Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3 Episode 5: “4,722 Hours”
Directed by Jesse Bochco
Written by Craig Titley
Created by Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen
Starring Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Brett Dalton, Chloe Bennet, Iain De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge, Nick Blood, Adrianne Palicki, Henry Simmons, Luke Mitchell, Dillon Casey ABC
Air Date: Tuesday, October 27, 2015, 9pm
Weeks ago on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., with the help of his team, Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) jumped through the Kree Monolith portal and rescued his best friend, Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) from her entrapment on a distant planet; however, since her return, it’s been clear that her time away has affected her, and all she wants to do is go back…but why? All is revealed in this week’s episode, “4,722 Hours.”
Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!
While I was initially happy to learn that I’d be finding out about Simmons’ (Elizabeth Henstridge) time on the alien planet, the thought of sitting through an hour of her alone, walking along a barren wasteland seemed utterly boring. It turns out, the episode was anything but boring! The episode is broken down by hours, and as Jemma is first stranded, she goes about it very Simmons-like — with an almost peppy attitude, recording everything on her supercharged phone (it’s a good thing Fitz, played by Iain De Caestecker, charged it for her ahead of time). But by the time hour 22 rolls by and the sun has yet to rise, Simmons can’t help but cry out in a panicked desperation.
More time goes by and we get to see Simmons’ resourcefulness: trekking out in search of water; conquering a “plant monster” (which looked liked a weird sea creature to me, considering it was in a small pond), and building a fire with just a stick, a log, and her two bare hands! But she soon discovers that she’s not the only one on the dark, blue planet, as she falls through a hole and is locked up by…wait for it…a human man! Say what? That’s right — and he speaks English! So, millions of light years from Earth, this American dude keeps Simmons in a bamboo — at least it looks like bamboo — cage for a couple of days before she’s able to escape by convincing him that he’s poisoned her and then hitting him over the head with some extra bamboo (thank God for all of the bamboo). But Simmons just can’t catch a break, because she trips outside and badly injures her leg. So the man, whom we now know as Will (Dillon Casey), takes her back to his underground hideaway, and offers to patch her up — which she understandably refuses.
By the 853rd hour, the two finally begin to have a real conversation about the planet (which produces some nasty sandstorms) and how it doesn’t have rules, but that it “has moods.” How scary is that? “What year is it?” Will asks. “2015,” she replies to a distraught looking Will. He leaves the room and enters another room with a load of astronaut gear (we later find out that he was recruited by NASA as an Air Force pilot). “What year did you come here?” Simmons asks. “2001.” Oy! Poor Will has been on this sunless planet for 14 years!
Simmons decides that they’re going to work together to get home, that she’ll be the voice of hope, because Will doesn’t have much hope to live by. And as time goes on, the two rely on each other, becoming friends in an impossible situation. At hour 1,490, Simmons shows Will a video that her team made for her birthday, with Fitz at the end. “You talk about him a lot,” Will says. “His name is like your favorite word. That’s more than a best friend.” Whoa now, Will. Settle down. Don’t make things awkward. “I’m going to turn in for the night.” Too late! Simmons abruptly leaves, lies down in her bed, says “goodnight” to Fitz’ picture, and then says “goodnight” to Will without him hearing. It’s easy to tell where this is going and I do not like it!
Weeks later, Simmons can’t take the daily monotony anymore and goes out against Will’s wishes. While outside in an area that Will had said to be too dangerous to venture off to, she discovers a box with a device that can track the stars — a device left by one of Will’s long-dead NASA pals. She later tells Will that the portal is in a fixed position, so even though the planet has been rotating, they can find it by using the final bit of power from her no-longer-super-charged phone to activate his old computer, connect it to the device, and track the stars. So once they’re able to find the portal’s position, Simmons and Will journey across the dark lands to a canyon that they mean to cross by zip-line. Unfortunately, when they finally arrive at the canyon, it appears to be too far across, to which Will proclaims about the planet, “It doesn’t want us to leave.”
Hours later, Simmons, crying in Will’s arms, says, “Maybe you were right about there being no hope on this planet.” Will gracefully departs the embrace, looks her in the eyes and says, “That’s what I used to think, and then you showed up.” And of course, kissing ensues. I knew it was coming and I didn’t want it to, but it is all just so understandable — and well-written, might I add. There’s a scene a bit earlier in which Simmons asks Will what he’ll do when he gets home, to which he replies that he’ll eat. Simmons, ever the multitasker, then responds by saying “I’m going to eat, in the shower, and fall asleep at the same time.” Will ends the interaction by saying, “I’d expect no less.” These two have been on this planet together for months, alone, with no other human interaction. In less than an hour (though many more for Simmons and Will), the progression of their relationship plays out realistically and beautifully. They GET each other. They understand each other’s quirks and it all seems so natural. That’s great writing, and equally, great acting.
It’s hour 4,720 Simmons is getting ready, finishing up her hair and putting on a necklace (love is in the air). Their beds are next to each other. The two sit outside on a cliff drinking an old bottle of wine that he’d saved, waiting for the sun to come up for just a brief moment. “I think my dad would have liked you. Sometimes you remind me of him,” Simmons says, just as a flare goes off in the distance. She knows it’s Fitz and they race over the ridge. But the sandstorm comes and it separates Simmons and Will. Simmons sees a man in an astronaut suit and calls out to Will. He yells to her that she needs to run, but she doesn’t. Then she hears his gun go off and then Fitz’ voice yelling for her.
Back in present time, Simmons is speaking with Fitz. “I don’t know what happened to him. If he’s alive or dead. But I never would have survived without him.” It’s clear that she’s told Fitz her whole story, just as she promised in the last episode. He gets up and walks out of the room. Simmons follows him into his laboratory and asks him to understand. Looking at a computer screen and then some files in a folder, Fitz replies, “I do understand.” He pulls up his computer screen for Simmons to see an image of the alien planet. “We’re going to get him back.” Simmons looks at Fitz, tears falling down her face, with the realization that he is going to help her even though she knows he loves her. It is clear in this powerful scene that Fitz will do anything for Simmons, even if it means reuniting her with the man she loves.
“4,722 Hours” is not only a fantastic addition to an already great season, but without a doubt, the best episode yet. It’s revealing, character-driven drama at its best. I’m already looking forward to next week!
In the final scene of the episode, We see Will outside on the alien planet and the sun is up. He throws his empty gun on the ground, and walks off screen as the sun disappears.
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