S.H.I.E.L.D. Boss: Season 5's Space Odyssey Is the 'Craziest Roller Coaster Adventure We Could Think Of'

Agents SHIELD Preview

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. find themselves thrust into the great unknown when Season 5 of the ABC series blasts off tonight at 8/7c with a two-hour premiere.

OK, maybe the outer space environs aren’t unknown to everybody.

Simmons, for one, “is thinking, ‘I’ve done this before! How did I end up here again?’ Like, that’s just clumsy,” Elizabeth Henstridge shared with a laugh during our visit to the set this week. “Once, you know… that’s just the experience. But two is just stupidity.”

Even so, the “return” engagement does leave the scientist feeling “a little bit more prepared than maybe other people, because she has been here before and she got back.” But given how the premiere ends, “She’s not that hopeful beyond the first two episodes,” the actress teases. “She’s kind of a bit more annoyed by it.”

To refresh noggins: When last we tuned into the Marvel drama, Coulson & Co. had bested Aida and the Framework reality she had constructed. To celebrate, they grabbed a bite at a diner, only to be confronted by agents of some other kind — one of whom, this 17-minute preview revealed, was not human (and yet not Inhuman). The premiere rewinds a bit to the S.H.I.E.L.D. team’s abduction, showing how it is all (well, all but one of them) wound up on a sketchy space station.

And the reveals only pile up from there on, building to one that has to be seen to be believed.

“I’ve said it a lot, but I just stand in awe of the way our writers and our producers — even after our most successful season by most accounts — just tear the whole thing apart and  take us to an entirely new universe,” shared Clark Gregg. “It’s really thrilling because I think if we were still basically doing the same thing as we were doing in our first 10 episodes, we’d probably be a little bored by now. But it’s kind of a ‘reboot’ every year, and that’s exciting for the characters.”

Elaborating on his affinity for Season 5 — which will span two storyline “pods” versus last year’s three — Gregg added, “I love sci-fi, and I feel like we get into a world that has elements of everything from Snowpiercer to Delicatessen and Silent Running… a lot of cool sci-fi like that. They’re suddenly in a world that they don’t run.”

To offer a bit more, non-spoilery Season 5 specificity: Coulson, May, Daisy, Jemma, Mack and Elena will struggle (and they do struggle!) to keep a low profile aboard a space station which is dubbed “The Lighthouse,” features some really nasty roaches (aka Alien-style critters) and operates on a very specific caste system. Along the way, they meet seeming allies (played by Channel Zero’s Jeff Ward and The 100‘s Eve Harlow) and at least one frenemy (The Mentalist‘s Pruitt Taylor Vince).

Fitz, meanwhile, did not get an invite to this out-of-this-world adventure, for reasons unknown.

Explaining the Season 5 plan, co-showrunner Jed Whedon cited a speech Daisy once gave — “If we go down, we go down together” — then added, “We wanted to create a situation where that would occur. And then, putting that family together in an intense situation will end up causing drama internally, inevitably. We know [these characters] so well… let’s throw them on the craziest roller coaster adventure we could think of.

“That was how we approached the year: Let’s drop everybody, them and the audience, right in and let everybody go, ‘What the…?'” added Whedon. “You can fill in the blank on the last one.” (With reporting by Scott Huver)

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