Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (2013) season 2, episode 8
"The Things We Bury"
WRITER: DJ DOYLE
DIRECTOR: MILAN CHEYLOV
AIR DATE: November 18 2014
‘The Things We Bury’ has more than one meaning in the eighth episode of the season for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., with answers given, motives murky, and a whole lot of intrigue going on. Between rogue agents running their own agenda, a villain’s status at least partially explained (make that two villains, though we can’t be quite sure if one of them is a villain), and the welcome reappearance of Agent Carter (Hayley Atwell), the series continues its recent brisk pace while advancing ongoing storylines.
The story bounces back and forth between the present and decades ago, as we find Peggy interrogating the captured Hydra agent Werner Rhinehardt (Reed Diamond) who will in the present day still be as young as he was under his new name Daniel Whitehall. There’s an antagonistic streak underlying their conversation, with the arrogance and condescension coming from Rhinehardt. The Hydra officer is condemned to a lifetime in prison, emerging only as an old, feeble man. He’s not quite alone, he learns, as he discovers Hydra has infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D., giving him the logistical support he needs. Just how it is that he’s de-aged is something of a mystery, but it involves a woman in the Second World War who’s as young when he next sees her. A little experimentation, some bodily mutilation, and a grisly death later, he’s quite literally a new man. We can speculate on who or what the woman was that could keep her young, but there are still some twists yet to come about her, as we see play out as the episode goes along.
Agent Carter interrogates Werner Rhinehardt
Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his team are occupied with other matters. Their overriding concern is pre-empting Whitehall’s efforts to reach the enigmatic city. That involves interrogation of the captured Hydra agent Bakshi (Simon Kassianides), but it doesn’t help that Bakshi is playing hardball and totally loyal to Hydra. They’re also busy going through old SSR files, which happen to include information on Whitehall, astonished by what they discover... not to mention horrified by the bloodiness of Whitehall’s experiments. Coulson himself leads a field team on an operation, but things go awry for one of them, wounded in action... and out of it comes an unlikely face to face with an enemy, Skye’s father (Kyle MacLachlan).
Speaking of whom, the actor’s playing the part in a demented kind of way; we’re not sure if he’s completely out to lunch in terms of his interpretation of the Obelisk and other related matters. He certainly seems nuts... even more so when you factor in his obsessive loathing of Coulson and his desire to be reunited with his daughter. We do have to wonder, though... is he as far gone as he seems? There’s a twist at the end, a moment in conversation with Whitehall and one other player in which motives of all three seem unclear... and yet for this character, if his motives point in the direction one expects, it’s quite a compelling twist, and makes him less of a villain than we might have expected.
One other plotline gets advanced, and it’s more or less a character moment for both. Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) has his brother Senator Christian Ward (Tim DeKay) at his mercy, kidnapped and in the woods near their family home. Their scenes together are all about confrontation and confession, of getting the past out into the open, and filled with tension and building dread. Ward might now be a rogue agent whose loyalties are totally enigmatic, but having him this way is much better for the actor. The Dudley Do-Right status quo of the character through the first part of Season one is long gone, and the way things end up with the final fate of his family makes perfect sense for where the character is at this point.
And so things end once again on something of a cliffhanger... with twists that have a jaw dropping effect even while they occur in quiet moments of conversation. Season two is coming along nicely.... and moving along at breakneck speed. And there’s yet more of it to come.