Special Agent Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) has come a long way since she was first recruited by Coulson (Clark Gregg) to join his his special team Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Along with her lab partner Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker), the enthusiastic biochemist was originally one half of the adorkable duo FitzSimmons, though it’s been quite some time since she could be described as perky.

After making it through being dropped on the bottom of the ocean, a stint undercover in HYDRA and surviving on an alien planet for month Simmons is still an excellent doctor, but far more jaded than before. After taking a few episodes to focus on the Inhumans, and the setting up the new spinoff Marvel’s Most Wanted, the show is back to focusing on Simmons’ evolution.

A new clip for the upcoming episode ‘Watchdogs’ shows Simmons at target practice, improving her gunmanship as her main line of self defense. The character is still reeling from Will sacrificing himself to save her life, and processing that when she released Dr. Andrew Garner from his HYDRA cell to protect herself, she was also setting loose his murderous alter ego Lash, resulting in many dead Inhumans.  Check out the full excerpt, below:

Her speech is a nice nod to the many strong female warriors on the team, with Agent May as a particularly apt foil. To its credit, S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn’t often deal in the damsels in distress trope, and Simmons is one of the only characters with no real fighting skills, as even Fitz has improved his field work. With Andrew still at large, this renewed focus on his killing spree seems to set the stage nicely for his return.

It seems unlikely that Simmons will suddenly begin filling in for Bobbi Morse (Adrianne Palicki) on field missions, but this does seem like a natural evolution for her character. We’ve seen her flirt with the darker side ever since she tried to kill Bakshi back in Season 2, and it is nice to see the show slowing down long enough to process and react to the painful trauma that she – and everyone else – has gone through. We’ll have to wait and see if her guilt drives her down a darker path than basic self defense, but regardless of the direction Henstridge has proven herself more than capable of carrying the more emotional storylines.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues with ‘Watchdogs’ Tuesday March 29th at 9pm on ABC. We’ll bring you more details on Marvel’s Most Wanted as they become available.

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