Plot: When an electrostatic anomaly occurs at a campground causing a dead body to float in the air, Agent Phil Coulson’s (Clark Gregg) team is called in to investigate. What they discover is unlike anything they have experienced before. With their lives on the line, one team member is forced to make the ultimate sacrifice.
If there has been one prevalent theme throughout the past several episodes of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., it’s that the team always seems to know exactly what they need to do in any given situation. They constantly seem to be in control no matter how dire things may seem. This has actually been a point of criticism from many fans. Last night’s episode, the first after a one week hiatus, upended this notion by thrusting the team into a conflict that they truly had no idea how to solve. It’s not like they were up against a physical entity that can be punched or shot either. While Agents Grant Ward (Brett Dalton), Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), and Coulson have been the ones to resolve major issues in the past, this week it was Agents Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) who were the heroes. Simmons especially was at the dead center of this highly emotional episode. With a conflict that directly hits the team at its core and some great character development, “F.Z.Z.T.” was truly an excellent episode that can hopefully begin to quiet some naysayers.
A recurring issue some people have is how much the show likes to shoehorn in the Battle of New York from The Avengers. Coulson in particular can’t go an episode without mentioning how he died. It has felt natural at parts but sometimes it feels like the writers were just finding excuses to throw it in. “F.Z.Z.T.” put the immediate outcome of The Avengers in the spotlight last night and while I’m sure some people scoffed at it, it actually felt completely organic based on the premise. In last night’s episode, the threat the team is in is because of a virus that has moved from a Chitauri helmet to human hosts. The team discovers two people who have died in similar, electrostatic floating manners and uses their connection to a firehouse in New York to find the cause. Turns out the firefighters have kept a helmet as a trophy from that horrific battle and are slowly dying one by one.
Coulson’s talk with Tony Diaz (Vincent Laresca), the third casualty of the Chitauri virus, was easily one of the most emotional moments to date on this series. Once the team reaches the firehouse and meets Diaz, it is already too late for him. Metal objects are starting to float around his body from the pulsing static elctricity and it isn’t long until he explodes. Diaz is a simple man who doesn’t deserve the fate that is coming to him, and it is for this reason that Coulson stays to comfort him in his final moments. Coulson uses the fact that he “saw the other side” to put a panicking Diaz at peace with his upcoming fate. It truly was a great scene all around that is only overshadowed emotionally by what happens later on in the episode.
As the team was investigating the bodies, Simmons received a shock of her own, transmitting the virus to her. It’s not until the helmet is brought aboard the plane that it’s discovered that she is now a ticking time bomb. She also just happens to be the only person who can find a cure so the fate of the entire team is in her hands. This is where the theme of the team always knowing exactly what to do is completely thrown out the window. Everyone is at their own loss based on the situation. Ward laments that it’s not an enemy he can fight, meaning he failed as the group defender, Coulson was ordered to throw Simmons out of the plane but refuses, Fitz is locked out of the quarantined room so he can’t help directly, and Simmons has no idea how to create an anti-serum for an alien virus that has never been seen before. It was actually pretty humanizing to watch all of this, albeit very tragic.
Simmons’s personal turmoil is what really drove these scenes home. Since she isn’t a field agent, Simmons will never be asked to take on a massive enemy head on. She’s a scientist which makes her enemies things that can’t be killed through conventional means. What we saw last night was her own battle and she was losing through most of it. All the experiments were failing, including Fitz’s idea of using the helmet’s bacteria to make an anti-serum which was the final straw. Learning more about the history of Fitz-Simmons was excellent throughout this entire process as was discovering exactly why they are currently on the team. Fitz’s innate desire to help his other half was so powerful that he even forced himself into quarantine to make sure she survived. It’s when the last experiment failed that we saw all hope leave Simmons and she told Coulson to give her final words to her parents. Once everyone left, Simmons knocked out Fitz and jumped out of the open cargo bay door with the intent of killing herself to save the team. Sure enough, the final experiment is actually proven a success and Ward catches Simmons in free fall, curing her in the process. This was after Fitz tried to do it of course.
In between the virus dilemma were a few brief scenes containing Coulson’s personal journey to discover who he really is after feeling like he just isn’t normal. It didn’t take up much of the episode, but was still great as it brought us one step closer to discovering what really happened to him after New York. Coulson himself feels changed in more ways than one which is prompting him to take his own physicals to find out why. He even revealed that he doesn’t exactly believe the claim that he was only dead for a few seconds anymore. May reassures him that there’s nothing wrong but we all know that’s not the case. Hopefully Coulson’s rising suspicions mean we’re getting closer to the truth.
“F.Z.Z.T.” was surprisingly lacking on the action and didn’t really have a lot of humor throughout, things that we have come to expect on the show, and yet the episode was still very exciting. The heavy focus on the duo of Fitz-Simmons was great as we now know more about who they are, they’re motivations, and what exactly they mean to this team other than being tech geeks. Simmons’s “final moments” were really well done too and it was refreshing to not have Skye (Chloe Bennet) be the character in focus for a change. Overall, “F.Z.Z.T.” was a great emotional ride that showed there is still plenty more for this series to cover.