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. just made a Stan Lee phrase into a major element of Season 5. In "Orientation," the season premiere, Director Phil Coulson and his team met the True Believers, a group that takes their name after a phrase popularized by Lee in his early comics. Lee would often use the phrase "Face front, true believer!" in his "Stan Lee's Soapbox" editorial pages to address his readers.
A True Believer named Virgil was one of the two people Coulson first encountered when he landed in the Lighthouse, the colony of humans who survived Earth's destruction. "I didn't know how you'd travel here, but I knew it wouldn't be first class," he admitted. "But you're here, Agent Coulson of S.H.I.E.L.D. You've come to save us."
"I didn't know how much you'd know about our current situation coming in," he explained. "My name is Virgil. I'm the greeting party, and a fan... I'm one of the True Believers." Asked what he believes in, Virgil said simply, "You." Before Coulson could learn more, Mack appeared and punched Virgil out, rendering him unconscious.
"He said we were coming here to serve a purpose," Coulson recounted as he tried to wake Virgil up. "He said we were here to save them."
After he came to, Virgil proceeded to name every member of Coulson's team that was present in the room. When he got to Simmons, he paused. "I'm sorry Fitz didn't get to make the trip, but he is thinking of you," he said.
When Mack demanded to know how Virgil knew them, he assumed a more serious disposition. "I've been studying you for years. Your history. I mean, I always believed. I mean, I had moments. They tried to take that last bit away from me, but I always believed the stories were true." Simmons asked what he meant by "stories," so Virgil clarified, "Well, this one. That you would come."
"You're not here to save me," he revealed. According to him, they had come to save "humanity." Almost immediately after he dropped this bombshell, he was killed by a Vrellnexian.
Though Virgil died, he continued to have a presence in the premiere through his friend Tess. Though she was not a True Believer herself, she had heard plenty of stories from her late friend. "Stories from when we were kids. Some of the elders swore that a group called S.H.I.E.L.D. would come from the past to help us," she shared. She added that the Kree "got rid of anyone who believed in the movement. Fed them to the roaches. And it worked. Only Virgil held out hope, and everybody thought that he was a crackpot."
In Virgil's room, Coulson encountered relics from this future's past, from store signs to umbrellas to Christmas decorations. As he searched the room, Coulson came across a hidden journal, which contained mysteries that he and Tess couldn't solve in that moment. This will likely continue to be a plot point throughout this storyline.
However, the most important relic of all was Virgil's post card. With its "Greetings from Lake Ontario!" slogan across the front, it appeared unremarkable at first -- until Mack flipped it over and read what was on the other side. On the back was a message from Fitz, scrawled in pencil: "Working on it." Considering this, Fitz must know where the others are and that the world is headed towards certain doom, though it's unclear how he learns this and what exactly he is "working on."
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.