Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1 Review “FZZT”

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Episode 6 F.Z.Z.T (2)

Yes! That’s what I’m talking about! Ever since Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD premiered six weeks ago, Marvel and Joss Whedon fans alike have been rather underwhelmed by the series. While Marvel fans want it to tie satisfyingly into the action-heavy Marvel cinematic universe, the Joss Whedon fans want it to have the charming characters and emotional depth of the rest of his TV series. Well, hopefully they’re both happy with tonight’s great episode “FZZT”.

We start out with another cool opening scene, as a Boy Scout leader is electrocuted and left suspended in an open field. It was an effectively cool visual touch to have the victims of this mysterious virus to float once they’ve died, and it never really got old as the episode progressed. I’m not sure what kind of weird troop this guy was running that only had four kids, but whatever.

I liked the reveal that the first two victims were volunteers at the invasion in New York, and I also appreciated seeing the Chitauri helmet. There are some people who don’t like the frequent references to the Marvel films, but I’m fine with them as long as they’re as light as they were tonight. I could do without Coulson’s cheesy “Don’t expect me to become Iron Man” lines, but I love that they’re rewarding the hardcore Marvel fans with little easter eggs like that while also making the show accessible. You could totally enjoy this episode without ever having watched The Avengers, but knowing what they’re talking about when they say “Invasion of New York” and “Chitauri” makes it all the more satisfying if you have.

We got a little more on the ongoing Coulson mystery tonight too, as he admits to being aware that he was, in fact, totally dead at one point. We’ve heard him admitting to being dead for eight seconds before tonight, but now he seems to be aware that he was gone for much longer than that. He’s even ordering his own tests on himself now, saying he feels different. I’m loving the idea of Coulson slowly learning that his being alive may not be as cut and dry as everybody has said, and I can’t wait to see how he reacts once he learns the truth.

While we obviously haven’t even discovered the “How?” yet in terms of how Coulson came back from the dead, at this point I’m more interested in the “Why?”. What is it about him that they felt was so important that they needed to go through all of this trouble to keep him around? Is he really that much better of an agent from agents Blake, Ward, May, etc.? There’s no shortage of capable white dudes in suits to take his place, so I’m hoping that this question gets addressed as well.

All that jibber jabber and I haven’t even touched on the incredibly effective Fitz-Simmons dynamic tonight. It’s tough to try to pull off an episode like this in only the sixth episode of a series. You’re really banking on the strength of your writing and performances thus far, since we aren’t going to care whether or not Simmons dies (or how Fitz feels about it) unless we’ve come to know and appreciate their relationship. If you told me before tonight that Simmons was possibly going to die, then I probably would have just shrugged. Why should I care, right? She’s cute and all, and she’s got that accent going for her, but she really hasn’t done very much on this series to warrant my devotion. Plus, this is a Joss Whedon show, so there’s got to be a death of a main character in the first few episodes, right? Well, it turns out I was totally wrong, as I was almost in tears when she jumped out of that plane!

Fitz and Simmons’ relationship has been played mostly for laughs at this point, with the scientific jargon and bickering like an old married couple being played for comic relief, but I loved what I saw from them tonight. Having Fitz accuse Simmons of just tagging along with him was heartbreaking, and I would have been devastated if she actually died! I was a little bummed that Fitz didn’t jump from the plane himself, but I guess it wouldn’t have been very realistic if his character was the one to pull off such a daring rescue.

I was very pleased with this episode, and it has me hopeful that this series might be able to hit the emotional highs that Joss Whedon shows are known for. We’re still only one third through the first season, so I expect we’ll have even more great stuff coming down the line.

Random Thoughts:

– I liked the somewhat meta scene at the beginning when Skye, Fitz and Simmons were making fun of how gruff and emotionless Ward has been. One of the many complaints people have had about this show is how wooden and boring Brett Dalton’s portrayal of Agent Ward has been, so it was funny to hear them acknowledge that he’s not the most exciting guy.

– It was good to see Titus Welliver show up as Agent Blake. He’s only ever appeared before tonight in the Marvel One-Shot: Item 47 on the Avengers DVD, so I was surprised that they pulled him onto the show. I mean, a character from a DVD featurette is really only applying to the serious Marvel geeks!

– Good to see that Maximliano Hernandez will be showing up next week as Agent Sitwell, who also appeared in Item 47, as well as Thor and The Avengers. If you haven’t seen him on FX’s The Americans, go watch that show right now!