‘Agents of SHIELD’ S3E05 “4722 Hours” Review

‘Agents of SHIELD’ S3E05 “4722 Hours” Review

By Amanda Joyce October 28, 2015 08:42AM EDT
80% Review Score: 8 / 10
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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (2013)

In the series first single-character-focused episode, Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) recounts what happened to her on the alien planet, just as she told Fitz (Iain de Caestecker) she would after the events of last week’s episode. Surprise, surprise though as we learn she wasn’t as alone as she led everyone to believe.


***Spoiler Alert***

This review contains spoilers for S3E05 of Agents of SHIELD. Read at your own risk.


The Good

The opening ten minutes. We get a crash course in what Jemma went through during her first month on that alien planet - all chronicled by her in memos into her phone. Jemma Simmons proves herself as much of a badass as the other characters we’ve met as she struggles to survive a sandstorm, 100 hours without water, weeks without real food, and more. She has some serious survival skills, and Elizabeth Henstridge pulls off her excitement at some of the smallest accomplishments and her fear of the unknown perfectly. She’s a force.

Jemma stitches up her own wound. If those first ten minutes didn’t suck you right into the episode and prove how amazing Jemma is - she stitches herself up without an anesthetic even though Will offers to do it for her. Talk about being strong in the face of adversity. Can you love her more? Henstridge’s slight wince and hiss as we watch her begin, even the set of her shoulders, convey that she’s just pushing the pain down enough to get the job done. Again, both the character and the actress are a force.

Jemma talking to Fitz to think through her problems. In a nice parallel to Fitz early on in season two when he was hallucinating her, Jemma bounces ideas off the Fitz in her phone (and in her head) while she’s making sense of the world around her, and while she’s trying to find a way back home. It’s a reminder that the two of them have spent almost their entire time at SHIELD relying on one another when they have difficulties. It’s hard to break a decade of habits. Just as Fitz had to learn to stand on his own without Jemma’s guidance to fall back on, Jemma has to learn to work with someone else to survive.

Jemma’s companion is an astronaut. It’s actually not a shock that there was someone else on the planet, but I do enjoy the idea that NASA had the portal before SHIELD and that they sent astronauts through, though like Jemma, I have to wonder just how NASA knew where they were sending people. Will is uniquely qualified to help Jemma survive since he’s trained to live on alien world and he’s already been doing it for 14 years. We might have all expected Inhumans, but what we got was something very different. Well played, Agents of SHIELD.


“His name is like your favorite word.” And the hearts of all the shippers grew three sizes, only to be crushed later in the episode. But really, this was sweet because other than Jemma wanting to talk about their feelings at the end of season two, we haven’t seen her moon over Fitz the way he has over her, so there hasn’t been an indication that her feelings are as strong. Now, we know that they likely are. Or were. Or something in between.

Some Jemma backstory. Because this cast is so big, we don’t get a lot of character backstory outside of Skye, and more recently, May, so having Jemma talk about her childhood was a rare treat. We find out she had scoliosis as a child and that after she had surgery to correct it, she studied astronomy because her father brought her books on the subject. Lucky that the one member of the SHIELD team we know who was into astronomy was the one who got sucked into the monolith.

Fitz really is the best. Even after he finds out just what happened with Jemma on the other planet, he immediately rushes to get all the research together to help her. That’s loyalty. Even if it hurts. Which he manages to convey so well with just his eyes in his about two minutes of screen time. Kudos!

Elizabeth Henstridge for all the awards. This episode would have been very difficult to watch if Henstridge wasn’t able to sell it. She carried the hour brilliantly. Having to run the gamut of human emotion throughout the course of the story, and without the usual ensemble to rely on, could have been risky for a lesser actor. Henstridge hasn’t often received the same praise as her FitzSimmons counterpart Iain de Caestecker because his emotional scenes have just been so much heavier than hers. Henstridge gets to fall apart and be put back together here though, and despite the misgivings I have about some aspects of the narrative, she is amazing to watch.


The Bad

The monster representation is so vague. On the one hand, this is a good thing. Theorize away about who or what it is! On the other, no real explanation was provided for what the monster was beyond it messing with people’s heads, leaving us still in the dark about so much. If Jemma was sleeping in a cozy set up with this astronaut for months, why exactly is she waking up in the middle of the night armed as well? Because it didn’t seem like the monstrous force could get to them underground. What exactly was she arming herself against? (Honestly, the better twist here would have been for Will to have actually been the monster because after all of that helping her survive, we wouldn’t have seen it coming.)

Love triangle, anyone? Just when Fitz and Simmons seem to be heading in the same direction, a wrench is thrown in the machine, grinding the gears to a halt, am I right? TV writers seem to have this idea that if the audience wants to see two characters get together, they have to keep them apart as long as possible, and the most cliched way to do that is by introducing a third party for one of them to fall for. While fans can get over a love triangle, here it’s something of a triple whammy though. In addition to it being completely unnecessary, it also does the unfortunate job of painting Jemma as the relationship villain again. It seems time and time again, the audience is reminded that Fitz is willing to do anything and everything for Jemma, but she’s not willing to do the same for him. While we think of them as equals intellectually and professionally, it’s personally that the footing keeps being changed. And that’s unfair to both characters. It’s perfectly understandable for Jemma, who thinks she’s never going to see anyone she cares about again, to fall for the only other human being on the planet. The problem is that the episode doesn’t really build to that. Instead, she repeatedly references Fitz, to the point that Will makes a note of it, and seeks comfort in Will only after she has completely lost hope for the last few minutes we get to see of her time there. But why not tell anyone about him at all when she came back? It only clouds her intentions where Fitz is concerned, and the entire setup screams of lazy writing because there wasn’t a better obstacle to throw in their way.



Marvel-ous Links

Brubaker. One of the members of Will’s team that he mentions is named Brubaker. Comic book fans will know that Ed Brubaker worked as a writer for DC before beginning to write for Marvel. He’s actually the one who resurrected Bucky Barnes during his work on Captain America. A fitting nod with Bucky as a main character in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War movie.

It’s not surprising that there weren’t more references in this episode since it’s so different than the usual Agents of SHIELD.


The Questions

Who or what is the monster on this planet? We’re still no closer to finding out where Jemma really was for six months, and this monster that was intent on keeping her and Will there was never really defined. When do we get to find out?

Is Will somehow connected to Rosalind Price? It’s interesting that NASA was experimenting with the monolith 14 years ago, and we happen to know that Rosalind, under many aliases, has hopped around to several different government organizations, including NASA.

Are Fitz and Simmons ever going to catch a break? Seriously. Come on. Enough with the obstacles already. Let’s not make them the Ross and Rachel of this show. When you have two characters act as the emotional centerpiece for a series, it’s unfair to the audience and the characters to repeatedly pull them apart before they can even get together.


Grading the episode: While I loved the bottle episode structure and seeing Elizabeth Henstridge get her chance to shine, the episode came to something of a screeching halt when it landed in cliched territory, knocking it’s grade down a couple of pegs. I only wish the writers had found a more original reason for her to go back that matched so well with the rest of the creativity they employed in the episode. B

Tags: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (2013), Elizabeth Henstridge, Iain De Caestecker, Dillon Casey, Marvel Cinematic Universe
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Having graduated with a BS in Psychology in 2008, Amanda opted not to pursue a scientific field, but freelance writing instead. A bit of a pop culture junkie, ...
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