Don’t Worry, That Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Twist Made Elizabeth Henstridge …

28 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. #305Well, 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. 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. When the show told us that we would finally find out what happened to Simmons when she was pulled into the portal, I expected an episode that worked like most S.H.I.E.L.D. episodes do — a volley of back and forth flashbacks, alternating from past to present, especially given last week’s events.

The story is one long character study giving Elizabeth Henstridge the opportunity to show off the depth of her acting ability, and the rich development given to Simmons this week makes me wish every member of the cast could get teleported away for a terrifying extraterrestrial experience. This has been happening more and more in recent years due to the golden age of television we’re living in, and all of the incredible offerings on display across basic cable, pay cable, and streaming options. And as we saw, in the six months together, that companionship slowly blossomed into love—a love that was made super-long distance when Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) was able to rescue Jemma () while Will (Dillon Casey) was left behind. Not to make this about me, but when you do this review gig, you can only do one episode at a time, so sometimes, when an episode of something sits isolated from the rest of the season, you can’t review what might be in the future, you have to review what was. The most obvious comparison point for “4,722 Hours” is this fall’s box office juggernaut The Martian, what with both stories featuring characters trying to survive on their own in alien environments, but there’s also a lot of The Twilight Zone in this episode’s DNA.

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. There are good shows on the big five channels, for sure, but usually you’re gonna get the same medical or legal dramas and you can go a long time without seeing something you’ve never seen before. 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. Despite my initial disappointment that Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s first foray into space doesn’t offer much in terms of imaginative sci-fi production design, keeping the visual elements grounded draws the viewer’s full attention to Henstridge’s performance. Not only was “4,722 hours” one of the best episodes of this series, but it was one of the best episodes of TV I’ve seen all year and a star making performance for the hugely talented Elizabeth Henstridge.

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. As much as I want to see some cool alien make-up, making the only other character Simmons interacts with an American human allows Titley to build up their relationship without spending too much time on the inevitable questions an alien character introduces. At first, Simmons was ever the scientist, charting, positioning, observing, but soon, she turned into a desperate woman whose only connection to her home world was her smartphone. There is some sort of alien presence on the planet, but it’s heavily obscured in its first appearance and when it appears again, it appears as a NASA astronaut to trick Simmons.

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. The alien doesn’t have an identity (yet), which makes it a more ethereal threat for Simmons and Will, one that represents the general danger of the terrain. When there’s any variation in color, it’s a significant event: The red of the flame Simmons makes to cook the “plant monster” that tried to drown her is the first visual indicator that things are getting slightly better for her, and even though she wakes up in a cage on hour 761, the warm brown of the cave announces that this is actually a positive development.

At first I was really excited that they were showing the self restraint to keep these two just friends for so long without falling in love, but then after almost three months together they finally hooked up and I was still happy! 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. If I’d been stranded on a deserted planet for 14 years and a woman as beautiful as Elizabeth Henstridge gets teleported there, I don’t think I’d be able to show that kind of restraint! It could be friendship, but considering Will’s handsomeness and Simmons’ reluctance to tell Fitz what happened during her time away, it’s obvious from the start that they’re going to be a romantic pair.

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 a (really cute) picture of Fitz on her phone that she keeps staring at, and she immediately starts talking to it, using her partner’s logic to reassure herself.

When she first finds herself stranded, she keeps her composure by thinking like a scientist, but once it starts to sink in that no one is coming for her, she starts to get more emotional and turns to her memory of Fitz for support. 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.

She imagines the date they’re supposed to go on and worries that their bond won’t maintain in a romantic context, and Henstridge does great work showing how Simmons’ relationship with Fitz gives her the strength to press on. It was kind of amazing to think that being trapped since 2001, Daniels missed the coming of the Avengers, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, the resurrection of Captain America, etc. Throughout the first half of the episode, Simmons records voice memos for Fitz detailing her fear regarding the scarcity of food and water, her insecurity about her chances of making it through this alive, and her pride when she discovers what she’s capable of accomplishing when survival is her one and only goal. It allows Henstridge to vocalize all of Simmons’ turbulent emotions, and she fully captures all the desperation Simmons feels as she spends more time alone on an alien world.

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. Opposites also attract, especially when they’re the only two human beings on an entire planet, so when Simmons loses faith that she’s going to make it back to Fitz, she starts giving her heart over to Will. Ah well, when that’s your only complaint you know they did something right. – It was a little weird that Jemma was so doubtful about the evil being that Will was talking about. Because this is basically a two-person show this week, Titley can devote ample time to developing the pair’s relationship, and he does so with intimate scenes like the conversation where Simmons reveals that her childhood scoliosis was directly responsible for her fascination with the stars. There’s a noticeable change in Simmons’ disposition once she and Will kiss and start sleeping together (at least that’s what we’re led to believe by the shot of their two beds now side-by-side), and showing Simmons at her bleakest point earlier makes it easier to accept this new relationship by showing how it drastically improves her outlook.

Her romance with Will significantly complicates the one she has with Fitz, but Fitz doesn’t let jealousy take over when Simmons finishes recounting her experience. After Simmons told him the story of her ordeal, Fitz knew that there was a good chance that he lost any chance of building a romantic relationship with his beloved. 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. 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. There was definitely something shady going on when NASA sent Will and three other astronauts through the Monolith back in 2001, and I have the feeling that’s going to come back into play at some point. 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. Now, I could totally picture that, using the idea of a sentient, murderous egocentric planet, but I can’t imagine they would ever feature the planet with a face and a goatee introduced by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee in the pages of Thor in 1966. 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?

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. 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. 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.

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