17th Dec2014

‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 2×08: The Things We Bury’ Review

by ApolloXL5

Written by DJ Doyle | Directed by Milan Chelov

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PLOT:

As Coulson takes a team to high-jack a military network in Australia and use it to find the hidden Alien City, Ward kidnaps his Senator Brother with the intentions of getting the truth out of him about the well.

VERDICT:

This episode of Agents of Shield was certainly packed to the brim this week, with multiple plot-lines that gave us action, drama and suspense in spades, while also delivering some rather shocking revelations too.

I’m going to start with the stuff happening during the flashbacks and firstly this takes us back to 1945 where we see Whitehall/Rienhardt and a team of Hydra scientists performing research into the Diviner’s effects on whoever touches it, using innocent people as guinea pigs, showing how terrifyingly casual they were in killing just to push the boundaries of discovery (Reinhardt’s line “discovery requires experimentation” is a perfect wording of this and is said no more than three times in this instalment). But we then get to the last prisoner, who is a mysterious woman and she can touch the relic without any trouble (I’ll get to her identity in a bit), but luckily before she could be experimented on any further, the Red Skull is mentioned as being killed (shows us exactly where this scene takes place in MCU’s timeline).

Then we get to see what happened after Peggy Carter and the Howling Commandos caught the Hydra leader and his team (seen during the first episode of this season), with the Agent interrogating Reinhardt (Hayley Artwell is certainly selling the idea of her upcoming show well, while also developing the back story of Shield’s own plot-arc as well). We also got more insight into who created the Diviner as ‘blue angels of light’ were mentioned (obviously we are talking about the Kree here, only hinted at earlier last season, but seen properly during Guardians of the Galaxy) before he is then sentenced to life out his life in the SSR prison.

This leads to an excellent and effectively shot mock stop-motion sequence showing the Hydra operative growing old in his cell as the decades pass by, before he was then released by secret Hydra members on the orders of Alexander Pierce (great little shout out to Captain America: The Winter Soldier) in 1989. And the very old Rienhardt is taken back to his old facility to find that more test subjects had been captured, including the mysterious Woman who had not aged a day since he saw her at the end of the Second World War. And what happened next is probably the most gruesome montage of scenes to appear so far in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as we find out how the Hydra Leader regained his youth (though the exact means of how he did this are only hinted at by the character, but we can certainly guess).

We then get one more flashback where Skye’s Father discovers the Woman’s body and we find out that she is Skye’s Mother, which certainly helps us sympathise with the Doctor, plus the CGI used to de-age Kyle MachLachan was put to good use (the scene being shot at night was also helpful in selling the flashback).

Meanwhile in the modern day (which these flashbacks were sown into perfectly) the Shield team is split in two as Coulson heads to Australia with Skye, Tripp and Fitz, while May holds the fort with Hunter, Mac, Simmons and Bobbi. With the latter interrogating the newly captured Bakshi, playing mind-games with the prisoner while also butting heads with Hunter (which has some well written and humorous lines said between the pair), which ultimately leads to the former couple getting sweaty in the back of one of Shield’s vehicles (which isn’t exactly in the style of HBO or STARZ, but add this in with the gory surgery then this episode of Shield does feel more mature in nature when compared to the previous instalments of the show).

We also get a Ward family reunion between Grant and his brother Christian and while it does not have the same intensity or suspense that the other interrogations in this episode have, it certainly was just as informative as we discover exactly how messed up the Ward family is (starting with the Parents). It doesn’t help us sympathise with the rogue Agent, but it does shine a light onto how he became so twisted. Though I was half expecting him to throw his Brother down the Well after the latter’s confession which would have been predictable, so I am glad to see that did not happen (though Ward did kill his entire family and make it look like a murder/suicide by his brother later on).

The more action-oriented part of this episode was saved for Coulson’s operation in Australia as he and his team worked to gain control of a military network in their attempt to discover the hidden City’s location. It was good to see the Director helping Fitz get back into action and the whole idea of how they would get control of the facility was well written and executed (the watch and the button), though it was very convenient for Hydra to show up (resulting in a standard gunfight between the two sides) but that all changed when Skye’s Father appeared and helped save Tripp from bleeding out from his injuries (now we can see Tripp’s worth as a character dropping even more as his plot-armour is weakening with each passing episode). Now for all the tense and suspenseful chats we have seen in this episode, this moment was the biggest especially once the Doctor introduced himself (in a very well written and effective face-to-face scene) and Kyle MacLachan was superb once again as he hinted more about the City and the Diviner’s hidden power (I did like the mention of the Tesseract and the Doctor’s admitting that he had no idea what that was) and that Skye isn’t his Daughter’s name.

In fact you could see afterwards how shaken Coulson and Fitz were when they reunited with Skye afterwards back on the Bus, with only the reveal of the City’s location stopping her from finding out that they had met her Father at that moment.

And we also got to see that Ward had rejoined Hydra at the episode’s end (though this guy’s true agenda is still up in the air, keeping him in an interesting position between the black and white of Shield and Hydra), with the renegade Agent also meeting the Doctor and subtly mentioning that he knew Skye. I also loved her Father’s expression when he said “It’s always good to look your enemy right in the eye” before staring directly at Whitehall in a very subtle way (yet it was very telling in that he knows that the Hydra Leader is his wife’s killer).

 

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