TV Recap: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., ‘The Things We Bury’

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The Things We Bury Plot Summary:

After discovering what the writings mean, Director Coulson (Clark Gregg) makes finding the mysterious city his primary objective. Part if that investigation involves learning more about Daniel Whitehall (Reed Diamond) himself. Meanwhile, Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) tracks down his brother Senator Christian (Tim DeKay) to get answers.

Clearly, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has no desire to take a breather. This isn’t a bad thing at all, mind you. It’s actually unbelievably great. This is a show firing on all cylinders and it doesn’t want to miss a beat. But with the show’s story moving faster than ever, things are bound to get a little bundled. Only so much material can fit into one episode after all. Case in point, “The Things We Bury” was a really great episode. You can add it to the ever growing examples of how this season is just so freaking good. Yet so much was crammed into it, it got a little dizzying. Very little was actually fluff too. Most of what transpired was completely and utterly necessary. There’s just so much necessary going on that it feels like a cardboard box ready to burst.

Photo Credit: ABC/Kelsey McNeal
Photo Credit: ABC/Kelsey McNeal

In an incredibly smart move, “The Things We Bury” focused primarily on Coulson finding the city *coughAttilancough*. The drawings are a map and the team is now aware of the situation. It’s time to get shit done. And wouldn’t you know it? Shit actually got done. Coulson has now learned where the city is. His quest to get that information was fast-paced and exciting too. The real star was Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) as Coulson used the mission to help the battered scientist get better. It’s still painful watching Fitz struggle with something he obviously can do so well, but that just makes it even more appealing when he actually succeeds. The shootout near the end was fairly intense too and I can see why Antoine Triplett (B.J. Britt) was brought. If you’re going to put a character near death, you might as well make it someone who’s not on the main cast. Something is lost if it’s, say, Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) or Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) taking a potentially fatal hit.

Coulson isn’t the only one looking for the city, which is what led us to another focus of the night: Whitehall and Skye’s father, The Doctor (Kyle MacLachlan). Both of these men want to find the city and are seemingly working together, but it’s proven during the hour that The Doctor actually hates Whitehall with a burning passion. How you ask? That is shown during our look into Whitehall’s past where we find out how he looks so young, what his objective is, and his connection to Skye’s (Chloe Bennet) parents. Like I said, a lot was covered. But it was damn time we learned about Whitehall, and getting the always welcome Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) is nothing to complain about. Any chance the show has to use her until her actual show in January is fine by me. What I didn’t expect was to learn about Skye’s mother (Dichen Lachman), something my fiance caught onto before I did. That was a really nice added bonus.

Photo Credit: ABC/Kelsey McNeal
Photo Credit: ABC/Kelsey McNeal

With all this added insight, we can really see Whitehall for the monster that he is and The Doctor is now firmly placed as a true wildcard. The flashbacks took every chance they could to convey Whitehall as a disgusting human being. I like this. I want to dislike Whitehall because he has done terrible things that we can actually see, not his implied villainy because he’s with Hydra. There’s plenty here for viewers to sink their teeth into as well. As for The Doctor, really, what more could you ask for from MacLachlan. He kills it. Something is obviously off about this man and MacLachlan just serves that to you on a silver platter. He’s playing a bigger game than anyone else on the field and his first legitimate run in with Coulson gets the weight it obviously deserves. I really hope he sticks around for a while.

Oh but that’s not all folks. There was an entire subplot dealing with the Ward brothers too! Grant got the most screentime he’s had all season here and he just rolled with it. We already see him as a pretty scary dude, but his scenes with Christian brought him to a new level. I like how the show keeps you guessing too. You really don’t know if Grant or Christian is telling the truth until Christian spouts it out in a moment of distress, and even then he could just be saying what Grant wanted to hear for survival. That doesn’t really matter anymore however as Christian was killed regardless and Grant ended the show with a nice sit down with Whitehall and The Doctor. Yet I still have some trouble piecing where exactly Grant lies on the spectrum. He’s allying himself with Whitehall but delivering Sunil Bakshi (Simon Kassianides) to S.H.I.E.L.D. helps Coulson. Even though I’m liking this back and forth, sooner or later Grant will need to pick a side. I really can’t see him as a third party force like The Doctor.

Photo Credit: ABC/Kelsey McNea
Photo Credit: ABC/Kelsey McNea

Left back at the base was everyone else, and most of them were treated as extras. Bobbi Morse (Adrianne Palicki) got the lion’s share of the attention with her interrogating Bakshi, though most of her compatriots followed after with their search though Carter’s old files. It’s through here that we learned about Whitehall, but most of that is shown through flashbacks. The actual team members didn’t do anything save for Bobbi and Lance Hunter (Nick Blood), who literally did each other at the end. Simmons, Mac (Henry Simmons), and May though? Nothing. Left on the floor. Yet it’s tough to really think of what else they could do. We needed to learn about Whitehall, we needed to interview Bakshi, and Carter had to fit in somewhere. There was just no room for them to get anything else.

“The Things We Bury” was another great hour in this already spectacular second season. It kept this freight train going without hesitation and a lot was laid out on the table. You even get the sense that the writers were trying to cram so much in on the off chance that the show got cancelled (the declining viewer numbers aren’t pretty). That could be a reason why this episode felt a little overstuffed. But what we saw was important and it all worked. No connections were missed and most the hour was really compelling. I mean, Coulson knows where the city is already and Ward is teaming up with The Doctor and Whitehall. What more could you want? I guess for the show to not take another week off, but that might be for the best right now. All trains need to hit a stop eventually.

Fun fact: Lou Ferrigno’s son, Lou Ferrigno Jr., played an Agent Hauser. It’s not a big role but I do like how they’re keeping Marvel in the family.

Rating: 9/10

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Luke Kalamar is Pop-Break.com’s television and every Saturday afternoon you can read his retro video game column, Remembering the Classics. He covers Game of Thrones, Saturday Night Live and The Walking Dead (amongst others) every week. As for as his career and literary standing goes — take the best parts of Spider-man, Captain America and Luke Skywalker and you will fully understand his origin story.

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