'Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.' Fans, We Need To Talk About Fitzsimmons
As you might of heard by now, last night's Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge)-led "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." episode, “4,722 Hours," was easily the series' best, and one of the most thrilling hours of Marvel entertainment we've seen all year. It featured Simmons, who had been marooned on a sun-less hellscape for the better part of a year, going full-on "The Martian" with a handsome NASA scientist, Will Daniels (Dillon Casey). And while the episode did a wonderful job at highlighting Simmons as a fully-formed, nuanced character and Henstridge as a very capable actress, it also reminded me of how the show is at a bit of an impasse when it comes to an extremely popular, fan-favorite couple.
In other words, guys, we really need to talk about Fitzsimmons.
The sexual chemistry that Simmons had with Will from the second they officially met (after he imprisoned her to determine that she was real) was palpable, but also a sad reminder that no matter how great Jemma Simmons is when she's paired with Leo Fitz (the fantastic Iain De Caestecker), the two -- in my opinion -- have never displayed an ounce of sexual chemistry. So when Simmons went off and hooked up with Daniels (more on that in a second), it felt less like an obstacle in the way of a great love and more like a woman finally getting her needs met, albeit in the absolute worst circumstances ever.
The problem with this is, of course, is that many "S.H.I.E.L.D." fans are in love with Fitzsimmons -- which I get because so am I, in the way that I'm in love with Abbi and Ilana's friendship on "Broad City," and the relationship between this monkey and this pigeon. But if "S.H.I.E.L.D." doesn't want to fall down into the same murky hole that other shows have when fans desperately want two characters to hook up that just shouldn't, here's what they need to do:
Don't shame Simmons for having feelings for someone else.
Every human being on this earth has the right to be attracted to whoever they want to be, even if there's another person waiting in the wings who loves them as much as Kel loves orange soda. Fitz is that person for Jemma -- she knows it, of course -- but she's never, in over two seasons, been able to reciprocate those feelings, which has occasionally been painful to watch.
That's why I was thrilled -- thrilled! -- to see Simmons take Daniels as a lover, in a sexual encounter that she initiated, and then completely fall in love with him. It felt natural, it felt right, and it never felt like the show was judging her for having feelings for someone who wasn't a series lead. We can love Fitz and root for him to fall in love, but we also should never let our love for Jemma dissipate because she has very natural feelings for another man.
If "S.H.I.E.L.D." handles the Simmons/Fitz/Daniels love triangle right -- and I truly hope they will -- then it should be thrilling to watch these characters handle their complicated feelings, without Simmons being judged for choosing the tall handsome guy over the short handsome guy. Let's do it, Marvel.
Don't turn Fitz into a sad sack.
Is there anything worse than spending multiple episodes watching a character cry and mope around about someone who isn't reciprocating their feelings? "Arrow" did this with its strongest character, Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), during its third season, which is a big reason why virtually all "Arrow" fans consider its third season to be its weakest. We've seen Fitz be beaten down by life a lot lately (for legitimate reasons; that Ward-induced brain damage scenario was awful), so if "S.H.I.E.L.D." wants to keep this character as likable and fun to watch as he's been the past two years, they'll give him a reason to keep going, stat.
Which doesn't mean he can't mourn the loss of a potential relationship with Jemma, by the way -- that's totally normal, and should be expected. But if it lasts more than an episode or two, we're in trouble. Fitz is a science superhero, and should be treated as such at all times.
Don't put them together for the sake of fan service.
Please God. Don't Olicity me, here. I can't take much more.
If two characters have great friend chemistry, that is something very, very special -- look how well it works for Caitlin and Barry on "The Flash," Jarvis and Peggy on "Agent Carter," and arguably Karen and Matt on "Daredevil" -- and shouldn't be ruined by pressure to turn a non-sexual relationship into something more. If "S.H.I.E.L.D." wants to keep Fitzsimmons as lovable and special as they are, they won't force them to hook up. It'll inevitably lead to them hurting each other (most likely Jemma hurting Fitz, because she isn't in love with him), and literally no one wants that.
Don't utter the words "friend zone." Ever.
As Daniels said, Fitz is Simmons' "favorite word." She loves that man to death, so to dishonor their extremely special and unique science-buddies friendship by turning it into nothing but unrequited sexual feelings would be a shame... And I'm 100% sure that Fitz, Simmons, Coulson, May, Captain America, Jarvis, Daisy -- and, well, literally every person in the Marvel universe besides maybe Grant Ward -- agrees with me.