11 December 2014
Agents of SHIELD S2E8 "The Things We Bury" digs up and examines the past
I thought I was being smart with the title word play, but I guess thats the entire reason this episode was called that.
Set during the second world war and onwards, "The Things We Bury" is once again an episode of multiple plots that are linked in small yet meaningful ways, partly uncovering the truth of Doctor Whitehall, partly delving deeper into Wards past and partly moving forward the ongoing season wide plot, the mystery of The Obelisk (or as it should be know, The Diviner) and the missing city. Each of these otherwise separate plot lines tie into each other in interesting and occasionally unexpected ways, making "The Things We Bury" one of the better written episodes that this season has offered up so far, and continuing a pretty impressive streak of good episodes.
The whole thing just flows really well, scenes from one plot line followed by scenes from another that use the information that we as audience have just learned to either give us a greater knowledge than the characters we are watching or to put us on the same footing as them. The slower parts of the episode that are more character driven (such as Ward's confrontation with his brother) are mixed in with faster paced sections, such as Coulson and Co's attack on a server room, meaning that the episode never gets bogged down in one plot thread for too long.
The scenes between Ward and his brother are great, giving both characters time to express themselves and allows the conversation between the two to develop naturally. You are left wondering for a long time which of the two is sincere, and which is doing the manipulating, and the back and forth between the brothers is personal and revealing, a stark contrast to the privacy and secrecy that both of these characters usually operate under.
"The Things We Bury" has some really great moments, but seeing Fitz back in the field was a real highlight for me. There is a sudden return of some of the charm and confidence that Fitz used to have in this episode after Coulson pushes him to achieve, and it highlights the huge amount of character development that both Fitz and other characters have undergone since the season started. And at long last, Triplett actually does do something this episode, and although how useful he actually turned out to be is debatable, it's nice seeing him a bit more active in the team. Its also worth noting that the development of Bobbi and Hunters relationship continues this episode, another aspect of the show that is just straight up entertaining.
The acting throughout is pretty great too, with the main cast performing as well as they always do and several of the season regulars getting slightly beefed up roles. Kyle MacLachlan is great as the Doctor, playing him creepy yet charismatic, confident yet strangely vulnerable, and is quickly becoming one of my favourite characters, and the Ward Bros scenes really highlight how good an actor Brett Dalton can be - a sentence that I never would have assumed I would be typing when the show first started. We also get another small cameo from Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, presumably tying the events of this season back into the Agent Carter series that is soon to start.
"The Things We Bury" ends up being one of the most well paced, well written episodes of the season so far, while at the same time really moving the plot of the season forwards into areas that I'm sure we never expected this show to go in season one. I think it's safe to say that Agents of SHIELD will soon be required viewing for any fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but that isn't why you should be watching it - you should be watching it because it's actually pretty great now.