The opening of the episode returns us to the Season 2 finale where Jemma goes from making dinner plans with Fitz to being swallowed alive by a monolith and spat out on a desolate planet of blue sand. Try as she may to make it back through the collapsing opening but it closes in on itself. Simmons scrambles for her phone hoping to call for rescue only to discover the phone cannot connect to any GPS satellites. She decides to climb a ridge for better clarification only to discover an alien sky.
Simmons is still pretty collected given the situation. She goes over her S.H.I.E.L.D training and begins to take stock of the planet: breathable hair, heavier gravity, but a human could potentially survive there.
Jemma is knackered and decides to sleep. She drifts off wishing a photo of Fitz goodnight. She wakes up at hour 22 to discover there is still no sun. At hour 71 the sun is still missing and Simmons begins to lose hope and she desperately wants off this planet.
Simmons realizes that if she doesn’t start foraging things could get bleak. But this means leaving the portal site. She leaves a rock marker should her S.H.I.E.L.D. companions come looking for her and sets off in search of food or water.
During her forage while climbing a ridge and she gets blown over by a massive sand storm that knocks her unconscious.
She wakes up half buried, she manages to find a small pool of water she excitedly drinks.
Simmons is happily floating in the pool of water when some sort of tentacle monster attacks dragging her down. She fights her way back to dry land smashing the tentacle wrapped around her leg with a rock. A little piece of the monster flesh clings to her leg. Near starving she convinces herself to eat it.
After 3 weeks she realizes that she will soon starve to death and makes a rash decision she crafts a crude weapon and goes back into the pool taking the monster on. Jemma wins and after managing to start a small fire she feasts. She is still recording her adventure and tells Fitz he needs to read her mind to find her now. She is sure Fitz will not give up.
It has now been a month. She is leaving another message to Fitz when a strange noise catches her attention. She grabs her makeshift spear to investigate only be swallowed up by a hole in the ground.
Jemma wakes to find herself trapped in a wooden cage. There is food and water. A man appears and Simmons shirks back in fear.
The man returns and he states his surprise that Simmons is still there. Simmons is confused.
Simmons is exercising the best she can in cage and the man offers her a plate with food on it. Simmons introduces herself, hoping to build a rapport with her captor, he dismisses her prodding her further into her cage with a stick. She suggests that he must be fattening her up as food. He agrees that it doesn’t sound like a terrible idea.
Simmons feigns cramps and sickness luring the man back into her cage where she smashes him over the head with her bowl and bolts out the open cage door. She makes it up out of the cave the man in hot pursuits. She slips and cuts her leg deeply on a rock. The man catches up to Jemm and he begins to patch the wound. He states that “it” can small blood and that “it” will come. He cajoles Jemma back down the hatch.
Once underground Jemma demands to know what he thinks is out there. The man’s answer is simple- death. He believes that the planet is evil. Simmons dismisses the idea. The man, who confirms himself to be Will, offers Jemma a first aide kit allowing her to stitch up her leg. Turns out Will was a NASA astronaunt who went through the portal in 2001. He has been trapped on the planet 14 years.
While reviewing the old NASA equipment Jemma finds a map that Will has been compiling of the planet. The map has an area called the “no fly zone.” Will says this is where the “evil” originates and that his NASA crew went crazy and perished in terrible ways after visiting the area. So, of course Jemma wants to go there.
After hearing Wills story Jemma warms up to the astronaut and suggests they work together to get home, Jemma as the eternal optimist and Will as her pessimistic counterbalance.
Will and Simmons eat a meal and she shows them a video of her S.H.I.E.L.D. teammates. She then wishes Will goodnight.
Simmons is frustrated that she is still stuck on the planet and in her frustration decides to forage outside. During the travel she finds a sword and items belonging to a previous individual who went through the monolith. She also comes across an sextent giving her the sudden realization that the stars are the answer. Her celebration is cut short when a monster chases her back to the cavern (it is the same scene we saw back in the season premiere).
Back in the cavern Jemma tells Will she knows how to get them home that the planet is rotating but the portal continues to open in the same position triggered by the moons but with the right calculations Jemma can predict where the portal will open next on the planet. Sacrificing the last of her phone battery Jemma finds that the portal will open 18 days later in the no fly zone. They duo prepare.
Will and Jemma head for the portal hoping to if nothing else send a “literal message in a bottle” through the portal. It doesn’t go to plan though and the message misses the open portal crashing on the blue sand and shattering instead. The duo are disheartened.
Back in their cavern Jemma and Will share a moment. They kiss.
Simmons and Will have grown closer, and are acting more couple like. Jemma has done calculations and have discovered that the sun will soon appear, even if only for a moment. The two prepare to go watch the event. While waiting for the sun’s arrival Will pulls out a bottle of wine he fished out of the no fly zone. The two commiserate and drink. The wine is acrid and horrible. The two grow closer when Jemma sees Fitz’s flare.
Will and Jemma both take off for the flare. It over the ridge ahead but a storm is picking up. Will demands Jemma keep going and the two lose sight of each other. Jemma comes face to face with an astronaut and assumes NASA has come for Will. Will isn’t so easily fooled and tells her to run, knowing this is an illusion created by “it.” Will holds the creature off as Jemma runs towards the flare. She hears a gunshot, and turns back for Will but Fitz’s voice calls out to her. She calls out but is hesitant to leave Will. She finally runs towards Fitz’s voice where he rescues her.
In the present, Simmons finishes her story. Fitz is silent with shock. Simmons pleads for him to understand, but without a sound Fitz rises and leaves the room. Simmons follows him to the lab pleading for him to understand. It becomes clear that Fitz did understand; he was pulling up the planet data on the computers. Fitz confirms that they were going to get Will back. Simmons cries with happiness.
The sun comes to an alien planet and passes all to quickly, Will tosses down the spent gun and walks off into the blue night.
My Two Cents
Good lord this episode. I honestly do not know where to begin. This episode might be the finest bit of screenwriting I have seen in a good long while. Not just from S.H.E.I.L.D. but from anything. This episode is not only finely crafted but arguably the strongest episode that S.H.E.I.L.D. has ever aired.
The strength of this episode lies in its reliance of human emotion and the acting talents of Elizabeth Henstridge, who I argue deserves all the awards for her performance. Every child has had the fantasy of being stranded out in the wilderness relying on little more then their wits and strength and yet often we forget about the absolute and utter terror that comes from being lost, alone, and stranded. Now imagine all that and being trapped on a new planet- and one with no sun.
I have long said that Fitz and Simmons are the heart of this show and this show truly needs its heart. It is the heart that balances out all the superhero craziness and revenge clichés that often litter spy shows. Fitz-Simmons have become this wonderfully anomaly, characters who were little more than 2 dimensional geek fan service and have become the primary reason to watch this show.
The introduction of Will was also refreshing. The “last man and woman on Earth” plotline is not exactly new. In fact, it has been done to death. Yet, the writer’s of S.H.E.I.L.D did just rest on their laurels and passé tropes to tell a story. The created a believable relationship between Will and Jemma that went well beyond the bond of isolation- their connection was slow, well thought out, and organic. Leaving me desperately hoping that Fitz-Simmons do manage to get the poor kid of the planet.
This episode is all the things. All the things I want to entertainment. Be it film, movies, or literature, this is the type of story I want to curl up into and live there. Well, maybe not there. Let’s be real that planet looks awful.