Jennifer Clasen/ABC
Christian Holub
December 01, 2017 AT 10:01 PM EST

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

type
TV Show
Current Status
In Season
tvpgr
TV-PG
seasons
4
run date
07/19/13
performer
Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennet
broadcaster
ABC
genre
ActionAdventure

We gave it a B

So, that’s the first big revelation during this premiere. The second involves what actually happened to Earth for it to end up this way.

Although I’m intrigued by this literally insane premise, I also have concerns. Fitz isn’t in this two-hour premiere at all, since he was left behind on Earth in the present when the others were taken. We get a postcard from him with the note “Working on it,” and Virgil tells Simmons that Fitz is thinking of her; it’s also implied that Fitz started the belief that the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents would return someday to save mankind from their dystopian hell. That’s mostly been forgotten now thanks to Kree repression, but people like Virgil and Deke still remember it. Even so, I hope we get to actually see him again very soon.

As we find out, the station is divided into different departments, and none of them are fun. Processing is one (that would be sewage waste management), Salvage is another (delving through junkyards of scrap metal to find useful tech). Everyone has a Metric on their wrist, because if the Kree catch you without one you’re in big trouble. Apparently, the Kree arrived shortly after the destruction of Earth and helped keep the humans alive, demanding total submission and obedience as their price. This means the station isn’t governed by human morality, as Simmons finds out when she tries to save a man’s life after he’s injured in a fight over food.

Taken to the head Kree’s chambers, she learns that death here is not something to be fought, but rather relished; “a life spent is a life earned” seems to be the motto. The human she saved was one of the select few elevated to be an ambassador for the Kree, and as a result he’s expected to demonstrate total perfection. Since his new scar ruins that, his boss kills him anyway and instead chooses Simmons to be his new servant, which means getting dressed up in Kree clothes and having a silver-y thing slid into her ear to help with the “total obedience” part.

Meanwhile, it turns out Deke has reconstructed some of the Framework technology to allow people to visit an illusion of Earth. Though the historical data has been erased, he’s been able to reconstruct a pretty good facsimile. He’s even pieced together exactly what happened to Earth: Somehow it was Daisy herself, with her Quake powers, that destroyed the planet.

How do you fix a problem like that? This is the thing that intrigues me most about this season’s setup. Even though it feels weird to thrust the cast into another wild genre scenario mere hours after they escaped the Framework (without processing that comprehensive trauma for even a minute), I like the idea of setting up a problem that seems basically impossible to solve. How do you time travel into the past? If you can’t, how do you fix a destroyed planet? There are no easy answers, which feels relevant to our current world where new problems seem to blow up every day even as the old long-standing problems continue to rot in the background. Where do you even begin? Last season (especially the “Framework” arc) seemed very dialed-in to contemporary issues, so I’m interested to see the parallels this time around. But even so, there’s a lot going on and it feels a little like shark-jumping.

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