After a week’s hiatus, Agents of SHIELD is back with an electric-charged episode that focuses on Simmons as an intricate part of the team.
With the release of Thor 2 at the end of this week, there was lots of web-talk about a potential Chris Hemsworth sighting. Creator Joss Whedon clearly expected this, because while he never gave us a glimpse at the Norse God (or even mentioned him), there were lots of teasers that made viewers think Thor could be making an Earthly appearance at any time. Although the inclusion of everyone’s favorite hammer-wielding Avenger would have been fun, props to the series for keeping itself from being a commercial for the Marvel movie line — you know, apart from mentioning Captain America or centering this particular week’s episode around the Battle for New York seen in The Avengers.
This week’s episode deals with hovering, electrostatic-charged bodies and a virus that threatens one of SHIELD’s own. A scout camping trip goes wrong when the troop leader, a volunteer firefighter named Adam Cross, is found suspended in midair, sparking with a strange electric charge. No sooner does SHIELD get the body in the lab for Simmons to investigate does another corpse — that of a farmer and fellow first responder to the Chitari alien invasion (Battle for New York) Frank Whalen. These aren’t just random occurrences, the team concludes. There’s a killer on the loose, and we jump to seeing the potential perp polishing a Chitari helmet.
The same guy appears when Coulson, Mae and Wade show up at Cross and Whalen’s firehouse. As it turns out, the suspected killer’s name is Tony Diaz and he took the Chitari helmet as a souvenir. The only time anyone has touched it was the night of the first murder, when they tried to clean the rust off it. It’s not rust he, Cross and Walen were cleaning, though. It was a Chitari virus that kills.
Coulson sits down with the doomed firefighter, assuring him that he’s “been where you are. I got hurt once pretty bad, and I died. Some say it was only for eight seconds, but I know it was more than that. I know I wasn’t here anymore. I was there.” When asked what it’s like, he responds, “It was beautiful.” This is clearly more than a reference to his trip to Tahiti.
The Chitari virus takes hold after Diaz urges Coulson to leave the firehouse, and a blue glow is all that’s needed to tell us that Diaz has joined his partners in the great beyond. The rest of the team gets scanned for virus, coming back clean of electrostatic energy. Then Simmons discovers that the real killer is a propagating virus that spreads through electric static shock — as Coulson quarantines her into her lab. She’s been infected and has two hours to find a cure before the charge she emits takes down the whole plane. You would think SHIELD would find a way to build a tougher plane by now.
Coulson blatantly ignores the order to dump any infected cargo, i.e. his female scientist. Meanwhile, Simmons is about to give up until she and Fitz — separated by a glass wall — realize they need the Chitari mask to create the anti-serum. Fitz breaks into the lab with the helmet, and the two sets to work. After another failed attempt, Simmons says goodbye to Coulson and asks for a moment alone with Fitz, who is so frantic that he doesn’t notice her come up behind him with a fire extinguisher until it’s electric lights out.
When Fitz comes to he finds the rat they tested their serum alive and well. Of course, Simmons doesn’t know this before jumping out of the cargo hold in to the wide-open skies. Now it’s time for Ward’s human-powers to come into effect as he jumps after her with a parachute barely strapped to his back. He catches her and injects her with the antiserum, just in time to land back in Coulson’s office for a scolding from their boss. Coulson ends his rant with “We’d hate to lose you, Jemma.”
Which is true — Jemma Simmons is the Hermione Granger of the team, right down to the accent. This episode established her role as the warmhearted super genius that’s not only half of the Fitz-Simmons comedy-and-research team but also an endearing character. She takes her place as the sweet persona beside Skye’s sarcasm, Mae’s stoicness and Ward’s militancy. We also get a development of her and Fitz’s relationship. Fitz frets about how he wasn’t the one who jumped from the plane, but Simmons assures him that he was her savior because he found the antiserum. The act awards him a kiss on the cheek and raised sexual tension with a spark that rivals any Chitari virus.
This week also illuminated some of the mystery surrounding Coulson’s resurrection. His bloodwork report comes back perfectly normal, albeit a little heavy on the iron: “But don’t worry. You don’t have to start calling me Iron Man.” Oh, Coulson, you’re a stitch. His doctors never requested tests, he confesses. The SHIELD agent wanted to make sure everything was fine, but he still doesn’t feel right. Mae tells him that no matter how long he was dead, he was going to come out of it change. “The point of these things is to remind us that there’s no going back. There’s only moving forward,” Mae says, cracking the first smile of the series.
“Moving forward” is true for the whole series. “FZZT” was a episodic step in the right direction, and it will be interesting to see if the show continues on its uphill climb to being one of the more interesting network series this season.
Kate Everson is a Chicago journalist and University of Missouri alumna. By day she is an associate editor for four HR industry magazines. By night, she reviews films, outlines fiction novels with tough female leads and dreams of being the first person to win two Oscars in the same night for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Screenplay. When her fingers aren’t getting exercise bouncing across her keyboard, she’s reading Palahniuk and Vonnegut, practicing her Batgirl skills in the dojo or waiting by the mailbox for her Hogwarts letter. As Katharine Hepburn said: “Life is to be lived. If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting.”