Bring him home.
Tonight’s Jemma Simmons on Mars episode of Agents of SHIELD –4,722 Hours — was easily one of my favorite in the show’s three seasons. It provided a different look at one of the characters who misses out on more of the show’s dynamic, action-packed moments and Simmons shined brightly in the spotlight.
It’s just a little unfortunate this episode came out after The Martian as a lot of folks are gonna make the on the nose comparison that this was Shield’s take on the Matt Damon crowd-pleaser that’s still tops at the box office. Plus, Elizabeth Henstridge was even more exceptional in conveying the emotional challenges of being stuck alone on a barren planet.
But, looking a bit deeper, 4,722 Hours was much more like a great episode of Lost. We had the advanced passage of time, character introspective moments, a smoke monster boogeyman type adversary whose arrival is signaled by a sandstorm and a desperate, seemingly hopeless attempt to get back home.
The most revelatory aspect of tonight’s look back at Simmons’ trip to another world was SHIELD tech is awesome. Clearly Simmons is not using an iPhone as she still has battery long after a month on the desolate planet. Mine can barely go seven hours before giving me the low power alert. A month without needing a recharge? That’s all the sales pitch I’d need to join SHIELD. Unless Ward and Hydra is offering free WiFi.
Initially, Simmons is content waiting around a few days for her SHIELD pals, specifically Fitz, to come scoop her back up. Realizing rescue isn’t imminent, she starts getting resourceful laying out rock arrows and looking for water.
Anyone else somewhat grossed out with Simmons taking a bath in her only existing water supply? Turns out there was worse things in the water pool beyond Simmons’ days long dirt and grime. The creature from the trash compactor was also lurking in the pool. Although on the plus side, tasty dinner.
Simmons explores more of the world until she gets caught in a trap by Will (Dillon Casey), an astronaut who came through the portal in 2001 with three other now dead astronauts. The casting directors clearly have a thing for the brooding bearded man’s man type as Will joins the ranks of Ward, Hunter, Mack and Lincoln.
While they get off on a rocky start, Simmons and Will soon realize it’s better to be friends with the only other human on the planet. Poor Will missed out on modern cell phones, but he’s also been spared Justin Bieber, Jersey Shore, Miley Cyrus and all things Kardashian. Almost feel like he got the better end of that deal. Casey makes Will a realistic and likable ally. He’s been beaten down by the island planet, but is emboldened by Simmons’ optimism.
But Will isn’t the only inhabitant on the planet as some malevolent force is also wandered the wasteland. Encountering that presence is what drove Will’s fellow astronauts crazy.
After a few months, Simmons is encouraged she can use her phone’s remaining bit of juice to power up Will’s computers to determine the next access point of the monolith’s portal. They just have to get there by the time it opens.
Watching this episode play out, I’m now convinced bringing Simmons back so early into the season was absolutely the wrong move. Checking in on Simmons and Will’s efforts to get home would have made for a highly entertaining subplot that could have gone on for most of the year without getting old. Or at least until the mid-season break.
As time progresses and no other human interaction, Simmons starts developing feelings for Will. In a nice subtle moment, the next scene reveals Simmons’ cot was unused the previous night. Simmons got her groove back.
This explains why Simmons has been so “off” when Fitz has been anxiously trying to jumpstart their more than friends relationship. All too often we’ll see some random new character introduced just to prove another obstacle to our dream couple, but this was a sensible and thoughtful move without feeling like a cheat cop-out from making FitzSimmons happen.
Fast forward a bit and Simmons and Will are enjoying a quiet moment when she sees Fitz’s flare. They can finally go home! Unfortunately their escape route puts them right in the path of the sandstorm and the creature. Will seems to distract it long enough for Simmons to make it back to Fitz.
And with that, Simmons explains to Fitz why she’s so desperate to return to the planet. In the best illustration of the type of awesome guy he is, Fitz immediately shelves his feelings and starts getting to work on finding a way to reopen the portal and get Will home. No jealous rage or anything. Fitz just wants the best for Simmons and it’s exactly why in the end, they deserve to be together.
Rating: 9.8 out of 10
Ironically a show largely focusing on just one of the Agents of Shield proved to be one of my favorites. I’m looking forward to next week and seeing how this plays out. My only issue is this could have been a terrific subplot played out at least through midseason.
Photo Credit: ABC