4,722 Hours ~ Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
This isn't a home. This is Hell... You were right.
There's no hope on this planet.
When you hear from people that "4,722 Hours" was brilliant, listen to them. They are absolutely right.
My life has been crazy as of late, so I won't be able to find the extra hours that I would love to have to praise this episode in a review. But I sure wish I could. "4,722 Hours" is on par with game-changers such as "Turn, Turn, Turn," "The Magical Place," "What They Become," and "S.O.S." Just about any episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has a reason to recommend it, but this one has a uniqueness all its own. In eternal blue dusk tones and a feeling of hopefulness that slowly, and then all at once, gets eaten away, it is certainly one of the most memorable.
At the start of this flashback episode, we already knew Jemma was saved, yet that didn't lessen the impact of her ordeal. Watching her figure out how to survive on a desolate alien world was an emotional experience, as she clung to the idea of getting home to Fitz so they could have their date, holding onto hope as the hours turned to days and the days to months. And then her only chance to get home was taken away by an evil in the desert that apparently loves a game of cat and mouse, that can manipulate minds and possibly geography.
This outcome was all the more beautifully despairing because of everything Fitz went through for Simmons and how much they mean to each other. He had already sacrificed himself so she could make it to the surface of the ocean when Ward had left them for dead in the first season. Fitz's confession of love just before his sacrifice and resulting brain damage was too much for Simmons and she avoided those feelings by avoiding him. But finally they found a way back to each other, knowing they're better together. Then Simmons disappeared and Fitz spent six months obsessively and desperately seeking answers.
Yeah, these two have been through some stuff. And this episode introduced quite a big new wrinkle in that relationship in the form of the one person to survive this place: Will, a lonely astronaut who had been there for 14 years, who watched his team go mad. When the shadow in the raging sands got its way, as Will knew it would, Jemma finally gave up and resigned herself to this fate.
Nooooo! But also, Yeeeees! Because it was gently handled in a natural, believable progression, and I'm sure it will lead to more gut-wrenching scenes in this fantastic series. When we learned Jemma needed to go back, did anyone doubt that it was because she had to save someone? People had been taken by the monolith before and that would be the only reason someone would want to go back into hell.
Some may wonder why I would love moments like that, moments of tragedy. The answer is simple; the feeling is not. Those moments have emotional resonance and make the hopeful eventual triumph all the better and more complicated. If nothing bad ever happens to a character then you can't really connect to them on a deeper level, won't truly care. What's the point in watching a drama without any drama? I want characters who I would fight for, who I would want to protect, who I couldn't bear to lose. If there are no stakes then there is little substance, little change to give characters the opportunity to grow.
So, I'm all for whatever direction the series wants to go, because I realize it is all in service to the story and characters, and it will be more satisfying in the end wherever they end up. I have complete faith in this show, these actors, these writers, and the stories they tell. Since very early on, it's been clear that characters matter first and foremost and emotion is front and center.
Speaking of emotion, how amazing is Fitz? This scene revealed just how good a guy he is, just how much he loves Jemma, when he selflessly decides he has to help her save Will. Did anyone believe that he was mad at Jemma for telling him what happed, for revealing to him that she fell in love with someone else? I don't even know yet if it's really love driving her need or if it's friendship and loyalty. Jemma thought she would never get home and had to make the best of her situation or fall victim to depression. But there was no way she could feel good about being home if the person who helped her survive was still stranded. Though this situation broke Fitz's heart, he will do anything for Simmons. As long as she's alive, they will always have a chance to be together.
This superb episode also showcased the strength of not only Jemma Simmons, but also Elizabeth Henstridge's talent. It proved that a single character, besides the one the series was made for, can easily carry an entire episode. This has been done similarly with "Melinda," where we learn the origin of May's despised nickname of "The Cavalry," but this episode did away with all other characters, introduced a new one, set it in the most remote and desolate place, and made it so intriguing that I wanted more rather than wishing it would end and get back to normal. In fact, I'm sure I would watch a spin-off, Simmons Vs. The Evil Planet...or even Simmons Dictates to Her Phone.
And speaking of that phone...
Well, that's about it for my time here. I really wish I had more of it. I will now leave you with some quotes and reactions.
Jemma: "What do you think is out there?" Will: "Death." #AgentsofSHIELD— Erin Bates (@Reinbeast) October 28, 2015
"I'll be the voice of hope. You'll be the voice of doom. We'll keep each other in check." #AgentsofSHIELD— Erin Bates (@Reinbeast) October 28, 2015
Remind me to not get stranded on a planet filled with nothing but desolation and despair. Seems quite overwhelming. #AgentsofSHIELD— Erin Bates (@Reinbeast) October 28, 2015
Fitz is such a good guy. I really need one of my own. Unfortunately, the stores do not stock adorable, brainy Scots. #AgentsofSHIELD— Erin Bates (@Reinbeast) October 28, 2015
Missed the Episode?
If you missed the episode or want to watch it again, you can do that on Hulu or ABC.com for the next five weeks or so. You can also buy it on iTunes or Amazon. I suggest Amazon because, as an affiliate, it helps to keep the site going and I would really appreciate it. And don't forget to listen to the Marvelverse Podcast.
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