As Melinda May pilots a ship through space, she ponders when she’ll be able to sleep in her own bed again. Our favorite agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have been at it non-stop, having to save other lives, while barely taking care of their own. And now thrown into this dire and grim situation in the Lighthouse, the agents’ heavy burden of helping others continues. The episode title, “A Life Spent,” comes from the Kree’s mantra of “a life spent is a life earned,” but it can also apply to this long burden of our main characters. When will they earn their own lives back?
It is painful to see our characters, usually with so much agency (heh) having to submit. This is a society built on debt and submission, with our main characters all the way at the bottom of the hierarchy, and Kasius somewhere at the top. But this makes it all the more satisfying to see moments of Mack and Yo-Yo ultimately outsmarting their “superiors,” with some sequences of always welcome yo-yo-ing.
But although Coulson, May, Tess and Mack moved the primary story (the Virgil plot) forward, it took a strange detour when a brief ethical debate about what to do with Zev (the enforcer who looks like a bargain bin Dwayne Johnson). The agents have rarely been shy about killing, though admittedly ejecting him into space and covering it up is pretty darn dirty. Still, if they had Zev condemned to death, didn’t they kill him anyway?
At least we circled back to that ending season 4 shot with Coulson.
This show seems to love creating dynamics between Daisy and different male characters—Ward, Lincoln, Robbie Reyes, and now Deke. This current relationship seems pretty antagonistic in nature, but their interactions didn’t totally work with me in this episode. Rather than further the plot, the arguments between the two were just plain annoying, and Deke didn’t contribute much other than being a thorn to Daisy’s side.
But like Yo-Yo before, Daisy got her own dope action scene, in an elevator fight sequence that might even make Steve Rogers jealous. It had a funny set up with Daisy’s failed stealth, and each hit was well-choreographed and looked impressive. But despite my complaints about Deke, I am interested in the “long game” he is playing. We do understand that he isn’t just looking out for himself—he also has the burden of helping everyone in the Lighthouse, because death is everywhere in this place. But a headstrong Daisy is using brute force just for the benefit of her own team, Simmons in particular.
Jemma’s compassion and nurturing nature are her burden—she gets emotionally attached to the point of compromising her self. She bonds with Inhuman Abby, who can *somewhat” control her density, as she prepares for some sort of ceremony. With what we understand from the Kree, I predicted that she would be used as a weapon, but I didn’t expect a gladiator match with some Bane rip-off. It was heartbreaking to see a little girl getting thrown around and about, but man, that gore. The slow motion punch (a la Luke Cage) and the bloody arm through the chest really satisfied the violence-loving animal within.
But it turns out, Abby is just going from one master to another—however, Simmons has proven her usefulness to Kasius, so despite her displays of emotion (displays that got her into this trouble in the first place), she will remain in her “superiors'” good graces.
I’m starting to get off on a tangent, but the idea of the “burden” that these characters carry really resonated with me. There are so many things that these agents have done for the world—saving the world from a Terrigen mist caused by Jiyang, saving the world from another pathogen from Hive, and so on and so forth. Yet no one in the wider MCU will ever know the pain and sacrifices that these characters have suffered for them, the lives that have been spent. It has to do with the wider, corporate separation of Marvel Television and Marvel Studios, but it also fits in thematically with the purpose of the show: the more down-to-earth people that still make a difference, even if their world is smaller. Coulson may have fixed up that Helicarrier for Nick Fury to use in Age of Ultron, but the Avengers will never know that, nor should it matter that they know that or not.
The agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are strangers in a strange land—yes, they need to get outta dodge and figure out how to get back home, but lives are at stake in the Lighthouse, and knowing these characters’ natures after years of television, we know that this will spring them into action.
4.5 arms through the chest Out of 5. A great follow-up episode that works now that we’re acclimated to the space craziness. The different plotlines worked together thematically quite well, for the most part.
- I’m still liking that more subtle title sequence. Also, tat opening VFX shot zooming into destroyed Earth was dope.
- Wait, slow down Deke, you just confirmed the Multiverse in the MCU? Before the movies did??
- “616?” Hey show, slow down with these references!
- What the hell kind of work are they actually doing in that factory?
- “The shoe guy knows all.” Shoe guy confirmed for sixth Infinity Stone.
- Okay, the claustrophobic hallways worked for chase scenes, but the set design of the Lighthouse is pretty uninspiring (still better than Inhumans, though).
- Speaking of “better than Inhumans,” this episode surpassed that entire series in costume design and its interesting depiction of a society.
- Simply wrote down in my notes: “mmm Philinda”
- For a dude with just a few minutes of screen time in episode one, Virgil has received a lot of character development beyond the grave.
- Daisy nailed that superhero three-point landing.
- Dear lord, why is no one else talking about how Kasius and his enforcer femme fatale are literally just the antagonists from Blade Runner 2049?
- WHERE. IS. MY. FITZ.