The first thing that came to mind when I finished watching “4722 hours” last night was that ABC took a huge – and I mean enourmous – leap of faith with this episode. It had everything to go wrong. Everything. An episode featuring only one of the main characters basically talking to herself for a third of the script? Giant leap of faith.
But you know what? It worked. It absolutely paid off and MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D presented one of the most fascinating hours of television that I have seen in a really long time. What exactly had happened to Simmons while she was missing for months was probably the biggest mystery the show presented this season and it was such ana amazing experience to witness first hand what she went through during those harsh six months she spent on an alien planet.
The absolute success of this episode is due especially because of Elizabeth Henstridge. While she has always presented herself as a talented actress, last night she knocked it out of the park so hard, that I didn’t even know what to do with my feelings through the entire hour. Of course, the excellent script she had to work with and the direction and cinematography of the whole thing really contributed to a great hour of television, but it was really Henstridge’s talent that carried the episode and turned into an iconic hour of the show’s history.
We pick up right after Jemma is taken by the monolith. It spits her out on a planet that seems to be in a completely different solar system altogether. Or just system because the sun never makes an appearance. The terrain is harsh and there are constant sand storms, but she seems to be alone.
Act one is basically Jemma acclimating herself to her new harsh and cruel reality and she almost starves to death. She has her phone on her, so she starts making a video diary for Fitz and that action alone seems to be the one thing that keeps her sane during the first month. She conquers her fears, fights whatever that creature in the lake was and makes a fire all by herself, as she happily reports to Fitz.
When her first month is up, she falls into a trap and is captured by a man, who turns out to be an American astronaut named Will. Apparently, NASA had been meddling with the monolith and he and three scientists were sent there in 2001 to explore the planet. His buddies went nuts and died and now he has been all alone for fourteen freaking years.
After a rough start, they bond and become friends. They rely on each other for everything. After all, in that godforsaken planet, they’re all each other has. She’s hope and he’s doom and they balance each other out nicely. A couple of months in, Jemma figures out how the portal works. It’s not random. It’s the planet rotating and some sciency stuff that kind of flew right over my head and I can’t recall the details. The bottom line is that they figure out when it’s going to open next.
So they go. And they miss it.
That’s when Jemma loses hope. Then she loses herself in Will and allows herself to find comfort in him. She was probably very close to falling for him and they seem to have reached an understanding and established a routine. But she figures out when it’s going to open next and it’s their last shot. If they don’t make it, she says the next time will only be in eighteen years and I don’t know if she was serious about that or not.
They go and share a bottle of wine they found with the 19th century guy’s body. She sees the flare and they start running towards it. That’s when the sand storm comes and the Death monster shows up, whatever the hell that is. Jemma starts hallucinating, seeing an astronaut, but Will finds her in the middle of the storm and keeps her grounded. Tells her to go.
It ends with her telling Fitz that she never would have survived without Will there and that’s why she needs to go back. Fitz is shaken, obviously, but decides to help her either way.
It was brilliant. Different, yes. But absolutely brilliant. And Elizabeth Henstridge, standing ovation, girl. That was amazing.
MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D returns with an all new episode on October 3 at 9/8C on ABC.