7 February 2016
Agents of SHIELD S3E5 "4,722 Hours" review
After Agents of SHIELD dropped the monster-of-the-week style structure in the wake of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it pretty much settled into a certain way of presenting itself that hasn't changed much since. Each episode splits the main characters up into different groups and follows them as they do their own thing, the episode cutting between the various plot lines (often three an episode, I've noticed) until the episode is over. It's an effective way of keeping an episode moving for sure, but it was never going to set the world on fire either, so seeing Agents of SHIELD break that pattern and fully devote an entire episode to just one story certainly makes for an interesting change of pace - one that pays off in droves.
"4,722 Hours" details Simmons' stay on the alien planet that she was rescued from in "Purpose of the Machine", as well as explaining her somewhat strange behaviour since she was rescued and her urge to return to the planet. And that's it, for the whole episode, a significantly different title card letting audiences know that this episode of Agents of SHIELD isn't going to be like the others.
I've been saying for a while now that Fitzsimmons are the best thing that Agents of SHIELD has produced so far, and nothing in "4,722 Hours" has done anything to convince me otherwise. Fitz has been the more developed of the two (and the one that the show pays most attention to) for a while now though, so it's nice to see Simmons become the centre of attention for once - this is her story through and through, and we really get to see Simmons shine thanks to that.
Alone and without any of the equipment or supplies that she needs in order to survive, seeing Simmons gain confidence as she manages to survive the trails and tribulations that the planet can throw at her is both endearing and uplifting. Agents of SHIELD is smart enough to know that shows fan base love Simmons as a character, and as such waste no time in tearing her down and building her back up before tearing her down again - we lament her defeats in the same way as we share her victories, and after one particularly tense encounter her relieved shout of of "You're dinner, biatch!" had me grinning like an idiot, genuinely glad that she was both OK and seemingly in good spirits. I'm half surprised that we didn't get to hear Simmons say that she was going to have to "science the shit out of this" - obviously, comparing an episode of Agents of SHIELD to The Martian is a touch unfair, but when an episode of a TV show can survive a comparison to a film with a budget was over $100 million, you know that the episode was doing something right.
My only real complaint about "4,722 Hours" is that the Simmons we see during the episode seems to be a lot more 'into' Fitz than we have ever seen her before. I never got the impression that Fitz romantic interest in Simmons was truly returned, and I liked that - unrequited love can be a hard thing to do without making one of the two people involved seem like bad guys, but Agents of SHIELD walked that line well and I'm concerned that certain developments in "4,722 Hours" might ruin that in the future. As always, I'm pretty dedicated to keeping these reviews spoiler-free, but you'll see what I mean after watching the episode.
Overall though, if "4,722 Hours" isn't the best ever episode of Agents of SHIELD then it has to be somewhere right at the top. It doesn't just stand out amongst other Agents of SHIELD episodes, it stands out as something that I haven't seen attempted on television before, a real creative risk that I hope people can recognise as a genuine achievement. It isn't perfect, and the budget of the episode takes something away from the atmosphere of the planet at times, but it's well structured, perfectly paced and has a pretty interesting surprise up its sleeve that I can't wait to see expanded upon in the future.
This article was originally published on OutLoudCulture.