It figures that one episode after the Agents of SHIELD
Agent of the Week pickens were so slim I awarded it to the dead guy who was in the show for five minutes, I would now be faced with choosing between three legitimate contenders.
The late Quan Chen got a pity award on account of the fact that he had a family and was killed by a guy name Scorch, but there was no such opening for mediocrity in "FZZT."
This week's award was taken down by a legit team member, but do we have our first repeat winner? Let's break it down.
Agents May, Skye and Coulson just don't stack up this week. Skye was trying to prove her loyalty and took care of her hacking duties nicely, but she didn't do anything above and beyond. Likewise, outside of some interesting dialogue with Coulson, May flew the plane and kicked open a barn door and that was it.
Coulson made some controversial decisions, disobeying a direct order to "drop the infected cargo" and preserve the team, but he did what was necessary to keep everyone alive for as long as possible in the time frame they were afforded. I still think if push came to shove and it was all or nothing, he'd have kicked Simmons off the plane himself.
He was also nice enough to share his experiences with firefighter Tony Diaz, who was about to explode. Coulson comforted the man as he approached death's door, but he still got out in plenty of time to avoid jeopardizing his or any other bystanders' lives.
A Fitz Without a Simmons Just Isn't the Same
Most of this episode surrounded how Jemma Simmons' infection, quarantine and impending death affected the SHIELD agents faced with losing one of their own. But for the most part, curing the illness rested entirely on her own shoulders. And she nearly did it all by herself.
And once it became clear she was a danger to the others on board the Bus, she took it upon herself to protect them all from her exploding brain, even if she had to pay the ultimate price to do so.
Of course, if she'd just waited until they made the decision for her, she would've had plenty of time to realize antiserum actually did work and she was killing herself for no reason. But it all worked out, so no harm, no foul, right?
Agent Ward is Superman
Grant Ward came damn near close to winning his first one of these, thanks to a rare moment of humanity followed by a death-defying mid-air administer-the-vaccine-while-falling rescue.
Ward showed some real emotion for the first time while talking with Skye about protecting all the team members. It's not hard for him to take down the bad guy or punch an evil villain, as long as he has someone to target. But in this case, he had no idea how to fight something he couldn't see or even understand.
His confusion quickly gave way to action, which he is obviously more comfortable with. After Simmons whacked Fitz with a fire extinguisher (a bit ironic since she was infected by a fireman) and hopped out the back of the plane, Ward was there in a jiffy to swipe the parachute and freefall like a bullet to Jemma's flailing body.
Much like the flying Lola resembled Back to the Future, I have to admit the closeups of Ward's cheesy face as he plummeted toward the sea were pretty ridiculous and reminded me of Superman and Superman II. But, hey, we're on a TV budget here. And let's not forget, Ward put the parachute on while he was falling.
Fitzy to the Rescue
In the end, however, the Agent of the Week Award just has to go to Leo Fitz. Sure, he didn't make the actual final rescue (as I said in the recap, they'd probably both have died), but everything that happened was a direct result of his actions.
Even though he started out denying his connection with Simmons, in order to facilitate his crush on Skye, by the end he was risking his life and saving the day left and right. You first have to consider the tiny plot twist that put him on the outside of the containment area in the first place.
When they encountered the initial hovering corpse, Jemma received the static shock and was subsequently infected when she touched the body. But when they found the second victim in the barn, Fitz used one of his Batteries Not Included saucers to drop the body. Had he been infected as well, he would have been quarantined with Simmons, and there wouldn't have been anyone available to get the helmet for an antibody swab.
Next, it was the third-grade shouting match between the containment glass over Fitz not being cool that led to the realizations that (1) every minute of every day, they've been stuck in the lab with each other, (2) the Chitauri soldier who wore the helmet was the only one immune to the virus and therefore the only one would could produce the antibodies needed for a vaccine and (3) preserving FitzSimmons is worth risking your life for (at least if you're Fitz or Simmons).
After all, he was just "doing what we always do. We're gonna fix this. Together."
Finally, he was willing to take it a step further, struggling with the parachute backpack straps before Ward swooped in and stole the glory. But Jemma summed it up perfectly at the end:
"Ward did an amazing thing, yes, but it wasn't Ward by my side in that lab searching for a cure. It wasn't Ward giving me hope when I had none. It was you. You're the hero."
It was a sentiment even our first two-time Agent of the Week couldn't dispute. Even though all he got in return was a lousy kiss on the cheek.
You can watch Agents of SHIELD every Tuesday at 8pm on ABC.