ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The Things We Bury TV Show Review. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., season 2, episode 8, ‘The Things We Bury,’ was book-ended by the efforts of Director Coulson (Clark Gregg), and the Doctor (Kyle MacLachlan). Both were after the location of a secret city, linked to the Obelisk & GH-325, alike; but while Coulson had set up a delightfully complicated operation – one that would center on an opportunity for Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) to get back on the horse – the Doctor had a more direct approach. His was a straight line, through the resources of HYDRA, by way of securing the interest of Daniel Whitehall (Reed Diamond). With his temper in check, the Doctor made a convincing case for himself, impressing Whitehall with the morbid conviction of his mission; but not before putting off the cold killer, with his whimsical take on what was at stake.
There’s a special kind of spooky, when Big Bads get geek boners.
I’ve always appreciated Coulson’s ability to convey the gravity of life-and-death operations that only sound really silly (sorry, Samoans). Okay, maybe it wasn’t all life-and-death, but that just added range to the silliness. Eventually, however, when the two seekers did finally cross paths – at the same objective – Coulson’s sense of levity was undercut by the Doctor’s geek boner.
The almost respectful attitude of the Doctor, towards Coulson, was a red flag; but before I get to that, there was the matter of the meat, to the episode. Between the Coulson and Doctor operation, key supporting players had their backgrounds explored; backgrounds that required some digging – figuratively & literally – starting with Whitehall.
In a spinoff primer that should become textbook (take that, Flash), Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) stole a significant portion of the show, as the agent assigned to deal with Daniel Whitehall’s original identity, Werner Reinhardt. Someone in his position was well primed to benefit from Operation Paperclip (the U.S. recruiting Nazis, for the Cold War effort), back in 1945. Someone in Carter’s position, however, had the discretion to bury him for his personal atrocities. One would be example, was the sole survivor of his original Obelisk trials. After wasting away in isolation, for over forty years (in a geek-boner inspiring time-lapse sequence), the events, that would eventually lead to The Winter Soldier, kicked into motion, securing his release. They also provided him with a second opportunity to work on the one that got away; the miraculous once & future subject, that would transform him into a miracle, in his own right.
There’s a special kind of dread, when long suffering Big Bads get their day in the dark.
Dichen Lachman should have a familiar face to fans of the series, by now; so it was safe to assume that her appearance was that of no mere extra, fated to cross Whitehall’s path only once. While her role was not as far reaching as I had hoped (she actually had next to no lines – and what little she did say, I couldn’t understand), it was likely one of the most pivotal of the season (if not series). She didn’t do much of anything, but what was done to her will likely linger just as long as the consequences. Through her brief appearance, we were treated to the origin of Daniel Whitehall, as an identity, and the origin of the Doctor, as a man on a singular mission; and somehow, the character that seems primed to bring the two threads to their merging point, is likely not the one everybody expects.
The Ward War finally kicked off. I’m not entirely sure why a sitting Senator would see Shooter, but it could have informed Christian Ward’s (Tim DeKay) choice of illicit rendezvous locations, and security detail. On the other hand, there are likely only so many agents a man in his position can trust with such meetings. Weren’t enough – his meeting was called off due to acts of Grant Ward (Brett Dalton). What followed (besides a quick recap of S1E8,’ The Well‘), was a clash of mentalities so twisted, I still couldn’t tell who – if either – was closer to the truth (no good bro, bad bro, here). Grant got careless, at one point, but Christian never had any chance of getting the better of him. Grant, however, kept his demands simple, and the two actually came to an amicable reckoning. Grant Ward runs deeper than any well, after all. There is something to be said, however, for what lies within those depths.
I said it last season, I say it again: evil Ward is a considerably more interesting character than the one we were introduced to, and has grown on me, since his capture, interrogation, and escape & evasion run. Don’t get me wrong – I still don’t like him; I just respect him more, for his demonstrated competence, as a shadow operative.
I suppose the one time comparison to Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow) has stayed with me. While not as physically or mentally fit as Natasha, he clearly has her gift for reading, pre-prepping for, and adapting to any person(s) or scenario. What really intrigues me, however, is that Natasha’s pre-S.H.I.E.L.D. background is much darker than Ward’s entire career, up to this point. Source fans may have a better idea of those details; but fans of The Avengers film had to settle for the vague details of Loki’s taunt, and her very convincing manipulation plays. They have every reason to accept her as a hero, with that past as a mere character reference. Is Ward being prepped to actually be the future Black Widow of the series, only with the dark details of his past rolled out before us, in real time?
Well, he may have competition, in that regard; the episode was subtly split between the Ward brothers mental match, and Bobbi’s (Adrianne Palicki) manipulation of Grant Ward’s ‘severance package’ to Team Coulson: Sunil Bakshi (Simon Kassianides). As the ‘good girl,’ that picks brains, and kicks ass, Bobbi is likely a better fit, as a TV grade Black Widow, to most viewers. It seems ex-hubby, Hunter (Nick Blood), has stuck around to add some similar context to that position. Considering that the divorce rate among shadow operatives (SEALS, Delta, etc.) is extremely high, trust issues come in the water, when you’re married to a super spy. I suppose it’s worse when you’re in the business of rooting out spies – and that seemed to be at the heart of the Hunter-Bobbi conflict. As it turned out that Hunter was the soft touch, between the two, and Bobbi does actually want that ‘good girl’ title, I guess all their bickering did add up to foreplay. Doesn’t mean I have to like the idea of them making up, to any degree. Never mind that I still don’t like Hunter; never mind that I still see Hawkeye & Mockingbird, sitting in a tree; it was too soon. Yes, too soon to start all that up again – I’ll go with that.
Hunter was also something of a distraction from the fact that she did good work, on Bakshi. While not as sly, as either Natasha or Ward, she was subtle, in her reading & manipulaion of Bakshi; and while she wasn’t able to put all the pieces together on her own (like Natasha did with Loki), she did put the research team on the right track, then make sense of what they came up with. So, she may have overplayed her hand, with Bakshi, in ways that touched a nerve; let the woman do her work, Hunter.
If handing Bakshi over to S.H.I.E.L.D. was to be the first step, in some redemption of Ward, then I might as well put in my kudos now. The outcome to his reckoning with Christian, over the well, suggested something very much in contradiction to a redemption arc. I do, however, foresee a possibility (possibility, mind you) of a long term confidence game, in the making. I dare say, Ward has been consistent with both his good & bad deeds. He has managed to keep his pledge to Skye (Chloe Bennet), stay true to his fixation on the well event, and take up Bakshi’s offer to join Whitehall – even after handing him over to Coulson. Now he has been introduced to the Doctor, who has been tending to a fixation event of his own. See the connection, the one that might actually make a Ward redemption work? If not, no biggie. I could just be setting myself up for a huge disappointment – I do that, from time to time.
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