TV Review: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Season 3 Episode 5 "4,722 Hours"
EPISODE 5: "4,722 Hours"
SYNOPSIS: 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.
BREAKDOWN: (The following column contains MAJOR SPOILERS, so I don't recommend reading this if you haven't watched this episode).
Lots went down last week on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. We learned that Lash, the giant Inhuman killer being tracked by Coulson's team, was able to shift to human form. Who is the human side of this mutant menace? We also had a showdown between Grant Ward's resurging HYDRA and the vengeful Lance Hunter. The end result was the ambiguous final scene featuring Melinda May's ex-husband who may or may not have died in a fiery explosion. Is Andrew dead? Well, we get no answers to any of these questions tonight. Instead, we get the answer to another mystery this season: what happened to Simmons when she was taken to an alien world between last season and this year.
Departure episodes like this often stretch the tension for cliffhangers, like last week, while also affording the chance for a show to do something different than it has before. This blue-hued hour is by far the most unique hour of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and puts the focus on one single character, giving Elizabeth Henstridge her biggest showcase on the series. Henstridge lives up to her potential and knocks this hour out of the park, complete with repercussions for the rest of this season and the future of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. But, what is important to note is that this is exactly the type of hour that the series needs more of: skipping the tried and true formula and doing something outside of the box.
After being sucked into the Monolith, Simmons found herself on an alien planet with no sun and covered in desert. At first content to talk to herself and record observations into her super-powered GPS phone (thanks to Fitz, the battery lasts for months), Simmons soon finds water and an alien creature. She manages to kill the monster and eat it before continuing her search and surviving sandstorms. After falling into a pit, Simmons meets another human named Will who has been stuck on the planet for 14 years. An astronaut, Will explains he came on a NASA mission through the monolith but his team died after the sandstorm brought "Death", a creature that appears similar to the Grim Reaper. Simmons and Will form an alliance and determine there is a way to time the portal using a sextant and the NASA computers. Trudging through the "no fly zone", Simmons and Will are unable to make it to the portal and hope seems lost. Under the looming fate they have accepted, Will and Simmons fall for each other romantically.
The faith that Simmons put into her friend Fitz is tested through this episode, with the relationship between the two friends being examined more deeply. We have spent a lot of time learning about why Fitz loves his best friend so much but this hour showcases Simmons as she imagines herself talking to Fitz about their date, their friendship, and how to troubleshoot a way off of the alien world. Even when Will enters the story, Simmons continues to talk about Fitz. It is only when all hope is lost that she turns to Will's embrace. As the stranded pair approach the six month mark, we see their cots pushed together and act like a couple would back on Earth. They meet to watch a sunrise (the first in 18 years) when Simmons spots the flare Fitz shot off earlier this season. Rushing to find the portal, Simmons and Will are greeted by a ghostly apparition wearing a NASA spacesuit. Will urges Simmons to safety and fires his final bullet at the ghost.
Simmons makes it through and back on Earth we find her relating her tale to Fitz, including her relationship with Will. She begs Fitz that he helped her survive and she has to save him. Fitz storms off, presumably upset at Simmons, but we soon find that he has charted another way to open the portal and tells his best friend he will help her save Will. Whether or not they do is another question, but the stinger scene shows Will alone on the alien world, tossing his empty gun as the sunrise ends and returns the planet to darkness. Teasers for next week show the story returning to the fallout from last week's cliffhanger, but I would expect we will hear more about this planet and Fitz/Simmons efforts to rescue Will.
This episode ranks as one of the best Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has ever put together and did not need to use Inhumans, Marvel shout-outs, and only one main cast-member. Absolutely great work from Elizabeth Henstridge and guest star Dillon Casey. Like GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY meets THE MARTIAN, this hour manages to stick the landing without being bogged down by the MCU. I hope that we get more episodes like this in the future and I would encourage even non-fans of this show to watch this episode. They will not be disappointed. I am definitely anxious to learn who/what the alien force is as I am sure it will be important to the rest of the series' overall narrative. Plus, Will returning to the "no fly zone" to get the bottle of wine to share with Simmons leads me to believe he may not be the same person when they rescue him.
MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE REFERENCES: No overt references this week.
NEXT ON MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.: Episode 6 "Among Us Hide..." airs November 3rd - The stakes get even higher as Hunter and May continue to go after Ward and Hydra, and Daisy and Coulson begin to suspect that the ATCU may be keeping a big secret from S.H.I.E.L.D.