SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major "Orientation," the Season 5 premiere of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. didn't travel through space; they traveled through time. In "Orientation," the Season 5 premiere, Director Phil Coulson and his team discovered they had been catapulted into a future where the Earth had been destroyed in a cataclysmic event, forcing a colony of human survivors to live in a spaceship under the thumb of Kree overlords.
Though split apart by separate missions, the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents reached this realization at roughly the same time. Coulson came to the conclusion during his conversation with Deke, one of these human survivors. Asked why the Kree built the bunker they were on, Deke impatiently explained that the Kree hadn't built it; humans had. What's more, he had been born there. "They built it 90-some odd years ago, minimum," he said.
When Coulson pointed out that the facility couldn't have been built in the 1920s, Deke finally understood Coulson. "Wait. No metrics, no scars... Wisconsin? Pie? Tell me again about when you were taken... Not where. When. What year?" As soon as Deke said this, Coulson realized that he had jumped forward in time, saying, "The monolith was different, wasn't it? We didn't travel through space..."
In another area of the ship, Daisy helped Mack and Yo-Yo escape from their Kree captors. Mack killed one Kree guard with his own weapon, while Daisy used her powers to quake an icicle into the other's chest. With Mack's help, Daisy used one of the dead Kree's hands to unlock the computer console so that she could learn the Kree's plans.
As Daisy worked her magic on the computer, Mack began to realize that the filtration systems around them hadn't been designed for space travel. "I feel like this machine is out of its element too," Daisy agreed. "I found the coordinates to this place, but it's listing our location in longitude and latitude."
Mack then pulled Virgil's postcard from his pocket. He read the back of it and his face went slack with shock. Wordlessly, he passed it to Daisy, who looked down and found a message from Fitz: "Working on it." Considering they hadn't been in space for even a day, there was no way their present Fitz would have been able to get this message to them, leading them all to realize the truth of their situation.
Elsewhere, May and Simmons soared through space on a trawler they stole. As they navigated around a debris field, Simmons pointed out that she recognized all of the constellations around them, leading her to believe they hadn't left their own galaxy. She continued to study the stars, even as May asked, "Are you seeing what I'm seeing?" Moments later, half of a destroyed school bus floated by their window. Simmons eyes widened with realization and she said, "No reason to send a message back to Earth. We're already here."
After this discovery, Coulson and his team had to adapt -- and fast. They learned that the ship they were on was actually a repurposed underground survival bunker called the Lighthouse. Each S.H.I.E.L.D. agent was soon fitted with a metric, a mechanism inserted through the wrist that keeps track of every human's earnings. They quickly found out that the Kree used these metrics to turn humans against one another with a cruel ceremony called a "renewal," where "a life spent" is "a life earned." The metrics of low earners would turn red, meaning they owed a life: someone else's or their own. As such, work on board the Lighthouse is survival; those who don't work to live must kill or be killed.
It is unclear where the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents can go from here, as it looks like they have crossed the point of no return; they seemed to close the premiere out in defeat, bowing their heads and integrating themselves into society so as not to be killed by the Kree. However, per Fitz's postcard, there may yet be a plan in the works to bring them back so that they can save humanity after all.
Airing Fridays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5 stars Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennet, Henry Simmons, Ian De Caestecker, Natalia Cordova-Buckley, Elizabeth Henstridge, Nick Blood, Jeff Ward, Eve Harlow, Pruitt Taylor Vince and Coy Stewart.