Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s season 2 went out with a bang, and ever since then, we’ve been wondering what on earth happened. Never fear: soon we will get our answer. Please be aware that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. contains PG-13 level violence. Trigger warning for a suicide mention in this episode. And as always, spoilers!
The episode begins with the last scene of Season 2’s finale. As you may remember, we saw Jemma getting sucked into the monolith, but we didn’t know how… or why… or anything that happened, really. In this episode, it’s time to find out.
Jemma gets sucked into the monolith. The portal opens up in some sand, spitting Jemma out. We are once again on the blue planet we’ve seen glimpses of throughout season 3. Jemma realizes the portal is closing, but it shuts too soon. She screams for Fitz and for help, digging in the sand, but her efforts are useless. She pulls out her phone and tries to call home.
“Where the hell am I?”
Jemma runs across the blue landscape of the strange planet. She gets a high vantage point and sees that there are two foreign planets in the distance, which she says isn’t possible. She says to herself that this is like any mission and she should wait for extraction. She updates her file about the monolith with a voice recording on her phone (similar to the Captain’s Log on Star Trek). This is an unknown planet, a different solar system. Jemma details the facts rationally and logically.
“The gravity seems to be slightly stronger… or I’m very tired.”
She photographs the terrain, and it finally looks like it’s sinking in.
“Fitz will find a way. After all, we’re going for dinner.”
Jemma pulls out her phone and looks at a picture of Fitz (which is quite frankly an adorable candid). She remembers that Fitz says if you can’t solve a problem, you should sleep on it. She curls up on the sand, saying goodnight to Fitz.
Jemma jolts awake, wondering how long the nights last on this planet.
“There has to be a sunrise eventually.”
Jemma breaks, crying, wanting the sun… and wanting to go home.
Cue opening credits.
Jemma allows herself 8 hours to break down, but after that, she has decided to survive. She begins to search for water, leaving an arrow and a necklace behind in case Fitz shows up.
Jemma builds a rock monument, talking to herself about whether she should wear a dress to dinner with Fitz. She pulls out her phone. (How is it charged after 81 hours?! I want S.H.I.E.L.D.’s battery life and Tony Stark’s operating system.)
Jemma continues to think out loud about her date with Fitz.
(This is not even the slightest bit okay.)
She worries about the possibility that they’ll run out of things to talk about. She stumbles and falls, exhaustion and dehydration beginning to set in.
Jemma drags herself along the sand, in desperate need of water. Instead, she finds a sandstorm heading right towards her.
Jemma is face down, covered in sand. She wakes up, calling Fitz’s name. She stumbles down a sand dune and finds a pool of water. She drinks, then rolls over, laughing/crying of relief.
Jemma floats in the pool of water, looking a bit more happy. Suddenly something grabs her leg and pulls her under. Jemma fights and thrashes, then manages to get back to land. Her attacker comes with her, dead now. It’s a white, tubular fish, and it’s disgusting.
It doesn’t get any less disgusting when Jemma has to eat this creature raw. She’s desperate, and she’s having to do things she’s never done before.
Jemma tells Fitz that it’s been three weeks. If she doesn’t find something to eat, she won’t make it. Unfortunately, the only source of food also thinks she’s food.
Never deterred, Jemma fashions a crude weapon and then goes into the water. Another sea creature grabs her, and Jemma almost doesn’t come back up. But she is victorious.
“You’re dinner, biatch! Woo!”
I wonder where she got that line from. (Excuse me while I cry softly about Fitzsimmons.)
Jemma makes a fire and cooks the sea creature. After she eats, she lets out a huge burp and bursts out laughing. She talks to Fitz all about it.
“Wish you could’ve been here… actually, no, I don’t. I don’t wish that on anyone. Everyone always said we could read each other’s minds, Fitz. So I really need you to read mine right now. I’m alive, but I’m terribly alone and afraid. So I really need you to come and get me, k? I know you won’t give up, so I won’t either.”
In the sky, the two planets in the distance have moved farther apart.
Jemma updates her voice diary. It’s been a month, and Jemma’s voice logs have been less frequent since she’s trying to conserve her battery. At this point, Jemma has lost her way from where she got in.
She hears a noise and grabs her weapon, then goes to investigate. The noise is bamboo-like sticks knocking together in the breeze. Jemma seems almost happy to see them, but she falls through the ground into a hole. Someone puts something over the entrance, trapping her inside.
Jemma wakes up in a cage. There’s food. Her captor approaches but doesn’t respond to Jemma’s questions about who they are or where she is.
Her captor comes back. He’s a young man, and he speaks English.
Him: “You’re still here.”
Jemma: “Of course I am.”
Jemma’s gotten sassy in the past 783 hours.
Jemma asks him to let her out, but he leaves again. She briefly cries but manages to steel herself. Have I mentioned how incredibly strong she is?
Jemma has decided to make the best of her situation and get fit. She does pull ups on the bars of her cage. Her captor returns.
Jemma: “Welcome back. How was your day?”
She introduces herself as Jemma Simmons--Dr. Jemma Simmons--and tells him about the portal. She says that since he speaks English she suspects that he got here through a portal, too. She says if he lets her out, she can help him. He hits her cage as an intimidation tactic, then gives her food. She asks if he’s fattening her up so he can eat her. The guy says it’s not a bad idea.
(Other people have used the monolith through history. We’ve seen this. So why did I not see the eventuality of her meeting another person coming? Very good idea, powers-that-be.)
Her captor leaves, and Jemma stares at the food he left, a plan forming in her mind.
Jemma cries out in agony, rolling around on the floor. Her captor appears, and she asks why he would poison her. He goes into her cage to help, but she whacks him over the head with her food bowl. (Smart woman. She had me fooled.) She climbs out of the cave and starts running across the desert landscape.
The guy comments to himself that this is “definitely real,” then pursues her.
Jemma runs from her captor, tripping and injuring her leg. Her pursuer catches up to her. Jemma says he should kill her instead of taking her prisoner. The guy says that she’s bleeding, and Jemma wonders why he cares. The guy references a mysterious entity called “It.”
“It smells blood.”
The guy hears a noise and says, “It’s coming.” Despite Jemma’s protests, he rushes her back to the underground cave.
Once they’re safe, Jemma asks what he thinks is out there, to which he cryptically responds, “Death.” Jemma scoffs at this, saying that the only thing out there is a sandstorm. The guy says it affects the planet and that’s how you know it’s coming… or else the planet affects it. Either way, he’s sure the entire planet is evil. (No disagreement here.) Logical as always, Jemma disagrees, saying that planets can’t be evil and this is all related to natural phenomena. She says it’s related to the scientific rules of life. The guy says that this planet doesn’t have rules--it has moods. He says he’ll need to sew her leg up, and maybe her mouth too while he’s at it. Jemma asks why she should trust him since he locked her in a cage. The guy says he wasn’t sure she was real. Jemma says next time he should ask someone to hit him in order to figure out if they’re real or not.
Jemma asks his name: it’s Will. She also sews up her own wounds.
She and Will chat about her two PhDs and how he came to the planet prepared with food and equipment.
Will: “You come here alone?”
Jemma: “Yes. I’m alone.”
She asks if Will is alone, and he says that Jemma is the first person he’s seen in a long time. He doesn’t know how long he’s been here since it’s hard to keep track of the days without a sun. He asks what year it is, and Jemma tells him it’s 2015. Will walks away, visibly shocked. Jemma follows him to a room full of astronaut gear--Will is an astronaut. Jemma remarks at how outdated the equipment is, to which Will says it was new at the time. He came to the planet in 2001--14 years ago. This leaves Jemma with some concerns, naturally, about whether she can get home.
Will: “Like I said, it’s hard to keep track. You’ll see.”
Will takes a look at Jemma’s phone, marveling at how far technology has advanced (with the advances of technology in our world, let alone the even-more-advanced Marvel universe, I don’t blame him). Jemma says it can be hard to keep up--if not for Fitz, she’d be lost. Will asks who Fitz is, and Jemma says it’s her best friend who loves tech. Jemma finds a map Will made of the planet. One area is blocked off, and he says it’s the No-Fly Zone, an area where only bad things happen.
Will continues to look at Jemma’s phone, but she asks for it back. While Fitz has engineered it to have fantastic battery life, the battery is still low after 853 hours. (I’m surprised it’s lasted this long.) Jemma asks if he has a way to generate power. NASA did send Will with all the power he needed… however, it was all solar, which is largely inconvenient considering where they’re at.
Jemma notices a crack of light in the wall of the cave (Doctor Who, is that you?) and asks what it is. Will explains it keeps the planet warm.
Jemma: “That’s very science-y of you.”
Will: “I think it’s the fires of hell.”
Jemma: “Okay then.”
The clash of Will’s cynicism and Jemma’s optimism is hilarious and perfect. I love it.
They continue to chat. At one point, NASA had the monolith, and that’s how Will got here. The astronauts were supposed to come back after a year, but there was always the possibility that it would be a one-way trip. Jemma tells him that the monolith isn’t with NASA anymore; it’s with S.H.I.E.L.D. Will is surprised to find out that S.H.I.E.L.D. is real. They discuss how they both ended up here. Jemma says that at least Will volunteered. Will says he was one of the first to volunteer--his drive to do something goes up when someone tells him the odds are impossible. His team’s mission was to take samples and to explore the planet--Will’s mission was to keep his head if things went wrong. Jemma asks what happened to Will’s teammates. Will says that “It” has a way of making you go crazy. One of his teammates jumped off a cliff. Another set himself on fire. The third one tried to attack Will. In the end, all three of them were dead.
Will: “I had one job… keeping them alive.”
Jemma doubts that there really is an “It” making everyone crazy; maybe the astronauts went insane from isolation. Naturally, Will isn’t too fond of her skepticism.
Later, Jemma goes to find Will and asks that they start over since they’ll be working together. Will asks what it is they’ll be working on. Jemma says they’ll be working on getting home. Will tells her that there will be no getting home and that she should just accept that. Jemma refuses, saying there’s always hope. Will says there’s no hope on this planet.
Jemma: “Then that’s how we’ll work together. I’ll be the voice of hope, you’ll be the voice of doom. We’ll keep each other in check. Deal? … See? It’s working already.”
Will: “No, it’s not.”
Jemma and Will discuss what foods they miss. They then branch out to talking about what they miss that’s not food. Will says he misses the sun, then asks what it is that Jemma misses. Jemma shows him a video that the S.H.I.E.L.D. team (more like S.H.I.E.L.D. family) made for her, in which they wish her a happy birthday. At the end, Fitz says hello. Jemma tears up as she looks at the screen and says, “That’s Fitz.”
Will: “Yeah, I figured. You talk about him a lot. His name is like your favorite word. I mean, that’s… a little more than a best friend.”
Jemma neither confirms or denies this…but she does say that she and Fitz are inseparable. She then asks if Will has anyone in his life. Will says he always thought there’d be time for that later. He looks at her, and they almost share a moment, but Jemma says she’s going to turn in for the night. She bids the picture of Fitz on her phone goodnight, but after she lays down, she says, “Goodnight Will.”
Jemma is still trying to figure out a way home, but she’s stuck. She tells Will she wants to visit the No-Fly Zone to look for answers, but Will is vehemently opposed to the idea, insisting that nothing is out there except for death. Jemma thinks the answer to getting home could be out there. Will says that’s where all of his teammates went right before they went insane. Jemma insists that that’s a coincidence. (Mm, not really thinking it is at this point.) Will tells her she’s not going, reminding her that they vowed to keep each other in check. Jemma says that’s a lot different than keeping her as his prisoner. She walks away, telling Will she’s going “...obviously nowhere.”
“Obviously Nowhere” looks an awful lot like the outdoors, shrouded in blue. Jemma finds her way to the No-Fly Zone. She finds a sword in the sand and holds it up in a more-than-epic shot. She finds other things, too--like a bottle and a star-charting device. Jemma looks up at the sky and says to Fitz that the stars are the answer.
The sandstorm appears, hitting Jemma with sudden force. She finds some bones in the sand--human bones. Then “It” appears--a creature in a black robe. Jemma flees, and what we see next is the credits scene from Episode 1, where we first got a glimpse of what Jemma was up to on this planet. The reason she was putting mud on her cut was to mask the scent of blood. And we now know what she was running from. Well, kind of.
Jemma narrowly makes it back to the cave. She tells Will about the bones she saw, the proof that others have come here before them. Will says he knew about it, but he didn’t want to tell her because he knew she’d want to see it. (Well, for obvious reasons. Can’t say I blame her for wanting to see.) Will insists that “It” has been killing people who come here for centuries. Jemma asks how long people have known about the monolith, then she says that there seems to be no way out--it’s like the people going into the monolith are being sacrificed. Will begs her to stay put from now on, but Jemma says it doesn’t matter. She holds up the star-charting tool and says that she knows how to get them home.
Jemma outlines a plan, telling Will that they can predict when and where the portal will appear if they track the stars long enough. To do this, they’ll need to use Will’s computer. Will is skeptical, saying that even if they get it to work, how will they power it? Jemma holds up her phone, ecstatically saying that she has enough battery power to light it up. Will says that if they use her battery and the plan doesn’t work, then she won’t have any photos or videos from home to ground her.
Despite this, Jemma moves forward with the plan, watching the birthday video one last time and telling Fitz she’ll see him soon.
Over the next few hundred hours, Will and Jemma work really hard on putting the plan into action. They get Will’s computer to work, which produces an excited hug from them.
Jemma: “Didn’t you say you can’t resist doing something when the odds are impossible?”
Jemma says they have two weeks to figure it out.
As Will and Jemma work on the plan, Will asks how she was able to figure out all of this science-y stuff. Her answer is, “Scoliosis.” She explains that she had scoliosis as a child and had a small surgery to correct it. She couldn’t get up for a while, so to help with the boredom her dad would wheel her bed out and talk to her about the stars.
Will asks how Jemma knows the portal doesn’t just swing one way. Jemma says it’s more like a valve. She’s figured out what Fitz has--that the portal is activated by lunar patterns.
Will asks what they’ll do when the portal is open. Jemma says there might not be enough time for them to both get through, so instead they’ll send a message in a bottle in the hopes that Fitz might find it. In addition, Will has figured out how to zip line them across the canyon so they can get to the portal faster. Jemma isn’t as thrilled with this idea.
“What’d you think I was going to build, a helicopter?”
Will asks if she still wants to do this, to which Jemma replies that they don’t have a choice.
Will and Jemma are walking towards the portal destination. Jemma asks if he’ll eat, shower, or sleep first when they get back. Will says he’s going to eat. Jemma says she’ll eat in the shower and fall asleep while doing it. (She and I are the same.)
As they walk, Will tells her about how one of the geologists on his team had a theory--a theory that the planet used to be a paradise, a Garden of Eden. Jemma wonders what happened to it. Will says he thinks Death, or “It,” or whatever that thing is, has something to do with the planet’s demise. Jemma wonders if they’ll see “It.” Will says that if “It” does show up, he has a gun. There’s one bullet left--it was going to be Will’s ticket out if he needed it. (NO. Feels.)
They arrive at the portal site, but the canyon is too wide. As they’re trying to find a way across, the portal opens. In a last-ditch effort, Will attaches the bottle to a rope and fires it across the canyon. But they’re too late, and you can hear the sound of breaking glass. Jemma’s disappointment is visceral.
Back at the cave, Jemma is heartbroken, saying they’re never going home. Will says that maybe this is their home now. Jemma says that this isn’t home--this is hell. She lashes out, knocking over some things in her anger. Will hugs her, and Jemma says through her tears that Will was right--this planet has no hope. Jemma has finally lost her optimism. This is the moment she was discussing with Dr. Garner--the moment where she gave up hope.
Will says that’s what he used to think. And then Jemma showed up. They share a tender, desperate kiss.
Jemma and Will are getting ready to go somewhere--it’s almost like a date. Jemma tells him to relax; they’re not going to miss it, and even if they do, there’ll be another one in 18 years. Will doesn’t think this is funny.
They find a good spot to watch the sunrise. Even though it’ll last only a few minutes, at least it’s something. Will pours them some wine he found at the graveyard.
(These painful parallels need to stop.)
They make a toast.
Will: “To the sun.”
Jemma: “It’s about time.”
Do I ship this or not? I’m confused and conflicted.
They take a drink of the wine, and Jemma immediately spits it out. She says it’s pure vinegar, but maybe they can add it to their cooking and add some flavor to their lives. Will says, “There’s that hope again.” Jemma says she thinks her dad would have liked Will. She says that sometimes he reminds her of…
She doesn’t get a chance to finish, because a flare shows up in the sky. The flare reflects in her eyes in a truly brilliant cinematic move. She says it’s Fitz; they’re going to make it! She and Will run in the direction of the flare. A sandstorm begins, and in the middle of it, Jemma sees a figure wearing an astronaut suit. She tells Will that his astronaut team came back for him, but Will tells her it’s not what it seems. Jemma notices that the astronaut is holding a sword, which makes her realize that “It” is here. She finds Will in the sandstorm, who grabs her and tells her to keep running; she can make it. She loses him in the sand, and she calls for Will. That is, until she hears Fitz call for her. She follows the sound of his voice, and that leads us to when Jemma came home.
In the present day, Jemma says that she doesn’t know what happened to Will, but without him, she wouldn’t have survived. Fitz doesn’t say anything, just gets up and walks out. Jemma follows him to the lab where she asks him to say something to her. Fitz shows her the monolith research he’s pulled up on his screen, then says they will find him. Jemma cries, full of relief, and nods. We see a shot of Fitz’s angelic, troubled, heartbroken face before the screen goes dark.
In the credits scene, the planet has had its sunrise. Everything is full of light and color. Will stands there, holding his gun. He tosses the gun into the sand and walks away, right as the sunset fades and the planet goes dark once again.
This episode was a little of this...
A little of this...
And a lot of this.
I’ll admit, I was a bit skeptical. How could they make an entire episode about Jemma’s time on the planet? Would it just be her talking to herself the whole time? Could this really work?
It could, and it did.
While I missed the normal S.H.I.E.L.D. ensemble, this episode was a marvelously crafted change of pace. (Get it? Marvelously?) Elizabeth Henstridge’s acting was incredible, and seeing what she went through was heartrending. The character of Jemma Simmons has deepened so much after this episode, and I love her so much more. Her ingenuity in surviving this foreign planet, as well as her almost-unbreakable optimism, were so amazing to see.
There were also incredible performances by Iain DeCaestecker (Fitz) and Dillon Casey (Will). Fitz’s determination to bring back Will--despite the fact that they both love Jemma--is amazing and also heartbreaking to watch. Will also managed to make me love him after only a few minutes, so props to him.
This episode majorly complicates things. Jemma had love and she lost it, which is horrible. Fitz loves Jemma and yet will help her get Will back, which is also horrible. Will is trapped alone on a planet without the woman who gave him hope, which is, again, horrible. Be right back, I’m weeping.
This may be my favorite love triangle in the history of mankind. Girl loves boy, girl gets separated from boy, girl meets another boy, girl loves both boys, girl loses one boy, girl gets home, girl must figure out what to do about these two boys. I am so ready for this. I can’t wait to see what results of this plot line as we move forward.
All in all, this was a risky episode for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but it more than paid off. Major kudos to those involved in the making of this--the directors, producers, writers, actors, and crew. This was amazing. I give you mad props and my excitement as the show moves forward. I will not be forgetting this episode any time soon.
Have you seen "4,722 Hours"? What did you think of it?