After several episodes of middling along, this week’s Agents of SHIELD throws out a surprisingly experimental installment, showcasing Simmons’ time on the mysterious planet. Beginning with the moment Jemma is dragged through The Monolith, ‘4,722 Hours’ doesn’t divert from her storyline all episode presenting a story about survival and holding onto hope.
As soon as Jemma lands in the other world it is evident that this isn’t another run of the mill episode. The light blue colour scheme and desert environment allows the episode to stand out. It is also unique due to the intense focus on Simmons, with Elizabeth Henstridge rising to the challenge effectively. While she’s joined by a new companion in the later half of the episode, this is still Jemma’s show, with her strength and ingenuity established early on. In many ways ‘4,722 Hours’ is reminiscent of The Martian, which also features a scientist stranded on a planet (in this case Mars) and was released around the same time, which while surely a coincidence is a flattering comparison.
Elizabeth Henstridge is able to portray the ways Jemma changes on the mysterious world, slowly losing her innocence as well as her hope that Fitz will save her. It is her belief that Fitz will come for her that keeps Jemma sane throughout her stay, with one unnaturally powered iPhone existing as her lifeline. Her voice memos to Fitz are a great reminder of the bond the two share and exist as an interesting parallel to the imaginary Simmons Fitz created last season when separated from his best friend.With the arrival of Will the tone of the episode changes, becoming more of a story about how the two became close while they were stranded together. Will has been stranded on the planet for 14 years and raises further questions about why people keep travelling there. Will was part of a NASA team and is aware of a mass grave, how many others have come to the world? The two attempt to find a way home but when they’re unable to reach a portal in time Jemma appears to lose all hope. She adjusts to life with Will, becoming domesticated and letting herself fall for him.
Fitz arriving to save her then presents an interesting conundrum for the trio. Fitz agrees to help Simmons save Will but it seems unlikely that he’s perfectly fine with the scenario. Is his love for Jemma strong enough to let her go? Can they even save Will from that world? I’m once again interested to find out where Agents of SHIELD goes from here. I hope that the show will explore more episodes like this in the future, as I believe this experiment worked exceptionally well.