Agents of SHIELD: 305 “4,772 Hours” Review
Reviewed by Ollie Gregory.
This week Agent’s of S.H.I.E.L.D took a complete departure from its usual formula.
If you’ve already seen this week’s episode then I know exactly what you are thinking: ‘Wait, did Marvel just release an episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D that was both original and completely satisfied its audience?” Yes it absolutely did.
4,772 Hours, a reference to the amount of time Simmons spent on the alien planet, was completely different from anything else Agent’s of S.H.I.E.L.D has produced thus far. Gone were the smart suits and robotic hands and labelled bottles of water, replaced with sand, sand, and more sand.
This episode belonged to Elizabeth Henstridge, and the success of the episode rested solely on her performance. Suffice to say, had anyone less capable (Almost anyone on the CW – Almost!) this episode would have been a complete disaster. Fortunately, Henstridge made the most of her forty minutes of fame, making it nigh impossible for the viewer not to feel for Simmons, and probably becoming many people’s favourite character in the process.
She showcased Simmons’ bubbly and warm attitude phenomenally, while she also made it clear when Simmons was genuinely feeling optimistic, and when she was trying to trick herself into feeling better. She proved that forty minutes was more than enough time to have a powerful character arc, with her transformation from a person of hope to someone full of despair was heartrending. She was also going to cry without making me want to throw a brick at her (Something impossible for almost anyone on the CW – Almost!)
The other instrumental part of this episode’s success was the performance of Dillon Casey as NASA astronaut Will Daniels. He was also up the task and made an extremely likeable and believable character.
And guess what, S..H.I.E.L.D. did the expected thing and made the two characters fall in love, yet unbelievably, it didn’t feel forced. The actors had great chemistry with one another and the way they fell in love felt organic. If I was stranded on a different planet with someone of the opposite gender who was willing to save my life and was really nice, I’d probably give it a shot. To completely open up to someone and know they’re the only person who can truly understand the way you’re feeling is sure to have an emotional impact on you.
Everything about this episode was believable, despite everything being so ridiculous. You genuinely believed this was a person stranded on a desert planet. You genuinely believed this man thought he was doing the right thing. Say what you will about Agent’s of S.H.I.E.L.D’s special effects, you genuinely believed everything you saw in front of you. This episode proved you don’t need to be gritty and grounded to feel real.
I’m sure nitpickers will be able to complain. Yes, Simmons didn’t seem that hungry at the start of the episode despite it saying she hadn’t eaten in over a day. Yes, this episode was fairly predictable, and didn’t have any huge twists. Yes, Simmons’ behaviour in the earlier episodes doesn’t really reflect what we see of her experience in this episode, but none of that really matters when you think about it.
This episode didn’t follow suit. It wasn’t your run-of-the-mill episode of heroic goodness. It wasn’t your ‘Freak of the Week’ episode of pretty much every other superhero TV show right now. It was a bold, original, standalone idea that worked perfectly. This episode with a few more special effects, a few additions to the start and end, and a bit of padding in the middle would have made a very good blockbuster movie. Don’t believe me, google ‘The Martian.’
So what does this episode mean for the future of this season. Well, I’m sure we will learn about whatever malicious creature inhabited that planet, with the chance of it having some sort of connection to the Inhumans being rather high. What was it on the planet which drove men insane, to the point of murdering their only friends? The episode also presents us with a problem regarding Simmons’ love life: Fitz or Will? My best guess would be that when they bring Will back, he will have been affected by whatever is on that planet, and be a little nuts, leaving Simmons with only one love interest. Maybe they will do that, maybe they won’t. That’s the beauty of television.
If you haven’t seen a single episode of the show, yet are still for some reason reading this review, I urge you to watch. I ask for a mere forty minutes of your time, during which, I will prove to you that Agent’s of S.H.I.E.L.D. can be, and sometimes is, great television.