Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: 5.04 A Life Earned

Writing reviews for four shows on the The Digital Fix tends to require a lot of note taking. But watching this episode I didn’t make any and this is a testament to how engaging and entertaining it was. Throughout, we get a deeper understanding and development for Kasius, a better look at how the remaining humans are treated, a further look into the emotional turmoil the Framework left behind, some kick ass action and the return of an old friend. If that’s not excitement enough to get your heart pumping, I don’t know what is.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe seems to have issues making convincing and menacing villains, both in the movies and of course Agents of SHIELD but Kasius is a fantastic villain. Intellectually he matches the heroes, he’s unafraid to take and do as he pleases, and his general demeanour is very frightening (in a superhero TV show sense that is). After capturing Daisy, Kasius extracts some of her blood and she begins the usual routine of asking questions and giving nothing away. Kasius then shows Daisy around and introduces her to his champion, a new inhuman, Ben, who has the ability of telepathy, a power that is controlled by the Kree. Not to mention, the man can fight. This creates an interesting fork in the road as Daisy tries to earn Ben’s trust, as he later turns out to provide valuable information about Kasius.

It seems the main reason Inhumans are so cooperative towards the Kree isn’t just because their powers are controlled by them, but they’re told if they allow themselves to be sold, their families will be well taken care of. Daisy convinces Ben to read Kasius’s mind, which is strictly forbidden. After doing so, he learns that not only does Kasius plan on leaving and destroying the station, but he hates his people as much as the humans. This was a nice way to further develop Kasius and has certainly peaked my curiosity in his character.

After his betrayal of Daisy last episode, it appeared Deke was also the untrustworthy villain type. But with the help of Coulson and May, we learn there is far more complexity to his character. He is one of the last naturally born children, to parents who resisted Kasuis before being murdered; it would seem he is simply trying to get by while resisting the urge to fight back. We additionally learn that the message from Earth is being sent by Deke’s father, who he believes is still alive. Coulson and May learn of his betrayal of Daisy, and his tragic back story, which generates some rather intriguing back and forth.

Elsewhere, Mack is forced to be a debt collector of sorts and go see a guy who owes Grill credits. Taking Yo Yo with him, we learn this guy used his money to buy a baby as humans have lost the ability to procreate. Mack was already reluctant to use force, and finding out about the child just cemented that feeling, as it brought back memories of his Framework daughter Hope. After the man verbally attacks Mack about parenthood, we slowly see the humanity leave his eyes as he beings to pound his face. This leads to a highly emotional conversation about Hope, which shows that, the part of last season which was so powerful hasn’t been forgotten.

I mentioned action, and that’s precisely what we get. Kasius‘s right hand woman, Sinara, who has the ability to control metal balls (similar to how Yondu from Guardians of the Galaxy controls his arrow with a whistle), has been at the forefront of everything. It was inevitable that a fight between her and May would take place, and it happened sooner rather than later. The fight was epic and the outcome, although not seen, on screen doesn’t look good for May. What we got was excellent but, perhaps selfishly, I wanted more.

Finally, we learn that Kasius has arranged for a fight of epic proportions where the victor will win the blood of Quake, Destroyer of Worlds, and inherit her powers. All, so he can earn enough profit to leave the station. This brings us to the big reveal; a helmeted man approaches Kasius to discuss the bidding and taking his helmet off, we learn this mystery man is none other than Fitz whose thus far been missing. This brought me much pleasure and a deeper excitement for the next episode.

The way A Life Earned unfolded and finished was fantastic. Mack is emotionally confused and unstable, Daisy and Jemma are captives of Kasius, May is potentially dead, Coulson is on a wild goose chase with Deke and it's hugely unclear what Fitz’s motives are. We had a new character introduction with Ben, who has the potential to go far and is still mysterious. Not to mention it would seem that Kasius is in control of every situation. There was so much happening in this episode to speculate on and enjoy, which amazed me as I was ready to throw in the towel with SHIELD after season two…I’m glad I didn’t.

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