Oct 30, 2015

Dear Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Please Don’t Ruin Fitz

Fitz’s greatest strength isn’t his tech expertise, it’s his unconditional love and selflessness.

Agents of Shield, Fitz

This post contains spoilers for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly. Consider yourself warned.

I’ve mentioned this before on social media, but I’m going to make it official here: I’ve never wanted a fictional couple to be together as badly as I want Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’s Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons — often referred to by their own joint hashtag, “#fitzsimmons” — to be together.

When Fitz and Simmons are introduced as the team’s science experts — he’s engineering, she’s bio-chem, FYI — they act more like siblings than lab partners. There’s clearly some shared affection, but it’s conveyed via squabbling, bickering, and poking fun at each other. As the first season progresses, though, we see just how deeply they care for each other. When Fitz goes on a dangerous mission, Simmons makes him his favorite sandwich and frets constantly while he’s gone; when Simmons’ life is in danger, Fitz is willing to literally jump out of an airplane to save her. It all comes to a head in the season one finale (and one of the series’ best scenes to date) when Fitz finally confesses feelings that have been developing in the season’s final episodes… but does so in the absolute worst of circumstances.

This shouldn’t be too surprising given that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is a Joss Whedon creation, and when it comes to romances in Whedon titles, there’s really only one kind: doomed. Indeed, it’s become something of a trite cliché at this point. If you’re in a romance — or heck, even a close friendship — in a Whedon title, it’s a safe bet that you won’t have a happy ending. One of the following is virtually guaranteed to happen to you or your partner: One of you will die a horrible, tragic, and/or senseless death (e.g., Anya, Wash); some villain or malevolent force will ensure that the universe never gets to witness your happiness (e.g., Fred and Wesley); or some terrible misunderstanding will cause a falling out that derails your relationship (e.g., Willow and Oz).

In Fitz’s case, he’s suffering from some sort of brain damage at the start of season two, while Simmons has apparently abandoned him to work as a S.H.I.E.L.D. double agent in the terrorist organization Hydra. Their relationship is rocky for much of the season, with Simmons growing increasingly xenophobic as S.H.I.E.L.D. is confronted by the alien forces of the Inhumans. Thankfully for Fitzsimmons shippers everywhere, they reconciled in the season’s final episodes and even decided to go on an actual date… right before Simmons is swallowed up by an alien monolith and sent to another planet halfway across the galaxy.

Which brings us to the current season. Thankfully, the issue with Simmons on another planet is resolved rather quickly — Fitz, after months of dogged research and tireless effort, is the one to save her, natch — though I suspect the effects of her alien stay will be teased out in later episodes. The most immediate of those is revealed in “4,722 Hours,” a truly excellent episode that features a brilliant performance by Elizabeth Henstridge as Simmons. While on the alien planet, she encounters a NASA astronaut named Will who was marooned there after a top secret mission went sideways. Losing hope of ever returning to Earth (and Fitz), Simmons decides to make a life with Will (and all that entails).

Which, of course, gets rather complicated when Fitz comes for her. For a show that frequently revolves around characters hiding things from each other, it was refreshing how directly Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. dealt with this. “4,722 Hours” turns out to be one long flashback as Simmons tells Fitz everything about her stay, including her need to go back and save Will — the man who essentially replaced Fitz in her life. (And, again to Agents’ credit, Will actually turns out to be a solid guy, so you understand why Simmons fell for him and wants to find a way back.)

Which brings me to my plea with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. When Simmons asks Fitz to help her save Will, he immediately agrees. Which, of course, just goes to show what a great guy he is. He loves Simmons so much that he’s willing to help her save the man she’s apparently fallen in love with. So here it is, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, my one request: please don’t ruin Fitz. Please don’t turn him into some clichéd jealous guy who does something stupid that jeopardizes Will’s rescue (I’m thinking of Lennier in Babylon 5 here), or who acts all angsty and dumb like he’s in high school, or who exhibits any number of romantic triangle clichés.

At this point, I don’t care if Fitz and Simmons end up together. Wait, who am I kidding? Of course I want them to end up together. Heck, even Phil Coulson himself wants them to end up together.

But even more than that, I want Fitz to remain a decent guy and loyal friend. If he has to pine for Simmons when Will eventually makes it back, then let him do it well, not like some silly guy getting all emo because he’s been friendzoned. In a recent interview about “4,722 Hours,” Henstridge was asked, “Will Fitz’s reaction to Simmons’ story at the end of the episode change the way she views him?” Her response (emphasis mine):

Oh, for sure! I think she’s always known how much he cares about her. Seeing how selfless he is in saying yes… the aim is to get Will back, and — if they do get Will back — that makes things very difficult and painful for Fitz. The best thing for him would be to say, “Oh, no, it’s just impossible, there’s no way.” But he doesn’t do that. He has such an unconditional love for Simmons and he just is a good dude and will always do what’s right morally. I think, in that moment, she just can’t believe he is so no-nonsense about it. He’s already made his mind up and he’s getting on with it. There’s no kind of melodrama. His love for her is just so strong he doesn’t even question it… When I read that, I was just in lots of tears.

So Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., my request is simple. Let Fitz remain sad and heartbroken. Keep kicking him in the heart-nuts if you absolutely must. But please, please, please, don’t throw away that unconditional love of his. (And for God’s sake, please don’t pull a true “Joss Whedon” and kill him off just to put Simmons through the guilt-wringer with her new beau.)

When we meet Fitz, it’s assumed that his tech know-how and engineering expertise were his greatest assets. (Well, that and his utter adorkableness.) But as we’ve come to see, his unconditional love and selflessness — combined with his adorkableness — are what make him truly great. It’d be a true shame if the show decides he needs to get all “grimdark” to have an edge. He doesn’t need an edge. He’s Fitz (biatch) and he’s just fine the way he is. (And when, oh when, will Simmons finally realize that?! The fanboy in me just can’t take it anymore. I’ve been reduced to watching shipper AMVs on YouTube for pity’s sake.)

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