Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. whetted fans appetites for season 5 by making the first 17 minutes of the premiere episode available online. We see the immediate results of what happened after Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), Mac Mackenzie (Henry Simmons), and Yo-Yo Rodriguez (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) were captured in a diner at the end of season 4 - they were brought to outer space!
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has masterfully reinvented itself every season, starting with the middle of season 1 when their adventures exploring the weird corners of the MCU was subverted by the reveal in Captain America: The Winter Soldier that HYDRA was within S.H.I.E.L.D. since its inception. Since then, the series has explored the rise of Inhumans on Earth and introduced supernatural elements like Ghost Rider as well as Marvel tech like Life Model Decoys (LMDS).
In Season 5, S.H.I.E.L.D. is breaking their own mold once again by thrusting all of the Agents into a full-on outer space adventure (Simmons has been through this before all alone). However, the new footage just raises a slew of questions that the series must answer:
WHY ARE THEY IN SPACE?
The Agents are as perplexed as the fans are as to this latest development. In the opening moments of the season 5 premiere, we see Coulson and his team frozen, literally plastic bagged, and then exposed to a Kree Monolith. When they awaken, they find themselves on some sort of freighter or space station in deep space surrounded by an asteroid belt. If they're still in the Milky Way Galaxy, they might be among the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. However, they could also be billions of miles from Earth, closer to the Kree homeworld Hala, as the Kree will play a major role in season 5.
Yo-Yo asked point blank whether S.H.I.E.L.D. has an outer space outpost called S.P.E.A.R. (an amusing shoutout to S.W.O.R.D., the space-centric arm of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the comics.) Coulson responded that no such thing as S.P.E.A.R. (or S.W.O.R.D.) exists to his knowledge and that there was nothing about it in "Nick Fury's black box" of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s deepest secrets. There was also an amusing line about Yo-Yo thinking S.H.I.E.L.D. had "people hiding on the moon," an amusing wink to Marvel's Inhumans, who are actually no longer living on the moon.
We don't yet know who exactly brought them into space - who are the agents working for the bald man, who resembles a Kree disguised as a human? Nor do we know exactly why the Agents were abducted, except that they are somehow supposed to save humanity. This is according to their biggest fans, the True Believers.
WHO ARE THE TRUE BELIEVERS?
There are humans and some dead humanoids identified by Simmons on this space vessel. The only one the Agents were able to briefly speak to was a man named Virgil, who identified himself as one of the True Believers. They're fans of Coulson and his team. Virgil claims to know "everything about" the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Unfortunately, Virgil couldn't finish a sentence before he's knocked out by Mac and then later killed in the middle of providing exposition. Hopefully, fans will find out more about who these True Believers are and why they are also in outer space.
"True Believers" is a neat shout out to one of the legendary catchphrases of Stan Lee, who liked to refer to Marvel diehards by that moniker. It also makes sense at this point in their careers that Coulson's team would have super fans - as Coulson himself was a baseball card-collecting lifelong admirer of Captain America (Chris Evans). The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have actually saved the world countless times already, and they're being asked to somehow do it again. The True Believers are a cool meta nod to the series' diehard fans who have stuck with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. all these years and have been rewarded with some of the best episodes the series has presented.
WHO'S IN THE HELMET?
A mysterious invader wearing a Star-Lord-like helmet enters the vessel through the airlock, looks around and then disappears. Who could this person be? Going by the process of elimination of which Agents we didn't see in the footage, it's either Daisy Johnson (Chloe Bennet) or, as the new arrival looks male, it could be Fitz (Iain De Caestecker), whom Virgil said he was sorry couldn't join his fellow Agents on this journey. When the Agents were bagged in the diner at the start of the episode, it was noted that one was left behind at the counter. From the season 5 trailer and promotional photos, we know the main cast are all reunited in outer space, so Fitz seems like the most likely choice. However, it could also be one of the new season 5 characters set to be introduced.
WHAT ARE THE ROACHES?
We speculated that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. may have been teasing the Brood, but Virgil identified "the Roaches" as the Vrellnexians. These killer alien insects are resemble the Brood and are also a race found in Marvel Comics, having first appeared in the pages of Thor #212. Like the Brood, the Vrellnexians operate with a hive mind under the command of a Queen, and they were likely chosen to play the role the Brood would have played as the Brood are tied to the FOX-controlled X-Men franchise.
What we know about the Roaches thus far is they operate quite like the Xenomorphs in the Alien films, stalking and murdering humans from the shadows. They can surf gravity storms to travel throughout space and were able to breach the facility a few years back. Virgil said the Roaches' presence is "an anomaly, a glitch in the plan". Whose plan and how the Vrellnexians somehow got involved in whatever is going on are questions we need resolved.
IS COULSON STILL GHOST RIDER?
En route to defeating AIDA (Mallory Jansen) and the Superior (Zach McGowan), Coulson used the Darkhold to take the power of Ghost Rider into himself, transforming into the Spirit of Vengeance. Was that only a one time thing, or does Coulson still have the ability to transform into Ghost Rider? Mac and Yo-Yo each chided Coulson for no longer wearing his prosthetic hand, which contained 'Inspector Gadget'-like weapons like his shield and a laser blowtorch. Coulson's current prosthetic left hand is just that, without the bells and whistles. However, fans never got a sufficient explanation as to how Coulson communed with the Spirit of Vengeance and whether he can do it again. Maybe there's still part of the Ghost Rider somewhere within Phil Coulson that will rear its flaming head this season.
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is poised to hopefully answer all of our questions while no doubt posing many more when season 5 begins with a 2 hour premiere at 8pm on Friday, December 1st on ABC. Let us know what questions YOU have in the comments!