S.H.I.E.L.D. is back! And after getting through several weeks of Inhumans, the return is more than welcome. Last season ended with a surprise trip to space, and now we get some answers, some twists, and a start to a new season’s plot.
1. S.H.I.E.L.D. IIIIN SPAAAACE!
After a brief introduction recapping us to the last season’s finale (including a character who appears to be wearing human flesh as a suit, I’m sure that’ll come up again later), we cut to the team in front of a monolith, like the one that sent Simmons into a galaxy far, far away several season ago. Naturally, this raises a lot of questions, but we’ll learn the answers to those as we go, I’m sure.
More importantly, Coulson and his team are in space, and part of the episode is spent running from aliens. They even kill a side-character, naturally the exact moment he’s about to start giving us some proper exposition.
Before this episode, I was under the assumption that they’d be doing something related to S.W.O.R.D. (Sentient World Observation and Response Department), or perhaps connecting the show more to the cosmic side of the Marvel cinematic universe, with nods to Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor: Ragnarok. Even Yo-Yo makes a comment about how she thought there would be a branch of S.H.I.E.L.D. called S.P.E.A.R. (don’t ask what that’s an acronym for… Space People Exploring All Reaches?). While it’s none of those things, what we do get is an interesting twist.
2. You Maniacs! You Blew it Up! Damn You! Damn You All to Hell!
At the end of part 1, we learn a twist that was actually a little shocking, but properly foreshadowed and revealed nicely: they’re not just in space, they’re in the future! Also, the Earth was destroyed, and all that remains of it is a dead shell with some space stations orbiting around it. Surprise!
Not only is it pulled off nicely, we get to really take in what the loss of Earth means. The last vestiges of humanity are struggling to survive in a Kree-controlled station, fighting and dying at the whims of their blue-skinned masters. The protagonists barely have time to mourn everything they lost (including, evidently, Fitz, who didn’t get taken with the rest of them) before they have to do their best to learn what they can about this strange new world, and adapt to fit in. All things considered, it’s handled with gravitas and drama, and makes for a nice setup.
Oh, and we also get a twist at the end that claims Daisy’s the one who blew it all up, sooo… whoops?
3. It’s All Kree to Me
Speaking of the Kree, let’s take a look at what we’ve got! Their leader appears to be Kasius, who’s obsessed with everything of his being beautiful and perfect, and by the end of the episode, has taken Simmons as a servant. The others seem to be a bit more on the cruel side, enjoying torturing human captives for… absolutely no reason whatsoever, really, since it’s not like the ones torturing Mack and Yo-Yo were asking them anything.
But it’s clear that these Kree are all pretty nasty individuals, ruling over humans with a mixture of contempt, apathy, and sadism. Treating them like second-hand citizens is one thing, but a “renewal,” which is basically a short-term “Purge”/“Battle Royale” game (kill or be killed, just because) is needlessly cruel.
Now I find myself wondering what the Kree Empire has been up to in this time. They’re clearly not devoting their best and brightest to controlling the last remnants of Human society. Did we miss out on a Kree-Skrull War?
We also get to meet Deke, who’s initial entrance and design made me think of him as a Star Lord Lite, but whose behavior has been… less so. One of the more interesting moments of the episode came when Daisy followed him back to his secret room, where he runs the post-apocalyptic space version of an opium den: a holochamber that makes people think they’re on Earth before it got destroyed.
They managed to tie that in to the Framework of the previous season well, using it as the basis for the technology’s programming. More importantly, it contains what brief snippets of Earth’s past Deke could find, which is vital for the revelation that Daisy blew up the world.Continued below
So that’s a scene that served multiple purposes. It was thematically eerie, helped connect things to the past season more, provided a bit of exposition, and set us up for this last plot point.
Now it’s time for my favorite aspect of any time travel story: analyzing how it all works!
So, Coulson and crew get sent to the future, and find out that not only is the Earth destroyed, but Daisy caused it. Except Daisy is with them, and was taken out of the timeline in the past, which meant she wasn’t around to destroy the world in that future.
This could mean a few things. Option 1: it means they’re destined to find a way back to the present no matter what, so Daisy can go on to destroy the world, and history continues unabated. Option 2: history was changed by taking Daisy out of the past, but it hasn’t solidified yet. Or option 3: alternate timelines.
Of course, there’s always the fourth option of “they didn’t think it through,” but I’m going to give the writing staff more credit than that. We’ll learn more about how time travel works in this show as the season goes on, but you’d best believe I’ll be paying close attention.
Now then, what did the rest of you think of the season premier? Let me know in the comments!