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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 1.06 "F.Z.Z.T." Review: It's Beautiful

   This week’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., “F.Z.Z.T.,” was written by Paul Zbyszewski and directed by Vincent Misiano. Zbyszewski was the creator of Day Break the short lived Sci-Fi series about a cop who keeps living the same day over and over again and also wrote for Lost and Hawaii Five-O, so his credentials make him a perfect fit for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Misiano’s extensive credits include Prison Break, Warehouse 13, The 4400, Medium, and Arrow – that other superhero show. This week’s episode answered a big question and finally gave us some substantial Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge). As always, I would be remiss in not drawing attention to yet another brilliant performance by Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson.

    The mysterious case of the week helps to solidfy the bonds between the team members as they fight to save one of their own. It was great that they tied the case back to The Avengers again by the virus coming from the Chitauri helmet. I loved the teaser scene of the Boy Scouts telling ghost stories around the campfire – until faced with one of their own! It dovetails nicely with the scene in which the “geeky” kids (Fitz, Simmons, Skye) make fun of the “jock” (Ward). Of course, the best part of that scene is when they circle back to it at the end of the episode and Ward (Brent Dalton) reveals that he knows Simmons played him to help Fitz and that they make fun of him and he’s totally ok with both. I loved the scene with Ward and Skye (Chloe Bennet) when they are both feeling helpless and Ward angsts that he hates that the threat is something he can’t see or even understand – it’s nothing he can protect them against. Skye asks what they should do and Ward answers “Wait.” Until they are called upon for something they can do. Ward doesn’t hesitate to jump out of the plane after Simmons. Ward has completely embraced his team.

    Skye is slowly re-proving herself. She seems to have been accepted most quickly by Fitz and Simmons, and her attachment to them is demonstrated by her fierce hug of Simmons at the end. If the episode has a weak link, it’s all the expository speeches Skye has to tell us what she did and why she’s wearing the bracelet etc. We do learn that she hasn’t told the team the whole truth – she told them she lied to protect her ex-boyfriend, not that she’s trying to find out what happened to her parents. Of course, she may have withheld the whole truth at Coulson’s direction, in which case, he will no doubt take responsibility for the apparent lie. I hope that’s the case and that she doesn’t have to go through winning back the trust of the team again. Anybody else love Skye referencing The Big Lebowski and Ward and Coulson totally not getting it?

    I loved the scene between Coulson and Simmons at the beginning when she’s giving him the physical, and tells him he’s fit as a fiddle, especially “for a man of his age.” Like all of us over 30 *cough*, he doesn’t want to hear that! The look on Simmons face is priceless as she realizes she’s put her foot in her mouth and inadvertently insulted her boss. It was a nice moment of characterization to demonstrate that being in the lab hasn’t exactly honed her social skills anymore that Fitz’s, and we see him trying to hit on Skye. I was initially surprised at how disappointed I was that this pretty much confirmed that Fitz and Simmons aren’t a couple. Their relationship is obviously a deep one, however, so I have to wonder if they were a couple at some point in the past or if they’ve been friends and colleagues for so long that they don’t really think of each other in that way.

    This episode really let us see Fitz and Simmons at work which was great. The team allows the series to feel like a procedural show and an action show at the same time. Henstridge is outstanding in the episode as we see her excitement and passion over her work and the deep feelings she has for Fitz and her courage to jump to save the rest of the team. When Coulson says he’s willing to bet his life that Simmons will find a cure, he’s actually speaking literally because if she dies on the plane, the electromagnetic pulse will take down the plane.

    The scene in which Fitz and Simmons fight over her “dragging” Fitz out into the field is a powerful one, and it’s not until Fitz tells her she’s been by his side all along, that you can see him realize what she means to him. The episode focuses on Fitz’s many fears, yet he puts his life in jeopardy by getting the helmet and locking himself in with Simmons. Simmons of course can do no less for him and the rest of the team. Simmons tells Coulson, she knows protocol and tries to comfort him. Henstridge is brilliant in this scene as she asks Coulson to tell her father of her death first. The scene in which Fitz knows they’ve found a cure and can’t stop her from jumping is excruciating – anyone else screaming at their television? In the final scene between Fitz and Simmons, Fitz is trying to apologize for not jumping out after her, but Simmons assures him that he’s the hero because he was the one in the lab with her finding a cure. It’s funny that there has never been any indication that Simmons is interested in Ward, and I begin to wonder if she’s been waiting for Fitz to really see her. Her kiss on his cheek is chaste, but feels like Simmons possible facing her own fear that Fitz won’t feel the same way? The thoughtful look on Fitz’s face as the screen goes to dark makes me think the penny is finally dropping for him.

    Ming-Na Wen is fantastic even if we don’t get a spectacular fight scene. Loved May “interrogating” the Scout leader. Even when she’s playing good cop and offering cookies, she can’t turn off the intensity. May continues to be Coulson’s support system and tells him he did everything he could for Diaz. There is a terrific moment when he just looks at her and smiles – great chemistry between these two! Of course, her best scene is saved for the last scene with Coulson.

    Loved Coulson having to get the various members of the team to focus – especially Fitz and Simmons talking over each other. Coulson also steps up to protect the team, even from head office. Loved seeing Titus Welliver as Blake. He’s a great addition to the cast, but I wish he wasn’t being set up as an antagonist to the team; I’d much rather see him as one of our “heroes.” Gregg is truly outstanding in two scenes. The first, of course, is the scene in which Coulson comforts Diaz before his inevitable death. Once again, Coulson puts his life on the line to do the right thing. He refuses to leave Diaz, even at the team’s urging. We learn that Coulson knows he was dead for longer than 8 seconds. He knows he died and when Diaz asks what it was like, he tells him it was beautiful. Coulson doesn’t leave until he knows Diaz has been comforted and is ready to go. Gregg’s performance here is subtle and moving.

    The episode leads to the final scene between May and Coulson. We’ve had Coulson coach Diaz through his death and Simmons has had a very near death experience. I love that the series gives us the answer to the big question we’ve all been wondering about. We see the scar on Coulson’s chest and we learn that his physical has come back completely normal – except his blood is a little heavy on the iron. Great shout out when Coulson tells May she doesn’t have to call him Ironman. Coulson admits to May that he’s been struggling to accept what happened to him – that he feels different. May tells him “there is no going back; there’s only going forward. You feel different because you are different.” But the implication that is most exciting in this scene is that May has also gone through a similar trauma and also bears the scar from it. So, we solve one mystery to have another one open up. Blake recognizes that Coulson is different and Coulson tells him to “get used to it” clearly embracing this new him. I think we can draw an interesting parallel to the other team members as they face their fears – like Fitz and Simmons, they too are becoming new and better versions of themselves.

    Another great episode for me, but for entirely different reasons this week. This week gave us lots of insight into the dynamics of the team and set up a potentially interesting wrinkle that the team may be fighting forces within S.H.I.E.L.D. itself. What did you think of the episode? Were you happy to finally get some great Fitz and Simmons? Do you think Blake is going to be a continuing force to be reckoned with? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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