[This review was initially combined with Supernatural, but the episode was so good, it deserves its own post.]
I was so underwhelmed at the beginning of the episode, I was thinking I might have to give up the show. Admittedly, dead bodies floating in mid-air piqued my interest, but when the SHIELD team bantering interceded, it became tedious. Fortunately, the bantering didn’t involve too much Skye, so it wasn’t totally eye-roll worthy.
But then? The show became awesome. No, “awesome” isn’t strong enough. It became magnificent!
Just as the mainstay of Supernatural is its heart, that’s what made “F.Z.Z.T.” such a powerful episode. The goodness began when Coulson sat down with the doomed firefighter, telling him death is beautiful. (Was he being truthful? I’d like to think so.) The show took the daring route of the firefighter not surviving and did it well, showing Coulson’s reaction as we hear a small explosion off screen.
The real drama, however, occurs afterwards, as SHIELD takes the alien helmet to the “sandbox.” Adorable biochemist Jemma Simmons contracts the disease, and it’s certain she’ll die (i.e., explode) before the airplane reaches its destination. The situation gives everyone a chance to show their emotions. And their better natures.
Jemma continues working to find a cure. Fitz is beside himself, summing up their relationship with, “You’ve been beside me the whole damn time!” Even the stoic Ward is frustrated. He longs for a corporeal enemy, someone he can fight. He says he can’t protect the team from something he can’t see or understand. That statement was an eye-opener. All his daring-do isn’t just some macho shit. He genuinely cares about the team, and it gives him a human side.
Coulson unapologetically refuses to jettison the “infected cargo,” believing the one person who can find a way to save Jemma is Jemma.
Unable to stand by any longer, Fitz joins Jemma in the lab. Of course, the FitzSimmons team finds a cure, but not without drama. When the third injection doesn’t seem to work (floating dead mice are particularly eerie!) Jemma jumps off the plane. Of course, the third injection does work, it just didn’t manifest immediately. So Ward gets to save the day, parachuting to the falling Jemma and giving her the vaccine. Er, I mean, antiserum.
Even May shows a personality. She interrogates an assistant scout leader with that age-old torture technique, “Have a cookie, and actually produces a half-smile. When Coulson worries that he feels “different,” she explains he should feel different, that death changes you. He’s not the same person he was, and the past has no reference. “There’s only moving forward,” she says. I think I shall make that my life’s mantra.