Welcome back, true believers! When last we left our heroes of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent antagonist turned crazed serial killer had been thwarted and the alien language’s true origin had been revealed…somewhat. With the language now shown to be the schematics for an ancient city, will this be the first revelation that begins the snowball effect toward Marvel Studios’ recently announced Inhumans film, as many are theorizing? Meanwhile, this episode also promises to give us a Ward vs. Ward slugfest as former Agent Grant Ward fights his brother Christian, now senator, in a case of violent sibling rivalry. Will this episode be the introduction of Attilan, the Inhuman city? Which Ward will ward off his brother? Will we get an appearance from Lockjaw, the giant bulldog with a tuning fork on his forehead the Inhumans use to teleport across the globe? It’s as weird as it sounds folks. Hit the jump for our recap of the latest episode, “The Things We Bury”.
Our episode begins with a journey through Nazi memory lane as Whitehall attempts to uncover the secrets of the Obelisk, finds a captive who doesn’t trigger the Obelisk’s “death touch”, and is told of the Red Skull’s death from the end of Captain America: The First Avenger. Quite the busy day for Hydra! We’re then transported to the present where Whitehall meets with Skye’s father and is told that the Obelisk is in fact not a weapon, but a key. I find Whitehall to be a tad stale all things considered, as he doesn’t have much personality that separates him from your average Hydra agent/run of the mill Nazi antagonist. He’s grim, serious, and foreboding, but he lacks the personality of say Bill Paxton’s Agent Garrett from last season. This is luckily where the “Doctor”, aka Skye’s father, can pick up the slack as Kyle MacLachlan does a great job of displaying a restrained insanity, especially when explaining that his motives in helping Hydra are simply to kill his enemies, and then die himself once everything is wrapped up. The plot thickens and he’s certainly the best of this villainous partnership the team finds themselves in the path of.
Speaking of villains, Grant Ward manages to kidnap his brother on an indecent retreat, in a scene straight from Terminator. Ward as a villain was something I always approved of when it was revealed as part of the big twists toward the tail end of the first season, so seeing him as this unstoppable force, with both S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra training, is a treat every week. The idea that both Ward and his brother may be stark raving mad, as they emotionally cut into one another reminiscing about the famous “Well” incident, is a great one. Delving more into his back story is a welcome change with Brett Dalton, the actor who plays Agent Ward, bringing his portrayal of insanity to the table in full force, much like MacLachlan. I think it would be interesting to go back and watch the first season, looking for any tells that Ward was not only Hydra, but crazy to boot!
There’s a lot to absorb this week, and I haven’t even talked about the protagonists yet! Before I jump into the trials and tribulations of Coulson and crew, I wanted to give the show kudos for getting dark in the latest hour. When I say “dark”, boy do I mean it as in the course of about five minutes near the end of the episode, a woman is dissected and her organs are put into a Nazi, Ward kills his brother and mother, and the villainous duo now becomes an Axis of Evil. As I mentioned earlier, I would say that Whitehall is the weakest of the trio, but the dueling insanities of Ward and the Doc more than make up for this and I’m looking forward to seeing how this all plays out. The series could sometimes be a little too light for its own good in the past, especially in those first season episodes, so you won’t hear me complaining when the flip is switched and the kid gloves come off. It adds a level of “anything goes” to the show, making for a much more tense watch which I’ll take any day of the week.
Now, onto the heroes, which I felt was the weakest aspect of the episode this week. They seemed to be doing a whole heck of a lot that ultimately amounted to nothing. It almost seemed like the script was trying to figure out what to do with them exactly until the confrontation between Coulson and the Doctor in Australia. As I’ve said in my reviews for these past few weeks, we need to start shedding some of the fat in terms of characters. I really thought Tripp would die this episode so he would finally have something to do! Bobbi Morse’s interrogation with Bakshi, the captured right hand man to Whitehall, was a great scene on the hero side of things, especially her deductions from simply talking with him for a couple minutes, but most of it seemed like a whirlwind of activity that could have taken a minute or two to breath and let some of the characters shine through. I know Fitz has been somewhat on the mend but I wish they would focus a little more on the idea that he’s still heavily brain damaged, as you would hardly know it from watching this episode.
This episode served as something of a “world builder”, exploring more of the villains’ origins and how they tied together. I do wish that our heroes had more of a meaty role this time around, but I suppose its understandable when you have so many chess pieces on the board in play. Moving forward, I hope the show can have more of a laser focus on some of the protagonists in general, but it makes for a minor stumble in a great episode. I look forward to seeing the terrible trio’s plans play out as time goes on.
Agents of M.I.S.C.E.L.L.A.N.E.A.
–I had a feeling the woman Whitehall had captured was Skye’s mother from the get go, so I was glad they put that mystery to bed with the stinger of the episode. I would have found it perfect if they had used that final scene to show the Doctor getting bigger, giving us insurmountable proof that he is in fact Hyde.
–Great to see Patton Oswalt in the preview for next week as I think we’ve only had him in one episode this whole season from what I can recall.
–“Divine, hence the catchy name.”
–“It won’t just kill, it will do something, scientifically speaking, much much cooler.”
–“He could always see five steps ahead of him, which for a one-eyed man is impressive.”
–“Should I keep this in my pocket?”
“That depends, you want to have kids?”
–“I would agree with you before we started using the word ‘alien’ daily.”
–“You talking Tesseract level power?”
“Sure! I don’t know what that is.”