Agents of SHIELD Season 5 Episode 1: Orientation Part 1 Recap

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Agents of SHIELD is back! In space! The one thing they haven’t done yet, TM Mack. With the Kree, the most vicious Blue Man Group impersonators known to this, or any other galaxy. And without Fitz. 😭 Jemma and I are nearly inconsolable, but it’s not our first rodeo time in space, so we will soldier on and use the scientific method to make the worst decisions possible, damn it.

But first, let’s rewind to discover how the team got into space. We follow a bald, middle-aged man going through his morning routine at his home, including going for a swim, drinking one of the peanut butter flavored nutritional shakes that are the sole contents of his fridge, and peeling off his human skin suit so that he can take a shower in his alien nakedness.

He has pictures on his fridge that look like they were drawn by a child. Stick figures of a man and a much shorter female. There is also a drawing of several people inside of a giant person. A delivery van under the moon. The camera lingers on the drawings.

He listens to the Talking Heads as he drives to work, where he meets a white delivery van in an airplane hangar. He picks out a beer label for the side of the van, then he and a strike team hop inside for their mission.

The van pulls up in front of the diner where the Agents of SHIELD are eating dinner. As we saw in last season’s finale, they freeze the cast and kidnap everyone. Except for Fitz, who’s not on the list. Coulson and the team are taken to another location, still frozen stiff, and wrapped in plastic. When they are unwrapped and thawed, they see a monolith like the one that transported Jemma to Maveth. Before they can react, the monolith melts into a dirty liquid, they are separated and transported onto a space station.

Confusion reigns. There are giant creatures that are awfully similar to Stranger Things 2’s demodogs running around. These are called Vrellnexians, or roaches for short. They quickly kill several of the people who brought the team to this space station, thwarting Coulson’s attempts to find out what the heck is going on.

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The space station is surrounded by meteors. Inside, it’s chaos, and appears abandoned. Coulson’s greeting party and superfan, Virgil, is trying to explain the situation when Mack appears and punches him into unconsciousness.

Elena and Yoyo appear in a separate room, with several dehydrated dead bodies. The team assumes the roaches did the draining, but we don’t see any behavior from them that looks like it would leave an otherwise intact body that’s drained of fluids. The roaches go for slasher type violence that kills quickly and bloodily. These bodies are being drained for some other nefarious purpose.

Mack and Coulson drag Virgil into the room with Elena and Jemma. Jemma is not okay with being stranded in space again. She and Coulson start problem solving.

The blast door in one of the other rooms opens and a man in a helmet with blue-lighted eyes floats in. The new title card flashes, with a cool blue scifi font and NO SHIELD BADGE. Are we no longer technically Agents of SHIELD?

May materializes with an inch wide pipe running through her leg. Because she’s May and nothing stops her, she quickly grabs a belt from the body next to her on the floor and begins to work the pipe loose. She eventually snaps it free and removes it from her leg, just as something is pounding on a nearby door, trying to bust through. May quickly hobbles down the hall.

The rest of the team searches the room as they debate various items of business, spurred on by Mack’s disgust with the fact that he still works for SHIELD. Coulson is wearing his civilian arm, instead of his Inspector Gadget arm souped up defensive arm, because he didn’t want the good arm confiscated when they were arrested.

Mack learned many lessons about preparedness from his time in the Framework’s Hydra dystopia. Going straight from a mind prison to outer space is too much. He quits. Coulson informs him that he already quit, years ago. Mack vows to quit harder this time.

Jemma reminds Mack that she’s been hijacked into outer space by monolith before. They need to keep calm and apply the scientific method. They discuss whether SHIELD has a space division, maybe called SPEAR, maybe on the moon, according to Elena. Fury never mentioned anything to Coulson. Like that means anything. After Fury “died”, I seem to recall a snowy base and a Koenig brother who saved the day, which Coulson had never heard of before.

Virgil is still unconscious. Coulson searches his pockets and finds a battered post card from Ontario, and some kind of key. He hands the key to Jemma and the post card to Elena. They surmise that he’s from earth, at the very least. Or he ate someone from earth, as Elena says.

Virgil wakes up and reveals that not only does he recognize everyone in the room, he’s studied their history. He always believed they’d come to save humanity, even though others tried to take that away from him. They’ll understand what he means when he shows them—

And then a roach slices through his head.

Everyone runs, with a very fast, very vicious roach in pursuit. They run out of ammo and reach a dead end just as Daisy makes her grand entrance. She quakes the roach and saves the day. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief, on both sides of the screen.

May hides and watches the guy in the helmet move bodies around. He removes a small meter from the wrist of one body. Then he catches May and says he’s been looking for her. They fight. May uses the pipe that was through her leg as a weapon. Hey, it has sentimental value. He wins by using his antigravity device to slam her up high against a wall.

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Daisy asks Coulson if their current situation has something to do with the deal he made with Ghostrider. He denies it. Then they consider and discard the idea that they’re back in the Framework, simply because they can’t bear the thought of it. Jemma argues for the scientific method again, but Mack’s going with magic all the way. Jemma replies that magic is just science we don’t understand yet. Mack is not impressed with her logic.

We have a bit of a meta moment where Daisy and Jemma acknowledge how often Fitz and Simmons are kept apart. Jemma tries to hold herself together, but she’s actually near tears.

Coulson suggests that they split up to search for May. Mack vehemently objects, because they’ll just end up being picked off one by one. And it’s obvious who’ll go first, since there aren’t any platinum blondes on the team. You could make a case for Elena, Daisy or May being the Vasquez though.

They stick together, and continue down the hall in a dorky tight wedge formation.

Helmet guy tosses a lit flare into the hall to drive the roaches away, then tells May that he needs to give her a metric. He cuts into her wrist and inserts a round ~2″ meter that goes through the wrist.

Coulson and Simmons examine the machinery around them as they search for May. Most of it is human made and looks to be several decades old. They find the room that May was in, but she’s gone. There are computers for water reclamation in the room. They are tracking frozen oceans amongst the space debris in order to collect the ice for water. Daisy tries to hack into the computers, but is denied access because she’s human.

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Three Kree enter the room and use a shock weapon that knocks everyone out.

Daisy, Coulson, and Jemma wake up in a cell. Mack and Elena are hung by their wrists in another chamber. The Kree who captured them come back and start beating Mack.

Helmet guy shows up at the cell with May and talks the Kree guard into releasing all three. He tells the guard to stop by his gallery later.

The Kree decide that Mack might make a good show fighter and save him as a gift for their leader Kasius. Elena will have to bear the punishment for both of them. They use a hose to spray her hands with a coolant that freezes on contact.

The team and helmet guy, whose name is Deke, stop in the corridor to chat. Virgil hired Deke to exchange their metrics. Now that Deke’s gone, he won’t get paid, so he tries to leave. May grabs his antigravity device and pins him to the wall, the way he did with her.

AOS501Deke

Now that they don’t have Mack to talk sense into them, the team splits up. Daisy goes to find Elena and Mack. Jemma and May search for a spacecraft they can use to get clear of the colony ship and send a message to Fitz. Coulson will question Deke. The first thing Deke tells Coulson is that the Kree want what they always want. Submission.

As Simmons and May take the elevator to the spacecraft, they realize how huge the colony ship is. They think the ship must be the staging ground for an invasion. They find the trawler. The key that Virgil was carrying starts the ship.

Daisy follows the sounds of Elena’s screams. She releases Elena and Mack, and knocks out one of the Kree all at once. Elena kicks the other one in the face. He gets back up, so Mack uses the Kree version of an axe to take him down, ending with the axe buried in the Kree’s chest. Daisy sends an icicle through the other Kree’s chest.

Daisy seizes the opportunity to hack into the computer. They use the Kree’s hand for palm recognition. Mack and Daisy realize that the systems on the ship were designed for use on earth. Mack pulls out the post card and looks at the back. The message reads: “Working on it- Fitz.”

Coulson and Deke confuse each other at first. Deke doesn’t understand why Coulson doesn’t already know the answers to his questions. The bunker was built by humans, 90+ years in the past. Deke was born on board. They realize that the team has traveled forward through time.

Jemma starts recognizing constellations, then recognizes all of them. May sees a yellow school bus float by. They see a partial shell of the planet earth in the distance, and realize that they are in the future, after the earth has been destroyed.

Jemma says, “No reason to send a message back to Earth. We’re already here.”

Visual of black Agents of SHIELD badge.


 

Iain De Caestecker was off filming the movie Overlord during production for the first few episodes of this season. Rumor has it that he’ll return to Agents of SHIELD around episode 6.

We aren’t told who the alien kidnapper/delivery man and his strike team are, who they work for, or if they’re free lance. Virgil hires them from the future somehow. They do this kind of thing often enough to treat it like a regular day at the office, yet SHIELD has no idea they exist.

Ming-Na Wen was recovering from knee surgery when this episode was filmed, hence giving May an injured leg to disguise her limp. She’s still 90% more agile than a normal human.

Howard Stark shout out!

Virgil must have planned to take them out in the trawler, show them what’s left of earth, and tell them what he knows of how earth got that way.

Why does the partial shell of the earth still have atmosphere??

That was a fabulous ending. Having the three different groups realize that the earth was destroyed, that they were 90 odd years in the future, and that there was no one who could help them, except for the vaguest of promises from Fitz, was so, so powerful.

They are completely out of their depth, with very few resources, no back up, and a much stronger enemy than themselves in the Kree. They still have no idea what Vigil brought them there to do. Should be a wild season.

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