Agents of SHIELD: Orientation Part 1

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Ok… this is NOT the diner…

Last season of Agents of SHIELD ended with the team expecting to be arrested after they did what they needed to do to resolve the crises from last time around, wrapping up the issues of the Framework, Aida, and Ghost Rider. The last we saw of them was the agents going to a diner to enjoy a last meal in freedom before the proverbial hammer came down on them. “Orientation Parts 1 and 2″ kicks off the new season by relating the events behind the team’s capture from another angle. The team is back, after sharing their time slot earlier with Inhumans.

The man who apparently leads the capture team has a few secrets. He’s definitely more than he seems and probably not an agent of SHIELD or the US Government for that matter. He leads the tactical team to capture the agents after getting ready, and that part goes as we’ve saw we last time. The team gets brought to a room with a column like the one that sent Simmons away to Maveth.

What seems like a few minutes later, Coulson wakes up in a metal chamber with a view of outer space. Things get very confusing as the room seems to vent to space, and Coulson somehow walks through it at first unaffected, until it somehow catches up with him. The man Coulson is talking to seems incredibly happy to see SHIELD, leaving Coulson even more confused. Things take a turn when one of the men in the room gets grabbed by some kind of alien and dragged off. Coulson gets very insistent on knowing what’s going on, and at least finds out the man he’s talking to is Virgil. Virgil calls himself a “True Believer” which may well be a reference to what Stan Lee used to call the readers of Marvel Comics way back when. The conversation goes oddly, and then Mac pops out of nowhere and knocks Virgil out. Mac and Coulson debate Mac’s action. When Coulson tells him they’re in space, Mac, utterly deadpan, says, “Sure, the one thing we haven’t done yet.”

Elsewhere, Yoyo pops up in another section of wherever this is. She and Simmons run into each other and almost end up fighting until they get things straightened out. They find many bodies, which Simmons compares to Incan mummies. Mac and Coulson meet up with the ladies, and Simmons’ sighs and says, “Again?” when finding out she’s in space.

Things aren’t going well elsewhere, either. A mysterious form enters the ship or station or whatever it is through some kind of rolling door, and uses some device on his (I think) belt to orient himself and get gravity working right for him. May turns up and seems to have had what they’d call a “transporter accident” on Star Trek. Showing her usual toughness, she manages to remove the handle that’s running through her leg. Coulson and company take inventory, and he says he only has his “normal” hand, with none of the cool devices. After explaining that he’s not Inspector Gadget, Coulson points out he thought they were about to be arrested, so there was no point in bringing the good stuff with him. Coulson has no idea what’s going on, and Yoyo makes a joke about SHIELD having a space division called SPEAR (in the comics, they do, but it’s SWORD). Virgil wakes up and says they can’t stay here. He also knows everyone’s names. Virgil’s explanations are short-lived as he gets killed and dragged off by one of the bug-like creatures, prompting Mac to make a lot of Alien jokes. The man does like his movies. The team flees, corners themselves in a dead end, and then gets saved by the timely appearance of Daisy.

May has a run-in with the man we saw coming in before. He takes some strange black implant out of one of the bodies arms. They skulk around each other for a while, and then end up fighting. The man says he doesn’t want to hurt May, but the idea is growing on him. He beats her, not in a strictly fair fight but by taking advantage of some tech tricks. He also doesn’t want to know what she knows, and gags her.

The rest of the group is trying to figure out what’s going on. Yoyo floats the possibility that they’re back in the Framework, which everyone reacts badly to. Daisy was the last to come through, apparently, and says Fitz wasn’t with them. Simmons comments on them always being torn apart, which I admit I’m a bit tired of myself. Simmons is sure Fitz is working to help them. When the suggestion comes up for them to split up, Mac vehemently objects, also quoting movies. They creep forward, hefting a captured plasma gun, and Coulson comments, “This has to be the coolest we’ve ever looked.”

May’s mysterious company tells her this is going to hurt, but she needs a “metric.” Using the knife, he opens a wound in her arm and slips the device inside. He also refers to a death as a “vacancy,” so there are a few new terms here.

Yoyo uses her powers to scout the way and reports all clear. Coulson and Simmons compare notes, trying to figure out what’s going on and where they are. They speculate it might be some kind of colony, and they note how much work has gone into keeping the place working. Coulson also points out the plasma gun he has wasn’t man-made: it’s too advanced. They figure out some of what’s happening around them, noting water reclamation devices. The next two surprises are a machine that tells them “Human: Access Denied” when they try and use it and then the arrival of a Kree. The Kree are blue-skinned humanoid aliens they’ve encountered before. Mac gives it an impressive punch, which it utterly ignores, and then the alien takes everyone down with some kind of device.

Coulson, Simmons, and Daisy are in one place, listening to a voice speak in an alien tongue. Daisy demands to know what they’re doing to her friends, and he says, “Whatever I want. They’ll beg for forgiveness. You humans always do.” Clearly, this Kree hasn’t been dealing with SHIELD. Mac and Yoyo are tied up elsewhere, not exactly enjoying Kree hospitality on their own.

Things are looking bad for the captive SHIELD agents, or at least the Coulson/Simmons/Daisy contingent, when May and the mystery man show up. Whoever this guy is, he’s a good talker, and convinces the Kree that he needs to get them “down to processing.” He doesn’t seem at all unhappy to hear about Virgil’s death, and does a decent job of both bluffing and bribing the Kree.

Mac and Yoyo are still having problems with the Kree holding them, and those two aliens are debating what to do with the prisoners. We hear about fights in the crater, and someone called Kasius. In the other group, we learn that the mystery man is Deke, he was hired by Virgil, and isn’t really interested in whatever cause Virgil was into. May manages to trick Deke, and pins him to the wall the same way he did to her earlier. When asked what the Kree want, a resigned Deke says submission, the same thing they always want.

May and Simmons go to find a ship, hoping to get a message home. They also find out how big the base they are in actually is. Daisy manages to find and free Mac and Yoyo, collecting more weapons and killing the two aliens. Finally, all the aspects of the team figure out what happened to them, and where they are. It’s not a pretty picture as part one ends, although they see a message from Fitz, finally, that says, “Working on it.”

What I liked: The dialogue is good. I really enjoy the banter among the agents. Mac being a movie fan and using them as reference points so often is a nice character trait that makes sense. May is, as always, amazingly tough. Virgil seemed like a good guy and his “True Believer” line was funny. Deke is a Han Solo type, charismatic conman who claims to just be interested in money, but I think there’s more going on there.

What I didn’t: May, tough as she is, recovers really quickly from a metal bit going all the way through her leg. For seasoned agents, they trust new people a bit too quickly. I’m getting really tired of Fitz being separated from the team in general, and Simmons in particular. It’s a running gag that’s not really funny. Is he really going to be missing most of this season?

I’ll give Orientation Part One a 3.5 out 5. I’m glad the team is back, and I look forward to them getting a handle on what’s going on and turning the tables on the Kree.

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