Agents of SHIELD: 106 “FZZT” Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
So, after a week off our screens, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns with half a really great episode. Unfortunately the other half of the episode is not so good, otherwise this would be a contender for the best episode of the season so far.
The episode concerns the discovery of some mysterious floating dead bodies, and it is this part of the episode which doesn’t work so well: it feels as though the team are going through the motions somewhat, and it’s generally not very interesting to watch. Where the episode begins to pick up is a genuinely heartbreaking moment between Coulson and a firefighter who is about to die from an alien disease contracted from a Chitauri helmet (and thus, the mystery of the first half of the episode is spoiled): Coulson dismisses the rest of the team to reassure the man, telling him not to be scared, and that he knows what’s on the other side and it is ‘beautiful’. It not only gives a dying man a moment of peace before he goes and is cleared up by a S.H.I.E.L.D. containment team, but also gives one of a few hints littered throughout the episode that Coulson knows that S.H.I.E.L.D. did something funky to him after the Battle of New York, and another ongoing plotline is advanced.
The remainder of the episode is taken up by the team discovering that Simmons has contracted the disease from one of the bodies, and needs to find a cure in the next two hours otherwise she will meet the same fate as the firefighters. What follows is a small, intimate character study of a member of the team who hasn’t received all that much attention thus far: even Fitz has begun to develop an awkward attachment to Skye, but before this episode Simmons was little more than a deus ex machina who ‘scienced the sciencey science’ to provide information for the team.
For example, we get a few more details about Fitzsimmons’ time at the Academy, that they spent some time working as part of ‘Psi-Ops’, something which I hope pops up again at a later point in the season, and a pretty strong implication that Simmons has a bit of a thing for Fitz, a thing which is obviously but sadly unrequited.
Anyway, she gets stuck into her work and tests the anti-serum (don’t call it a vaccine, whatever you do!) on some rats, all of which end up dead and floaty, until she and Fitz work out that the key to forming an immunity is inside the Chitauri helmet, and so they crack that bad boy out of storage and start swabbing the inside, with Fitz entering quarantine with Simmons in order to help her. Unfortunately, the anti-serum doesn’t work, and Simmons realises that she is facing inevitable death: so she smacks Fitz in the head with a fire extinguisher and throws herself out of the back of the plane.
It’s a courageous move by Simmons, sacrificing herself to save the rest of the team, but also an unnecessary one as Fitz discovers as he gets up and sees that the final lab rat is actually still alive, and Ward jumps out after her, and in a surprisingly well-made effects sequence catches her and pulls his parachute. It’s a very nice, if brief action set-piece which shows that Ward, for all his machismo and needing to fight against ‘something he can hurt’, has possibly started to actually care about the ragtag little group he’s unwittingly found himself a part of.
Elsewhere, there are a few nice moments littered throughout the episode, from Fitz and Simmons’ rather unflattering impressions of Ward overheard and mimicked later by the man himself; to the reappearance of a minor Marvel character in Agent Blake (previously seen in the Marvel One Shot ‘Item 47’, as seen on The Avengers Blu-Ray release – if you get the opportunity to seek it out, I highly recommend it!) and some nice hints about Coulson no longer being the man he used to be which I’m sure are going to pay off in the future.
A strong episode let down by a flimsy first half, and one which gives more depth to the team and feels like the beginning of the team gelling as a unit rather than the odd gathering of misfits it felt like before. Add in some teases about Coulson’s big secret, and it makes for an entertaining, if not outstanding episode of an ever-improving show.