‘Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Recap/Review: ‘FZZT’
Fitz-Simmons gets some screentime in this week’s episode of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
This week’s episode begins in Wrigley, Pennsylvania, where a group of boy scouts are camping, sitting around the fire and listening as their Troop Leaders tells them a scary story. (What is this, an episode of “Supernatural?”) All looks well and good until the Troop Leader says that he hears a strange humming noise and goes off into the woods to investigate.
The kids start to make s’mores, but when a metal cup begins to hover in midair and they hear the Troop leader scream, his Second-in-Command and the kids freak out and jump into the truck. When they try to start it up, the battery goes flying straight up through the truck’s hood. With no way out of there, they all get out to go look for the leader. They soon find his body floating in mid air, still crackling with electricity. The kids scream and run away.
On the bus, Simmons is giving Coulson a physical (he’s just running on a treadmill, no “turn and cough” stuff). She says that everything looks normal, and all that is left is a blood sample, to which he says, “I’m not a fan of getting poked.” She tells him that he wasn’t due for a physical for another three months, and he tells her that his physical therapist recommended it.
In the lab, Ward is testing out Fitz’s latest improvements upon the night-night pistol, as Skye watches on. Ward tells Fitz that it’s an ounce too heavy and leaves. Skye and Fitz bond a bit by making fun of him, doing impressions of him. Simmons then enters and joins in on the fun. Everyone seems to have forgiven Skye, except Ward. After a moment, they have to stifle their giggles as Ward re-enters to tell them that a mission is at hand. Simmons lies to Ward and tells him that Fitz left a dummy round in the gun, so he picks it up to test it out, and he buys it.
The team arrives at the campground to investigate the murder scene. They quickly discover the body, which is still floating in the air. Simmons gets too close in order to get a better look at a wound on the victim’s head, and it falls to the ground.
On the bus, Skye tells Coulson and Ward what she has learned about the victim, which is pretty much nothing. He is squeaky clean. I loved Skye’s line: “This guy makes Captain America look like ‘The Dude.’” The Agents are short with Skye, telling her to keep digging. When she leaves, Coulson suggests that they’re being a bit tough on her. Ward insists that she has to earn their trust back.
In the lab, Simmons studys the victim’s body, and Fitz is annoyed that there is a dead body in their lab space. As Simmons explains to Coulson what she has found, Fitz alerts everyone that another electrostatic anomaly has been detected nearby.
The A-team of Coulson, May and Grant race to the scene, but while they are en route, Fitz tells them that the signal has just disappeared. They arrive at a farm–the location of the signal–but it’s too late. They enter the barn, and there is another victim’s body floating in the air. Skye tells Coulson that she has found something of interest: both victims worked together as volunteer firefighters, and they were both first responders when the aliens attacked New York (in “The Avengers”). They come to the conclusion that they are looking for a killer.
Cut to the suspected killer, polishing a Chitauri helmet. He places it on a stand and walks away as the helmet sparks with electricity.
Later, Fitz-Simmons investigate the scene at the barn, while Skye sits nearby doing some more research on the computer. One of Fitz’s little drones gets too close to the body, and it and the body fall from the air. Simmons notices a wound on this victim’s head that’s similar to the one on the first victim. Coulson, who is heading to the firehouse with May and Ward, radios in and Skye tells him that the firefighters sent an engine to New York to help with the Chitauri invasion, and both of the victims were on it.
They arrive at the firehouse, and before they can start asking questions, the man that we saw polishing the helmet comes in, looking awfully sweaty. He turns out to be another firefighter, named Diaz. He starts asking a lot of questions, which makes Coulson suspicious. Diaz leaves the room, and Coulson follows, ordering the other agents to block all of the exits.
Back at the lab, Simmons discovers that the wounds on the victim’s head were in fact exit wounds. Fitz suggests that perhaps the victim’s brains were overloaded with electricity and discharged like an EMP. Simmons states that she believes that whatever happened came from inside the victims’ bodies. Skye alerts everyone that another reading is coming in, this time from the firehouse.
Coulson follows Diaz into the firehouse kitchen, where Diaz starts to hear a strange humming noise that no one else seems to hear. A pan starts to float in the air near Diaz, and Coulson draws his gun on him. Elsewhere in the firehouse, May finds the Chitauri helmet and snaps a picture to show Fitz-Simmons. Coulson asks Diaz what they are doing with the helmet, and he says that it was only a souvenir. He tells him that the first time anyone touched it was a few nights earlier, when Diaz and the other two victims decided to clean it.
Simmons tells May not to touch the helmet, and then warns Coulson that the victims have all been infected and the helmet was the source of an alien virus. Diaz realizes that the same thing that happened to the victims is going to happen to him now. Coulson tells the other agents to clear everyone out of the building, and he sits Diaz down to talk to him calmly. Fitz warns him to get out of there, but Coulson pulls out his earpiece.
Coulson explains to Diaz that he knows what he is feeling right now. He tells him how he once died (at the hands of Loki), and that despite the fact that most people believe that it was only for eight seconds, he knows that it was longer. He says that he knows he was not here anymore. He says that he was “there,” and when Diaz asks what’s it like, Coulson says, “It was beautiful.” I almost expected him to say, “It’s a magical place.” A knife starts to float, and Diaz tells Coulson to go. Coulson leaves and joins the others outside. There’s a flash of light and they hear an electric surge.
Later, Fitz scans Coulson, May and Ward for electrostatic energy, and they all come up clean. The other firefighters are being quarantined until they can ensure that they aren’t infected either. S.H.I.E.L.D. personnel in hazmat suits place the infected helmet in the team’s truck, where they will transport it to a S.H.I.E.L.D. research facility for hazardous materials. Coulson tells Simmons to find a cure for this virus.
Back on the bus, Coulson visits May in the cockpit to check on their ETA. May asks him if he is okay, and she mentions his physical. He says everything is fine, but he doesn’t sound so sure. May assumes that he is shaken up over Diaz, and she assures him that he did everything he could for him.
Coulson joins Simmons in the lab, where she excitedly explains her findings about how the virus spreads from person to person through static. As she goes on, Coulson notices a metal utensil levitate behind her. She doesn’t notice, however, and continues to explain how amazing her findings are. When she looks up, Coulson tells her, “I’m so sorry, Gemma,” and he locks her in the lab.
Later, Fitz sits with Simmons, separated by the lab doors. The rest of the team stands nearby helpless, where Coulson explains to them that if they cannot find a cure, she will discharge, which will in turn blow the plane out of the sky. They believe she will die in less time than it will take them to get to their destination, so Simmons is the only one that can save herself.
Fitz makes a device that should be able to deliver the antiserum, and Simmons tests it out on a rat. It doesn’t work and the rat dies, just like the ones before it. Fitz tries to crack jokes as usual to keep their spirits up, but it’s obvious that they are both pushing down a lot of emotions right now.
Elsewhere, Ward puts aside his anger with Skye, as he tells her how much he wished that they were dealing with a person, a problem that he could solve with his fists. He just feels so useless. The only thing they can do is wait, and get ready for whatever happens. In his office, Coulson contacts Agent Blake (Titus Welliver) who offers up no help. He advises Coulson to dump all infected cargo, but Coulson acts as if the connection is breaking up and ends the call.
In the lab, things are starting to get heated between Fitz and Simmons. They argue about her convincing him to come along with her on this great adventure, and how they’ve been together every step of the way, throughout their university, and now working on this plane for S.H.I.E.L.D. He tells her that she needs to fix this, and she says she doesn’t know how, because no one has survived the virus. Then, she realizes that the only survivor would have been the infected Chituari, who was in fact the carrier of the virus. Therefore, they can create a vaccine (“antiserum!”) from Chitauri cells scraped from the helmet.
Fitz runs and gets the container housing the helmet, and barges into the lab with it. He doesn’t care if he gets infected, because they are going to beat this thing together, just like they always do. They get to work as the others watch on nervously from outside. When they are done, they test it out on the rat, and it appears as if it worked, but after a moment, the final rat dies.
At this point, all hope is lost. She asks the others to give her a moment with Fitz, and they leave them. Fitz, who is too preoccupied still trying to figure this out, doesn’t notice as she walks up behind him and bashes him in the head with a fire extinguisher. She walks away.
In Coulson’s office, the team enters to tell him that Agent Blake is calling. They ask for their orders, and Coulson tells them that their orders haven’t changed. Then, they hear an alarm, which May explains means that the cargo doors have been opened. They run down to the cargo bay.
Fitz wakes up in the lab, and notices that the final rat is awake again. The antiserum worked after all. He looks out the lab window and sees Simmons standing in front of the open cargo bay door. He tries to tell her that the antiserum worked, but she doesn’t hear him. She looks back at him one last time and then falls out of the plane.
After a tense commercial break, we return as Fitz is loading up another dose of the antiserum into the delivery device, and grabs a parachute. Ward shows up, takes both from him, and dives out of the plane. He rockets down after Simmons, and catches her. He gives her the antiserum, and pulls the chord. They parachute safely down into the Atlantic Ocean.
Later, Coulson is yelling at Simmons and Ward in his office. He tells Simmons that what she did was not her call, and that they would hate to lose her. As they leave, Ward tells Simmons that he thought what she did was really brave. She admits that she lied to him about the night-night gun being off an ounce, but he tells her that he knows, and then does a great impression of Simmons’ impression of him (it’s nice to see that he has a sense of humor about himself).
In Coulson’s office, May enters and asks about Simmons. Coulson says that you wouldn’t even be able to tell that she almost died, to which May says that it sometimes takes a while for an experience like that to sink in. She sees a report on his desk, and he tells her that it is his bloodwork. It all came back perfectly normal. (“A little heavy on the iron, but don’t worry, you don’t have to start calling me Iron Man.”) He reveals to her that he ordered the tests on himself, not his doctors, but he knows she already knew this.
He says that despite what the reports say, he feels different. She tells him to unbutton his shirt and she looks at his scar. She says that no matter how long it was, he died, and there’s no way that he can come out of that and not be changed. She starts to allude to her own experiences, but he interrupts her, saying, “I know.” She tells him to look forward.
In Fitz’s bunk, he and Simmons talk about how he was totally gonna jump out of the plane after her, but Ward showed up. She tells him that Ward wasn’t the one who was there with her making the antiserum. She says that Fitz was the real hero, and she kisses him on the cheek and exits, leaving him contemplating. I have a bad feeling that he is thinking about getting out of this adventurous life that he never really wanted to live.
In the pre-credits tag, the bus is parked in the Sandbox, the S.H.I.E.L.D. research facility in the desert, and Agent Blake and his men board the plane to pick up the Chitauri helmet. Blake tells Coulson that he doesn’t care whether he died or not, he cannot disobey orders or else S.H.I.E.L.D. will take away his “dream team.” Coulson says, “I’d like to see them try.” Blake says, “That doesn’t sound like the Phil Coulson I used to know.” Coulson tells him to “get used to it.”
I have to say, this was probably my favorite episode so far. I really enjoyed seeing Fitz-Simmons getting a meaty storyline to work with. It was especially good to see them get the spotlight after they were so underused in the last episode. They are my favorite part of the cast, followed by Skye, who already gets a lot of screentime every week.
I also liked Coulson’s storyline. Even he is starting to suspect something is up with his return to the land of the living. I especially loved the scene where he had a heart-to-heart with Diaz about his own brief (or maybe not-so-brief) brush with death. I cannot wait to get to the bottom of this mystery. I’m sure that’s why most people tune in to this show. I was, however, highly annoyed that Coulson cut May off when she was about to talk a little bit about her own traumatic experiences.
The acting was great, especially Elizabeth Henstridge and Iain De Caestecker (Simmons and Fitz, respectively), and of course, Clark Gregg, as usual. The writing was solid, and the story was pretty good as well. The directing wasn’t bad, but we’re still occasionally reminded that they are working with a TV show budget, especially in the skydiving sequence. Come on, ABC. Throw them a couple extra bucks to up their special effects game, yeah?