Never has an episode more universally critically acclaimed. Never has an episode divided fans so greatly.
First off, 4,722 Hours is the story of Simmons on the blue planet – almost from start to finish. An undertaking of that magnitude already deserves applause.
The episode starts with the season 2 stinger six months ago; Fitzsimmons agree to go on a date and Jemma gets sucked up.
What’s new now is she gets immediately thrust into the dusty blue world we know so little about. She doesn’t panic – she waits for extraction. Fitz will find a way, he always does.
Jemma doesn’t lose hope. She uses her phone (with supercharged Fitz battery) to document her surroundings and make notes – and most importantly, to talk to a picture of Fitz on her phone to make shippers go LITERALLY INSANE.
Days pass. DAYS. As she starts approaching the point where she simply cannot live without food or water, she leaves a rock formation in the shape of an arrow and goes on a hunt.
As she explores the planet, she gets taken out by a sandstorm – it knocks her right out. When she awakes, food and water are an absolute must at this point. Then she joyously approaches a lake.
She drinks some, rejoices. Then she decides to go for a swim. While she’s swimming, something pulls her under. She fight with the tentacle in question and wins, and eats it.
She goes hunting for some more, catches it, and cooks it over a fire she built, something she happily documents for Fitz.
Now, since this is a special episode all about Jemma, I’m not going to bore you with the minutia of her survival. It doesn’t translate to text well, and you get the idea. Let’s skip to the meaty parts.
After falling in a hole, Jemma is trapped in a cage by a mysterious man in the shadows who turns out to be really hot. After she smashes a food dish on him, he realizes she is not some mental image cooked up by the planet and they start working together.
We find out this man is a NASA astronaut named Will. He was sent through the Monolith with a team of specialists in 2001. Everyone else was driven insane by “It”, a monster Will believes is controlled by the planet, which gets inside your head and messes with you.
Jemma and Will happily live in a cave in the planet for months, as Jemma keeps looking for a way to escape. Will is adamant that the planet is alive and trying to kill them and just wants to stay in his cave and be safe.
Jemma ventures out to the “no-fly zone”, a particularly dangerous part of the planet, after running out of answers. She comes across the sword and satchel of our poor 1800’s lord from episode 2, who is now skeletonized. Then the sandstorm starts rolling in and she sees the hulking figure of “It”, and starts running – but seeing the stars gives her an idea.
In the cave, Jemma uses the last of her phone superbattery to charge the old 2001 equipment Will has from NASA. Goodbye, chronologically impossible happy birthday video. (Think about it – her birthday is September. Did Fitz and the gang wish her happy birthday before they were a crew, while Jemma was at HYDRA and Fitz was in a coma/recovering, or while she was already on the planet?)
Simmons gets the pathfinder up and running and uses the magic of science to track the stars and find out when the next portal will open. The system dies after some time of tracking, but they’ve predicted one occurrence.
They go to the place, a canyon in the no-fly zone, but the canyon is suspiciously bigger now and impossible to cross in time. They launch a message in a bottle at the portal and it lands in the right spot but misses the timing by milliseconds. Simmons’ hope is shattered.
Keep in mind however, this wasn’t useless; in fact, the impact would have caused dirt to go through the portal, a new phenomenon. This is what eventually led Fitz to find Jemma. But, dramatic irony.
Jemma may have given up hope, but she IS Will’s hope. Wait, that sounds like…no..NO THEY’RE KISSING.
THAT’S NOT FITZ. THAT’S NOT FITZ AT ALL.
The rest of the time on the planet, Will and Simmons live as a happy couple. They kiss often, and even pushed their cots together. They predict the only couple-second sunrise in like 15 years, so they go to watch it together. Will brings old wine he found in the skeleton graveyard no-fly zone. (Remember Fitz and Simmons’ date?)
As they wait to see it, they see something else instead; a flare. Jemma accurately deduces it’s Fitz. They start running towards the spot but the sandstorm acts up again; the planet’s angry and doesn’t want them to leave.
Throughthe sandstorm, Jemma runs into someone. Not Fitz, one of Will’s astronaut buddies. Wait…
Yeah, I’d run. As Jemma and Will are separated, Will uses his last bullet on the thing to seemingly no effect. Meanwhile, Fitz is here and he almost had Jemmas hand. Almost…..almost….
The episode ends with Jemma telling Fitz that Will is the reason she needs to back. (Presumably not just because she loves him, because face it – she talked about Fitz the whole time – but because she has a heart and couldn’t leave a person willingly on that planet.) Fitz, clearly hurt by this, doesn’t say anything to Jemma and leaves.
In the lab, Jemma begs Fitz to talk to her. So he does; one sentence: “We’re going to get him back.”
Aw, dammit Fitz, you’re going to make me ugly cry.
The post-credits scene is Will, watching the few seconds of sunlight before fading back into near-permanent darkness.
I thought this episode was fantastic and well-written. A very unique idea that you know is something special from the moment the title silently fades on the screen instead of a flashy title card. One of the absolute highlights of the show.
I was going to give this episode a 9, because it’s personally not my all-time favorite of the series – but it’s absolutely the best-made, personal preference aside. If this doesn’t deserve a 10/10 then nothing does. Congratulations team!
BONUS CRACKPOT THEORIES!
– This could still be Pluto, with It being Death. Will could even be an Avatar of Death, too. What a twist!
Okay, I do have another theory about where they are, but that’s a full posts worth of evidence because I am chugging that theory’s Kool-Aid. Keep an eye out for that!