Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 2.08: "The Things We Bury"

“Discovery requires experimentation, and this experiment will take time.”

“The Things We Bury” continued a good trend in recent episodes of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” of advancing the mythology in a significant and compelling way. We learned quite a lot about Whitehall, our current Big Bad, and we learned more about Ward’s history, too. I think I would have been able to follow along better if I had seen both Captain America films (I’ve only seen “The Winter Soldier”), but I could follow the general outline of what was going on well enough. Although truthfully, I could do without any screentime for Ward at all. He’s one sick puppy, and I don’t enjoy watching his twisted games at all. The sooner the Ward drama is over, the better, in my opinion, even though I did enjoy getting a few extra hours of Tim DeKay on my television out of the deal.

We begin the episode with a flashback to 1945. Whitehall is conducting experiments with the Obelisk, and of course, since he’s a sick puppy too, his experiments involve killing a lot of people. Basically he gets a bunch of people to touch the Obelisk and takes note of their death process. The next person to be experimented on is an Asian woman who turns out to be Skye’s mother. And she’s played by Whedon alum Dichen Lachman (Sierra from “Dollhouse”), which was a pleasant, unexpected treat. I am still in awe of the cast Team Whedon assembled for Dollhouse. I think it’s my favorite of all of them. So I love when any of those folks get work. Anyway, Skye’s mom touches the Obelisk, but she doesn’t die; she makes it glow. Whitehall is about to order her dissection when he is interrupted with the news that Red Skull (Hydra’s founder, I believe?) has died.

In the present day, Whitehall and Skye’s father have a chat about the Obelisk. Skye’s father says that the Obelisk is more than just a weapon. If a special person (someone who can hold it without being killed) takes it to a special place (presumably within the city Coulson discovered), it will do something bigger than just being the weapon Whitehall was looking for. Skye’s dad calls it the “Diviner.” Speaking of Coulson, his plan of attack is to be a few steps ahead for once and find the city depicted in the map before Hydra can. Easier said than done. Behind the scenes, Mack starts questioning Coulson’s sanity.

Bobbi has a very specific job in all of this. She is supposed to interrogate Bakshi, the Whitehall minion Ward left behind as a present for Coulson. I think he’s the security guy from the episode that focused on Simmons’ time at Hydra. Anyway, Bobbi, even though she’s a top notch interrogator, has a tough time getting anything out of Bakshi. He does, however eventually slip up and say that Whitehall was a disciple of Red Skull and shared his vision. Our team thinks Bakshi’s phrasing was a slip up, because there is no way Whitehall and Red Skull could have worked together. Red Skull has been dead since 1945 after all. After the first phase of the interrogation, Bobbi and Lance have an interesting conversation where Bobbi tries to prove to Lance that she already has Bakshi pegged.

Let’s just get the Ward plot out of the way now, because it was disturbing and I didn’t especially like it much. Senator Christian Ward (Tim DeKay) is on his way to the family vacation home when Grant ward smashes his car and nabs him. Out in the country, they have their typical twisted conversation, where it seems now like Grant is really the crazy one. Christian keeps accusing him of trying to blame others for all the sick things he has done in his life. It turns out that Grant led Christian to the site of the well where their brother Thomas died, and he wants Christian to start digging. Grant brought a shovel and everything. There’s a physical altercation where Grant beats up Christian pretty badly, then he holds Christian over the open well until Christian admits that he manipulated Grant to kill Thomas. His reasoning for wanting Thomas dead was that Thomas was the only Ward brother their mother didn’t torture, and he wanted her to feel their pain. Seemingly happy with the truth, Ward helps Christian up, and they walk out of the woods.

The Bus is headed for Hawaii (lucky), and Coulson has very specific jobs for Skye, Trip, and Fitz when they get there. Skye and Trip are supposed to drop off and retrieve certain items. Fitz is supposed to start practicing installing a transceiver patch. Coulson tells him he needs to accomplish it in under six minutes. Fitz practices diligently, but by the time Skye and Trip return to the Bus from completing their respective Hawaii missions, Fitz is getting frustrated. It’s still taking him more than seven minutes to do what he needs to do.

Meanwhile, Simmons has been looking through SSR records, trying to learn more about the Whitehall/Red Skull connection. She learns more about the Obelisk, and she also learns about a man named Werner Reinhardt. Reinhardt is actually Daniel Whitehall, and the way in which Reinhardt became Whitehall is the focus of much of the rest of the episode. After letting Simmons geek out about touching files that were touched by Agent Carter, May clues the group into a special vault that has more records. In that vault, Simmons actually finds the Reinhardt file. Instantly, Simmons recognizes the picture in the file as Whitehall. Lance immediately takes the file to Bobbi, why uses it to confront Bakshi. Instead of spilling the beans, though, Bakshi releases a poison capsule that was embedded in his jawbone. Somehow Bakshi survives, but he’s in bad shape.

Speaking of Whitehall, we really do learn a lot about him in this episode. In the present day, we see Whitehall and Skye’s father talk about what the Diviner actually does. Skye’s father says that if it is taken into the special city, it will save a chosen few when it kills everybody else. Skye’s father wants a promise of money and a team to venture to the city from Whitehall in exchange for using the Obelisk/Diviner to kill certain people they both want dead (like Coulson). We also get some more interesting Whitehall flashbacks. Agent Carter herself leaves Reinhardt to rot in an S.S.R. prison (later a S.H.I.E.L.D. prison) called the Rat. In the 1980’s, eventually is rescued by some of the Hydra agents who had infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. The reason Hydra chooses that moment to spring him is because they found Skye’s mom, and she looks exactly as she did in 1945. Whitehall of course goes to town with dissection (or I guess it would be vivisection since she was still alive) until he has managed to steal her eternal youth power.

When we next see Coulson’s little strike team, they’re in Australia. There’s a secondary (to the primary in Hawaii) base there that the team can use to infiltrate a satellite network. He wants to use the satellites to find the mysterious city. The items that Skye and Trip had to deliver in Hawaii were meant to disrupt the Hawaiian base so that the Australian one would go online. Once that happens, Fitz is supposed to install his transceiver patch so Skye can hack the satellite network. Unfortunately for our team, though, Hydra seems to already be there. Coulson and Trip try to shoot their way into the base, and Trip is hit. We then see that the leader of the Hydra team is Skye’s father. He offers to help since he’s a “doctor.” Of course, Skye’s father just makes Trip’s condition worse as a way to get Coulson to agree to let him escape. Coulson rushes to save Trip as Skye’s father runs off and Fitz installs his patch. The computer works, and Skye starts asking about what happened to Trip. Before anyone has the heart to answer her, though, the computer finds a match for the mysterious city.

Elsewhere, (Grant) Ward has found Whitehall, and they have a chat about second chances. Which is appropriate considering both their histories. We soon learn, however, that Grant didn’t let Christian go after he admitted his role in Thomas’ death. A news story reports that he killed Christian and their parents. Later, Whitehall brings Ward together with Skye’s father for another chat. As the episode closes, we get a flashback to Skye’s father finding the remains of her mother and vowing revenge on Whitehall. So maybe Coulson isn’t the person he wants to kill after all?

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