Is your skin clear? Are your crops watered? Do you feel like you can take on the world? If the answer to any of the above is a resounding YES, it likely means that you’ve seen the latest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, which somehow offered more character development and seasons-in-the-making payoff than any of the show’s previous hours of television.
This episode, more than any other this season, managed to showcase the strengths of each character in the series. In one hour of television we saw Jemma’s quiet determination, Mack and Elena’s innate protectiveness, Daisy’s unrelenting empathy, May’s perseverance, Coulson’s leadership, and Fitz’s willingness to do anything for the people he loves.
It’s episodes like this, where each character is given their due, that solidify Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as being one of the best (and most criminally underrated) genre shows on television.
Picking up soon after Fitz made his grand entrance in 2091, “Fun and Games,” makes it immediately clear that Kasius is more than happy to arrange a fight-to-the-death between his hoard of Inhumans, namely, the Destroyer of Worlds. Hoping to fetch a pretty penny for his offerings, the Kree leader hosts a lavish dinner for all of wealthy scum-of-the-galaxy who have come to place their bids on the presented gifteds.
Because it’s not just Daisy who finds herself fighting in Kasius’ twisted duels. The remaining Inhumans will all showcase their talents, along with a few humans as well. In fact, the first fight of the tournament has mind-reader Ben facing off against… the Cavalry.
Yep, turns out Sinara didn’t off May as it was implied the other week. Instead, she injured the badass field operative just enough to make it nearly impossible to take on bland Ben. Luckily, Fitz steps in after a telepathic nudge from the Inhuman and manages to convince Kasius that it would be more useful to send May to the surface rather than have her easily killed by Ben. Only concerned with putting on a good show, Kasius agrees and May is herded away with only the slightest of backwards glances. Easy peasy!
For everyone other than Ben that is.
The telepath is promptly murdered by Sinara by the command of Kasius, who has no tolerance for liars. (Ben lied to Kasius about Jemma and Daisy being the only S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to have traveled through time. To me, Ben was always a character who was as beige as his wardrobe so his death didn’t hit me as hard as the writers likely intended, however, he did help out Daisy and Simmons so… I guess it was a slight loss? At least the last words he “spoke” to Daisy before facing down Sinara’s orbs were ones that someone needed to say: “Don’t blame yourself.”
Daisy is a character who feels more than most, her innate empathy often serving as her greatest strength and weakness, and has spend years blaming herself for much of the death and destruction faced by her loved ones. While we (and the other characters) all know that Daisy is rarely if ever the person responsible for the pain and suffering that so many favorites have experienced, she herself has yet to shed the burdens of the past. Ben telling her not to blame herself for his death was a necessary confirmation for Daisy who, even still, is unable to fully relinquish responsibility.
While Daisy deals with another death and her own looming gladiator match, Coulson, Mack, and Elena were finding out the hard way how terrigenesis is handled in 2091. Tess’ young friend Flint (the kid who was barely introduced in an earlier episode) finds himself as the Lighthouse’ newest Inhuman after going through the mist two years ahead of schedule. Realizing that the Kree are up to no good where Inhumans are concerned, Elena literally whisks the young boy from his cocoon before the Kree guards at the terrigenesis ceremony can get to him.
While terrigenesis is terrifying enough in its own right, things get even worse when Tess (a character that I actually did grow to like in earlier episodes) is killed by the Kree in a bid to get Flint to come out of the shadows. To throw yet another wrench into the situation, Grill rolls up and threatens to hand Flint and the S.H.I.E.L.D. team over to the Kree to face whatever punishment is coming their way. This of course never happens because, while Grill is making threats, Flint finally discovers what his new powers are. Flint’s geokineses allows him to manipulate the rocks around him and kill Grill before the taskmaster can out Coulson and Co. Yikes.
Back in the thunderdome, Kasius’ estranged brother appears to shake things up and ruin pretty much everyone’s plans. Not satisfied with Daisy going up against another Inhuman, the blue-bro instead suggests that she take on a Kree warrior, specifically Kasius’ right-hand, Sinara. The two duke it out in true Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fashion, with epic Quake shots, a dash of slow-mo, and enough hand-to-hand shots to show them as equals (though… Daisy has previously leveled the Playground, bridges, and cities so… not sure how I’m supposed to believe that she couldn’t take out Sinara and Kasius’ Kree crew in two seconds flat).
The two women battle it out, trading kicks and punches faster than even YoYo can move. With each blow, the tension in Kasius’ observation box skyrocketed as the Kree overlord and FitzSimmons watched their respective friends (or whatever Kasius considers Sinara) inch closer to potential death. It’s not until Daisy de-orbs Sinara that she really gets the upper hand and makes quick work of the Kree warrior.
After Daisy knocks Sinara out, Fitz uses the distraction of the fight to his advantage and begins shooting up a storm in the observation box as Jemma knifes Kasius. The commotion gives Daisy the opportunity to quake the baddies but, unfortunately, her inhibitor turns back on and sends her careening to the floor. FitzSimmons then make their escape, joining Daisy below and promptly making their way out of the Crater.
Team S.H.I.E.L.D. has officially, if temporarily, escaped the upper levels. Victory!
Now… let’s get to the moments that were unquestionably the most talked about of the episode… AKA every scene that involved FitzSimmons.
This week was a big one for our favorite star-crossed lovers as they finally reunited for the first time in seventy-four years. And what a reunion it was!
“Fun and Games,” brought fans not one but two FitzSimmons proposals, the first of which came after Fitz spotted his long-lost love for the first time in Kasius’ party den. After a moving speech wherein he pointed out that their love is unstoppable, Fitz ends his declaration with, “Jemma Simmons, will you marry me?”
Unfortunately, thanks to Kasius’ ear implant, Jemma heard none of it and didn’t even realize Fitz was there until she turned around at the Kree leader’s command.
Luckily, fans barely had to wait a half-hour before yet another proposal was made, this time in reverse! After Daisy’s fight with Sinara, and FitzSimmons’ decimation of the (K)reeps, Fitz promptly lays one on his love. Her response? “Marry me, Fitz.”
After four-plus years of crossing galaxies, surviving the Atlantic Ocean, traveling through time, and escaping a computer-generated world where Nazis reigned supreme, Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons are finally making FitzSimmons official.
Let’s make one thing clear: nobody does the breath hitch better than Iain de Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge. The majority of episode is filled with longing glances across rooms, allowing for the silent communication that FitzSimmons have become known for. The fact that each of these moments feels so poignant (the culmination of years of mutual hurt, pining, and separation) is a testament to how much of a strength de Caestecker and Henstridge are to this show.
By the end of the episode it became clear that the success of, “Fun and Games,” can largely be attributed to the fact that the whole gang is once again in the same (general) location. The first four Fitz-less episodes, combined with the team-less, “Rewind,” (though utterly enjoyable) lacked the biggest strength of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: the dynamics brought forth when all characters are together. While this week’s episode still had some division, there was at least a relatively even split between the A Team and the B Team.
Simmons and Daisy have been largely fending for themselves, save for the few moments where they were able to be cunning together, while the rest of Team S.H.I.E.L.D. have been stuck in limbo, essentially killing time in the lower levels until the storylines merge.
With Fitz back in the picture, Daisy and Jemma escaping Kasius, and the promo for next week’s episode showing a reunion between the team, it’s clear that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is about to really hit its stride.
Episode Grade: A-
- The fight sequences were top-notch this week, as were the VFX components that went into them. I can never gauge how long these scenes take to film but, based on the complexity of the moves and the amount of CGI, I can only assume that the actors, stunt doubles, VFX masters, and crew gave it their all for a decent chunk of time.
- FitzSimmons, y’all! I have been an unabashed fan of this duo since the Pilot and can hardly believe (while simultaneously completely believing the inevitability) that the bickering scientists from 1×01 are still bickering in 5×06… this time about who proposed to whom first. This proposal has been a long time coming and, though we all know that a piece of paper doesn’t measure love, FitzSimmons making things official is a bright spot in a pretty dark season.
- Teamwork makes the dream work. The best moments of the episode were those where our favorite characters interacted with each other. The quiet scene between Daisy and Jemma pre-fight was a poignant one that showcased how instrumental this friendship is to each. Similarly, the moments with Mack, Elena, and Flint down below provided a deeper look and understanding into each.
- The strength of the A story made the B story pale in comparison, something that has been pretty common this season. While the character moments with Mack, Elena, and Flint were great, they likely would have made a larger impact were they not breaking up the excitement of Kasius’ competition, FitzSimmons’ long-awaited reunion, and Daisy’s battle with Sinara.
- Thrusting Flint into the forefront of the story felt sudden and somewhat undeserved, largely because it came with the deaths of three-fourths of the new characters we’ve been introduced to this season. The handling of Tess in particular was a bit irksome for me in that her death/murder was the cliché, pointless, one meant solely to cause pain to the other (mostly male) characters.
Quote of the Week:
- “You know, I spent six months locked up in an off-the-books military prison, not mention 80 years frozen in space, all just hoping to find you. Here you are. You know, I realized something. The universe can’t stop us because we have crossed galaxies, we have traveled through time, we survived the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean just so we can be together. A love like that, that is stronger than any curse, and you and I? We are unstoppable together. I don’t want to live another day without you. So Jemma Simmons, will you marry me?” -Leo Fitz
- Hats off to Clark Gregg for pulling double-duty this episode! In addition to portraying Coulson, Marvel’s OG representation of S.H.I.E.L.D. directed, “Fun and Games,” and gave eager fans more than one memorable shot.
What did you think of Clark Gregg’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. directorial debut? Sound off on Twitter or in the comments below!