ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is hitting the stratosphere this year, and the latest episode digs into the world-building and mystery that Coulson’s team has stumbled upon after getting sucked into a time-traveling monolith. Coulson and the gang still have a whole lot left to learn.
Spoilers ahead for “A Life Spent,” the latest episode of ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which aired Friday, Dec. 8, 2017!
The future is a scary place.
A major theme this year has been watching the S.H.I.E.L.D. crew try to reconcile the world they left behind with the post-apocalypse they find themselves in. The Earth has been destroyed, and the lingering remnants of humanity are holding on by a thread in a space station, which is ruled by a cadre of Kree. We see Coulson and May share a conversation about fate, and whether maybe this has always been where their lives were headed — what if this really is where the story ends for them? You have to think Coulson will eventually find a way to get back in time (hey, there’s still a whole season to go!), but the emotions are real nonetheless.
We see that manifest in different ways throughout “A Life Spent,” namely with how the team interacts with the survivors. Deke has been preaching conformity and playing the long game since these heroes from the distant past landed in the middle of his life, and through Coulson, May, Mack, and Yo-yo do take a job out of necessity -- it’s all working toward their end goal of figuring out what’s happening, and how to get back home. Coulson has no qualms about commandeering the ship to get a look at section 616 (a little easter egg for comic fans, with “616” being the main comic universe continuity), regardless of the consequences. Daisy, who is still roaming free to try and rescue Simmons, takes things a step further.
She literally storms the castle, taking out a few Kree and busting into the private section of the station in a failed rescue attempt. The reason it goes sideways? Deke sells her out to the Kree in charge, and gives Daisy a shrug about the “long game” as she passes out from knockout gas. For Daisy, it’s not just about fighting for her friends and a return trip to 2017 — she’s rebelling against this reality itself, namely because most of them tend to believe it’s a future version of Daisy who destroys the world in the first place. Quake: Destroyer of Worlds certainly has a ring to it, aye? There’s still the question of whether Deke turned Daisy in for what he sees as her own good (he is all about the long game, after all), but regardless, the team is not in a good place. Literally and figuratively.
The more the team learns about this future, the more horrifying it becomes. The Kree are raising Inhumans to use for their entertainment, as we see a scared young girl forced into a gladiatorial ring because of her abilities. Seeing her bloodied arm pulled from the chest of a man was a shocking image, and a quick reminder that this wild space adventure still holds serious stakes. Also, distant future or not, Inhumans are still a big part of this show’s DNA.
*The central mystery took a leap forward with the reveal that there is some group of survivors broadcasting from the last broken chunk of the Earth. They were in communication with the late Virgil, and Coulson believes they could have the answers he needs. There’s obviously some grand plan that has taken place to get Coulson and the team there and prepare a place for them upon arrival. Is it something Fitz put into place after they disappeared? Or something else entirely?
*Deke drops a reference to the multiverse, which is something we actually haven't seen explored all that much in the MCU as a whole. DC's TV slate revels in it over in the Arrowverse, but it was interesting to hear the concept floated here. Could we finally get a Marvel multiverse?
*We get to see a bit more of the politics revolving around the Kree, and it seems the remains of Earth are basically just a backwater outpost for the future Kree Empire. They mostly use the area for mining and raising Inhumans, it seems.
*The scene where Daisy hides in the ceiling of the elevator was absolutely hilarious. It’s a great example of how this show takes tropes, such as old action concepts, and flips them on their heads to create something unexpected and fresh. That “squeak” was priceless.
*This show is all about the symmetry, and the episode wraps with a look at a scene that should be familiar to fans. We see the stinger scene from last season’s finale, with Coulson waking up on the ship and getting to work. It was a head scratcher with no context, but it’s clear now how they were setting up this story from the jump. Again, another example of how well they map out and frame this series.