AGENTS OF SHIELD: THE THINGS WE BURY (S2E08)
Last episode was one of revelations. We found out what the map is to (sort of) and we get a hint of fugitive Ward’s next move (with his brother). Season 2 has been excellent in general, so I was anticipating this episode eagerly, especially since it hinted that we’d get to see some more of Agent Carter in the mix (for a peek at her upcoming series, go here). So, what kind of ep will we get? Let’s see:
We start in Austria 1945, Werner Reinhardt (Whitehall these days) is working on unraveling the secrets of the Obelisk. In doing so, he discovers a Chinese woman who it doesn’t kill. But upon hearing of the Red Skull’s death, Whitehall decides he’ll have her dissected later. As it turns out, much, much later.
Present day. Skye’s dad, behaving quite affably, tells Whitehall the ‘Diviner’ is much more than a weapon and suggests if one of the ‘special’ people take the Obelisk to a certain ‘place’ something very ‘cool’ will happen.
Meanwhile Coulson, Skye, Fitz, and Trip are en route in the bus to Oahu on a mission to locate the alien city. Bobbi is interrogating Bakshi back at the Playground and learns from a slip of his there may be an important Whitehall/Red Skull connection.
Then we have Ward and his brother Christian. This is the hardest part of the episode to watch. Ward kidnaps Christian and makes him dig up the well he made Ward push their younger brother in. Besides the revelation that Christian did it because their mother was cruel to them, we don’t learn anything otherwise. Really, it’s ugly and manipulative.
Back to the episode’s main mission: It involves the seemingly absurdist delivery of a watch, a button and a task for Fitz to complete – put together a transceiver in less than 6 minutes, hard when you only have one good hand.
Meanwhile, Bobbi continues to press Bakshi. Through a search of several of the Playgrounds various SSR vaults we learn that somehow old Reinhardt discovered the fountain of youth before becoming Whitehall. So… how??
To learn how, its back to 1945 at an SSR base called ‘The Rat’ where Agent Carter get to tell him he’ll be buried and forgotten there, even though he has info on the Obelisk and can tell her all about a meteor that crashed in China and the ‘blue angels’ that came with it to conquer Earth. However, after a nifty 44 year time-lapse montage, Reinhardt gets rescued by HYDRA agents who reveal they found ‘the woman’.
It turns out she hasn’t aged a day. So, old Reinhardt makes up for lost time and dissects her to earn himself a second chance (main theme of this episode, explored somewhat perversely, not that that’s a bad thing). I also think this was the exact situation Whitehall was talking about when he threatened Raina. And it’s about as horrific as he suggested.
Armed with all they’ve learned about Whitehall, Bobbi takes this info in a final attempt to break Bakshi, claiming Shield will leak the info and credit it to him. Bakshi, however, prefers death to dishonor and goes the old cyanide capsule in the cheek bone route.
Oh, you actually wanted some action this episode? Really? Okay…
The Bus flies to the Australian Outback and Coulson explains what’s actually going on. Once the radioactive button and watch get close enough for critical mass, a magnetic pulse will take down the government a satellite control facility in Oahu. While that station is down, they will use the less secure Australia Outback station to use the gov’t satellites to locate the alien city. In an awesomely underplayed scene, Fitz suggests that he won’t be able to build the transmitter in time, freaking out Coulson for a minute, then adds… with his bad hand. Fitz is officially back!
However, HYDRA, or Skye’s dad anyway, is already there. And while treating Trip for a severe GSW, he clips one of Trip’s arteries to buy time, then gushes about his coming reunion with his daughter, before leaving Coulson with the necessary medicine to save Trip’s life. Awesome exchange between Skye’s surrogate dad and her real one. I’m looking forwards to round 2. And… mission success! Shield now knows where the alien city is.
The wrap up:
Ward shows up to talk with Whitehall about rejoining HYDRA to fight Shield, you know, as a second chance. Ah, Ward, he’s good, you almost believe him. But then, psycho that he is – he’s has just murdered his own family and framed Christian for it. Ah, the things we bury…
Skye’s dad is brought in later and is introduced by to Ward by a beaming Whitehall. It’s a beautiful scene with the knowing glances and visceral subtext. So, so good.
On that theme of second chances, Hunter accuses Bobbi of pushing Bakshi so hard because she was afraid he’d reveal her own dirty secrets. Frustrated her ex’s paranoia Bobbi asks, “will you never trust me?” He confesses that he won’t, but he will never stop trying. I guess this is as close to a confession of undying love a spy can expect since it leads to… hot makeup sex!
And one sort of final twist, but actually a confirmation of what I’d already guessed. We get one more trip in time, 25 years, where we find Skye’s dad comes across his wife’s eviscerated body and declares he will do the same to Whitehall and tear him apart. And yes, his wife was the immortal Chinese woman – Skye’s mom.
This episode was at times hard viewing, at least the first time around, but highly rewarding the second time (so… second chances). The twists at the end weren’t entirely unexpected, but thrilling nonetheless, given how they reinforce the character development we’ve been witnessing with a whole raft of subtext. Kyle MacLachlan, wow! He has been a revelation in the part, both super dark, yet engaging and a scene stealer as Skye’s dad. So… not easy to watch, but well worth it. Watch this episode twice!