This review contains spoilers for Agents of SHIELD.
Agents of SHIELD Season 6 Episode 6
Whenever Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge take center stage as Fitz and Simmons in Agents of SHIELD, we’re bound to witness a master class in emotionally rich acting, and “Inescapable” certainly delivered in that respect (although shouldn’t the episode really have been called “Unstoppable Together?”). In a cathartic exploration of both scientists’ deepest fears and insecurities, we had a ringside seat as the two of them purged their pent up frustration and gave us a glimpse of the near and distant past for a healthy helping of context. Although the overall story barely progressed, the Jemma of season 5 bringing the Fitz of season 4 up to speed was a joy to behold.
It was a bit odd that the cerebral fusion machine that Atarah used was portrayed as a danger to the fragile brains of the humans, but that only seemed to be the case when Fitz and Simmons encountered emotional trauma in their mind prison. Since the Chronicoms expended little effort keeping the scientists on task, the idea of confining the pair until they figured out how to travel to the past quickly became an obvious narrative vehicle for their own personal confrontation and reconciliation. There’s nothing particularly wrong with that, but as a result, the Chronicoms (especially Atarah) come across as a rather toothless enemy.
Granted, it gave Enoch a chance to redeem himself for having betrayed his friendship with Fitz, understandably for the sake of saving his entire planet. Would the mind meld have eventually produced results? What did Atarah mean when she started to tell Simmons that she wouldn’t be with Fitz just before Enoch forcibly removed them from the simulation? Is time travel now off the table? These are questions that can be difficult to reconcile even as we applaud the idea of Fitz and Simmons escaping their prison, but perhaps the destruction of Chronica-2 is only meant to give us a sense of the scale of the shrike’s devastation.
In the meantime, the trip down memory lane for the cursed couple was joyously insightful, and although we knew about Fitz’s dark side, seeing the horror-movie results of Simmons keeping her troubles in a mental music box was quite an eye-opener. Sharp-eyed Agents of SHIELD fans will have noticed the gold paint on the Jemma-monster’s forehead, referencing her time as a deaf handmaiden to Kasius the Kree in the future version of the Lighthouse, a great example of an experience she’d have repressed. As Fitz observes, one might say this practice of bottling up extreme emotions is “so English.”
On the other hand, her desire to keep Fitz from being hit with too much trauma all at once is completely warranted given that she’s already seen a manifestation of the Framework’s Dr. Leopold Fitz in season 5. The scenes showing the SHIELD team reacting to his death was a gut punch we avoided at the end of last season, but it was as painful for us as it was for Fitz. And the sense of displacement he must have felt upon learning he missed his own marriage ceremony had to be pretty disorienting. But seeing the two at the Academy reliving their first moments with Coulson was simply priceless.
The build-up of anger and resentment felt like a necessary process as well. It’s certainly true that Fitz and Simmons have been the source of each other’s pain over the years, and calling out specific hurtful examples such as Jemma hooking up with Hive or Fitz hiding his work with Aida brought forth all of the memories of what these two have been through each season of Agents of SHIELD. Is it true that Fitz hides his ego behind altruism and the Simmons has a savior complex? Maybe not entirely, but the fact that being doused in ocean water makes them realize they have to face their bad sides is a wonderful way to show their necessarily rapid growth and healing process in this episode.
Aside from the inconsistent Chronicom threat and some questionable use of hairpieces, this Fitz-Simmons centric episode of Agents of SHIELD was a wonderful journey of exploration of two characters that we love. The Coulson who started this team may have thought Fitz-Simmons was one person, and in “Inescapable,” they nearly were. It’s notable that Mack has full confidence that they’ll escape their prison and that Simmons took her final moments before teleporting away to tell Fitz that he’s a grandfather because there’s a sense that the team will be back together in the back half of the season, which is cause for all fans of the show to rejoice.
Michael Ahr is a writer, reviewer, and podcaster here at Den of Geek; you can check out his work here or follow him on Twitter (@mikescifi). He co-hosts our Sci Fi Fidelity podcast and coordinates interviews for The Fourth Wall podcast.