Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "A Life Earned" Review – IGN

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Radio Kree Europe.

Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below.

“A Life Earned” managed to bust through the mini-space rut of “A Life Spent” by giving us a handful of bigger moments and twists. From Deke revealing that it’s his father’s voice on that Earth radio, to Kasius’ plan to get rich and blow the space station to smithereens, to the return of Fitz (who popped up quickly after I thought to myself “Who’s that character in the distractingly badass mask?”), this episode pushed us forward through this season’s on-an-island plot and raised, at least, the immediate stakes.

So where’s Fitz been this whole time? Off doing his own thing, obviously. Not left behind exactly, and not off on Earth’s surface as some grizzled older version of himself, Fitz did travel to the future, but maybe just at a different time. Similar to *slight spoiler* what happened in Thor: Ragnarok. Fitz maybe came through a few days, or weeks, earlier and managed to set up his own mission. Or maybe he just arrived now, later than everyone, having figured out a way to follow his friends through the time blast. Or, maybe he’s just been Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’ing his way through this whole adventure and has purposefully kept himself hidden, off to the sides, while the focus was on everyone else.

The answers to this, most likely, will be immediate. Hopefully too, we’ll learn a little bit more about why the prophesy of SHIELD agents coming from the past even exists in the first place. I mean, time travel doesn’t seem to be a common thing in this Kree-controlled future, and yet this strange myth among the rabble managed to creep up out of the ashes. It’s possible that the prophecy, which Kasius is murky on because he had all the true believers killed off, and Fitz’s presence are connected.

Also, after saying all that, it is sort of weird that no one in the evil elite, Kasius and/or his potential buyers at the big fancy auction, are all that surprised that “Quake, Destroyer of Worlds” has now just somehow arrived in their midst via time/space wormhole.

Anyhow, whatever the case, whatever Fitz’s journey, it’s really good to have him back. As Kasius has now slowly started to capture each hero one by one (he’s got May now thanks to her losing an awesome fight against Sinara), there needs to be a jail break at some point. They can’t just keep have him swallow up the team one at a time. They’ve been keeping us distracted with some cool moments of action, like May’s fight this week and Abby’s gladiator battle last week, but at some point we need to shake loose of the prisoner angle. Because everyone’s being held captive one way or another this season, as a “guest” of Kasius or not.

Actually, one really fun moment this week involved Kasius and two of his prisoners – Daisy and Jemma. That whole scene where he tried to get them to tell the same story about how they came to the future was nice and suspenseful. Sure, we knew deep down that the two of them would somehow find a work-around, but it still played well. It used that very specific Kree tech that Kasius employs – the earwig that only allows servants to hear Kasius’ voice and only when he speaks to them directly – in a clever way.

The thing that bugged me the most this week was Mack. And even then, I’m torn about how bothered I actually am. Because like that the huge dude with the muscles is the one who hates resorting to violence and acts as the “conscience” of the group. It was also really great to hear him go more into depth about how hard it was for him to leave “fake” Grace behind in the Framework. He’s not well, you guys. He’s hurting. This is pretty good arc for him and it plays well to have him “trapped” inside another somewhat disposable reality.

But man, it’s not subtle. And man, Mack all of a sudden is incapable of creating context for anything. After not knowing that the grunt he was ordered to beat up was trying to get a baby (which have become precious commodities), the guy got (understandably) angry and told Mack that he didn’t deserve to be a dad. Whoa. All of a sudden Mack was unable to process that he was in a different world and talking to a man who didn’t know anything about him. This is what made Mack go nuts and do the despicable thing he very much didn’t want to do? This is what duped him?

Oof, and then that moment at the end when Grill told Mack that he “fit right in” and it was meant to spiral Mack even further down his morbid rabbit hole? I guess I just don’t understand if Mack is supposed to be grieving or stupid? Did Mack really think Grill designed that comment to be a dig at his decision to leave his virtual daughter behind? So again, I like the overall packaging of Mack having a hard time just being fresh off the Framework, but all of a sudden he’s only capable of seeing everything, and hearing everything, in black and white.

The Verdict

“A Life Earned” got a little murky with Mack’s side story but Daisy potentially leading an Inhuman revolt against Kasius and the surprise return of Fitz right at the end helped make this chapter feel like a good step forward toward the team’s goals.

Editors’ Choice

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