil is dead, and he fakes happiness over this. He convinces the guard to let them go with him.
In Spanish, Mack keeps provoking the guards. Yo-Yo noticed his Spanish is improving, and he said it was mandatory at Hope’s school in the Framework. The guards keep beating him, but one stops the other and, in Kree, says that they should keep him alive to fight in the Crater or make a gift for Kasius. In English, they tell him they are sparing him and will let him go – but not Yo-Yo. They start freezing her with some sort of gas.
As the team leaves, May’s kidnapper introduces himself as Deke and asks if Virgil is really dead. He said he owed him a lot of credits for this job. Coulson tries to get answers from him on what is going on and how to escape, but Deke is being uncooperative. He tells them that Yo-Yo and Mack are good as dead, and they won’t be able to fly the shuttle – called a Trawler – without Virgil. May uses his own gravity weapon to suck him to the wall and asks him where the Trawler is and he tells them. Daisy goes to find Mack and Yo-Yo, Simmons and May leave to find the Trawler and Coulson stays to grill Deke.
Simmons and May take the elevator to where the Trawler is located, and experience the sheer size of the outpost and the amount of Kree living there. They realize that such a large Kree outpost so close to Earth studying humanity can only mean one thing: they are planning an invasion. Hiding from Kree patrols, they make their way to the hangar. Upon finding the Trawler, they realize they don’t have the key: until Simmons notices the drive they recovered from Virgil fits in the keyslot. May disengages and improvises the flight of the (gorgeous CGI) space shuttle.
Meanwhile, Daisy is looking for Mack and Yo-Yo, following the latter’s screams. Mack begs for them to stop torturing her when Daisy shows up and quakes the guards and frees Mack. He instantly grabs the Kree’s axe and swings at the guard and misses. Suddenly, Yo-Yo (still tied up) kicks the guard in the face. After a struggle, Mack kills one guard with the axe and Daisy quakes icicles to pierce the other. They regroup and decide to use the tracking information in the room find the Trawler.
Coulson asks Deke what the Kree want, and he is told “submission”. He asks if the Kree are planning to attack humanity, and this confuses Deke. Deke wonders why Coulson doesn’t know basic stuff about the outpost, like how it was originally built by humans. He asks Coulson where he’s from, and Coulson says Earth. He asks where specifically, and Coulson says Wisconsin. Deke thinks he is high.
As Daisy, Yo-Yo and Mack use the tracking information, Simmons realizes she recognizes all the constellations and Deke asks Coulson what year they were taken, they all come to the same conclusion: They are already at Earth, in the future. Simmons and May come across the ruins of the planet and Simmons tearfully declares there is no reason to send a message back to Earth. Mack notices that something is written on the Lake Ontario postcard from Virgil – a message from Fitz that he is working on saving them.
Woo, part one done and what a part one it was! This was like a soft-reboot of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that feels straight out of the comics – specifically, the Guardians of the Galaxy comic where Star-Lord, Cosmo, Bug, Mantis and Jack Flag are taken to the destroyed future to save humanity. It’s unique, it feels thematically connected to the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War, and it was gorgeously done.
The most comic-booky comic book show on television has returned!
This has got to be the strongest (part one of a) S.H.I.E.L.D. premiere yet! I give it an easy 9/10.
Stay tuned for part two, and be sure to check out my most recent Runaways review here!