Rewatched Agents of SHIELD’s episode “FZZT” last night, still reeling a bit from last week’s cliffhanger and the month we would all have to wait to find out what happened next, which was not something I would’ve expected when this show began. But I appreciated seeing it again, if only because I’d already decided that this was the turning point episode, where the show went from one mildly diverting to one emotionally engaging and really good.
The episode already played to the show’s strengths. From the beginning of the show’s run one of the most compelling things about it was the character of Coulson, the mysterious man in the suit working for the powerful in an era when the public usually does not see such men and especially their bosses in a favorable light, but we like him, with his mix of a little bit of ruthlessness with a lot of compassion, whom we bond with further as we wait to find out why he’s still alive. This episode showed him at his best; perhaps the moment when the TV series turned into a much better one came in between his trying to comfort a man he couldn’t save-when we know after watching him go out of his way to try to save people is going to be hard on him, and his apology to Jemma as he shut the door on her, another moment when all the work that went into building his character paid off.
But of course another good thing about this episode is Fitzsimmonds. If they perhaps don’t contribute any particular storyline to the show the way the other characters do, they instead can endear themselves to the audience with their childlike glee and reactions to the world, which belies their competence, and especially with their bond with each other. Fans can debate whether it should stay platonic or not, but it almost doesn’t seem to matter. As long as he’s willing to jump out of a plane after her you love them both for how much they care for each other.
But while “FZZT” builds its foundations on the good parts the show already had, it also began to the process of tapping into new depths of the other half of its cast. The most direct beneficiary was Agent Ward, who after largely reflecting shallower cliches of his character type finally got a good scene, a moment when being left unable to do anything caused him to show real feeling. The scene between him and Skye is especially potent on the rewatch, with us having since learned his backstory, and the end of it too, when he tells her they wait to be told what to do, is now recognizable as foreshadowing the events of “The Hub.” Skye too, after all too often being annoying, becomes less so thanks to the character development we see in this scene and her subsequent moments of emotion. Melinda May doesn’t get as much out of this particular episode at the other characters, but even she has her good moments, especially at the episode’s end.
I wasn’t planning on watching the reruns of this show, but now I just might to tide myself over. At least the reruns of the later episodes.