Episode Title: “F.Z.Z.T.”
Writer: Paul Zbyszewski
Director: Vincent Misiano
Previously on “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”:
“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” never quite seems to be the show that Marvel fans want it to be… and even the people making show don’t seem to be sure what it’s supposed to be either. In theory, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” should be more than just a 60 minute commercial for Thor: The Dark World or any of the upcoming Marvel films. But for that to happen, we actually need to care about the characters on this show.
“F.Z.Z.T.” is a step in the right direction, as the spotlight falls squarely on Agent Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) and to a lesser extent, her partner, Agent Leo Fitz (Ian De Caestecker). Fitz and Simmons have been the least developed characters up to this point, as the focus has largely been on Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Skye (Chloe Bennet).
Even the beginning of this episode is Skye-centric, as she seems to completely miss Fitz’s attempts to flirt with her. There have been a few hints in previous episodes that Fitz was romantically interested in Skye, but this was his most overt attempt to catch her interest. Instead, Skye was more taken by how similar Fitz and Simmons are to each other, down to their comedic impressions of Agent Grant Ward (Brett Dalton).
The opening of the episode was also a nice misdirect, as the team and the audience expect to find someone behind the bizarre deaths of two volunteer firemen. Melinda May’s (Ming-Na Wen) brief interrogation of one the young eyewitnesses was also a funny moment.
There are full spoilers ahead for “F.Z.Z.T.,” so if you missed last night’s episode of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” then you should probably skip this review or else you’ll have to call Coulson “Iron Man.”
As the main character on this show, it was good to see Coulson get a few important moments in “F.Z.Z.T.” as well. Coulson’s attempt to calm the third victim in the firehouse was really well done while furthering the mystery of what Coulson knows or doesn’t know about his resurrection. More strikingly, we catch a glimpse of how Coulson deals with failure, as he can’t save the fireman after talking him down. This show needs more dramatic moments like that.
Coulson’s reaction to the fireman’s death helps fuel his determination to save Simmons when she discovers that the killer is actually an alien virus… which she accidentally exposed herself to. Simmons had a morbid fascination with the floating body of the first victim, which was immediately followed by her inadvertent infection.
It does seem like “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” goes to the Chitauri well too often, but keep in mind that the Battle of New York from The Avengers was “the end of the world” as Maria Hill put it in the pilot episode of this series. If aliens ever invade New York, it’s a safe bet that we’d all be talking about that for years afterwards if we were fortunate enough to have survived.
Over half of the episode takes place on the team’s plane, but it was the best part of the episode. Simmons and Fitz bicker, but it’s clear that they would die for each other. Fitz risks exposing himself to the virus by joining Simmons in isolation while Simmons throws herself off of the plane once she thinks that there is no hope for a cure. This was the first episode to really sell the bond between them. And it almost felt like Fitz was robbed of his hero moment when Ward stepped in and jumped out of the plane after Simmons. Although Fitz was instrumental in curing the virus, so he was still one of the heroes of the hour.
Simmons’ close call helps ease the tension between Ward and Skye, although Ward doesn’t seem to be close to forgiving Skye for her betrayal in the previous episode. A constant thread in this show has been Skye’s failed attempts to bond with her teammates out in the field. In “F.Z.Z.T.,” Skye’s playful bump into Ward and her terrible jokes weren’t particularly funny, but it did convey that she’s still rightfully on the outs with everyone.
Another subplot in this episode was May’s growing interest in Coulson while helping him come to terms with the idea that his (near?)-death experience changed him in ways that he can’t quite explain. The Coulson as an LMD theory is still popular among fans, so I half expected to see some circuits under his shirt when he unbuttoned at May’s request. But for now, the scar on Coulson’s chest is fairly convincing that this is the same man whom Loki apparently murdered in The Avengers.
By the end of the episode, Coulson has embraced his more assertive nature in the aftermath of his “death” by challenging Agent Blake’s (Titus Welliver) assertion that the team can be taken away from him if Coulson continues to defy orders from S.H.I.E.L.D.. I also enjoyed Coulson’s acknowledgment that the interference he claimed to have during his video call with Blake was just a play for time because he didn’t want to eliminate Simmons to prevent the virus from spreading.
“F.Z.Z.T.” didn’t suddenly transform Fitz and Simmons into fully formed characters, but I do care about them a lot more than I did before the episode started. Ward, Skye and May badly need some development of their own, but I’m encouraged by this episode. There’s still 16 episodes left this season, so that should be more than enough time for this creative team to flesh out the show and its characters. At least that’s what I’m hoping for.