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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Orientation Part One - Review - "Stay Tuned for Part Two Review - Up Shortly!"

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returned with a two part episode: “Orientation.” This two hour premiere was definitely movie worthy and deserved an IMAX theatre showing so much more than Inhumans. This mega-episode only solidified in my mind that S.H.I.E.L.D. is easily the best “Superhero” show on television – I can’t comment on the streaming shows as I haven’t watched them (don’t ask!). The show was fabulously paced and written. Terrific direction, fight choreography, and special effects combined with simply fantastic acting from the entire cast. It’s rare for a cast to be able to go seamlessly from comedy to drama to action, but this cast never fails to deliver. For me, S.H.I.E.L.D. is right up there with Guardians of the Galaxy – and would I ever like to see THAT crossover!

“Part One” was written by the showrunning team Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen and was directed by Jesse Bochco. “Part Two” was written by DJ Doyle and was directed by David Solomon. For this double episode, I’ll treat the episodes separately, and I’m going to try a slightly different format. After my recap/review comments, I’ll be listing my favorite lines – and the award for Part One has to go to Mack (Henry Simmons)!

“Part One” even begins with some funky music as we watch Enoch (Joel Stoffer) prepare for his day – which we know culminates in taking the team captive. There’s something not quite right about him as he sits at the bottom of his pool and his fridge is full of nothing but coconut milk, even if it is covered in odd kid’s drawings. Then he removes his “human suit) to have a shower and we know that he is some kind of an alien. Stoffer is great as he gives that slightly “off-human” performance. He’s listed for 8 episodes, so we’ll no doubt be learning more about him. He doesn’t appear to be Kree, so is he working against them?

As the team is wheeled out covered in plastic, we’re told that there is one still sitting at the counter – he wasn’t on the list. It becomes clear pretty quickly that it’s Fitz (Iain de Caestecker) who’s missing. The team wakes up together in a dark room by a white obelisk with red lines that suddenly melts like an ice cream cone and splashes all over them.

Flash to Coulson (Clark Gregg) who is the only thing moving in a frozen tableau. It gives him a few seconds to realize that he’s in space and that the door/window has been blown open and everything – and everyone – is being sucked out just before time kicks back in. It gives him just enough time to grab onto something!

Once the door is closed, we learn that the window was shot out as the only way to “get that thing out of here.” And it’s so reminiscent of Alien! Virgil (Deniz Akdeniz) immediately recognizes Coulson and is thrilled to see him as he’s there to save them. Coulson wants more information. Virgil is determined that they have to wait for the others. When his companion is eaten by a “roach,” they take a beat for Virgil to explain. Virgil is the greeting party and a fan, and he’s one of the true believers. It’s as far he gets before Mack punches him unconscious!

YoYo (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) materializes and attacks a person in a mask – which is Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge). Simmons saw the desiccated corpses and thought the air might not be safe to breathe. They are just trying to figure out what sucks a human dry when Mack and Coulson come in with Virgil and tell them aliens. Simmons wants to try to figure out what killed the people, and Coulson is already one problem ahead – who locked them in?

The action shifts to another figure in a mask – and Deke’s (Jeff Ward) first appearance completely reminded me of Star Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy.

May (Ming Na Wen) has the worst re-entry possible as she ends up with a pipe through her leg, pinning her to the wall. May gets herself off the pipe – and really, why wasn’t she bleeding like a stuck pig? This should have been a bigger problem. May watches as Deke cuts something off/out of a dead guy’s wrist. Deke finds May and holds a knife to her throat as he tells her that he’s been looking for her. Not a good way to introduce yourself to May, and the two fight.

May is clearly winning until Deke puts a device on her that makes her weightless and then pins her to the wall. He tells her that he doesn’t want to hurt her. Why she doesn’t kick him a second time to keep him from stuffing her mouth with a cloth to shut her up is a mystery to me.

Deke puts a metric in May’s arm so that she will blend in. It’s interesting that he tells her if she moves, she’ll be a “vacancy” – not dead. It’s the first indication that a life is not viewed in the same way here. People keep others and their deaths at a distance.

Mack is freaking out just a little bit. He gives Coulson a hard time about not coming prepared with his state of the art prosthetic, and he tries to quit again. Simmons encourages them all to remain calm and apply the scientific method. Simmons has determined that the corpses are at least humanoid, so they aren’t the first people there. Simmons asks if Fury ever mentioned deep space outposts, but Coulson says there was nothing in his black box. YoYo assumes there should be a space division called S.P.E.A.R. – how perfect is that! But no…

Virgil is still unconscious, so Coulson goes through his pockets. He finds something that almost looks like a thumb drive, but Simmons can’t identify it. He also finds a postcard – Welcome to Lake Ontario. So they determine that he’s from Earth.

Virgil is thrilled to meet all of them and knows all of them. He tells Simmons that he’s sorry that Fitz didn’t get to make the trip, but he is thinking of her – and he pats his chest. I assumed at the time that he meant it as a gesture to his heart – but of course it’s to the postcard which is the big reveal at the end of this part. Virgil tells them he knows them and has studied them for years. He’s a true believer in the stories – in this one – that they’d come to save humanity.

Virgil is about to tell them more when he’s suddenly speared through the head by a roach. They’ve been wandering around this room, so why didn’t they completely secure it? Coulson already saw one guy get taken! This was another major flaw in the episode. Regardless, the team runs away with the roach hot on their heels. YoYo runs out of ammunition – and she’s a terrible shot! Mack is about to protect the others with a wrench when Daisy (Chloe Bennet) shows up at just the “right” time and explodes it. Interestingly, it’s blue like the Kree…

Daisy wants to know if their being there has anything to do with the bargain that Coulson made with the Ghostrider. I love that Daisy had figured out that there had to be a bargain, and that we are immediately reminded of this nagging secret. Mack also knows that the thing doesn’t ride for free. They aren’t going to let it go. But Coulson says that it has nothing to do with that – this is just reality. YoYo wonders if they are maybe just back in the framework! And everyone freaks out!

Simmons drags them back to the scientific method – they should rely on facts and not jump to conclusions. Mack is ready to declare it all magic (see the quotes from this scene!). Daisy confirms with Simmons that Fitz wasn’t with them – she was the last to go through and didn’t see him. Simmons is relieved he’s safe. Daisy remarks that they are constantly torn apart – and Simmons mentions the “curse.” However, she’s absolutely right that it’s a good thing that Fitz can be working on a solution from his end! And Simmons is absolutely right that he’s trying to get a message to them…

Coulson suggests that they split up to search for May, and Mack and YoYo are having none of it. I loved that they went back to their love of horror movies for how to act in space! And Coulson’s right – it is the coolest the team has ever looked!

Couslon and Simmons discuss the evidence that the ship itself is providing. It’s clearly designed for humans. Simmons sees machinery for reclaiming water. However, Coulson points out that the plasma gun is clearly not man-made and he also suggests that humans couldn’t build such a station without outside help. It’s also old. Coulson thinks the entire thing might have been started in the 1980s with Howard Stark, but that doesn’t feel quite right.

The team finds the flare that Deke threw out to lure the roaches away and the team find evidence of May. They also find a console and determine that they are reclaiming water from space – from “frozen ocean.” And one has to wonder how long even the oceans would last if that was their one big source of water – but the team doesn’t know the significance yet. They realize that they must be on a ship that people travelled too – and unless they all came through monoliths – it must be close to Earth. The team is clearly happy this means they should be able to get home easily. Simmons is excited that if they can get on a ship and get above the debris field they’ll be able to get a message to Fitz.

When they try to actually access the console, they discover that a human hand won’t open it. Coulson realizes that humans aren’t in charge just as Kree soldiers burst in and knock them all unconscious.

The team wakes up in prison. Mack and YoYo are missing, and Daisy asks the guards (Derek Mears and Douglas Tait) where they are. They tell her that they’ll do whatever they want to them as they knew the rules and broke them. Mack tells YoYo he wishes she’d run away, but she points out that she returns to where she started – sometimes it’s useful and sometimes it’s annoying. Mack tries to keep them focused on him, and he also reveals that he’s learned Spanish while in the framework.

The rest of the team wonder if the Kree have been abducting humans to this outpost for years to conduct experiments. They’re interrupted by the appearance of May – and Deke! Deke pretends he knows all of them and devises a cover story that Virgil was trying to scam tokens out of all of them. Coulson tells Deke that Virgil is dead, and Deke says good! One more vacancy. Deke smears blood on Coulson’s wrist so that it looks like his Metric has been removed.

Deke tells the guard (Jermaine Brantley) that he’ll slip him some tokens and take the prisoners of his hands. He makes up a story that if he doesn’t get them back to Processing, he’ll be in trouble. He also offers him an hour or two at the “Gallery.” And that’s the bribe the guard takes. They all follow Deke out of the cell.

Mack and YoYo’s torture continues. One of the Kree remarks that Mack is holding up well for a human. He might be suited to the Crater. Is this some sort of gladiator amusement for the Kree? We also have our first mention of Kasius (Dominic Rains). Does he keep a stable of fighters? They decide to spare Mack and begin torturing YoYo with freezing air.

Deke isn’t too unhappy about Virgil’s death – except that he owes him a ton of tokens for this job. He was supposed to supply the metrics for them and walk them out. Deke is about to leave them because they can’t pay him. Deke tells him that Mack and YoYo are as good as dead. Coulson asks Deke to help get them to the space ship, but Deke says the only pilot for the trawler that he knew was Virgil. May stops Deke from leaving by pinning him with his own device when they hear YoYo scream.

Deke tells them where to find the trawler, and Coulson sends Simmons and May to get it in the air and send a message. I loved the scene where Daisy gives Coulson HIS orders. He’s going to go with her to save Mack and YoYo, but she tells him that they can’t afford to lose their leader. She’s going to rescue two of their best fighters. She tells Coulson to stay and interrogate Deke. Deke tells Coulson that all the Kree ever want is submission.

Coulson asks why the Kree want submission and if they’re planning an attack on humans. Deke asks why would they do that? When Coulson says he’s from Wisconsin, Deke things he’s high – and asks for some! Deke tells him humans built the bunker over 90 years ago and that he was born there.

Daisy takes out the guards and releases Mack, who instantly finds himself a new ax! We get another great fight scene – though brief. Mack takes out one with his ax and Daisy drops an icicle on the other guard. Daisy has the idea to use one of the Kree’s hands to get into the system and maybe talk to the trawler or at least get a location. Mack notices that all the equipment has been repurposed.

May and Simmons are distressed by how many Kree who were bred to kill are living within striking distance of Earth. They figure out that they aren’t in an outpost, they’re in staging ground for an invasion. May and Simmons realize that the curious thing they took off Virgil is the ignition key – lucky Simmons kept that… May proves that she can fly anything – whether she’s flown one before or not.

I loved how the big reveal is intercut with everyone making the same discovery at once. Mack asks to see the postcard. Deke asks about when they were taken – what year. Coulson realizes that the monolith was different. They weren’t taken through space. Simmons and May realize where they are as a destroyed school bus floats by. Simmons says there’s no reason to send a message back to Earth. Mack hands Daisy the worn postcard. There’s a message on the back: “Working on it – Fitz.” And Simmons finishes her thought “we’re already here.”

Part Two Review will be up shortly….

My Favorite Lines!

Hi. Don’t shoot, thanks!
Walk me through it like I’m a child. A foreign child.
Oh! My bad. I see a dirty looking dude hovering over you with a crazy looking gun. I acted on impulse.
“I do know we’re in space.” “Yeah. That makes sense. It’s the one thing we haven’t done yet.”
What good is having a state of the art robotic hand if you don’t have it on you when you’re kidnapped by Martians?
Should have been a hook! At least you can stab things with a hook!
I’m not Inspector Gadget!
Prison is bad enough without being down an appendage.
I didn’t quit hard enough. I am not comfortable with the pace at which we deal with new trials and tribulations.
“How hard did you hit him?” “What do you mean? As hard as I possibly could! You don’t half hit people. It’s a punch. That’s what it’s called…”
Well, of course, it’s been overrun by creatures that suck out your innards. I should have been a firefighter.
You pack a big punch for such a small package.
If I even think about that, my brain will explode.
But this is magic, okay. Can we all agree that this is magic up here?
Magic is just science we don’t understand yet.
Oh please. We just got zapped through space by Stonehenge, and we’re trying to rule out the involvement of a flame-headed demon from east LA. Science my ass.
We are sticking together 100%. Haven’t you ever seen an Alien movie?
That’s exactly what they say before they get picked off one by one. And you know who the first one will be…
This has to be the coolest we’ve ever looked!
How do you think Papa Smurf here feels about a little Espanol?
We just wanted pie, so you’re not walking away.
I have no words.

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