Saturday, November 16, 2013

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 1.06: "F.Z.Z.T."

“I’m doing what we always do. We’re going to fix this. Together.”

This is an episode that gives me some hope that “S.H.I.E.L.D.” can eventually be a great show. All the bones are there. Maybe the trick is just not focusing on Ward and Skye so much. This episode focused more on Coulson and FitzSimmons and was much better for it. I’d take a May-centric episode at some point too, come to think of it. This episode really delves into the FitzSimmons history and relationship, which I greatly appreciated. FitzSimmons are the most classically Whedon of all the characters on S.H.I.E.L.D., so seeing them get to shine, even if it was in a rather serious story, was fun. Another interesting thing about this episode was that there wasn’t some big, scary villain to fight. They were fighting against a virus. Although they didn’t know that at first, of course. The first assumption was that there was some big, scary villainy going on. Also, much of this episode takes place in Pennsylvania, far from the exotic locales to which the team usually travels. Although the team did have some interaction with the “Morocco office” by the end of the episode, so I appreciated that.

The episode begins with a scout camping trip in middle-of-nowhere Pennsylvania. A setting Sarah and I know well, considering we both went to college there. The camping trip is interrupted by a crazy electrostatic discharge, and the upshot of the incident is a whole lot of damage. It’s like lightning on steroids. The scouts go looking for their scoutmaster, Adam, and they find him floating in mid-air. Because those kids aren’t going to be traumatized for life. Meanwhile, up on the Bus, Coulson is running on a treadmill as part of a physical. He tells Simmons that his physical therapist ordered the physical because he (Coulson) said he was feeling “rusty.” Simmons doesn’t think she’s going to find anything wrong. Elsewhere, Ward argues with Fitzsimmons over the weight of the “Night Night Gun,” and Simmons cracks everyone up by doing a Ward impression once he leaves the room.

The fun on the Bus has to end, though, when the team gets to the Pennsylvania camp site. Adam’s body is still hovering, and it continues to do so until Simmons gets a little too close, a spark discharges to her finger, and the body falls to the ground. Lots and lots of investigating doesn’t really turn up much in the way of results, though. Although it is really darn funny when Agent May interrogates a Scout, then gives him a cookie. The only information of interest that Skye turns up is that Adam happened to be one of the first responders to the Battle of New York. Simmons names the cause of death as electrocution, so of course the team all thinks they’re on a murder case.

A second electrostatic charge leads the S.H.I.E.L.D. team to yet another floating victim. This person is a volunteer firefighter like Adam was, and he was also a first responder to the Battle of New York. A third firefighter is back at the station, polishing what looks like a Chitauri helmet. The S.H.I.E.L.D. team pays a visit to the station, and they quickly discover the helmet themselves. A man named Tony is the third firefighter, and the team starts to suspect him until metal things start levitating around him. Then the team puts the pieces together. The Chitauri helmet is responsible for all this badness. There was “rust” on it that the three firefighters tried to polish off. The only problem is that the “rust” was actually a deadly Chitauri virus. Tony realizes he’s going to die, and Coulson gives a sort of “I’ve seen the white light and it’s not so bad” speech. Tony asks to be alone, and the team watches the huge electrostatic discharge. Another one down.

Simmons has been doing a lot of experiments and autopsying the victims, and she makes an interesting discovery. This particular virus is spread by, you guessed it, electrostatic discharge. As Simmons is explaining this to Coulson, a metal device begins to hover behind her. Coulson notices it, of course. It appears that Simmons has been infected thanks to that shock she got when they were investigating the first victim. Coulson immediately seals Simmons’ lab, locking her inside. Simmons and Fitz need to be on the case immediately if they’re going to save her life. Fitz starts working on a delivery device for the antiserum that Simmons is trying to make. Fitz is kind of tearing up as he’s working on it, which is kind of rich considering he was definitely flirting with Skye at the beginning of the episode. Boy didn’t know what he had, apparently.

The Bus is flying towards West Africa where S.H.I.E.L.D. has a facility called the “Sandbox.” Apparently there are scientists at the Sandbox who might be able to figure this Chitauri virus out. Simmons doesn’t have much time left, though, and if left untreated, she is going to die before they make it to Africa. Not only will she die, but if she’s still on the plane, the electrostatic discharge will bring the whole thing down right in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Simmons is indeed frantically working on an antiserum, but her first couple attempts are disappointingly unsuccessful. While Ward and Skye talk out their frustration over not being able to more actively help their friend, Coulson takes a very unpleasant phone call from high up S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Blake (“Lost’s” Titus Welliver). Blake says that the Sandbox scientists haven’t made any progress, and Coulson is ordered to dump all “infected cargo.” Coulson pretends he didn’t hear that last bit and ends the call.

The part of the episode where Simmons is in dire straits is really a FitzSimmons friendship love story. We learn about how Simmons always pushes for greater achievements, and Fitz keeps tagging along beside her. He’s starting to resent her for that, but she calls him on the fact that he keeps choosing to follow her. He’s been doing it ever since grad school. Simmons is about to completely give up when they have a breakthrough. Simmons thinks it’s hopeless because since nobody has ever survived the virus, there’s no antiserum. Fitz corrects her on that, though. Some Chitauri at least survived. He then dashes to grab the helmet and just busts right into the quarantine room before Simmons can protest. They’re going to figure this thing out together, like they always do.

We get a nice FitzSimmons does science montage, but unfortunately, it looks like their newest experiment isn’t going to work, either. That’s when Simmons truly gives up, asking Coulson to tell her dad what happened first. Then she asks for a moment alone to say goodbye to Fitz. Instead of saying goodbye, she knocks him out, and then she runs to throw herself out the airlock. Fits regains consciousness pretty quickly, and he sees that the rat they thought had died is actually still alive – they found a cure after all. It’s too late for Simmons, though. Fitz can only scream as she jumps out of the plane. Fitz tries to grab the cure and a parachute, but Ward stops him. Ward ends up jumping in Fitz’s place, and he catches Simmons just in time.

So all is well in the end. Coulson is pissed that everybody disobeyed orders and he now has to deal with the Moroccan office (heh), but he really is deep down happy everyone is still alive. Talking things over with May, Coulson admits he’s been feeling unsure of himself lately, and that’s why he ordered the physical. He thinks he might have been dead longer than everybody said. May says that doesn’t matter, and she has Coulson look at his scar to make himself believe what he went through again. FitzSimmons also have a rather nice heart to heart. Fitz seems to feel bad for not being the one to physically jump out of the plane, but Simmons assures him that if it hadn’t been for his encouragement, the antiserum would have never been made in the first place. Simmons gives Fitz a kiss on the cheek, and it’s hard to know if Fitz now sees romantic possibilities with her nor not. Guess we’ll find out soon enough!

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