Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s latest episode takes a daring approach, as it revolves entirely around the exploits of Simmons on the far away planet she found herself on thanks to the mysterious Monolith. Kudos to the show for trying something as different as this, though I think it had some difficulty in sticking the landing. Obviously, the weight of the episode fell upon the shoulders of Elizabeth Henstridge as Agent Simmons, and she did a serviceable enough job here, though I think the possibilities of what had happened to her on the planet didn’t live up to what we got here. When Simmons first makes landfall on the new planet, she finds herself taking the logical step in waiting to see if anyone manages to come find her from the point where she had fallen.
After a few days of waiting without food or water, Simmons decides to march out on her own, coming across, wouldn’t you know it, a pool of water. Delirious with hunger and dehydration, she happily takes a dip in the water after drinking a metric ton of it, only to be attacked by the alien monster that was living in the murky depths. The alien in question is, what I can best describe to be, a white folded up towel monster. I understand that the show is working with a limited budget, but there had to have been a better route to take here for this sort of thing. I would have accepted a man in a poorly made Creature from the Black Lagoon suit over this. Simmons manages to hack off a piece of the beast, giving herself a much needed, albeit horrible, first meal on the planet, and takes the opportunity to kill the monster after three weeks of being on the planet.
Simmons continues her trek across the barren wasteland, only to fall into a nearby pit and find herself trapped in a wooden cage. It’s revealed that she is being held captive by another human being, one who apparently was an astronaut who had been sent to the planet through the Monolith in order to explore it further. The backstory of the Monolith is actually one of the more interesting mysteries that the series has explored during its run, with scenes venturing into the past and the government conspiracies that revolved around it managing to hook me in. The idea of the United States Government seeing the Monolith as a means for “affordable space travel” makes complete sense in an absolutely ludicrous way. This all left me with a feeling that I was watching an episode of The X-Files, but unfortunately, I was watching the first misstep of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s third season.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of interesting stuff that was presented here, it’s just that it could have been so much more. It all felt exceptionally by-the-numbers, and the build-up to Simmons’ time on the planet — which could be considered months if you counted the end of Season 2 — may have just been too much for what we got. Anyway, the astronaut Simmons meets, Will, marvels at Simmons’ technology and is taken aback by how much time has passed since he arrived there. Explaining that the planet is almost a kind of malevolent force, the pair try to make plans to escape by creating a makeshift sniper rifle/rocket launcher out of a telescope and some old knick knacks found along the way.
Unfortunately, the planet decides to send an obstacle in their way in the form of a mysterious hooded figure, who later takes the form of one of Will’s old astronaut buddies in a creepy space suit. While the duo continue to attempt to make it back to earth, they fall for one another and after a time, resign to their fate of being trapped there. It’s only until all hope is lost and the two choose to take in one of the planet’s only sunrises for decades that Fitz’s signal appears, and Simmons manages to find her way home, but leaves Will behind in the process. It’s here that we’re shown that Simmons has in fact been recounting the tale to Fitz this whole time, who agrees to rescue Will, as his heart silently breaks.
This episode was a disappointing one. I totally appreciate the showrunners taking a risk in terms of spending an entire episode with Simmons on an alien world, but if you want to present an idea like this, you have to go big or go home. Presenting even more questions is a pitfall that I was hoping Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had managed to avoid until now, but it seems that’s not the case here. I didn’t find her adventure as compelling as they could be, Will was something of a dud as a character, and her PTSD didn’t seem to match up with what she had been demonstrating in episodes past. This is an episode to skip and I hope that next week’s installment can help the show back to its feet.
Rating: ★★ Fair
Agents of M.I.S.C.E.L.L.A.N.E.A.
– Simmons: “You’re dead, biatch!”
– Simmons: “You’d be so proud of me Fitz, I killed the monster plant.”
– Will: “Glad that thing sent you here and not the janitor.”
– Will: “What’d you think, I was going to build a helicopter?”
– Simmons phone had really amazing battery life. Still working a month later? S.H.I.E.L.D. needs to start mass producing those stat.
– Sigh. Poor Fitz. I feel like in the very last minute of the very last episode of the series, we’ll see Simmons and Fitz finally get together, but not before. It’s honestly hard to believe that the showrunners are once again going back to the well of “will they, won’t they” with these two.
– Most of the astronauts who were killed were named after comic creators, Ed Brubaker and Chuck Austen for example.
– Will describes that the planet the duo is trapped on has moods and emotions. Perhaps it’s in fact Ego the Living Planet, a crazy Marvel concept if ever there was one. Seriously, look it up. I would be pretty ecstatic if that was actually what the planet turned out to be.