Classified spoilers ahead. Please watch the sixth episode before reading this debriefing.
After a week’s hiatus and that flower dress episode, the inhabitants of the Bus needed a hit. They’ve got one. Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD: FZZT really had me glued to the screen until the last minute. Create a threat, pursue a solution, solve the problem… and then, psych – the problem’s back with one of your team members ready to bite the bullet with the clock ticking.
The start was a bit on the corny side. A group of boy scouts around the campfire in the middle of the night, some lame excuse for them to lose their leader and after some weird electric storm (nope, no hammer-weilding god involved) were metallic stuff floats and flies all over the place. The missing scout leader is discovered dead and hovering in mid-air. Those kids will need therapy later. As the team appears and investigates, Simmons gets a little close to the body and we see a small spark discharge as the dead body falls to the ground.
Eventually we’re on the hunt for an alien artifact. Soon enough, a second death points to a group of firefighters and we find our mystery weapon: a Chitauri helmet left over from the Battle of New York, talked about here like an equivalent to September 11. But as the last victim is revealed and the helmet is secured, the episode is really about to start.
Jemma Simmons discovers that the helmet is not a weapon, but that it has a residue from its host who was infected with a alien disease. As she’s revealing this to Coulson, we’re noticing that things start floating around her. Coulson backs away and with a very poignant “I’m sorry”, locks Simmons in the lab. Even as she’s in quarantine, the plane continues its flight path to the mysterious Sandbox, a location where the helmet will be stored. Probably right next to the Ark of the Covenant.
But with Simmons infected and the time running out, Coulson receives a direct order from SHIELD Agent Blake: dump the infected cargo in the middle of the ocean. Although he’s basically talking on high-def Skype, Coulson fakes a bad connection to ignore his orders.
Simmons still has a chance, though. Realizing they need a vacci- an antiserum, I mean – Fitz steals the helmet and runs directly into the lab, exposing himself with the intention of saving his lab partner. However, as it all comes down to one last chance and one last test rat, the last attempt… fails.
It’s quite a note of despair as Simmons ask to be left alone with Fitz, knocks him unconscious and does what she feels needs to be done. She opens the hangar door. Fitz recovers in time to see two things happen: the rat recovering and his lab partner falling away to her doom.
Fitz scrambles for the cure and races to get a parachute, both which agent Ward takes from him – diving after Jemma. The scene is well crafted enough to fear for the bio-chemist as everyone remembers what the Whedon name is infamous for (killing fan-favorite female characters). You’ve probably seen the episode so you know she survives to be scolded by Coulson.
But as the episode draws to a close, we are also regaled with Coulson confessing to Melinda May that he’s not feeling like himself. We even get to see the infamous Loki-spear scar. It’s another vulnerable moment and one that we’ve been anticipating for a while. Agent Phil Coulson has accepted he’s not the same man. We’re not quite sure if that just means that he’s changed or something a lot more.
That will do for now.