Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (2013) season 3, episode 5
WRITER: CRAIG TITLEY
DIRECTOR: JESSE BOCHO
AIR DATE: October 27 2015
"4,722 Hours" is a first for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., in that it tells its story mainly as a flashback this time out, and that most of the cast is absent for this episode. Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) and Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) are the only regular cast members appearing this time out (aside from a video clip on a mobile). And aside from one guest character, Will Daniels (Dillon Casey), the only other guest characters are fleeting figures.
That said, even with a small cast, the story is a big one, from Simmons’ point of view as she recounts to Fitz what happened during her six months on a distant planet after being pulled through the portal. We see this distant world in great detail, largely a desert world where she’s caught near the pole. Physics are somewhat different, with a seemingly endless night before her. The isolation she finds herself in gets to her. And as it turns out, she wasn’t alone, as she meets an astronaut, Daniels, stranded there since the turn of the century.
Daniels feels the planet itself is malevolent, relating how the rest of his expedition was driven mad. Simmons, still being a scientist at heart, is dubious of that. Their story plays out, and we’re left to wonder by the end of it all, as it ties into the ending of an earlier episode, just what it was that was out there in the sandstorm.
While the series has often dealt with the extraordinary in terms of characters and abilities, it’s rare to see a world building episode like this where we are seeing a place laid bare, a very different planet with different rules and landscapes and organisms. I like the way the production crew played to that throughout (the sandstorms particularly). And I like how we as a species are so used to given hours of day and night that the idea of a nearly endless night would start to become bothersome.
The episode really allows Henstridge to shine, since the whole story follows her; the character can ofte be overshadowed by other characters. This time she gets the spotlight alone, and she works with it, both thinking through situations and physical action. By episode’s end, we see good reasons why Simmons feels so traumatized by her ordeal. And yet it’s clear that it’s not over yet. We haven’t seen the last of this world, it seems.