It’s only taken six episodes, but “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD’s” titular agents are finally starting to feel like a team. The latest episode in Season 1, “FZZT,” shows a special connection between Melinda May and Phil Coulson, as well as within the younger generation of Skye, Ward, Fitz and Simmons.
Two of the several ongoing mysteries of “Agents of SHIELD” have been how Coulson is alive after dying in “The Avengers” and what Melinda May’s backstory is. While neither was resolved, both issues were dealt with in “FZZT.” Coulson orders himself a physical and blood work to make sure his body is in full working order because, even though he’s in fine condition, he feels different. That revelation to Melinda May causes the former elite agent to say getting over being dead causes a change in everyone, including herself.
Coulson clearly knew Melinda May had also died before, but that was news to audiences. It’s unclear if she was brought back from the dead in the same way as Coulson was, and if this is a practice SHIELD uses frequently. The longer “Agents of SHIELD” takes to resolve the mystery of Coulson’s regeneration, the more theories that are made about how SHIELD pulled off that little stunt. Could Melinda May’s reveal give some insight into how Coulson was brought back?
But though the promos for “FZZT” seemed to imply that this episode would be all about Coulson coming to terms with his death, the focus of this installment of the Marvel TV series was instead on the relationship between Fitz and Simmons. Simmons is infected by a Chitauri virus after discovering one of the alien’s helmets was causing a spread of the disease among some firemen who had been at the Battle of New York. Fitz risks his life to help her find an anti-serum (not vaccine) for the virus, and she almost kills herself when she thinks she can’t be cured.
Fitz and Simmons might not be the most battle hardened of Coulson’s agents of SHIELD, but they’re easily the most likable. Their easy banter makes their longtime friendship believable, though “FZZT” seems to be implying there could be some romantic tension between the two of them as well. “FZZT” shows how deeply they care for one another, and it’s nice to see them also continue to prove they’re capable agents even though they failed their field tests.
“FZZT” inclded some cute scenes between Fitz and Skye where he tried to hit on her, and an adorable ongoing gag where Fitz and Simmons do their best Ward impressions, and then he reveals he knew about their behind-his-back mockery all along. Ward might be a stick in the mud a lot of the time, but those brief moments where he shows he has a personality and a good sense of humor are welcome.
The best change of pace about this episode is that it wasn’t as Skye-focused as the ones that have come before. Hopefully this is a sign that “Agents of SHIELD” will start spending more time developing the team instead of just its rogue hacker, which will greatly benefit the series’ ensemble dynamic in the long run.
Also, it would be remiss to not mention Titus Welliver’s return as Agent Blake in “FZZT.” He and Coulson clash heads in the episode’s final scene, and it seems like some of the higher powers at SHIELD could be concerned about the way this changed Phil Coulson is handling his team.
“Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC.