I couldn't believe it would happen, but it did - this week's episode of Agents of SHIELD saw the show moving the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe forward by introducing the Inhumans, who will be getting their own movie in a couple of years. The show didn't actually say 'Inhuman,' and there were no identifiable Inhuman characters in the episode, but there's no doubt that this week's episode, What They Become, ended with Skye and Raina being subjected to Terrigen Mists, getting cocooned and awakening with superpowers - classic Inhuman stuff.
One of the reasons I couldn't believe the show would be allowed to go there was because I couldn't believe the show would be allowed to define the look of important aspects of Inhuman mythology, like the Terrigen mists, which activate the superpowers within Inhumans. I was wrong to think Marvel wouldn't allow it, but I was right to think they shouldn't - while the show's production value has increased dramatically this season the Terrigen mists just looked like shitty dust to me. I'm imagining that when the movies show us Terrigen mists - and they will, as The Inhumans will need to re-explain everything about The Inhumans to a new audience - they'll be redesigned and much more grand looking.
What happens next? Agents of SHIELD is going on winter break, replaced by Agent Carter (which I should be reviewing weekly), and when it returns it will be to a whole new Marvel Cinematic Universe. The doors are open for super powered beings to show up with regularity, especially as the episode ended with the revelation that there are Inhumans living among us. A guy with no eyes 'saw' the activation of Raina and Skye and contacted his group, letting them know there are now others. Raina also mentioned that she grew up with a group of 'freaks' who had powers - the show is slowly broadening the scope of the universe.
These are all good things - the MCU is remarkably low on super powered humans, especially as we could argue about whether Captain America is truly super-powered (he's "peak human") - and it allows Agents of SHIELD to finally feel like it matters. This should have always been what the show was doing, introducing new characters into the MCU, making it feel more populated and less sparse. This whole season has been an enormous course-correction and now, 32 episodes into its run, Agents of SHIELD is actually the show it was supposed to be in the first place.
For those confused by all the talk of Inhumans:
Millennia ago the alien Kree came to Earth and experimented on Neanderthals. The Kree had hit an evolutionary dead-end and were trying to get past it, as well as trying to create super soldiers to fight an intergalactic war. They found Earth a good place to work because the cosmic Celestials (as seen in Guardians of the Galaxy) had already monkeyed with the DNA of the locals. The results of Kree experimentation were an offshoot of humanity called The Inhumans. They seem totally normal until puberty, when they are subjected to the Terrigen mists, an agent that activates their Inhuman DNA and gives them some kind of super power. Some of the powers are very cool, some of the powers are useless, and sometime the Inhumans come out looking like monsters. There's an Inhuman royal family who will certainly be the subjects of the Inhumans movie, but recent Marvel comics have revealed that there were Inhumans who left Attilan, the secret Inhuman city, and intermarried with regular humans, which means there are Inhumans in our midst, Inhumans who don't even know they're special.