Maya Zach ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Last week’s high-caliber episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was no fluke; this week’s episode, “FZZT”, not only matched, but surpassed the quality of the previous one. Though the show is incredibly new and the characters are still developing, it manages to tug at the audience’s heartstrings and instill a genuine sense of dread when Jemma Simmons’ (Elizabeth Henstridge) life hangs in the balance.
Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his team investigate two separate incidents of dead bodies levitating due to electrostatic shocks. Both victims were volunteer firemen for the same firehouse, who were sent to aid New York City during the Chitauri invasion (which took place in The Avengers). A third firefighter, Tony Diaz (Vincent Laresca), is exhibiting the same symptoms and nearly takes out the entire fire station. Meanwhile, Agent May (Ming-Na Wen) finds the cause of the firefighters’ infection: a Chitauri helmet that Diaz kept as a souvenir.
Once Simmons has a chance to investigate the bodies and the infection, she discovers that the virus spreads through electrostatic shocks. Her excitement wears off when she realizes that it can spread from person-to-person, she is infected, and there is no cure. They estimate that Jemma only has two hours to live, which is not enough time to find a cure. This terrible news is made worse by the order from HQ’s Agent Blake (Titus Welliver) to dump the “infected cargo.”
Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) tries to comfort Jemma from the other side of the glass, and then yells at her due to his own crippling fear of losing her. When he realizes that this is not doing any good, he busts into the quarantine with the Chitauri helmet in the hopes it will help her derive an antiserum. When they think that they have failed, Jemma says her goodbyes, knocks Leo out, and prepares to jump out of the plane. The first thing Fitz notices when he wakes up is that the antiserum had actually worked, but Simmons jumps before he has the chance to tell her.
Throughout the episode it seems as though Simmons will find a cure and survive, but as soon as she jumps, her death seems real. This would be a devastating hit to the S.H.I.E.L.D. team and to the audience, who cannot get enough of FitzSimmons. However, Agent Ward (Brett Dalton) is not going to let a 30,000-foot drop take one of his own. He dives out after Jemma, saving her life. When she is back on the plane, Coulson yells at her for being stupid enough to jump, but ensures that she knows he cares. Fitz, of course, takes her near-death the hardest; he feels terribly guilty that he did not save her himself, but Jemma isn’t phased by it, she still sees him as a hero.
When Coulson isn’t investigating the virus or looking out for his team, he is worrying about his own health. He knows that when Loki killed him, he was out for much longer than the eight seconds that S.H.I.E.L.D. claims. This anxiety prompts his request for a physical three months early. After keeping his concern to himself, he admits to May that he has felt different since his death. But death is bound to change a man; he doesn’t just feel different, he is different. Something he quickly embraces when he ignores Agent Blake’s orders and threats.
Fun fact: When Coulson is on the treadmill for his physical, it is the first time he is ever seen without a suit (That includes all of the movies and the show!).
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. seems to have finally hit its stride. Hopefully the show will continue this trend of exemplary storytelling and keen dialogue.