Agents of SHIELD Review: “The Things We Bury”

The Things We Bury

– Spoiler Review –

“The Things We Bury” seemed like an ironic title, as Agents of SHIELD spent most of this week uncovering and revealing surprising details about not only some of the big players on the show, but also information on the hidden city and the Diviner, while speeding us along this rollicking and exciting season.

I was a little surprised when the search for the ancient city started just last week ended this week. This second season has picked up the pace overall already, but this is even faster than expected, though completely welcomed. Obviously the mystery of what the place is/contains is way more important than where it is, so the creators decided to focus on being at the city instead of finding it.

The Things We BuryKyle MacLachlan has been one of the best editions to the show this season, as his performance as Skye’s father is just pure entertainment. He really nails the wacky, focused nature of wishful father, but also shows his unhinged side with true aplomb. And his interactions with Whitehall and Coulson are a blast, as I especially liked when he said Coulson’s name when he was helping save Trip and admitted right away he probably shouldn’t have done that, since they hadn’t met before. Most time in movies when they use that trope the person doesn’t catch themselves, so it was appreciated and hilarious when he did here. But how we knew all those things about the Diviner, that it’s a key to the city Coulson’s team was looking for and it’s choosing who is worthy to enter, should be interesting tales considering the final scene’s reveal.

The Things We BuryMost of the mystery surrounding Whitehall was diminished this week, as we got to view a large swath of his life, literally. From his time first discovering the Obelisk, or Diviner, and how only certain people can touch it, his interrogation at the hands of Agent Carter (!), a very long and lonely prison sentence, and to how he stayed youthful all these years, most of the questions surrounding him get answered. There was a really creepy sequence here once Whitehall, now an old man, is carving open the young woman (Dichen Lachman, The 100) who in 1945 could touch the Diviner and not die (like Raina) and hasn’t aged a day since. Whatever he took from her, it makes him look young again and now thanks to Sunil Bakshi and Bobbi’s interrogation of him, the team knows the truth about Whitehall as well. While Whitehall’s line, “Discovery requires experimentation” was delivered with a cheesy undertone, this episode’s portrayal of him adds more to his villainous cred.

The Things We BuryBut the final scene’s reveal completely took me off guard: the young woman who Whitehall experimented on to de-age himself was actually Skye’s mother. We see a younger Skye’s father crying over her corpse, just as he is smiling with a hint of anger in the present at the face of Whitehall. This adds a whole new layer to him teaming up with Whitehall, as he’s on the team’s side it seems, and it makes me question if he really wants to kill Coulson at all.

The Things We BuryHowever, the Ward bits of the episode were hit or miss for me. He’s been a hard character to sympathize with this year, and just when I thought he might be redeemable, he goes and does something terrible. The arguments between the Ward brothers were done rather well, as the actual truth finally comes out regarding a pivotal moment in both their pasts: the well and their third brother. As the brothers walk off into the sunset arm in arm, I thought for sure Ward was on a better path. Next thing we see is Ward interviewing for a position at Hydra again under Whitehall, while the news report of his brother and parents being burnt alive in the family home play in the background. Now not such a good path. But…

I’m going to go out on a limb and throw out this possibility: Ward didn’t murder his brother and parents, nor did he actually murder any of the guards when he broke out, as this has all been one really elaborate and really really long con against Hydra dreamt up by both Coulson and Ward. This does make having Simmons and Bobbi in Hydra seem unnecessary, but they would’ve functioned as red herrings for Hydra to think Coulson has tried to infiltrate it and failed, but really they are with sneaking in with Ward. It’s just a theory, mind you, as I’ve been trying to understand the direction for Ward’s character arc and it’s the only thing that makes sense. I wouldn’t mind my theory being wrong and Ward turns into some recognizable super villain from Marvel’s past, but it’s interesting to consider either way.

The Things We Bury

Here are a few other things:

  • Loved Bobbi’s line to Bakshi about him looking like a Bond villain since he actually was a Bond villain….sort of. He was in the only disappointing Craig Bond film so far: Quantum of Solace, where he played the agent responsible for manipulating Vesper behind the scenes in Casino Royale (and in QoS was trying to dupe a Canadian agent played by Stana Katic, the main character of one of my favorite shows, Castle) but his scene isn’t much longer than a minute.
  • The quicker pace of this episode made some things feel a little chaotic, from the rapid-fire delivery of dialogue regarding the odd chores Coulson wanted Trip and Skye to run in Hawaii to them suddenly being in Australia moments later. But Clark Gregg’s delivery of said dialogue makes it all work.
  • The bickering between Hunter and Bobbi was humorous and also worked well as character building for two of our newer characters, with their rendezvous in a car at the end certainly felt earned for them.
  • Mac’s fears about Coulson keep getting swept under the rug, so it remains to be seen if he’ll finally get his chance to air his thoughts, and if he does, I’m assuming it’ll come at the very wrong time.
  • Simmons being a fan of Agent Carter, especially since they’re both British, is adorable.
  • Whitehall’s retelling of the tale about blue men coming to Earth is intriguing, especially as Skye’s dad seems to know it as well, and that these visitors meant to wipe out all humans…minus a select few the Diviner would pick. What makes the Diviner pick certain people?

 

I’m happy the title “The Things We Bury” functioned more so as an ironic statement about all the reveals in the episode than the Ward brothers’ ‘well’ baggage. Minus the uncertainty with Ward’s character, the amount of new details and bits of information highlighted a quick-paced and confident episode of Agents of SHIELD. Which makes it even harder is having to wait out another break between episodes, with it’s winter hiatus only two episodes away (Dec 9th).

+ Details on Whitehall’s past

+ Kyle MacLachlan

+ Several reveals

+ Hunter and Bobbi

 Don’t know how to feel about Ward

Ryan is Mynock Manor’s Head Butler. You can follow him on Twitter @BrushYourTeeth. You can follow the website @MynockManor.

MARVEL’S AGENTS OF SHIELD REVIEWS:
Season Two: 2.1 Shadows | 2.2 Heavy is the Head | 2.3 Making Friends and Influencing People | 2.4 Face My Enemy | 2.5 A Hen in the Wolf House | 2.6 A Fractured House | 2.7 The Writing on the Wall | 2.9 …Ye Who Enter Here | 2.10 What They Become | 2.11 Aftershocks | 2.12 Who You Really Are | 2.13 One of Us | 2.14 Love in the Time of Hydra | 2.15 One Door Closes | 2.16 Afterlife | 2.17 Melinda | 2.18 The Frenemy of My Enemy | 2.19 The Dirty Half Dozen | 2.20 Scars | 2.21,22: S.O.S.

MARVEL’S AGENT CARTER REVIEWS:
Season One: 1.1 This is Not the End/1.2 Bridge and Tunnel | 1.3 Time and Tide | 1.4 The Blitzkrieg Button | 1.5 The Iron Ceiling | 1.6 A Sin to Err | 1.7 SNAFU | 1.8 Valediction