Note: there will be spoilers below!
Jemma Simmons was missing for about six and a half months. The episode starts out with a flashback to that six months ago when Fitz asked her on a date and accidentally opened the container for the Monolith.
Once Simmons goes through the portal, she has no idea where she’s at. Goes for a higher vantage point and sees the other planets. Figures she should follow the proper protocol and wait for a rescue. She knows she’s on another planet with breathable air but stronger gravity. There’s no immediate signs of life or food or water. She figures the portal will open again. Fitz will look for her since they’re going out to dinner. After 71 hours, the sun still hasn't come up.
The average person can survive three weeks without food but only 100 hours without water. She has no choice but to leave the area to go in search of food or water. She leaves some markings on the ground with rocks in case Fitz or someone arrives. At 87 hours she tries climbing a mountain to see a sandstorm coming. She wakes up later half buried. She finds water and drinks despite not knowing if it’s safe. She decides to bath in it until something grabs her. It’s a tentacle like thing and she cuts it off with a rock. She then forces herself to eat it raw.
492 hours. She has no choice but to go back into the water to ‘hunt’ for food. She gets pulled under but manages to kill it. Finding some wood, she’s able to make a fire and cooks the meet. She passes the time talking to a picture of Fitz on her phone.
After a month, she’s lost where she came in. Hearing a noise, she goes to investigate. There’s a trap and she falls into a hole. She wakes up in a cave but there’s bowls with food and water. Someone comes in the shadows and she shrinks back. She tries talking to the person. She figures since he can speak English, he might be from Earth too. She later manages to trick him and escapes.
She falls and gouges her leg. She tells him to kill her if he wants but she won’t be his prisoner. He tries helping her, pointing out that she’s bleeding. “It smells blood.” Hearing something, he grabs her and takes her back. They make it back just as another huge wind cloud comes over. When she asks him what’s out there, he says, “Death.” He says the whole planet is evil. She uses Science to argue with him. He says the planet has moods.
He has a first aid kit for her leg. He finally tells her his name is Will. She stitches up her leg at 853 hours. She notices he has a lot of gear. He’s not sure how long he’s been there since there’s no sun. He asks her what year it is. When she says, 2015, he walks away. She follows him and sees he’s an astronaut. He has a bunch of old equipment and came there in 2001. Simmons fills in Will on what's happened since he disappeared. NASA was interested in the Monolith as a means of travel since space budget was dwindling. The other men with him eventually went crazy and killed themselves. He places the blame on the planet.
3010 hours. She wants to go to the “no fly zone.” Will says that’s where the others went before they turned. She goes out gathering plants for food and finds some things buried in the sand, a sword, a bottle, and other devices. She notices stars and then the sandstorm comes. she runs and stumbles across some bones. In the storm, she sees a figure in the shadows. She runs back, as in the scene we saw in the first episode this season and barely makes it back.
With the sexton she found, she can figure out where the portal would be. The portal is fixed but the planet is revolving. They’d also have to use some of the equipment. Since there’s no power, she says she can power it up with what’s left of her phone battery. Will tells her if it doesn’t work, then it’s the end of “Fitz.” She watches the video one more time and says, “See you soon.”
She’s able to get the equipment working to track the stars and collect data. The equipment dies but there’s enough data to figure out where the portal will be in 18 days. Unfortunately they’ll have to cross the “no fly zone.” It’ll be a forty hour hike and they’ll have to cross a canyon. When they get to the canyon, it’s wider than it’s supposed to be. They see the portal across. They can fire a bottle with all the data Simmons prepared for Fitz to find them. Will shoots it right at the portal but it closes right when it reaches it. They’re stuck there. She loses hope. He says he used to feel the same way…until she showed up. Then they start kissing.
4720 hours. Simmons and Will are getting along. There's going to be a brief sunrise. Before it happens, they see the flare, the one Fitz shot. They run towards it but a storm starts up. Will tells her to go alone. She can make it. She sees an astronaut and says they came for him. He yells not to trust it. Then she notices it’s not right. Will tells her to run as he pulls out her gun. She can’t see anything but hears the gun go off. Then she hears Fitz yelling for her. She’s looking for Will as she calls out to Fitz.
She’s been telling Fitz what happened. She doesn’t know if Will is alive or dead. She wouldn’t have survived without him. She asks Fitz to talk to her. He gets up and leaves. Fitz says he understands everything. In the lab, he shows her some results. He says, “We’re going to get him back.” Fitz knows he has to do it for her.
This was a pretty intense and somewhat risky episode. The risk is it focuses on one character--Simmons. For an ensemble cast, we're used to seeing all the characters. Even last week felt as if it was split three ways. In some ways, that's a good thing since it mixes up the pacing of the show and leaves you wondering what will happen next. The bad thing is we had a couple cliffhangers from last week that we'll have to sit on until next week.
Elizabeth Henstridge gave quite the performance. She's mainly been delegated to the backgrounds but this allowed her to take center stage. We saw her use her ingenuity to get by as well as some pretty impressive survival skills.
As for her plight, I had a feeling there was someone left behind. Why else would she need to go back? The obvious bad thing about this is, where does it leave her and Fitz? After surviving that ordeal and being in such close quarters, there's no denying how close Simmons and Will would have become. Even if it was just the heat of the moment and sharing the experience, they formed a bond. If they manage to rescue Will, Fitz will have to step aside.
That's the other thing, by Fitz immediately going to the lab and getting the results, he makes it clear he knows how they can go back. He's willing to do that for Jemma even if it means completely losing and chance to be with her. That's how good of a guy he is.
Seeing that the portal is tied to the position of the planet and the moons is interesting. It blows the theory away that it only opened when an Inhuman or alien/Asgardian was present. It really seemed like the Monolith would liquify when this was the case. That then means each time it happened, it was a bit of a coincidence? If it did liquify around Inhumans, obviously that would mean Simmons has the potential to survive Terrigenesis and become an Inhuman. With
Skye Daisy an Inhuman, having two Inhumans on the team might be against the odds. We also have to wonder about all the others that got stranded on the planet. Will we find out more?
It was weird having such a heavy plot driven season slow down to tell the story of one character but the execution worked brilliantly. Henstridge shined as Simmons and the pacing of the episode simply worked. You felt the despair and struggle she went through. We got another heartbreaking moment with a big set up to continue this part of the story. Bravo to the writers for taking the chance and giving us an episode unlike the others with the focus on just one character. This just shows how great of character the show has. I'm almost afraid to see what they'll throw at us next.