Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: FZZT (1×06)
Synopsis: The team investigates several mysterious incidents of electro-static energy killing firefighters from the Battle of New York. However, their investigation hits too close to home when Simmons finds herself in danger.
Wow. I knew the potential for this show to emotionally compromise me was there. I just didn’t think it would happen until later in the season. Six episodes in and I was crying. Thanks Team Whedon.
After the episode opening with a boy scout troop leader being zapped to death by some unseen force, we cut to the bus where Coulson is in the middle of a physical that he’s not scheduled for, saying that he told his physical therapist he was feeling a bit rusty and is being forced to go through tests. In the lab, Fitz and Skye bond over making fun of Ward being all meticulous over the Night Night Pistol and giving Skye the cold shoulder after everything she’s gone through to earn his forgiveness after the incident with Miles. In her frustration over not being able to read Ward, Skye makes a comment about how Fitz and Simmons are psychically linked. He tries to deny it, but Simmons comes back from giving Coulson his physical and joins them in their terrible impression of Ward without even knowing they were making fun of Ward like that. Jokes about the psychic link between Fitz and Simmons aside, I love that the tech and science side of the team is developing such a wonderfully cute friendship and it is definitely the heart of this episode.
The team lands at the site where the scout master Adam Cross died to find his body floating in the middle of the woods. Unsure of what caused his death, the team surmises that it’s either a natural event, some sort of weapon, or a superpowered individual not on the S.H.I.E.L.D. Index. (Do you ever wonder who all is on that Index? I sure do.) Simmons notices a wound on the scout master’s forehead and thinks that it’s an entry wound. She accidentally shocks herself on the body, causing it to fall onto the ground.
Skye does a background check on Cross to see if he would have anyone who would want to harm him, but he was squeaky clean to the point where Skye declares that he “makes Captain America look like The Dude.” Coulson and Ward don’t appreciate The Big Lebowski reference, but I sure as hell do. Ward tells Skye to dig deeper, causing Coulson to call out Ward for how tough he’s been on Skye since the previous episode. I’ll admit that Ward has every right to feel betrayed, but at some point, he has to recognize how hard Skye is trying to get back in his good graces and how sorry she is.
Coulson goes down to the lab, where Fitz is cowering outside of it because he doesn’t want to be near the decaying body and Simmons argues that it’s for science. I wonder if Fitz has some sort of undiagnosed OCD or germophobia, but that’s unrelated to this. (I also want to know the story of the cat, but that’s also unrelated.) Simmons has determined that whatever the electrostatic source was, it was twice the energy of a lighting bolt and that it temporarily changed Cross’s molecular density, but she hasn’t determined what it is yet. As she’s discussing dissecting his body, Fitz informs May and Coulson that there’s another electrostatic event happening nearby. Coulson, May, and Ward race to the scene, but arrive too late and find another floating dead body in the middle of a barn. Skye finds out that the second victim was volunteer firefighter in the same firehouse as Cross and that they were both responders at the Battle of New York. The team determines that they’re looking for a killer.
As the science and tech team tries to determine what killed the two men, the tactical team drives to the firehouse to see if they can find the killer. Coulson immediately suspects a guy named Tony Diaz who starts acting weird when he hears that someone else died the same way as Cross, but Simmons starts to suspect that whatever killed the two men is killing them internally. Diaz starts to make a pan float without realizing it as May finds a Chitauri helmet. Diaz claims that the men got bored on third shift a couple of nights ago and cleaned the rust off of it. That when Simmons has a revelation: there isn’t some mysterious Chitauri weapon killing everyone. It’s a virus that has infected the three men, and Diaz doesn’t have much time left. Coulson orders May and Ward to evacuate the firehouse, then proceeds to have a very calming conversation about death with Diaz that reminds me of why I love Phil Coulson, but also makes me suspect that he knows something is wrong with him. He just doesn’t know what.
As the firefighters are shuffled off to quarantine, the team is tasked with bringing the helmet to the S.H.I.E.L.D. Sandbox in West Africa. Coulson urges Simmons to find a cure for the other firefighters if they turn out to be infected. On the Bus, May asks how Coulson is feeling and he assures her that he is fine and will let her know if something is wrong. Simmons calls Coulson down to the lab to show him the discovery she’s made about the virus. It turns out that unlike other viruses, it transfers through electrostatic shock. Simmons is ecstatic about this discovery, but Coulson immediately beings his silent type of worry when he notices a piece of equipment floating behind Simmons the same way the pan floated around Diaz. He apologizes to her and shuts her in the lab as Simmons realizes she has become infected as well.
From here on out, the episode is just tears.
The team determines that Simmons has about two hours before she goes like the firefighters, which would cause the plane to crash in the middle of the Atlantic. And they’re about three hours from the Sandbox. Coulson believes that Simmons can find her cure, but Simmons isn’t feeling too encouraged as her second attempt at an antiserum kills a rat. Meanwhile, Ward watches on the big monitor upstairs and in his own words, expresses to Skye how helpless he feels about not being able to protect the team from this. I have to admit, it’s the first time I haven’t really wanted to make fun of Ward for some reason. Even with the stoic demeanor, he does care about the team and wants them to be safe. I hope we’ll see more of this Ward in the future.
Coulson calls Agent Blake (who you might remember from the Marvel One-Shot Item 47), needing some sort of answer on how to help Simmons. Blake says they haven’t seen anything like it and that Coulson has an order from the top to dump any infected cargo to avoid the start of a pandemic. Meaning that Director Fury has ordered Coulson to toss Simmons out the cargo bay like Laura Roslin tosses a Cylon out the airlock. Coulson ends the call, pretending that the signal is bad. This gives me some feelings that might tie back to what could happen in The Winter Soldier, but I’ll get to that in a bit.
Fitz and Simmons have an argument over the predicament they’re currently in, with Simmons expressing sadness over the fact the antibodies from the firefighters aren’t strong enough to cure the disease. They didn’t survive it. There’s no way they have the antidote. However, in that moment of psychic link, they realize that no human has survived, but the Chitauri have. Meaning if they can extract DNA from the helmet, perhaps they can find the cure. Throwing his usual caution to the wind, Fitz grabs the helmet from the interrogation room and brings it down to the lab to help Simmons find the cure. No, I’m not crying about it. You are. Shut up.
It seems like the two are successful in finding the cure, but the third rat begins to show the same effects as the other two when introduces to the antiserum. Simmons resigns herself to her fate and asks Coulson to tell her dad what has happened to her as well as a moment alone with Fitz. I expected this to be a tearful goodbye of sorts and it kind of is, but instead, she knocks Fitz out with a fire extinguisher. As Fitz comes to, he realizes that the antiserum did work, but Simmons has locked him inside the lab, opened the cargo hold and looks right at Fitz as she throws herself out of it. Being the fool he is, Fitz immediately loads up the antiserum and tries to grab a parachute to save Simmons, but Ward pushes him out of the way to do it to make sure everyone makes it out alive. With a squinty face and proper tactics, Ward manages to save Simmons and give her the cure all before pulling the chute. My sigh of relief could be heard miles away, I’m sure.
Coulson chews out Simmons and Ward for everything that went down, but reveals that he is happy that she’s alive. Ward checks in with Simmons and tells her that he believes that she was brave. She reveals the lie she told about the Night Night Pistol and Ward says that he knows about that as well as the terrible impression. Skye tearfully hugs her friend, and later, Simmons thanks Fitz for everything he did and kisses him on the cheek.
As this is happening, May pays Coulson a visit to ask about Simmons. She notices the medical file on his desk and asks about it. Coulson says that it is his and his blood work came back fine minus an overload of iron. He makes a stupid joke about Iron Man, but then tells May that he ordered the tests for himself because he hasn’t felt the same since he was killed by Loki. May asks him to unbutton his shirt, revealing his scar. May tells him that no matter how long he was actually dead, he can’t go through something like that unchanged and that he can only move forward from here. It’s a wonderful scene that makes me want to see more of Coulson and May, but there’s something May says that hints at the fact she might have died as well at some point. That’s plenty good reason to leave the field, but I guess we won’t know for a while.
In the stinger, the Bus arrives at the Sandbox to drop off the helmet. Blake tells Coulson that he can’t disobey a direct order and that they’ll probably take the team away if he keeps doing that. Coulson says that he’d like to see them try. Blake is taken aback and says that Coulson doesn’t sound like the Phil Coulson he knows, but Coulson soundly tells him to get used to it.
I will admit that it is pretty strange for Coulson, but with how unorthodox Coulson has been and how they keep hinting at how overloaded with power S.H.I.E.L.D. seems to be in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I have a feeling that either someone is going to defect or the team is going to go on the run. It would be interesting if that happened, but this might just be me wanting SOMEONE to know Coulson is alive. Steve should be the first to know.
This episode was kind of one-shot-ish like I feared, but it was good kind of one shot. It was filled with cute and emotional moments with the team that shows that they really are starting to get along. It’s the strongest episode yet and shows that the show is really starting to hit its stride. I wonder if six episodes is the new hallmark for Team Whedon since that’s about the time Dollhouse hit its stride. Still, it was a great episode and a hopefully good lead in for the next two weeks with episodes featuring Victoria Hand and the aftermath of Thor: The Dark World. Let’s go Team S.H.I.E.L.D!