Warning: SPOILERS ahead for Agents of SHIELD’s 100th episode
The 100th episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. saw Coulson's team face a terrifying new threat. It seems the destruction of three Kree Monoliths has torn a hole in spacetime, and now another dimension is leaking through into the real world. Worse still, this appears to be what Fitz calls a "Dimension of Dreams" - one where your worst nightmares become real.
On the face of it, this was simply a useful plot device to bring back a whole range of classic characters - most notably Hive and Lash. In reality, though, it's far more significant; S.H.I.E.L.D. has contained the Dimension of Dreams for now, but their solution is little more than a sticking plaster over a gaping wound in the nature of existence itself. Fitz even believes this dimensional rift could be what actually causes Earth's destruction in the first place.
Meanwhile, comic book fans will most certainly be excited to hear mention of the Dimension of Dreams. This concept looks to be lifted straight from the comics.
The Comic Book Origin Of The Dimension Of Dreams
The Dimension of Dreams was introduced back in Strange Tales #110 - the same issue that introduced Marvel fans to Doctor Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme. Seeking to understand why a man's dreams were plagued with darkness, Strange waited till he slept, and actually entered his dreams. Even as he learned the truth, Strange found himself confronted by the master of the Dimension of Dreams, described as his "ancient foe" - Nightmare.
The idea of the Dimension of Dreams proved to be a popular one with readers, and six issues later Stan Lee and Steve Ditko returned to the concept. Strange Tales #116 saw Nightmare send his agents through dimensional rifts, ones that look very similar to the rifts seen in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Years later, in 1991's Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme #31, writer Roy Thomas redefined the Dimension of Dreams as linked to the "Fear Dimension," which was ruled by a number of Fear Lords, including Nightmare. Given the next Marvel movie is Avengers: Infinity War, it's appropriate that Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme #31 was a tie-in to Jim Starlin's Infinity Gauntlet miniseries.
It seems S.H.I.E.L.D. has unwittingly created a dimensional rift to this "astral dimension." Entities from their nightmares are seeping through, and their worst fears are being made flesh. Fortunately, these manifestations appear limited; they are rendered incorporeal with a certain amount of ease, and are unable to travel too far from the rift. That's why even Hive and Lash could be defeated with ease.
What's Next For The Dimension Of Dreams?
In the short term, S.H.I.E.L.D. has sealed the rift with gravitonium - but it's only a temporary fix. If they're to permanently seal the dimensional rift, they'll need a lot more gravitonium. That certainly explains why, in the future, S.H.I.E.L.D. discovered a substantial amount of gravitonium in the Lighthouse; it was used to seal the rift. It further hints that S.H.I.E.L.D. will be successful, and that Fitz is probably wrong in believing the rift could be what really destroyed the Earth.
Meanwhile, there's actually a good chance the Dimension of Dreams will ultimately turn up on the big screen. Director Scott Derickson originally planned to introduce both the Dimension of Dreams and its ruler, Nightmare, in Doctor Strange; he's repeatedly insisted he wants to use Nightmare in Doctor Strange 2 instead. In this matter, then, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has actually woven a subtle tie-in into the narrative before production on the film has even begun.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 5 has essentially reinvented the series, transforming it into a full-blown sci-fi adventure. With the S.H.I.E.L.D. team returned to Earth, it's exciting to see the sci-fi comic book concepts are continuing.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues Friday March 16th with “Principia” at 9pm on ABC.