Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Recap: Bring Her Home

28 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Recap: Bring Her Home.

Well, now we know why Jemma Simmons is desperate to get back to that hellish planet. Elizabeth Henstridge was the first billed name on the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. cast list tonight, and regardless of the fact that no other regular cast member appeared in this episode (until the very end), boy did she deserve it.After her dramatic rescue from another planet, Simmons is still reeling from her ordeal and reveals how she had to fight for her life in a harsh new world.In the series first single-character-focused episode, Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) recounts what happened to her on the alien planet, just as she told Fitz (Iain de Caestecker) she would after the events of last week’s episode. Instead, she found companionship in another human stranded in the alien land, an astronaut named Will who’d been sent there by N.A.S.A. with three other (now-deceased) space explorers 14 whole years ago.

After literally falling into his trap, Simmons finds a fellow earthling named Will (Dillon Casey), a former astronaut sent through the portal by NASA in 2001. We start from the beginning — the actual beginning, as in, six months ago where Simmons and Fitz are making dinner plans before the unfortunate monolith incident — and we pick up right after Simmons lands on the other side of the portal. She waits for extraction, pacing, making voice notes on her phone (which has been “souped up” by Fitz to have an unrealistically long battery life). 13 hours, she takes a nap. 22 hours, she wakes, finds it is still dark. But his fellow astronauts were one by one killed by “it,” a mysterious monster that appears within the planet’s giant dust storms and is attracted to the scent of blood — hence Simmons using dirt to cover up her cut, as we saw in the premiere.

This episode is as smart, gripping, and emotionally wrenching as anything this series has ever delivered, and a thrilling sign that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s storytelling could get even bolder and more experimental in the episodes to come. “4,722 Hours” begins where season two ended, as Simmons is sucked into a portal generated by the mysterious monolith. Jemma Simmons proves herself as much of a badass as the other characters we’ve met as she struggles to survive a sandstorm, 100 hours without water, weeks without real food, and more. Will and Simmons spend months trying to figure out the location of the next portal opening, only to miss it because the monster doesn’t want them to leave — which is what finally breaks the usually optimistic Simmons.

She has some serious survival skills, and Elizabeth Henstridge pulls off her excitement at some of the smallest accomplishments and her fear of the unknown perfectly. News. “For right now, they’re putting all the issues in their relationship to the side because there’s a bigger task at hand and the countdown is on to get [Will] back. I mean, The Martian had Mark Watney growing potatoes on Mars, so anything’s possible.) She quickly surmises that she’s on another planet, which throws her into a disbelieving panic. She leaves markers as she goes, but she is off to find water and food. 99 hours, and instead of water, she finds a sand storm that knocks her out for two hours.

So there isn’t the time to go into the minutiae.” “That’s what’s so amazing about Fitz—and what Simmons can’t believe at the end of the episode—is that he doesn’t even question it. If those first ten minutes didn’t suck you right into the episode and prove how amazing Jemma is – she stitches herself up without an anesthetic even though Will offers to do it for her.

As an audience, we have the luxury of knowing from the outset that Simmons will spend 4,722 hours on the planet before Fitz manages to bring her home again. For us, the real suspense of the episode isn’t whether or not she’ll survive; it’s what she’ll need to do to survive, and whether her spirit will be broken in the face of a cold and indefinite future. After an early, rousing victory against a pond-dwelling plant monster that provides a reliable source of food and water (492 hours), Simmons hits her first major snag when she tumbles through a hole and into a cage. Henstridge’s slight wince and hiss as we watch her begin, even the set of her shoulders, convey that she’s just pushing the pain down enough to get the job done. I think that they’ve been through something so enormous and when she had absolutely lost all hope, not even of getting home, but just of living, he was there and said the right thing.

And I think in that moment, everything changed,” she explains. “Their connection is a very visceral one, and it’s about surviving, and it’s very primal. It takes them a while to warm up to each other; Simmons isn’t thrilled about being kept in a cage, and Will is afraid Simmons is just the latest permutation of a strange alien threat that “has this way of getting inside your head.” We later learn that Will had a very good reason to be afraid. I was kind of overwhelmed by the whole concept, just thinking it was so cool and I was very honored to be tasked with something like that, but I just didn’t think it was going to happen. Under the apparent control of the creature Will calls “death,” each of his crewmates committed suicide: one by leaping off a cliff, one by setting himself on fire, and one by destroying survival equipment until Will had no choice but to kill him. In a nice parallel to Fitz early on in season two when he was hallucinating her, Jemma bounces ideas off the Fitz in her phone (and in her head) while she’s making sense of the world around her, and while she’s trying to find a way back home.

Because if she just kind of fancied him, then she would never ask Fitz to do that, but the stakes are very high.” Of course, as in any high stakes situation, a solution won’t be so easily won. “It’s a very rocky road,” Henstridge teases. “There’s a lot going on with S.H.I.E.L.D. at the moment, with the ATCU, and Hunter is on a mission to get Ward. There’s just a lot of moving parts that to ask the team to help us with this task is, you know, everyone’s stretched so thinly at the moment…and we destroyed the portal. That’s just the first time our heart is going to be broken this hour regarding these two, because even though Fitz didn’t appear in the episode until later, his presence was very much felt throughout the whole hour.

The snapshots of the burgeoning relationship that we do get to see are a kind of shorthand for the quiet intimacy that develops over the thousands of hours Simmons and Will spend together. Simmons may be on a different planet, miles away from the entire world, but Fitz is tethering her to Earth — that’s not love so much as it is being the most important part of someone. (Think about that first time Simmons woke up after Fitz rescued her, and how she immediately crawled into Fitz’s arms.

At hour 851, she pretends to be sick so he will open the cage, knocks him out with a bowl, and runs. “Definitely real,” he grumbles before giving chase. I remember hearing an interview with her that said she was speaking to Ellen Pompeo from Grey’s Anatomy, and she advised Kerry to treat yourself like an athlete.

They’re settling in to watch the planet’s sunrise — an opportunity that comes once every 18 years — when they spot Fitz’s signal flare on the horizon. She finally makes it to the top of a hill and sees what looks like an approaching sandstorm; two hours later finds her passed out and awakening to (miraculously) find a hole filled with water nearby. We find out she had scoliosis as a child and that after she had surgery to correct it, she studied astronomy because her father brought her books on the subject. That contentment doesn’t last long — and Simmons gets her first taste of fighting for survival when a mysterious water plant tries to drag her under. She manages to save herself by cutting off one of its limbs… and then attempts to eat said limb as a way to compensate for the food she’s still looking for.

The thing that truly shines about “4,722 Hours” is the emotional depth of this story, and the sheer effectiveness of the way it changes the stakes for both Fitz and Simmons — and, by extension, the rest of the team — in a single hour. You’d be so proud of me.” (Jemma, WE are so proud of you.) In short, Jemma Simmons could probably go on Survivor right now AND The Amazing Race right after, and beat everyone by a long shot.

Having to run the gamut of human emotion throughout the course of the story, and without the usual ensemble to rely on, could have been risky for a lesser actor. Henstridge hasn’t often received the same praise as her FitzSimmons counterpart Iain de Caestecker because his emotional scenes have just been so much heavier than hers. The last thing Simmons wants to do is let this guy help her, but another sandstorm is coming, and Will ominously tells Simmons that, “It smells blood.” He drags her back underground and when Simmons asks what the heck “it” is, Will only has one answer for her: death. (It’s All Connected: What did the parchment that Fitz uncovered, the one that held the “key” to the monolith’s secrets, say in Hebrew? The Marvel Cinematic Universe kicked off with Iron Man in 2008 and has basically progressed alongside the real world’s chronology, so Will presumably doesn’t know anything about the wave of crazy superheroes and supervillains — Thor, Loki, Ultron, et al. — that have since popped up to save or threaten the world.

Henstridge gets to fall apart and be put back together here though, and despite the misgivings I have about some aspects of the narrative, she is amazing to watch. Death.) According to Will, the planet has “moods, not rules” and the dust storm called “death” affects the planet (that’s how you can tell it’s coming). As she’s stitching herself up, Rational Scientist and Resident Bad Ass Jemma Simmons refuses to believe Will’s explanation that a planet can be evil — she describes how certain environments can have different scientific properties. In addition to his multi-season starring role in the CW’s Nikita, Dillon Casey can be seen opposite The Vampire Diaries’ Nina Dobrev in the 2007 Lifetime movie Too Young to Marry, on which he was too young to marry. “4,722 Hours” director Jesse Bochco is the son of Steve Bochco, the legendary creator behind TV shows like Hill Street Blues, L.A.

Nearly everything is outdated, however, leading Will to admit how long he’s been here… and Simmons is the first person he’s seen in a very, very long time. He couldn’t turn down the temptation, so he volunteered, along with a team of scientists who were supposed to study the planet’s properties and gather samples to bring home. What exactly was she arming herself against? (Honestly, the better twist here would have been for Will to have actually been the monster because after all of that helping her survive, we wouldn’t have seen it coming.) Love triangle, anyone?

And while NASA sent them off with a bunch of powerful items, everything is solar powered…and of course, this planet has no sun. (By the way, did you all catch the Easter egg of the name “Brubaker,” a.k.a. famous comic writer Ed Brubaker?) Will and Jemma bond over updated technology, and he’s both surprised that she got here without NASA, and that S.H.I.E.L.D. is a real thing. It seems time and time again, the audience is reminded that Fitz is willing to do anything and everything for Jemma, but she’s not willing to do the same for him. It only clouds her intentions where Fitz is concerned, and the entire setup screams of lazy writing because there wasn’t a better obstacle to throw in their way. We’re still no closer to finding out where Jemma really was for six months, and this monster that was intent on keeping her and Will there was never really defined.

It’s interesting that NASA was experimenting with the monolith 14 years ago, and we happen to know that Rosalind, under many aliases, has hopped around to several different government organizations, including NASA. When you have two characters act as the emotional centerpiece for a series, it’s unfair to the audience and the characters to repeatedly pull them apart before they can even get together. Grading the episode: While I loved the bottle episode structure and seeing Elizabeth Henstridge get her chance to shine, the episode came to something of a screeching halt when it landed in cliched territory, knocking it’s grade down a couple of pegs.

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