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MING-NA WEN, CHLOE BENNET, ELIZABETH HENSTRIDGE, BRETT DALTON, CLARK GREGG, IAIN DE CAESTECKER‘F.Z.Z.T’

After a one-week hiatus, Agents of SHIELD returned to our screens on fighting form with its strongest episode since the pilot. Taking us straight back to the post-Avengers aftermath, F.Z.Z.T revealed the long-lasting effects of Loki’s Chitauri invasion and exposed Fitz/Simmons as the surprisingly likeable heart of the series.

As the team investigated a series of deaths involving levitation and electrostatic anomalies, they discovered that those dying were members of the emergency services during the Avengers Battle of New York. Whilst studying the dead bodies, which eventually turned into bombs, Simmons unwittingly infected herself with a deadly virus that had originated from a Chitauri helmet salvaged by the fire-fighters as a souvenir.

With an increasingly panicked Simmons quarantined, she and Fitz tried to figure out the impossible time-sensitive cure before she blew the plane, and the team, to pieces. As time ran out and Simmons thought she was a lost cause, she knocked Fitz unconscious and jumped out the plane, forcing Ward to jump after her with the cure that she thought hadn’t worked. In true SHIELD fashion, Ward saved the day and Coulson had to play Daddy again by giving Simmons a telling off before praising her, because he can never stay angry at his team for long.

What was most surprising about F.Z.Z.T wasn’t the fact that it finally delivered Ward’s MIA personality, which was long overdue, but that at long last it made me not just warm to Fitz/Simmons but actually really like them. With Simmons in genuine danger, the endless jabbering vanished and we were finally able to see the real Jemma Simmons and Leo Fitz, not just science nerds but vulnerable people. Fitz, who cares so much for Simmons that he’d risk infecting himself with a virus to help her find a cure, and Simmons, who’s so selfless she’d jump out of a plane and kill herself to save her team, are characters you want to watch. They brought the emotion and they brought it hard. Fitz screaming after Simmons was enough to bring a tear to my eye.

Whilst the drama was turned up a notch, so was the humour. Simmons, Fitz and Skye’s impressions of Ward were spot on but Ward doing an impression of the impressions of him was even better. It’s taken six episodes but Ward finally let his guard down, though it’s probably only a matter of time before it goes back up like an impenetrable shield. Skye embracing Simmons like a sister was also a touching moment, showing how this team of misfits have at last come together like a family.

It’s a shame that Coulson’s fears about feeling changed since he died and came back to life arrived on the back of such a Fitz/Simmons packed-episode; his confession to May was completely overshadowed. This drip-feeding of information about Coulson’s resurrection is starting to get a bit laboured. When will they reveal what really happened to him?

F.Z.Z.T was a the most emotionally driven episode to date and with Fitz/Simmons having turned a corner I hope these two will continue to be given some good storylines that show them off as the genuinely good characters they are. Nerd talk is fine and dandy for a while but showing us the human side of these characters is much more rewarding.

★★★★

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