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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. went in a brand new direction for the fifth season when it paid off on the crazy Season 4 cliffhanger by leaving most of the characters in space for the first arc. Outer space was the final frontier for S.H.I.E.L.D. in some ways, as the show had delved into aliens in the past without actually taking the cast into space and the future. Series creators and executive producers Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen recently spoke out about why space was really the way to go for Season 5, saying this:
Jed Whedon: Last year was a real kitchen sink year. We had a lot of stuff going on. We did alt world. We did Ghost Rider. We did LMDs. So we did two different versions of alternate versions of ourselves and so we were thinking 'Where can we go that's different.'
Maurissa Tancharoen: Mack's line sort of reflects what we were thinking in the writer's room. He turns to Coulson and goes 'We're in space. It's the one thing we haven't done yet.' So it was definitely an area that we had been contemplating for a while.
As it turns out, the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. adventure into space actually happened because it was the last big thing that S.H.I.E.L.D. hadn't done. Season 4 was broken up into three arcs, or "pods," that saw three complete stories begun and ended. While it was a fun change of pace to watch the show move through stories at a quick pace without any filler episodes, it also meant that S.H.I.E.L.D. was relatively quickly moving through plots that could conceivably have been stretched out into a full season. According to Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen at the recent WonderCon convention, space was different enough for the show to send the characters to kick off Season 5.
The characters' time in space wasn't exactly fun-filled for them thanks to everything the Kree were doing to them, but the show did manage to find some levity out of the fact that being sent into space was the one thing that hadn't happened to these people. Mack in particular was great at providing commentary based on his experience with movies set in space that were worth laughs for the audience. While Mack's pals in the Lighthouse weren't laughing themselves silly, viewers got that levity to keep Season 5 from descending into total doom and gloom.
Jed Whedon also revealed how the space story came together once they put the idea together:
Then when we were talking about how to do it and how to pull it off the idea of it being the future was the one. As soon as we came up with that idea everybody kind of went 'Oh I see what that story is,' and we ran with that.
The way to send the characters to space was to also send them into the future! I don't think any fans can really argue that it was a bad thing for the characters to be stuck in the future in the first arc of the season. By setting the story in the future, S.H.I.E.L.D. could destroy the Earth, introduce characters like Deke (who has a significant connection to Fitszimmons), and provide more information on the Kree. Then, S.H.I.E.L.D. could simply send them back to a time before the Earth was destroyed, possibly by Daisy and possibly due to another variable.
We can only wait and see. You can catch new episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC. The agents aren't doing too well after last week's episode, which saw a major betrayal that could play into the end of the world. Coulson is still dying, Elena is still dealing with her recent de-arming, and there's still no guarantee that the season finale won't be a series finale. Be sure to tune in.