Don’t worry about 'Endgame' spoilers! There isn’t a one!
by Brandon Coulson
Agents of SHIELD has finally returned. After nearly a year since the last new episode, it’s felt like a lifetime and there was certainly a lot to unpack.
First off though before we get to everything that DID happen, let's address something that they most certainly did not: Endgame. That’s right, Marvel is owning this summer, this year, and nearly every box office record imaginable yet they decided to completely sever any ties to the greater MCU from this series. Without spoiling Endgame it can be said that nothing that happened in that or last years Infinity War have any repercussions, or even a mention in SHIELD.
After years of fans complaining about the one-sided shared universe, it seems the whole idea has just been given up, especially ironic considering Coulson’s featured role in Captain Marvel. Now I’ve heard many theories saying this is a pocket dimension or altered timeline as a result of last year's time travel shenanigans but regardless of that and barring any unseen explanations coming down the line it seems that Agents of SHIELD is officially annexed from the MCU. Personally, as someone who has invested a ton of hours into all of this content of the MCU shared universe, having them completely drop it is like a slap in the face.
Moving on from that though, how was this season’s premiere? It was decent, there were some interesting moments, but I have to say compared to previous season openers I wasn’t over the moon this time round.
The episode, 'Missing Pieces', started strong, with Fitz’s ship getting sliced in half by an unknown armada and jumping a year later where we find Gemma, Quake, and you know, those two agents whose names you hear and immediately forget, Davis and Piper, all searching deep space for Fitz.
It became very clear what the forward thrusts of our two storylines will be for at least the first half of the season. One side is the search for Fitz and a struggle between Gemma who acted selfishly to an extreme, and Daisy/Quake who has become a feared violent force in space. Back on Earth we see Mack adjusting to being in charge post-Coulson and dealing with a new threat to Earth. We’ll get to that in a bit.
Focusing on our space story for now, I will say I didn’t like a lot of what Quake and Gemma did but I appreciate the drama it’s setting up for later this season. Quake was a total badass, vibrating guns apart and just mopping the floor with her opponents, while Gemma took a page from Fitz’s book. During the interrogation scene she came across very Nazi-esque much like Fitz was in the Hydra world sim.
We got hints that Quake has done some atrocious things while in space which I’m sure will be explored more later but I hope they don’t try and make Quake into a monster. After the fear of her destroying Earth last season, we don’t need another 'Is Quake evil?' plotline. Gemma was frustratingly self-involved this week, after her team had been searching space for a year only to find Fitz’s ship destroyed and his hibernation pod empty. Gemma leaps at a thin and frankly stupid idea that he must’ve seen the manufacturer’s label inside the pod and surely went to that world, in much deeper space mind you. During her scene inside the pod I thought for sure her breath on the glass was going to reveal a message Fitz left or something to that effect, an intentional message he would leave for anyone looking for him. Instead we get this gut feeling theory and after being confronted by some kind of Space Confederacy, Gemma makes the decision to jump to deep space in a half busted, and low on fuel ship. Dragging the others along to a possible bad end, even after they point out Davis has a wife and kid he hasn’t seen in a year. So right now Team Space has me very irritated.
Back home we find out a lot has changed. Mack and Yoyo have split, Yoyo is already seeing another agent which feels like just a setup for her and Mack to get back together. There are portals opening around Earth letting in some Mad Max looking guys to do who knows what, including the 'not a surprise because he was in the trailers' evil Phil Coulson. Or at least a guy who looks like him.
Seeing how they made such a big thing about Phil is really dead and upcoming previews show him not recognizing the name Coulson, I’m putting my money on a Skrull impersonation. In fact any alien or Inhuman face stealer is preferable to any sort of clone/alternate timeline versions of a doppelgänger story. I want Phil to really be dead and this guy to be something or someone else entirely.
Also while the freaky girl who is with these mysterious villains was creepy as hell, with her talk of becoming a butterfly and general weirdness, it was really hard for me to see Clark Gregg as a badass. I mean he did a decent job of being a cold hardass but I just kept thinking he seemed out of place. Even when he shoots a SHIELD agent in cold blood it felt like they were trying to sell his evilness too hard.
Another moment that felt like it was trying too hard was the new recruit to the team, a drunken professor. Mack and May have plans, which I like, to start a new SHIELD academy. To do so they approach a professor who May’s ex knew and the actor himself feels like a good addition to the mix. Older, kinda grumpy but in a funny way, it's a good juxtaposition to everyone else. But we all have seen the genius who drinks too much and is self destructive before. Add to that they made sure to let us know he lost his male partner and that’s part of why he’s so bitter.
It just felt like they were delivering us his bio rather than introducing his character. Like a hat on a hat it was just so many traits given in I want to say four lines of dialog. From here on out let's hope he gets to grow and develop a little more naturally, maybe give him some students to play off of.
Even with some of those complaints, the episode as a whole was entertaining, had some good action, and re-established our heroes and where they stand. While by no means a great episode, it was very 'Okay'. I found myself getting burned out last season and I’m hoping this year will help reignite my love for the show again.
Agents of SHIELD airs Fridays at 8:00 PM on ABC.
What did you think of the season premiere? Tell us in the comments section below!
Read more of Brandon's reviews at HOTCHKA.com