Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 4,722 Hours

The rum wasn't completely gone.
"Unfortunately, the only source of food thinks that I'm food."

Tonight the role of Mark Watney will be played by Jemma Simmons.

So did Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen read The Martian over the summer hiatus and decided “we totally need to do this with Jemma”? Many elements of this episode were very reminiscent of Andy Weir’s novel and the recent film adaptation. The first third of the episode, which focused exclusively on Jemma as she struggled to survive on this barren alien world with nothing but an iPhone and her big brain, was the most Martian-y and easily the best part of the whole thing. It was so good I wish the entire episode had been just Jemma on her own. It goes without saying that Elizabeth Henstridge deserves a huge round of applause for her work in this episode. She didn't just knock it out of the park, she knocked it out of the bloody atmosphere.

Once Will showed up this episode began to remind me of all those Star Trek episodes where a shuttle would crash on some planet and the pilot would befriend the sole survivor of some previous crash and they’d work together to escape the planet, which wasn’t as compelling as seeing Jemma surviving on her own. I loved that Jemma was never made to be dependent on Will for her survival. He was never there to be her big manly protector. He was there solely as her companion and source of vital plot information.

Will was a likeable enough character, although I wonder if I was the only one who kept expecting a twist that never came. While The Martian has taught me to always trust astronauts that have been left alone too long on barren planets, especially if they are played by Matt Damon, Interstellar also taught me to be highly suspicious of astronauts that have been left alone too long on barren planets, especially if they are played by Matt Damon.

Was Will's story about what happened to the rest of his crew true? Or was Jemma right to suspect that he simply went crazy for coco puffs and killed them? I mean, just because there really is something out there doesn't meant that it is evil and killing people by driving them crazy. Maybe it just wanted to be their friend and show them its collection of rare Kree postage stamps. Then again, that might have been what drove everyone suicidally insane.

I can't say I was happy to see Jemma and Will become more than just survival buddies. While I thought they made an endearing pair and their relationship was developed well, considering the limited time available, making their relationship romantic was completely unnecessary. It feels like it was only done simply to create a love triangle, something the show does not need, and more drama for the increasingly unbearable Fitzsimmons ship.

Although this episode answered the question of what happened to Jemma, it provided us with nothing new regarding everything else. Where is this planet? Why does the monolith go there? Is it some Phantom Zone-like prison? Why have people been sent there for centuries? Was Jemma right, were they being sent through the portal as sacrifices? How did NASA know there was a planet on the other side? What is the entity? Who shot J.R.? Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego? Is it safe? Who killed Laura Palmer? What was Chandler Bing’s job? Did U2 ever find what they were looking for? Who are you? What do you want? Who would win in a fight between a caveman and an astronaut? What did one snowman say to the other snowman? Who framed Roger Rabbit? Where the fuck is Wally?

Intel and Assets

--A phone with a battery life of more than a month? Now that really is science fiction.

--They got Jemma a TARDIS cake for her birthday. Awwww...

--It was a nice touch that Jemma’s time on the planet was counted in hours instead of days because the planet had no days.

--This episode featured the fewest cast members so far. Just Elizabeth Henstridge and Iain De Caestecker, with Chloe Bennet and Clark Gregg briefly appearing on Jemma’s birthday video.

Jemma: "You're dinner, biatch!"

Four out of four TARDIS birthday cakes.
Mark Greig is not the droid you're looking for. More Mark Greig.


Patrick said...

Didn't we learn in the episode where they rescued Jemma that the stone had been used in some sort of ritual sacrifice back in the day? I'm very curious to see what the stone's origin turns out to be, and what planet that is.

TJ said...

What a fantastic episode! I think this way of storytelling is very smart. You focus on one character, and that character grows as you have time to really know her/him. I suppose at the same time you cut costs production wise?

4722 hours is more than 6 months. Did we know this?
Where did Jemma get her bathing suit when she was triffid hunting?
Did I imagine it, or did the sun shine on Will on this sunless planet after Jemma had gone?
Why didn't Jemma tell the truth right away that they have to save Will as well?
Do I care that I have a million questions after this episode?

No. I loved it and can't wait to see what happens. Fab stuff:)

migmit said...

Last but not least: who resurrected Angel?

You know, I was hoping you would forget that quote, and I would insert it in my comment. Instead you started the review with it. It's so Simmons!

Planets are usually round. Why couldn't they go somewhere where it's brighter? I understand that the place where sun is always up would be quite uncomforable, but even a little bit closer to the sun could make their solar panels work.

Did Simmons have her (now dead) phone on her when she got back?

And did she actually tell Fitz about being romantic with Will? It certainly seem so, which might explain Fitz being in a not so good mood in the end.

sunbunny said...

"Who would win in a fight between a caveman and an astronaut?"

WHYYYY!?!? We were all having such a good time and then you had to go and remind us that episode happened. Excuse me while I cry into a pillow for an hour and a half.

Lamounier said...

Terrific episode. It might be Agents of SHIELD’s first truly great episode on all accounts.

When Jemma was alone, the episode was riveting. So much so that I was a little disappointed when she found herself locked in a cage. It broke the atmosphere the episode had built up to that point and changed the tale it was telling. But that only lasted a few moments, because, once Simmons fled from her prison, the Simmons/Will tale became great too.

When Will showed up it was obvious where the story was going, but even if the outcome was predictable they sold the story really well. There’s a very clever character transition when Simmons goes to sleep, says good night to Fitz and after a while says good night to Will, who can’t hear her. I was completely absorbed by that moment. And it felt so earned, after their failed attempt to return home turned into a failed attempt to send a message to Earth, that a hopeless Simmons would connect on a prival level to Will.

I just have one tiny complaint: Will looked way too healthy for someone stranded on a desert planet with no sun and very little food resource for fourteen years. Some people have speculated that he is the mysterious being who brought death. But if he is, why would he let Simmons go? I did notice, however, that when he first captures Simmons and closes the entrance, he’s wearing the astronaut suit, and when the suit is wore again, it’s by the creature.

As far as FitzSimmons go, I just wish the show would let that ship sink. Last season, I thought Fitz was moving on from Jemma, but eventually they became an item, with the possibility of Jemma having romantic feelings for him. It’s clear she’s VERY attached to Fitz, and I love their tight friendship, but I just don’t see it as romantic love (not from her side, anyway). Frankly, I wished TPTB would give Fitz the Willow treatment: have an Oz appear in his life, then by the hundredth episode Simmons would say “smart dudes are so hot”, and Fitz would sweetly joke “couldn’t you have figured that out on the Academy?”. I don’t want to see Fitz being the noble man and I don’t want Will to be just an obstacle for FitzSimmons. Hopefully the show will handle that triangle well.

Little bits:

- That close up on Elizabeth Henstridge’s face when we can see Fitz’ flare reflected in her eyes was a thing of beauty.

- Elizabeth rocked. She’s amazing. I think the producers realized that she and Ian are the strongest performers.

- I think May also appeared briefly on Simmons’ birthday tape.

- TJ, yes, the sun was there after all, but only for eighteen minutes.

migmit said...

2Lamounier: I agree, FitzSimmons work much better as surrogate siamese twins, not as lovers.

As for why Will/Death would let Simmons go, well, it's not hard to find a reasonable explanation. For example, it wanted more people to come to it's rescue and be devoured. From beneath them, of course.

Lamounier said...

and be devoured. From beneath them, of course.

Hey, you watched all of Buffy. :)

And "surrogate siamese twins" is the perfect description for FitzSimmons.

Side note: on my previous comment, by "prival level" I meant "primal level". V is not close to M on the keyboard, so my excuse is that my mind was already on the next word. ^^

Billie Doux said...

It was an excellent episode and one of AoS's best, but Mark, you're right that I kept waiting for the shoe to drop and for Will to turn on Jemma. There's something going on there with the dead astronauts and such, and I am hoping we find out what it is.

Jess Lynde said...

It never occurred to me that the Will might actually be the monster. But now the thoughts here, plus our discussion over on the latest TWD episode, has me wondering. It seems totally nuts that he wouldn’t have just used that last bullet by now if he really was a stranded human astronaut. Why keep surviving all alone for 14 years on an unknown desolate planet if he really had no expectation or hope of rescue? That’s bleaker circumstances than the TWD folks face (and their ‘verse is pretty cruddy)! Did the graveyard convince him that someone would be along eventually, and that was reason enough to keep existing in the meantime? The human survival instinct in hopelessly dire circumstances boggles my mind sometimes. Or maybe he really is the monster/Death.

The combination of the monolith and Will’s mission leaving in 2001 made me laugh. I’m surprised they didn’t go all in and name him ‘Dave.’

Please let the FitzSimmons ‘ship sink, writers. Just let them be friends! Ack. At least this show gives us other solid examples of male-female friendships and partnerships.

Docnaz said...

I loved this episode. I am not the biggest fan of this show, watching for my husband's sake. It was different, refreshing. Almost a bottle episode with a slow pace. This is very similar to the "Here's not Here" of The Walking Dead this week. Very satisfying.

Tim said...

I'm really enjoying AoS but this episode left me cold. The script was poor and resorted to stating the obvious numerous times ('It's 2015', 'We left earth in 2001', 'You've been here 14 years' etc). Elements of the story were unbelievable or at least not explained adequately (Will's physical and mental condition after years in alone in a desert). Also I remain unconvinced of Elizabeth Henstridge's acting abilities. I wasn't sold on any of the scenes where she is required to emote. She just seems to be saying the words by rote. Judging by the comments I'm in the minority, but I've always felt she was not up to the job, especially when playing against Ian DeCaestecker.

Just my 2p.

Excellent review though. Thanks Mark.