Casey Duby ’21 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
The season four finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D showed us Coulson in space, and I’ve been groaning ever since. The second half of season four – sans Ghost Rider – was the best the show has ever been, and that was because it was about the characters, not simply the most shocking turn of events. But as soon as they put Coulson in outer space – and tried to play it cool with a casual and extremely corny one-liner – I was sure AOS’ best days were over.
I was only somewhat right. The first fifteen minutes of the season five premiere were straight laughs, and the characters were playfully self-aware. This mostly came from Mack (Henry Simmons) who answered the question of why they were in space. He said, “Because it’s the only thing we haven’t done yet.” We knew this already, but it was somewhat comforting to hear them acknowledge it. They later encountered the dilemma of whether or not to split up and cover more ground – cut to the team huddled closely together and walking slowly and fearfully forward. The immediate acknowledgment that the creators of the show knew this turn was a little outlandish, and that they were going to have some fun with it, made me much more open to everything that happened next.
Through the banter of our heroes, we also got to explore this new world and gain some – but not nearly enough – answers to the myriad of questions we have about where we are. It takes us up until the very last minute of the hour and a half premiere to learn that not only did the team travel through space via a special sort of monolith, they also traveled through time. We still don’t know what year it is, but it’s definitely the future, the Earth has definitely been thoroughly destroyed, and the human race is probably almost extinct. If you can get over the fact that S.H.I.E.L.D. now literally has to save the entire world, there’s actually a lot to enjoy here.
The few humans left are now subservient to the Cree, in a post-apocalyptic sort of scenario. In this brand new universe, we meet a couple funny and interesting potential allies- and enemies – and learn how the aliens are able to keep the humans in their place. There are all kinds of scary new tech, like the markers that go straight through the wrist that the Cree use to keep tabs on every single human, and whatever it was that the Cree leader put in Simmons’ (Elizabeth Henstridge) ear that seemed to make her deaf to every voice but his. These devices are spooky, but I’m excited to see how the characters will inevitably figure out how to make them work to their advantage.
The Framework is still alive and well, even in the future and also in space. Deke (Jeff Ward), the first real ally the team has found, is discovered to be selling time in the Framework as if it’s a kind of drug. Daisy (Chloe Bennet) discovers this and is adamant about the danger in this. It replaces hope with complacency, and it seems just real enough to make people forget their world for a while. This is obviously true, as the Cree know about this operation that Deke is running, and are allowing it to continue unobstructed. The possibilities of the Framework are certainly endless, and I’m excited to see the kind of role it will play in this season (maybe another return of Grant Ward? Fingers crossed).
The premiere had all of this going for it. I laughed and was taken by surprise by multiple twists, but the last fifteen seconds completely dampened my excitement for the rest of the season. It was angrily revealed by Deke that Daisy, with her earthquake powers, had “quaked” the Earth apart. She is responsible for ending the world. Without even acknowledging that this seems highly unlikely considering the toll her powers often have on her body or the questions this raises about where in time we actually are now, this is an extremely frustrating revelation. We’ve seen Daisy racked with guilt before. When Lincoln died after she’d been under Hive’s control, she felt the need to run away from S.H.I.E.L.D. completely and do completely self-destructive things. It was exhausting to watch. I can already see her telling Coulson she can’t go back to Earth because if she does, she’ll destroy it. The melodrama and predictability of it had me rolling my eyes as the credits rolled. Here’s hoping they’ll find a way to take me by surprise.
That said, I was engaged throughout the entire two-episode premiere, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a very entertaining show if you don’t let yourself think too hard about it. If you’re planning on watching the new season, know that over-the-top arcs are a necessary evil of superhero content, and enjoy the truly great characters the show has created.