Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5 Episode 4 Review: A Life Earned

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After all the intriguing and/or surprising reveals of the season so far, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5 Episode 4 sort of fell flat in that department.

Seriously, was anyone shocked when the masked mystery bidder in the stinger turned out to be Fitz? I honestly wondered when he would be popping up, not if.

No, "A Life Earned" held its own far more strongly in the character moments, especially in the Mack/Yo-Yo storyline.

True Intentions - Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

The Inhuman telepath (and even Daisy) apparently found it as some sort of great revelation that Kasius would plan on destroying the Lighthouse as a somewhat permanent way of wiping the dust of Earth from his feet once he was done there.

It's not like Kasius has ever displayed any actual concern for human life, or placed any value on it besides what price someone might fetch him at auction.

One could argue that this is less a plot hole and fridge brilliance; it was mentioned that no one likes to think about the more unpleasant aspects of their lives.

So the humans like to imagine that things will just continue the way they are, forever, willfully ignoring the fact that their Kree masters despise their very existence.

Also treated as a massive revelation? The Kree control the humans in part through forced sterilization and controlled breeding programs as part of Kasius's attempts to breed more powerful (read: valuable) Inhumans.

Coulson: They’re using newborns as a commodity?!
Deke: How do you think things are done around here? It’s the only way anyone can have kids.
Coulson: I’m sorry, the *only* way?
Deke: People don’t get *pregnant* anymore.
Coulson: Super. And the vibe goes full dystopian!

While this is creepy and horrible, it's not exactly shocking. But it also linked into Mack's plotline, when he learned that Gunnar was trying to buy a baby, not some sort of goods.

Kudos to Henry Simmons, who played Mack with a brilliant mixture of anger compounded with horror and shame. That reveal was well-done when Mack saw those baby items on the deck.

It's easy to forget how short a time it's been since Team Coulson emerged from the Framework, which tested Mack so heavily with the loss of his daughter Hope.

And then Yo-Yo reminded the viewers one of the reasons Mack, and we, love her so much.

Hey. Hope might not have been real, but your love for her was. And that makes you a great father. And a good man. We’ll get through this place intact. Together.


Yo-Yo and Mack have definitely wormed their way into my heart as my favorite romantic duo in possibly the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Finally, they managed to tie up that plot with Gunnar by anonymously gifting him with Deke's payment for Daisy from Kasius, allowing him to pay off Grill.

That whole story managed to mess with the emotions, didn't it? Brilliantly acted and performed, morally complex and thoughtful, and far more engrossing emotionally than just about any other plot so far this season.

Then there was Deke. Deke, Deke, Deke. He's a bit frustrating as a character. I understand, even appreciate, complicated characters with potentially ambiguous motivations.

For example, one such character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe -- Loki -- has become one of its most popular and enduring figures.

But just about the only thing, Deke managed so far is to get me to agree with Coulson:

Deke: Okay, this is probably the part where I should explain--
Coulson: No, this is the part where May breaks your *face*! You explaining? Kinda secondary!

On the one hand, he sold out Daisy. On the other, she's near to Simmons, and Deke didn't tell Kasius about the rest of the team when given the opportunity.

Are we supposed to believe his story about his father and the voice on the radio? Coulson certainly seemed skeptical, with good reason. After a while, though, unreliable narrators tend to get frustrating and annoying.

In short, Deke's wearing out his welcome. Even the woefully self-deluding telepath is less irksome.

Moving onto the significant action set piece of the episode, Melinda May got to fight Sinara, Kasius's right-hand woman who is even muter than Gibbs from NCIS.

Obviously, viewers are meant to think that Sinara killed Melinda. But do we believe that the Cavalry died essentially offscreen? That seems... unlikely. But we'll hopefully see.

If Sinara did not kill Melinda, the question becomes why.

Finally, that Fitz reveal. Did he travel through time, like the rest of the team? Or did he discover the secret of longevity? And why was he so anxious to get Daisy into a death-duel?

As I mentioned earlier, Fitz showing up didn't come as a surprise. The real question is what Fitz will we get to see, particularly after all the trauma he's endured.

You can always watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. online! And tune in for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5 Episode 5, "Rewind," on Friday, Dec. 22, 2017, at 9/8c on ABC!

What did you think of "A Life Earned"? Did Fitz's appearance surprise you, or were you expecting him to show up? Did Mack's enforcer storyline tug at your heartstrings?

Let us know in the comments section below!

A Life Earned Review

Editor Rating: 3.8 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.2 / 5.0 (59 Votes)
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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5 Episode 4 Quotes

May I call you Daisy? It’s a lot less formal than ‘Destroyer of Worlds.’


Kasius: Despite everything I did for these humans, I still found them clinging to their gods. Their fairy tales. One of which was Quake. The old ones, rest their souls, used to tell how SHIELD would return one day from the past to save them. Now here *you* are.
Daisy: Not by choice.
Kasius: You you show up at the exact same time as another human. There’s no marks on her wrist, and a skillset beyond her station!