The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and a few new allies from the future have found themselves trying to literally put the world back together this season, but that’s only if they can avoid getting torn apart by this insane world first.
Spoilers ahead for “A Life Earned,” the latest episode of ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which aired Dec. 15, 2017, on ABC.
After seemingly hanging Daisy out to dry at the end of last week, the Poor Man’s Star-Lord, aka Deke, has caught back up with Coulson and the rest of the team. The writers have managed to hit all the right shades of gray with this new addition, and they finally started filling in more of the picture in “A Life Earned.” Deke is nothing if not opportunistic, as we’ve learned from his Framework-based side business and his dealings with the Kree. When the S.H.I.E.L.D. team landed in his lap, he helped them — at least as much as he could without putting his own life on the line. When Daisy pushed too hard, he sold her out for what he views as the greater good. This week, we learned what he meant.
Deke was born into this future without hope, and we learn his parents were actually some of the elders the Kree killed upon arrival in order to effectively erase Earth’s history from the survivors. Hard to learn from the past if no one can actually remember it. Deke is so staunch in his stance that the Kree can’t be stopped because he’s seen them tear his family apart, and seemingly leave him as an orphan. What’s left of humanity doesn’t remember they have a will to fight, and a will for freedom. Deke does remember, and that’s what scares him most of all. It’s a fascinating story, and though he certainly earned some of those punches to the face, it sets him up as one of the most interesting characters of the season.
Dropping the reveal that the voice on the other end of the radio transmission is apparently Deke’s dad was a great way to finally ground him in the stakes, and puts a face and emotional stake in something that had been played as a straight-up mystery.
Looking back at the core cast, Mack has a full-on crisis of faith this week — a testament to the type of storytelling this show can pull off under the guise of a massive sci-fi space adventure. The team exited the alt-universe of the Framework only to get dropped into this future dystopia literally a few hours later, with nary a minute to process the change.
The return was arguably the most painful for Mack, who left behind his late daughter Hope in the Framework. It’s a raw emotion that gets at the heart of parenthood, and Henry Simmons brings the pain to it. Mack is already worried he might lose himself by surviving in this harsh world, and when he accidentally threatens to kill a man’s adopted child, he finally snaps. Mack has been through the wringer the past two seasons, and though he’s still good for some quippy banter, he’s arguably one of the most tragic figures on this show. For a roster that includes the doomed romance that is FitzSimmons, that’s saying something.
*Aside from the juicy character stuff, one of the biggest reveals this episode was the fact that Cassius (aka the Kree in charge of the Earth station) plans to destroy the whole thing once he gains enough cachet to escape for a better life. He’s used humanity — most specifically the Inhumans they can produce — as a commodity and stepping stone to escape. Once he does, he plans to destroy what’s left of humanity on his way out. The stakes were already large enough, with the team trying to figure out a way home to hopefully avert this future, but now they literally have to save it from being destroyed as well. These are MCU movie-level stakes, y’all.
*The biggest twist this week certainly goes to that closing moment reveal that the man in the mystery mask is none other than Fitz, who seems to have quite a bone to pick with Daisy. This opens up a ton of questions. Namely: How much time has passed for Fitz? How did he get there? How long has he been there? How will his reunion with Simmons look? Where did he get that cool mask?
*Scruffy, leather jacket future Coulson is the Coulson we deserve. Marvel, get us an action figure. Stat.
*So what’s up with May? We see the female Kree he was fighting survived the encounter, but what about May? Is she a prisoner now? Dead?