The newest episode of Agents of SHIELD just so happened to also be the best one of the season as one member of the team faces a life or death situation…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
This will be my first officially recap of Agents of SHIELD this season, but admittedly if you’ve read some of my other columns or follow me on Twitter, I’ve been pretty hard on this show. Maybe it’s my unrealistic expectations of a show being produced and created by Joss Whedon, who can do no wrong in my eyes. Maybe it was the prospect of a superhero show coming to network TV with the full support of a powerful conglomerate pushing for success every step of the way where other series never had that kind of backing.
Whatever the reason is I’ve been colossally disappointed all season long through the first five episodes. The obsession with Skye has been overwhelming. Coulson is a great side character, but not so much in the lead and the rest of the team has been as forgettable as the plots they continued to unfold each episode, none of which leads to a bigger story line or at least one I’ve bothered to care about.
That is until Wednesday night’s episode titled “F.Z.Z.T” and for that I have to give Agents of SHIELD a standing ovation for finally getting it right.
The story played out like a movie, direct with a plot developed from the original Avengers film, with many of the characters finally showing some sort of life and for the first time all year Skye wasn’t the focus of every waking moment!
We pick up with Skye, however, as the episode begins but only briefly as she’s still getting the cold shoulder from Agent Ward after her lies and betrayal two weeks ago almost ended with her getting booted from the team. Meanwhile, Agent Fitz and Simmons are working on a new gun for Agent Ward, while showing off their Agent Ward impersonation skills. Despite their best efforts, I don’t think Jay Pharoah has anyone coming for his job from this pair of scientific wonder kids.
The mystery in this episode revolves around an electrical pulse that picks up and kills a scoutmaster of a local boy’s troop while he’s out on a weekend camping trip. Turns out this scoutmaster is not only squeaky clean, but he’s a volunteer firefighter and about 50 other humanitarian type jobs.
“This guy makes Captain America look like The Dude,” Skye said as she received blank faces from Agents Coulson and Ward. “The Big Lebowski? C’mon!”
A little while later another man is found in his barn, suspiciously killed by the same exact type of electroshock. His murder happened while he was barricaded inside an enclosed structure with no signs of forced entry or exit for that matter.
Skye’s investigating skills turn up just the information the team has been waiting for — these two were on the same firefighter team that just happened to travel to New York to help with the clean up after The Avengers battled Loki and his invading hoard of aliens known as the Chitauri. The firefighters managed to pick up a souvenir during their time in the Big Apple as well — a Chitauri battle helmet that is now carrying a deadly alien virus that infects humans and eventually overloads their internal circuitry causing them to literally overheat and burst.
The team quickly moves to quarantine everyone involved and Agent Simmons scans all of the members of her SHIELD squad to make sure they aren’t infected and good news — they’re all clear. Unfortunately a few moments later while Simmons is working on finding a cure for the virus, a metal object in the room begins floating nearby which is a sign of the electromagnetism emanating from a person’s body who is infected. Simmons is carrying the virus, and without a cure she will die just like all the others.
It’s here that Agents of SHIELD for the first time really makes you care about one of the characters, and it’s a beautifully painful scene. Agent Simmons comes to grips with her own mortality and tells Coulson with tears running down her cheeks to please tell her father about her death first because her mother will take the news much better if it comes from him. Coulson refuses to let Simmons die and even disobeys a direct order from SHIELD HQ (Titus Welliver makes an appearance here, one of the most criminally under appreciated actors out there currently).
Simmons takes matters into her own hands after Fitz tries and fails to create the antiserum to counteract the electro-virus. She opens up a back hatch on the plane and jumps to her own death to save her comrades from dealing with the threat of the virus possibly spreading any further. At that moment one of Fitz’s test subjects comes alive, free of the virus — turns out it takes some time for his antidote to kick in (hello hasn’t anybody seen Outbreak?). He runs, grabs a parachute and tries to jump out and save Simmons but Ward quickly takes the antidote, the chute and launches himself out the door instead. Yes, finally Agent Stiff-No-Personality finally does something heroic!
He saves Simmons with the antidote after catching her mid-air, and brings her back to base safe and sound. The two have a moment where she admits to lying to him earlier about the gun prototype she was working on, and he admits he already knew she was fibbing. He even lets her in on another secret — her impersonation of him needs a little work. It was a cute scene between science geek and muscle bound hero. A second later Simmons shares another moment with Agent Fitz, but I’m kind of hoping the powers that be test out a Simmons/Ward pairing. It’s literally the first time all season I’ve cared about Ward, and his hookup with Skye is so obvious that I’d like to think they could shift into another direction with this duo instead.
The other major plot point this episode happened after Coulson decided to have some physical tests run on his body despite his last check up happening well within SHIELD parameters. For the first time in a while, Coulson is playing back the events in The Avengers where he was stabbed through the chest by Loki and died. He’s questioning this whole idea that he was dead for eight seconds or much longer.
He knows he’s different and no matter what the tests tell him, Coulson isn’t the same man he was a year ago before sacrificing his life to help save the world. Melinda tells him to remove his shirt (not in that way you perverts) and she sees the giant scar on his chest from Loki’s death blow. She explains that he died and came back to life, there’s no getting around it, and that event no matter how big or how little is going to change him forever.
Coulson says the same when he’s once again questioned about his motives by Titus Welliver’s SHIELD agent — this is a new Agent Coulson and SHIELD better get used to him because he’s not going anywhere.
All in all, the latest episode of Agents of SHIELD fit all of the puzzle pieces into one stand out hour of television. The characters came to life as did the story that brought them together. Agent Coulson found new life and actually became a leader, Skye was a side story as she should have been all along and we found something to care about with Fitz, Simmons and Ward in one fell swoop. My biggest hope now is that this was just a building block to what will be a much better turn for Agents of SHIELD than what we saw in the first five episodes. If this latest episode is any indicator, good things are ahead, but let’s see if this is an about face or a momentary lapse of reason.