(Warning: Major spoilers for the Season 5 premiere of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. below.)
We've all spent months and months waiting to find out why and how Coulson (Clark Gregg) ended up in space during the Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 cliffhanger, but honestly, the explanation was even crazier than anybody could have expected.
Coulson and the team didn't just end up in space — they ended up nearly 80 years in the future!
The action-packed, two-hour premiere revealed that a mysterious stone, which was very reminiscent of the one Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) got devoured and then transported by in Season 3, threw everyone into a Kree space station in the future. Well, everyone except Fitz (Iain De Caestecker), that is. The even crazier part is that this future is one where the surviving members of the human race are essentially slaves to the Kree because at some point in the past, Daisy (Chloe Bennett) quaked the Earth so hard it literally cracked and fell apart. Bye-bye planet.
TV Guide spoke with executive producers Jeffrey Bell and Jed Whedon to break down that bonkers twist and what on earth the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. can do to escape this dystopian future they're stuck in.
This time-travel scenario and the world the team has now found themselves in is something so new and different for the show. Do you guys see this as a little bit of a reboot?
Jeffrey Bell: We see every season as a mild reboot of the series, but no, we see it as a continuation of what we've been building over the last four years.
Jed Whedon: We did, this year, kind of try to do something new in that everybody's gotten to know these characters for four years, so instead of sort of changing up their roles and having the audience play catchup, we wanted to put everybody in the same basket and throw them in the river together. It's one big crew who don't know everything — the audience and our team. They're on a new adventure.
Fitz didn't make the trip with them, but we know he's working on it somehow. Can you tease how he'll play into the season, being completely separated from everyone else?
Bell: The fun question is what's going on with him. When and where will he show up? How will he affect this? Those are all questions we will answer.
Whedon: Just not right now with you.
When will we see a plan start to evolve, whether that be to change the past, time travel back home or something else?
Whedon: Right now they're just trying to keep afloat. Survival is the first order of business, and then they have a lot of questions. How to get Simmons out of her predicament and then why they were brought here, what's expected of them, who's behind all of this? And then A) How can they help this dystopian future, and B) How can they prevent this from ever happening?
Now that we're 90 years in the future, does that cut off any opportunities to tie in with the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
Bell: Because we are now happening in the future, we're sort of out of the timeline, so that frees us up a little bit. As always, we're exploring territory that was blazed by the MCU. Last year we had Doctor Strange sort of open up the world of magic and books with spells, so we had the Darkhold and we thought Ghost Rider was a total fit last year because of that. This year we're sort of dipping our toe into the [Guardians of the Galaxy] world. We never would have in Season 1. We never would have dabbled into aliens and space, and now we feel free to. There will be some thematic tie-ins for sure, but yeah, one thing that's nice about being in our fifth season is we're sort of more interested in our own mythology, which is fun.
How much of what happened in The Framework is going to stay with Mack (Henry Simmons), and how will it affect his relationship with Yo-Yo (Natalia Cordova-Buckley)?
Bell: I think the second part is really the crucial one. I feel like what came out of that was Yo-Yo and Mack having a clear understanding. The fact that she was going to stay in The Framework with him, that she was willing to commit to him at that level, is something that has bonded them both this season. There's not really a question of whether they belong together or not. I think his feelings about being a father and his ability to do that well will absolutely affect story this year.
What about Daisy and Coulson? That father-daughter dynamic has become a fan favorite over the course of the series, so will we get to see more of it this year?
Bell: This year, in true father-daughter fashion, we might see a father preparing his daughter for the real world and expecting her to be her own person and letting her take point when she needs to. We'll definitely feel the next step in that dynamic. We agree, it's one of our favorite relationships, and we will be exploring more of it this year.
Poor FitzSimmons can't seem to catch a break, but is there any hope of them finding happiness this year, despite their horrible circumstances?
Bell: No. [Laughs]
Whedon: I think that everybody feels that their love is a forever love even though they can't get a break. But they always seem to overcome it! We'll see how they get out of this sticky-wicket, but they're a fan favorite of ours too. It will not all be misery, that's all I'll say.
You guys got to make a lot of commentary on real-life issues like immigration and prejudice via the Inhumans storyline last year. Can we expect more commentary like that this season?
Bell: Let me be clear, we did not do any of that. We just told a story about a horrible organization called Hydra, and things happened to link up. We just had this story about Inhumans, people who are being different and people who were being persecuted for being different. None of that was intentional, it's just sometimes things fall into place.
Whedon: I think that it's safe to say we're always rooting for the little guy.
Bell: One of the joys of telling a genre story is you can find allegory and metaphor and deal with issues without actually feeling like you're being hit over the head with them. You go, "Oh, I think this actually relates to what's going on!" So we try to do it that way.
Whedon: And we do start in the first two episodes with showing the world being cracked apart, so clearly we're dealing with some modern-day issues.
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Fridays at 9/8c on ABC.