Season five of Superstore picks up immediately following the events of the season four finale. After Mateo gets detained by ICE, the Cloud 9 employees hold a vigil outside of the detention center where Mateo is being kept. The scene delivers because it demonstrates the anger and sadness of the situation without losing a comedic beat. The team stands around aimlessly not knowing exactly what participating in a vigil entails, finally deciding on breaking out into a song about pizza.
The season premiere resumed the ongoing storylines of the past season. Sandra fails to catch the attention of her fellow coworkers, again and again, to share the news of her engagement. Dina has managed to find new ways to torment Garrett for having lied about letting her birds escape. As always on Superstore, the show continues to address the issues affecting the lives of everyday people with humor and heart.
A new corporate initiative to sustain Cloud 9 and keep up with the competition of online retailers brings a robot vacuum (hilariously named Glen) into the store. Employees are quick to point out that the new initiative is just a reminder of how they can be replaced, how Mateo was replaced. Talks of unionizing are still in the air at Cloud 9 but with corporate keeping such a close watch on them, this seems to be a storyline that will surely be brought back later in the season.
The heart of this first episode deals with the emotional impact of Mateo’s detention on his Cloud 9 family. Throughout the episode we see how the team deals with Mateo being gone. Dina spends the entirety of the episode trying to hatch an impossible escape plan to get Mateo out of the detention center, blaming herself for letting him get caught in the first place. She eventually comes to the conclusion that the only reason she wasn’t able to create an escape route for Mateo on the day of the raid was because of what had happened to her birds, so naturally corporate sending ICE to their store is all Garrett’s fault. Amy and the other employees rebel against the corporate machine (literally) by throwing Glen (the robot, not the man) off the roof.
Glen comes back to life however, as we know this isn’t the end of corporate abusing the power they have over their employees. The most emotionally wrecked of the Cloud 9 team over Mateo’s detention has to be Cheyenne though. She spends most of the episode dodging Amy’s questions about why she hasn’t gone to visit him. She gets upset and beats up the Glen-bot when Mateo’s display at the store is damaged. When Cheyenne finally visits Mateo, we get a conversation that includes both coworkers’ bad outfits and the horrors of living in a detention center. This is Superstore at its finest, telling the most honest stories it can.