Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013) Season 1, episode 6. FZZT
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1, episode 6. FZZT gives us a Halloween episode (only a few days after the due date) in which the obligatory small group of two adults and some cherubic boys sit around a campfire and tell each other lame ghost stories. Except this time, when one of the men hears a noise off in the darkness, he ends up fully charged and repelling Earth’s gravity, while the battery in the scout’s truck seems to attract attention.
As we rejoin the crew on the Bus, Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) aka Woodentop demonstrates he has no sense of humour, the British geeks Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) think they can do American accents which should give all Americans a laugh at the expense of Britain, and, on the treadmill, Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) is spookily healthy for a man of his age. After viewing the levitating man who expectedly stops floating when Jemma Simmons gets a spark from the body, Skye (Chloe Bennet) does a Google search for the man’s background. It seems he and Mother Teresa are vying with each other for sainthood. Then there’s a second electrostatic event only a short distance away and, when they get to the barn (who needs an entire farm house for scenes like this), there’s another gravity-defying body. By this time Skye has a sample of two saints. This was was another volunteer fireman in the same troop as the first victim. That means a stalker serial killer is wiping out men virtuous enough to volunteer to put out fires following the alien invasion that hit New York in the film version of The Avengers (2012). What a dastardly plot. Someone must have picked up an alien device when they were dowsing the flames and has been infected.
No, wait. This is a different plot altogether. This is an excuse for Phil Coulson to do his, “You should try to stay calm. You’re about to die, but I’ve been there and I can tell you it’s beautiful.” speech just before the third man who cleaned the blood off the alien helmet blows up. Now here’s the thing. They all touched the helmet at the same time, but they are exploding at different times. Now our Brit geek has the bug, she only has two hours to live. How did they calculate this? Since they are in the Bus over a large ocean, that means she will release the equivalent of an EMP charge and bring the plane down with total loss of life among all those who do not have a parachute. Or they could just throw her off the plane. That would solve the problem. So now it’s a race against time as our heroic scientist must experiment on herself to find a cure before the alien virus kills her. The tension arising from this plot takes a vicious hold on the producer and forces him to authorise it to finish. This leaves the worldwide audience feeling helpless. All they can do is watch. Woodentop can’t take out his gun and shoot bad guys. Skye can’t hack the virus. All they can do is sit and wait for it all to end.
So now romance rears its head as the two geeks get the helmet and start working out whether they can extract an anti-venom thing (or if not venom, then virus, or serum or whatever) from the alien’s blood that the firefighters so carefully cleaned off. Wow is this team-building under pressure or what! Now all we need do is wait for the absurd climax. . . when they save one of the weakest and most annoying characters in the show. It would have given the show so much more potential for emotional depth if they had just let her die. So everything should be wonderful now they are all bonding, except Coulson is feeling different. As Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) says, there’s no way he can die, come back and not feel different. She channels a Chinese guru and confirms he’s different because he is different and all he can do now is move forward one day at a time. And if other people don’t like him being a different Coulson, they’d better suck it up because now he’s different, he’s not going to act like he did before.
In my mind, this show is pitching at the wrong audience. The level of character development and this continuing insistence of standalone episodes aim at a young audience. With better plot ideas, this could be great on a children’s channel at this length. But it fails to hit the mark for an adult audience. Although it’s British and therefore doesn’t have quite the same visibility in America, the approach of Torchwood was a better model for a small team tracking down and dealing with alien invaders. Obviously, none of the American producers wanted to risk being infected by a British television virus which is why I think this show is dying on its feet.
For a review of other episodes, see:
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013) Season 1, episode 1. Pilot
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013) Season 1, episode 2. 0-8-4
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013) Season 1, episode 3. The Asset
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013) Season 1, episode 4. Eye-Spy
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013) Season 1, episode 5. Girl in the Flower Dress
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013) Season 1, episode 7. The Hub.