Recap / Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S5E1 "Orientation, Part One"

Team Coulson finds themselves IN SPACE! to serve a mysterious purpose.

Tropes in this episode:

  • Accidentally Accurate: Elena is surprised to learn that S.H.I.E.L.D. never had a space division, as she had always assumed that they had "people on the moon". There are people on the moon, they just have more in common with Elena than S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • Aliens Are Bastards: The Kree allegedly saved the human race from their destroyed planet, but as payment, keeps them in colonies at their mercy, forced to fight in gladiator matches or used in experiments, killing each other for food and laboring to survive, under constant threat of death by alien beasts, all with their history erased ostensibly so they don't lament the past.
  • Apocalypse How: Class X, see Earth-Shattering Kaboom below.
  • Artificial Limbs: Prior to going to the diner, Coulson swapped out his super hi-tech robot hand for a basic prosthetic, since he figured they were about to be arrested and the government would confiscate the more advanced hand.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...:
    • When it's revealed the team is in space, Simmons asks if they know what part. Coulson replies "Outer".
    • As Virgil stays knocked out, Coulson asks Mack how hard he hit him. Mack responds by saying it was as hard as he could, because that's what you do when you punch someone.
  • Asteroid Thicket: Justified. It's the remains of a planet that was destroyed only relatively recently.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Daisy does this twice: first vaporizing a roach about to attack Coulson's party, then saving Mack and Elena from the Kree torturing them.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Invoked by Mack as the main argument for why the team shouldn't split up: It'll lead to the monsters picking them off one by one, starting with him.
  • Borrowed Biometric Bypass: Daisy uses a dead Kree's hand to get past the human-blocking biometric scanner on the station's computer.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Six of them are set up at the beginning of this episode to be followed up in future episodes.
    • The child's pictures in the unknown Agent's house are fired in Episode 5.
    • The same agent fetches a bottle of liquid in his fridge. It is referred to again in Episode 5 but we are not told of what this liquid is.
    • The Postcard written by Fitz is written in Episode 5.
    • When they get sent to the base initially, Coulson notes that he did not bring the hand that has all his gadgetry. Again fired in Episode 5.
    • The Vrellnexians are featured prominently in this episode, but Virgil notes that they only appeared recently. Episode 6 explains how they got here.
    • The Monolith itself. A fragment of it is repeatedly fired as a Chekhov's Boomerang throughout the season.
  • Clarke's Third Law: When Mack suspects that they're in a magical place, Simmons states that magic is just science they don't understand yet. Mack is fully dismissive of that argument, given the team's encounters with beings like Ghost Rider.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Quite literally. The Kree torture Elena by spraying her arms with a liquid nitrogen tube, trying to see how long it will take for them to break. Thankfully, Daisy intervenes before that can happen.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Deceased Fall-Guy Gambit: Deke gets Jemma, May, Coulson and Daisy out of custody by convincing the Kree guardian that they were set up by Virgil.
  • Diegetic Switch: The Talking Heads song "This Is The Life" is played throughout the prologue, only to be revealed to be coming from the radio on the truck that is about to kidnap Coulson and co.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: Something reduced Earth to a cresent chunk about a century ago.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Inverted. When Coulson presses Deke on where they are, Deke is totally baffled by Coulson claiming to have just been on Earth. When Coulson asks when this place was built and how long Deke has been on it, Deke responds "90-some years ago and what, I was born here!" He then looks Coulson over, realizing he has no "metrics, no scars, Wisconsin..." and then asks what year Coulson and the others were taken.
    Coulson: The Monolith was different, wasn't it. We didn't just travel through space...
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Virgil gets his head split open from behind on camera and it's not pretty.
  • Forced Prize Fight: One of the Kree suggests putting Mack into one of these since he looks strong, but Daisy intervenes before that gets anywhere.
  • Genre Savvy: Mack is adamant that the team not split up with hostile aliens about because he's a fan of movies that look like their current situation. He's fairly confident Black Dude Dies First will surely follow.
  • Gravity Screw: Deke has a device which, when attached to someone, causes them to fall toward the nearest wall.
  • Here We Go Again!: Jemma's reaction to the news that she is once again in space is a minor panic attack.
  • How We Got Here: The episode opens with the team's abduction from the diner at the end of the previous season.
  • Immediate Sequel: This episode begins with a little backtracking from the previous to see the mysterious military guys arrive. Then it comes on the heels of the last episode from season 4.
  • IN SPACE!: Played straight with a Lampshade Hanging, then Double Subverted and Played With in the Wham Shot described below:
    • The first subversion comes from the fact that the Monolith moved them through time along with space, playing with the audience's and characters' expectations that it was only space.
    • The second comes from the fact that they, in fact, did not move through space at all. Instead the underground facility they were in, is now exposed to the vacuum of space after the Earth was torn apart, while everyone assumed they were in at least another star system.
  • I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure: After having enough of Mack's insolence, but not wanting to kill him due to having further use for him as a fighter, the two Kree proceed by torturing Elena.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Virgil, unhelpfully. Coulson's really having trouble getting full sentences out of the guy.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    Coulson: I think we're in space.
    Mack: That makes sense. It's the one thing we haven't done yet.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: After deciding not to split up, the SHIELD group proceed down a dark corridor led by Daisy and everyone in a hero "ready for action" stance. Leading Coulson to quip: "We've never looked cooler" - based on something only the audience could really see.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang: Defied by Mack, who's seen enough horror movies to know this is a bad idea and will probably lead to him dying first. They move as a group instead.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: When Deke worries that the Kree will kill a group of humans in retaliation for the two Daisy and Mack killed, Mack suggests feeding them to the roaches while the bodies are still warm.
  • Motive Misidentification: When they realize they're near Earth by the stars, Simmons and May assume this is a staging ground for a Kree invasion of Earth. It's only when they realize the debris field around them is Earth that it hits them this is the future and the Kree are just salvaging what's left of the planet.
  • Mythology Gag: Elena asks Phil if S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn't have some sort of outer space division called S.P.E.A.R. in an obvious reference to S.W.O.R.D. (Sentient World Observation and Response), from the comics. (Thereís also a S.P.E.A.R., but itís just the Chinese equivalent to S.H.I.E.L.D.)
    • Elena's having her forearms nearly destroyed through torture is one to losing her arms in the comics.
  • Oh, Crap!: Coulson when he realizes he's in front of a soon-to-activate portal obelisk is quick fear.
  • Party Scattering: Thanks to some gravitational flux during the trip, Coulson's team is dumped on the station in random places and not all at once.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Virgil's partner tries to bail when Virgil insists on waiting for the rest of Coulson's team, but it just gets him eaten.
  • Self-Deprecation: Mack's saying "Science, my ass!" may refer to the repeated use of scientific explanation for various magical, mystical, or supranatural phenomenons throughout MCU (particularly this show itself).
  • Shout-Out:
    • When Mack laments about the lack of cool tools in Coulson's robotic hand, Coulson replies that he's not Inspector Gadget.
    • Deke's clothing and helmet look similar to those of Peter Quill a.k.a. Starlord. The helmet also has elements of Iron Man's and Ant-Man's.
    • As the Kree are blue, Mack compared one of them with "Papa Smurf"
  • Spoiler Opening: Averted handily. Iain De Caestecker is listed in the opening credits despite not appearing on screen in the entire 2-hour episode.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Daisy even comments on how the cosmos is apparently adamant about keeping Fitz and Simmons apart.
  • The Men in Black: Enoch is definitely one, while his goons seem to be regular Humans.
  • Tele-Frag: May arrives on the outpost alone with her leg right where a pipe is.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: Coulson arrives on the outpost just as its current occupants are spacing a threat. Time Stands Still just long enough for him to take stock of the situation and avoid the same fate.
  • Trailers Always Lie: All promotional trailers for Season Five heavily hyped the fact that the cast is now IN SPACE!, effectively preserving the reveal that they moved through time and technically remained sort of on Earth.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Virgil is killed by one of the creatures before he can explain anything to the team.
  • Wham Line: Simmons looking at the mostly destroyed planet before them.
    Simmons: No need to send a message back to Earth...we're already here.
    • Earlier, Deke cutting through Coulson's talk of where they were abducted with "What year?"
  • Wham Shot:
    • The party, minus May, running into a pair of Kree.
    • Mack turns over Virgil's postcard and sees a note written on it: "Working on it — Fitz".
    • Jemma and May are flying the ice trawler through the debris field, and Jemma mentions that the constellations are familiar. Then she realizes they're all familiar, and May points out something much more ominous: half a bus floating through space. And then the camera shows an all too well-known, but not-so intact anymore blue planet: The debris field isn't near Earth, it is Earth.
  • Write Back to the Future: Fitz, apparently — a postcard in Virgil's pocket has a note from him reading, "Working on it — Fitz," implying that he's aware, in the past, of what happened and is trying to get them back.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Initially, Coulson considered the possibility that the space base was built in the eighties by Howard Stark though he quickly dismisses the idea by saying "That doesn't feel right." He's not wrong about the base being built in the 80s though as they later find out when they return to the present.


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