Warning! SPOILERS for Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.!
Now that season 5 has kicked off, it's not an exaggeration to say that Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has now changed everything about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. ABC's flagship Marvel series has taken bold chances before and reinvented itself throughout its run, but season 5's premiere 'Orientation, Parts 1 and 2' has gone where no Marvel Television series (or movie, for that matter) has gone before: the future! That's right, season 5 is set an untold number of years from now, in a future where the Earth has been destroyed!
Plucked from the diner they had congregated at in the season 4 finale, Agents Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), Daisy Johnson (Chloe Bennet), Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), Yo-Yo Rodriguez (Natalia Cordova-Buckley), and Mac MacKensie (Henry Simmons) found themselves transported by a Kree Monolith to a space station surrounded by an asteroid belt - the asteroids are the remnants of the planet Earth. Infested with Vrellnexian roaches and ruled by the Kree, the space station, called the Lighthouse, houses the ragged remainders of the human race.
The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. learned from new allies they've made, including Tess (Eve Harlow) and Deke (Jeff Ward), that the humans living in the Lighthouse don't know exactly what happened to the Earth and how it was destroyed. The Kree arrived after it happened and took over; they erased all records, books, and media, keeping the humans in the dark about their own history so that they would remain submissive and reliant on Kree rule. However, there is a faction of True Believers who held to the belief that S.H.I.E.L.D. can save humanity.
The bombshells didn't stop there, however. Some technology from Earth did survive, including the Framework - the virtual reality technology used by AIDA (Mallory Jansen) and HYDRA in season 4. When Daisy chased Deke into the Framework to get answers, Deke revealed that he alone pieced together what happened to the Earth: it was quaked apart by Daisy herself using her Inhuman Quake powers. Whether this is actually what happened remains to be seen, but it was a powerful final shock to a two hour premiere filled with shocking moments.
Setting the 5th season in the far future creates numerous questions as to how the future S.H.I.E.L.D. depicts applies to the rest of the MCU. After all, the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy are soon to face Thanos for the fate of the universe in Avengers: Infinity War. Is all of that going to be in vain with the world destroyed in the future anyway? Furthermore, are our Agents ever going to get back to the past and save the world? It seems the series is now truly in the unexplored final frontier of the MCU.
During Screen Rant's recent visit to the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. set, showrunner Jed Whedon replied to our question of how season 5's future shock storyline affects the movies and the rest of the MCU:
Put it this way, we do feel totally untethered by the storyline. We feel like we can do whatever we want with it. Which is liberating.
For fans who have felt like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has long been an underappreciated red-headed stepchild of the MCU, season 5 is already shaping up to be an amazing opportunity to go full-on into a science fiction realm the series has not yet explored. S.H.I.E.L.D. is maintaining thematic ties to the MCU while literally getting ahead of the movies and rewriting the future of the MCU. Exciting, unpredictable times are ahead for S.H.I.E.L.D. fans in season 5.
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Fridays @ 9pm on ABC.