TV discussion

TV Rewind… Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 1×06 – ‘FZZT’

The sixth episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. finally takes some time to look at two of the most underdeveloped characters within the main cast, Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge). Whilst we’ve not had huge amounts of characterisation beyond Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Skye (Chloe Bennet) we at least have a feel for each of the team; but Fitz and Simmons have only really been there to perform science tasks and explain tech stuff to the audience. ‘FZZT’, however, not only gives them a chance to shine, but also gives an early indication that Fitz may actually be the best character on the show with the most talented actor.

When a number of firefighters that were present during the Battle of New York (the events of the final act of Avengers) start dying in mysterious circumstances, Coulson and his team are brought in to investigate. These deaths begin to show the differences between Fitz and Simmons. Simmons is thoroughly fascinated by case and is more than willing to get in close to the bodies to investigate, whilst Fitz is repulsed by them and freaks out about what a corpse is doing to the cleanliness of his lab.

For two characters that have been very interchangeable up to this point it’s nice to see them differ of something, especially something that has to do with science. These scenes are also played relatively fun, with a much more fluid and natural approach rather than the quip heavy humour the show has had to this point (seriously, it’s like you have to take comedy improv classes at the S.H.I.E.L.D. academy to become an agent or something).

When it’s discovered that a Chitauri helmet is responsible for the deaths, containing an alien virus, I was a little disappointing as it felt like the series was once again relying on a connection to the films in order to tell its stories. Thankfully, there’s little focus on the events of Avengers and things take on a much smaller, personal story.

The moment when the team find a firefighter that has been infected and is moments away from death is a really interesting scene. In most shows this would be something that would take place in the final act, and the infected person would end up saved. But here it happens midway through the episode and there’s nothing that can be done. The moment where Coulson sits with the infected man and talks to him about his own experience with dying, preparing him for what is to come, is very sweet and sad, and gives us some insight into how Coulson has processed his own experience. It’s a brave choice of a scene for a show that seems to have prided itself on its sense of humour, but the level of maturity and darkness it brings to the show is incredibly welcome.

Unfortunately for the team, Simmons has also been exposed to the virus and will soon be killed by the virus too, though the explosive electrical blast that comes with her death is also set to destroy their plane mid-flight, killing the rest of the team. This is when Fitz and Simmons are given the focus of the episode, working against the clock to try and save Simmons’ life.

The scene where Simmons has all but given up on finding a cure, but then Fitz willingly exposes himself to the virus in order to help her is a great one, and begins to really show how good De Caestecker is as an actor as he refuses to let his best friend die. The drama with Fitz and Simmons feels so real, so full of fear and sadness, that its some of the best scenes the show has given us yet.

When Simmons believes that there is no cure she jumps out of the plane in order to spare the rest of the team, only for Fitz to realise there is a cure and to try and follow her out. Whilst it’s sad that he doesn’t get to be the one to jump out after her, that honour falling to Ward (Brett Dalton), he was still putting on the parachute, still willing to leap from a moving plane for her; that willingness to possibly die to save her speaks volumes to his character.

Fitz and Simmons are easily some of my favourite characters as the show goes on, and Ian De Caestecker is an amazing actor, and this episode is really the beginning of a lot of why I love the two of them. It has action, drama, emotion, and huge moments, but all of them are focused on these two characters; the weird scientists who work in the back of the bus. ‘FZZT’ may not have big spectacle or action but it’s a wonderfully told personal story.

Are you a fan of Agents of SHIELD? Let us know what you think of this episode.

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