agents-of-shield-abcIt started as a typical mission, investigating something unusual. Suddenly, one scene changed everything, and it looked like we’d have one less agent of S.H.I.E.LD. This week’s episode, however, shows what happens when a person is facing certain death, and how the experience changes you.

As usual, SPOILERS below….

Some might think “FZZT” was a response to those internet and magazine articles that suggested how to make the SHIELD at campsiteshow more popular. Suggestions ranged from replacing the cast to adding more Nick Fury or obscure superheroes to the mix. The real solution is to give the show more time, and let it prove itself. The episode was great because there’s some good character moments from everyone, especially Fitz and Simmons.

The crew investigates the presence of floating bodies found after an extreme electro-static shock. They’re able to trace it from a virus found in a Chitauri helmet found by some volunteer firemen who found it after the Battle of New York. They made the mistake of shining it, and the virus spread to those firemen. Coulson finds the third fireman, just as the virus is about to explode from inside him. Coulson comforts the fireman in an interesting  way, by recounting how he “died,” and that he “wasn’t here anymore.” He let the fireman know in the face of death, he shouldn’t be afraid.

SHIELD Chitauri helmetThe crew puts the helmet away, while Simmons examines the virus. She reports that it spreads from one person to another through electro-static shock, just as something is floating behind her. Uh-oh…

Elizabeth Henstridge should be praised for her performance as Jemma Simmons, as she desperately tries to cure herself from a disease that might kill her and everyone on the Bus. She’s determined, because she doesn’t want to think what will happen if she fails. It’s funny to see them argue about why they joined the group, but then we see they’ve always been together in S.H.I.E.L.D. Fitz without Simmons? Never!

Meanwhile, Coulson talks to Agent Blake (Titus Welliver), last seen in the “Item 47” short from The Avengers blu-ray DVD. He tells Coulson that he must “dump infected cargo”, which means Simmons. Coulson pretends he didn’t hear that. SHIELD Agent Blake

Meanwhile, Fitz figures he can some up with an anti-serum from the virus in the helmet, even if he might get infected. When it looks like they failed, Simmons takes a drastic step… by jumping off the plane. Fitz is ready to save her, but Ward manages to do it. Coulson is mad she jumped, mainly because of the paperwork. It turns out they did have the anti-serum after all.

Afterwards, Coulson admits to Agent May he had some medical tests to be assured he’s healthy. More than a year after being dead for eight seconds, or maybe longer, he still feels different. May tells him to unbutton his shirt, and look at the scars left behind. “The point of these things is to remind us that there is no going back,” she says. “ There’s only moving forward.”  Hopefully, this proves Coulson is human, and not a Life Model Decoy. So, maybe he was brought back through super-science or Extremis or something else. We will find out, and an ideal time would be the last new episode of 2013.

SHIELD Gemma SimmonsThe episode may be humanizing Agent Ward a bit.  When he and Skye face Simmons trying to cure her infection, they share a moment. He admits he’s frustrated when he can’t protect people from something he can’t see or understand.  He also admits he knows that Simmons mocks him, and does a good job mocking that. It’s a start. Skye, by the way, still has that Bracelet of Limited Trust from the last episode. It might be possible it’s a placebo to get her to prove herself, just like the truth serum loosened up Agent Ward.

As some S.H.I.E.L.D. members take the Chitauri helmet away, Agent Blake tells Coulson he doesn’t like how he’s ignoring S.H.I.E.L.D. orders, and that Coulson may be in danger of losing his team. Coulson says he’s like to see them try. Blake wonders about this “new” Coulson, while the rest of us just enjoy him.

Ratings report: Despite a lot of promos including a story on “Nightline,” the show dipped again to a 2.5 and more than seven point one million viewers. It’s still holding on to second place at the Tuesday 8 PM time slot. This may lead to more articles suggesting ways to boost ratings, but that may not be necessary. Next week’s episode introduces a familiar face to Marvel comics that Coulson may be concerned about (to find out who, click here). On the Nov. 19, S.H.I.E.L.D. will be tasked with dealing with the aftermath of Thor: The Lost World (coming to theaters this week). While Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD may not be a massive hit, it’s still serving a role of promoting the “Phase 2” movies coming over the next few months.

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