Snark Tank; Recap
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3, Episode 5: “4,722 Hours” Recap
This week on SHIELD we have a very different kind of episode with only one story being told throughout. Apart from a short recap of the end of last season and a minute at the end of the episode, the story focuses completely on only one of our main characters. With good reason, too, because here in episode five of the season it’s time for us to learn just what Jemma was dealing with on her alien planet for all those months.
Jemma doesn’t seem too frightened when we first see her appear through the portal, apart from momentarily shouting for Fitz. Her GPS isn’t working and she climbs a hill to see the two moons and realizes she is on another planet. We see her remain pretty calm after this revelation, falling back on her SHIELD training and her love of science, no doubt to keep herself from panicking. She makes some audio recordings about conditions on the planet and waits to be rescued.
Seventy-One hours in the same spot without food, water, or sunlight soon makes her break down in anger however, and we’re treated to the title of the show placed over the backdrop of the planet, a much better choice for the show than the usual intro music and logo, which would have quickly broken the atmosphere this episode has already created. At Seventy-Nine hours Jemma finally sets out to find water, knowing she won’t survive much longer without it.
The constant talking to Fitz is the only thing I didn’t like about this episode and had me rolling my eyes a few times, but I suppose over three days alone on an alien planet would make anyone need some kind of comfort. I think it’s simply because I still don’t see the progression of Jemma’s feelings in this relationship, and it continues to seem forced to me.
At Ninety-Nine hours Jemma is hit by a sand storm that we later find out is some kind of being that can manipulate the planet. Looking back on this moment with that knowledge it’s possible the monster is what left the pool of water for Jemma to find, either to keep her alive to play with more or to simply try kill her off with the alien creature that attacks her from the depths.
While we do see her biting into part of this pool monster (which she rips off while escaping) a quick cut forward to almost three hundred hours later has Jemma recording the fact she hasn’t eaten since. The monster is the only other thing on this planet she’s seen and in order to eat she must climb back into the pool and hope to kill it before it kills her.
Jemma gets one of the best lines of the season so far but the happiness of her kill and the fire she manages to start quickly turns serious again. She’s alone and afraid of what’s out there, and she’s just eaten the only food she’s managed to find, but Jemma continues to believe Fitz won’t give up on finding her.
A month into her unscheduled trip Jemma still has phone battery, though she finally says she’s recording less in order to preserve battery life. Later in the episode we do get a throwaway explanation of this, that Fitz altered the phone to make it long lasting, but I still want to know why SHIELD isn’t selling these things to fund themselves! I’d risk a few days on that planet if they agreed to give me a phone like that.
Here is where Jemma’s experience of the planet quickly changes. While investigating a noise she falls into a pit trap, and we see a extremely human looking shape covering the hole just before she passes out. Jemma wakes up to find herself in a cage with food in some kind of underground cave. A human man appears. This, Jemma will soon find out, is Will, and it’s clear he’s struggling to believe she’s actually real.
He visits a few times but doesn’t say much, and Jemma finally escapes by faking poisoning. Why she doesn’t lock him in the cage behind her I don’t know, but I suppose it’s a good thing she didn’t since the sand storm very quickly follows Jemma’s escape, possibly brought on by her injury. Will tells Jemma the thing smells blood and that the planet is evil, but our little scientist won’t believe anything he says.
Will has a lot of supplies with him and it’s clear already that he didn’t get eaten accidentally by the monolith like Jemma did. He doesn’t know what year it is, he’s been there for some time alone, and Jemma follows him into another room to reveal a space suit and American flag, along with some very old computer equipment. He came to the planet in 2001, a time when NASA were the ones that had their hands on the monolith. A test mission was sent through the portal with the risk of never coming back, and Will was the first one through. His job was to keep the three scientists with him alive, but two soon committed suicide and he was forced to kill the third when he attacked Will with an axe. This is something Will blames on the sand storm once again, though Jemma’s expression makes it clear she still doesn’t believe him.
Jemma is still determined to get home and though Will tries to convince her it’s impossible she decided to be the voice of hope to his voice of doom.
We spend some time seeing their relationship grow next. They talk about the foods they miss and when Will asks what she misses most we get shown a video Fitz sent to her on Jemma’s birthday. The team got her a TARDIS cake, nice choice guys. Jemma still is yet to say outright she sees Fitz as anything but a friend, even when Will tries to edge that kind of information out of her, but she’s still talking to him like he’s there.
In an effort to find some clues Jemma wants to enter the “no fly zone” Will has marked on the map he’s created, The two argue about it before Jemma goes out to gather food, something we see she’s very adept at doing by now. These two have gotten very lucky so far, that the air is breathable and they don’t seem to have found anything toxic. Is it possible this was some kind of prison planet, designed to hold the Inhumans the monolith is meant to be a danger to? Or is this simply convenience for the story?
While out collecting food Jemma finds some medieval equipment that finally gives her the inspiration she needs to work out their way home. The portal is still in the same place, it’s the planet that is moving, and using Will’s equipment, the remaining power from her phone, and the stars, they can work out where it should appear next.
This is also where the episode incorporates the clip from the end of episode one, as Jemma is chased back to the caves by the sand storm after her discovery. Only now, after seeing so many bodies along with their belongings, is she beginning to believe Will.
After one last viewing of the video, a goodbye to Fitz if this doesn’t work, Jemma uses the power from her phone and manages to pull one location for the portal before it dies. It’s going to appear beyond a canyon they can’t cross however, so Will has to work out how to get them there.
It’s here we find out a little backstory on Jemma, which is something we haven’t had much of and is really nice to see. Jemma had surgery for scoliosis as a child and her father would wheel her bed outside at night to tell her about the stars. This is how she was able to work out the position of the portal, and she also confirms the position of the two moons is what opens the portal. Here rests my alien DNA opens the monolith theory, I will finally let it go.
On the way to the canyon Will mentioned a scientist that came with him believed the planet was once a paradise, which I’ll use to prop up my new replacement theory that this is some kind of prison punishment planet, specifically created with that reason in mind. If Jemma wasn’t already convinced of the storm’s power she has to be once they reach the canyon, wider than when Will saw it before. It doesn’t want them to leave. It’s too far for them to cross, and though they try to launch a bottle through as a sign instead of leaving the portal closes before they can.
Their only chance is gone, they have no idea where the portal will appear next. Jemma has finally lost her hope, she’s never going home, and though we’ve seen her afraid before now she finally has a full break down. Elizabeth’s acting through this whole episode is amazing, and I’m really glad they had enough faith in her to dedicate an entire episode to this story rather than cutting it with something else. This is also the scene where she and Will finally kiss before we cut forward almost a thousand hours to a much calmer Jemma.
Just the body language of this scene shows us how relaxed around each other she and Will are now, and there is a lot of casual touching. Jemma seems to have worked out the sun is finally going to rise, something that will happen for a few minutes every eighteen years, and the two plan on making a celebration of it. Jemma seems to have accepted her fate, the two of them live here now, their company seems to be enough for each other and they’ve accepted their home.
Before the sunset can arrive however Jemma sees the flare sent up by Fitz and the sandstorm begins. She sees a space suit walking in the storm, the being trying to trick her into thinking NASA is rescuing her. A manifestation of something it’s seen before, or the actual suit and body of a victim?
Will runs towards the monster to give Jemma time to make her way home, and we transition into the scene we saw of Jemma’s rescue as Jemma tells Fitz in the present that she has no idea if Will is alive. For a moment it looks like Fitz is going to be selfish enough to ignore her thanks to being shunned, but the episode ends with him coming through. They’re going to get Will back.
The episode stinger reveals Will is still very much alive on the planet, though if his single bullet worked on the storm monster or not we don’t know. I like Will so far, though I have worries now the show is getting into a love triangle and he is more than likely just an obstacle for Fitzsimmons. This is uninteresting in so many tv show, in fact the only one I can remember enjoying and being conflicted about is the current triangle in Jane the Virgin.
Whatever the future holds this was a fantastic episode and something so different from anything the show has ever done. While it answered a lot of questions it’s left us with a few more. And is it possible Will isn’t actually alive at all, but will be the creature’s vessel through to earth?