Agents Of SHIELD: Jemma Simmons Was The Most Interesting Character In Season 2


If you’ve been reading Christina Roberts’ popular Agents of SHIELD character reviews on this site, you know that she didn’t care for Jemma Simmons’ character arc during Season 2 all that much. Like beauty, character development is somewhat in the eye of the beholder, so I respect Christina’s opinion, particularly since she’s our resident Agents of SHIELD superfan.

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I just don’t agree with it. One of the nice things about being editor is that I can write a good-natured rebuttal whenever I want, so in the words of Nick Fury … er, Samuel L. Jackson from Pulp Fiction, “Allow me to retort.”

Out of the original team of six, Simmons was probably the least interesting member of Coulson’s crew during Season 1. Smart and sweet, sure, but her friendship bordering on something more with Leo Fitz was her defining characteristic. Even in the climactic part of the first season, it was Fitz who had the lasting effects that carried over, not her.

You can’t say the same thing about the woman who got sucked into the Kree weapon (and possibly totally getting the shaft, though that’s a rant for another time) in the last new Agents of SHIELD episode we watched this spring. That Jemma is a much more interesting, fully fleshed-out character than the one we knew before, someone who experienced a ton of growth along the way. Better still, the writers were able to move her along with less screen time than any of the other main cast members, including new additions like Bobbi Morse and Lance Hunter.

No one needed to hand a neon sign on any episode to say, “Hey, this one is important for Simmons!” And if you don’t know what I mean by that, I’d like to remind you that one episode was actually titled “Melinda.” Ahem.

Anyway, here are all the facets of Jemma Simmons that were explored during Season 2, some of which qualified as startling revelations.

  • She’s tougher than we thought

She got a real baptism of fire when Coulson decided to send her on an undercover mission into a Hydra base to start the season. It seemed like one she was ludicrously unprepared for, though the presence of Bobbi Morse on site meant the danger to her was at least limited.

Still, she had to make some difficult calls during that gig, without her usual support form Fitz or anyone else for that matter. We may not have been sure if Simmons had the stomach for real spy stuff prior to this season, but we learned quickly that she does.

  • She can handle some heartbreak

When you think about it, Simmons has had it rougher in terms of affairs of the heart than anyone else — and that’s saying something considering Coulson has been separated from his cellist forever and May is divorced. But Jemma has had to deal with her unrequited feelings for Leo for quite some time, and just when she was getting closer to Triplett, he ended up getting killed. Sorry Simmons.

The #FitzSimmons thing might still have a future, but that final scene at least puts it in doubt for the time being. Star-crossed doesn’t even begin to describe these two, so even though the personal tragedies of others might outweigh hers in the short term, Simmons has to keep soldiering on with hers.

  • She doesn’t like super powers, but …

It was pretty surprising to see Simmons as such an outspoken opponent of “gifted” or “enhanced” individuals. The us against them theme played a big part of the middle of Season 2, and Jemma was almost scary in some of those episodes — so much so that Fitz felt a need to keep Skye’s abilities from her, something he never would have done in Season 1.

The nice thing is that the writers avoided having her lapse into a caricature and added some nuance to her stance. Considering her scientific mind, it was very much in character for Simmons to approach powers like a problem to be solved, but she didn’t allow that view to rule her actions. If she had, she probably would have simply thrown in with the opposing SHIELD faction.

  • She has a vindictive side and can keep a dark secret

After Fitz and Simmons were left to die last season, it was Leo who held the most obvious grudge. Yet he wasn’t the one who actually tried to kill Grant Ward. That was Simmons, and she expressed little remorse for doing so.

Not only that, but unless I missed it somewhere, no one ever found out that she incinerated Bakshi while attempting to bump off Ward. One suspects that death, though accidental, will weigh heavily on Simmons next season. If it doesn’t, maybe we know her even less than we think we do.


I respectfully rest my case that Simmons deserved more than a C for this season. Though I also found Hunter to be a surprisingly interesting character, I think the writers did the best job with Jemma of anyone during Season 2, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for her next fall.

Next: Agents of SHIELD Character Review: Bobbi Morse

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