Bottle episodes tend to be some of my favorites of shows and this episode of AoS is no exception. Elizabeth Henstridge got to let her acting chops fly in a much different environment than the SHIELD lab and while flying partially solo. As we know from previous episodes, Jemma Simmons was sucked into a portal to survive on an alien planet until Fitz saved her. But what we didn’t know is what happened to her while on that planet for 4,722 hours (about 6.5 months). Ticking things off by the hour was also a cool device to illustrate time passing since there was no sun to tell us when it was day or nighttime.
Jemma keeps her cool for much longer than a normal person would. She figured that since Fitz was expecting to meet up with her for dinner, he would be the first to notice she was gone and that the portal door was unlocked. So, she does what Simmons always does, analyzes the surroundings, calculates the amount of time she has before the search for water (100 hours) or food (3 weeks) becomes dire enough to lead to death. She waits patiently by the portal for Fitz to rush to her immediate rescue. But time is ticking and she has to find water. She leaves her necklace for him, along with a directional arrow made of rocks to tell him where she went.
At 101 hours, she is buried by a sandstorm, but finally finds a dark pool of water. Thankfully, it seems safe to drink since she didn’t immediately die or choke. But then she gets IN THE WATER!? Look, Jemma, I know you’re dusty, but you’re also on an alien planet and you don’t know what could be lurking in there, like some Star-Wars lookin’ slug fish thing that want to eat you. But oh hey, this could be a source of food. She devises a crude weapon and catches the fish, cooking it on her fire.
Her phone is her constant companion through all this, as she speaks to Fitz’s picture and narrates what’s happening to her. I was a little skeptical about what iPhone could last THAT long, but she explains that Fitz configured her battery to be insanely long lasting. Hook a sista up with that, Fitz!
Jemma soon discovers that she’s not alone when a man captures her and locks her up in a prison cell. She escapes by luring him inside and hitting him on the head to which he realizes that she is indeed a real person. Apparently this guy, Will, is an astronaut from NASA who came through the portal with a team in 2001. They all died because “It” drove them crazy. Whatever “It” is. It’s just Jemma’s luck that she gets stranded on an alien planet with a super hot dude. (SHIELD, you’re so mean! Also, why does NASA know about the portal!?)
After some coexisting for about four months, Jemma realizes she can use some of Will’s leftover, outdated equipment to find the portal opening, but it will cost her the rest of her phone battery. She learns the planet moves, which means the portal moves, so they just have to track its next location with math and science and all that stuff Jemma’s good at. However, “It” doesn’t want them to leave and their attempt to escape or even just to get a message to Fitz fails. I figured it wouldn’t work since the hour count was only about 3,500.
Jemma is completely crushed by this since she depleted her phone battery (and lost the images of Fitz and videos of her friends) for this one attempt to get home and no other means to track a new portal location. Overcome with hopelessness and isolation, she crumbles into Will and they make out. (With thankfully much better chemistry than Daisy/Lincoln.) And I assume they do much more than that, given their beds all pushed together and whatnot…. (I said a bang, bang, bangity bang, I said a bang bang bangity bang. I’m sorry.) Another month passes and Jemma seems to have totally accepted her new life on the alien planet with Will. I am torn between happy that Jemma finally got some action and being devastated for Fitz.
After another month or so, she and Will are just all lalala, enjoying the one time in 18 years that the sun will appear on the planet and drinking super expired wine when she sees a flare explode out in the open. Without another thought, she runs to it, knowing that it’s Fitz. “It” tries to stop her by posing as an astronaut (not sure she why she would fall for that since Will was definitely not in his suit just moments before, but she is understandably stressed) and separates her and Will, so that only she makes it back with Fitz.
WELL, this explains quite a lot as to why Jemma is so troubled by the whole experience and probably why the sight of wine at dinner with Fitz made her break down. Aside from the whole being stranded on an alien planet with some crazy lifeforce trying to kill her, she left someone behind. She feels she owes it to him to save his life since he saved hers.
Jemma explained everything to Fitz and his reaction? Determination to go back and help Jemma save Will. I assume he figures that she’ll never have closure or be content back at SHIELD if she doesn’t know for certain if he’s alive or dead. It’s the same way he felt trying so desperately to get her back. And he does this for her because he loves her, even if her feelings are very torn between him and Will. She clearly spent the first four-ish months on the planet doing nothing but talking about Fitz, so Will is well aware of their relationship. If they do get him back, I think he would respect that and step back. But it’s not for either Fitz or Will to decide how Jemma truly feels. She was drawn to Will because he was literally the only other person there and saved her life. Elizabeth Henstridge herself says that in a normal world, she and Will would never work out. So, if they get him back, what happens? Is a 6-month survival experience enough to fuel a long-lasting relationship? Probably not. Especially when what she has with Fitz is so much deeper than anyone could comprehend. They are of one mind. Simmons seemed to be finally realizing that before she was sucked away.
But hey FitzSimmons shippers, if they were together, one of them would probably be killed off, such is the Whedon way. SO, we’ve got that going for us.
I don’t blame Jemma for her actions with giving up hope and taking solace in this (super hot) guy. Anyone in her position likely would have done the same. But my friend brought up a good point: Jemma gives up on Fitz constantly. She gave up on him in season 1 when she had the Chiutari disease and jumped out of the plane when Fitz had finally developed an antidote. She gave up on him after he sacrificed himself to save her underwater and was having difficulty coping with his injuries. Well, maybe not gave up, but ran away to HYRA because she couldn’t deal with it. And now, when Fitz is so close to having what he wants, he loses Jemma. And while at first she assumes he will save her, as time passes, that faith dwindles. But it shouldn’t! She should know that Fitz will always save her or die trying—as he already proved. Just because he got lucky this one time with the portal doesn’t mean he would have stopped if he didn’t find her in episode 2. The odds were definitely impossible and Jemma realized that, but just fully accepting this new life after one failure seems rash. They have all the time in the world to keep trying new things, searching the planet, etc., it’s not like they’re sitting around watching Netflix.
Plus, Fitz is not going to stop! He’s going to figure out a way to get back and save Will. Which he would have done for Jemma if he didn’t find her.
Sidenote: I couldn’t get out of my head how neither of them have showered or washed their clothes—Jemma for 6+ months and Will for YEARS. They both must smell great, hahaha.
Anyway, fret not, FitzSimmons shippers, I don’t think this is the end for them. It is an intense strain on something that was building towards something great for sure and Jemma will have some choices to make, but we hope she makes the right one.