Instant Reaction: Agents of SHIELD – “The Things We Bury”

*Update: My full recap of “The Things We Bury” is now live.  Read it here!

The pace of SHIELD has definitely quickened as of late, and the revelations and new information are coming hard and fast now.  Last week we found out that the mysterious alien writing was actually blueprints for a city.  This week saw the beginning of the hunt for that city, along with some key answers to questions we’ve had about Whitehall, Ward, and Skye’s parents.  We got the return of Agent Carter, some solid character development, and a dose of humor.  It was a fast-paced episode, and everything is starting to feel like it’s building towards something big.  Read on for my thoughts on “The Things We Bury,” and check back later for my full recap of the episode.

  • Favorite Quote: Melinda May: “Aloha.”
  • I hardly know where to start tonight, as there are were many juicy developments, but let’s begin with Ward.  He made good on last week’s indication that he would go after his brother.  He found Christian lying to his wife while planning a rendezvous with his mistress.  We already know Christian is a liar, but the real question was the truth about the incident with the well.  Christian insisted that Ward was twisting things to make himself into some kind of hero (or at least not into the villain), and that Ward was the one who had tortured Thomas.  Ward made Christian dig up the well and held him over it, after smashing his face against a tree, until he eventually confessed.  Christian was, in the end, the one responsible for Thomas ending up in the well, all though he forced Ward to do it for him because he couldn’t do it himself.  He did it because Thomas was the only one their parents didn’t abuse, and he wanted his mother to feel the same pain that he did.  He wasn’t just trying to bully Thomas, but he wanted to kill him.  I guess Ward isn’t delusional about his past after all, nor was the story he told a lie.  We still don’t know what Ward’s up to (more on that below), but that’s one mystery cleared up.
  • I really loved Coulson’s team (Skye, Fitz, Trip, and nameless background people) having a determined mission this week.  It’s nice to see the team on the offensive, rather than simply reacting to things and living in confusion.  It have the whole episode a driving momentum that worked nicely, and it had a practical purpose.  Of course, we didn’t know that at the beginning.  I had to watch the sequence where he gave Skye the watch and Trip the button a couple of times, because I was laughing so hard.  The watch/button emp combination was a clever twist, something I wasn’t expecting, and it was just the right level of convoluted without being over the top.
  • Favorite Quote: Coulson: “If it starts to leak any fluids, drop it, run.”  Skye: “This does not sound like a watch.” … Trip: “Am I good with this in my pocket?”  Coulson: “That depends… do you ever want kids?”
  • We learned how Whitehall has managed to look the same age as he did in 1945.  I had just assumed that he’d remained the same age, but it seems that he aged normally in prison before being freed by Pierce and returning to his pet project.  He harvested the organs of a woman (Dollhouse‘s Dichen Lachman) who had a positive reaction to the Diviner, and who hadn’t aged in the 44 years he’d been locked up.  He replaced his organs with hers, and was instantly revitalized, regaining his youth and apparently staying the same age for the next 25 years.
  • Of course, you can’t talk about that incident without discussing some of the revelations of the Diviner.  It seems like some people, including the woman, are chosen as worthy by the Diviner, and would be able to take it to the hidden city, specifically into the temple there, to unleash its full power.  We don’t know exactly what that power is, but it’s more than just killing anyone it touches.  The Diviner ties into a “myth from the east” which tells of a light from the sky that brought blue angels to Earth bearing a gift meant to save mankind.  Whitehall thinks the myth is wrong and they actually intended to conquer Earth, while Skye’s father thinks that they actually meant to destroy it.  Regardless, it all sounds like it ties in very well to the Inhumans theory, which means at this point that the show is either working a huge red herring or we’re going to get an Inhumans tie-in this season.
  • My favorite moment of the show of course belonged to Fitz.  After being challenged by Coulson to assemble a transceiver in under 6 minutes, despite only having one working hand, Fitz struggled to beat the time.  He questioned whether Coulson was simply giving him things to keep him busy.  But I got really worried when he told Coulson that he could only manage seven minutes and twenty seconds, which Coulson said wasn’t good enough.  That led to my top line of the night:
  • Favorite Quote: Fitz: “No, that’s with my bad hand, with both I can do it, definitely.”
  • We had some interesting developments back at the Playground.  Bobbi interrogated Bakshi, using all of her training to try to get him to break and give them information about HYDRA.  She pushed him on his fear of judgement from Whitehall, but he pushed back on her fear of being judged for whatever acts she committed in order to ingratiate herself with HYDRA.  Clearly she did some bad things, and she’s got some red in her ledger, even if she was acting under Coulson’s orders.  When he brought that up she pushed back even farther, until he slammed himself on the table, breaking his cheekbone and releasing poison that should have killed him.  He seems to be still alive, but we don’t know in what condition.  Hunter and Bobbi fought about it, with him wondering if he can ever trust her, and she wondering what she has to do to prove herself.  Of course, their heated argument became a steamy makeout session that found its way into one of the SHIELD vehicles.  Other goings on at the Playground included the team learning about Whitehall’s past as a 1940’s HYDRA agent and Mack continuing to express some rather strong doubts about Coulson’s fitness for leadership.  We’ll see how the latter of those two shakes out in the weeks to come.
  • It seems kind of silly to bury this all the way down here, but no one died this week (not even Bakshi), despite the hint that someone might in last week’s preview.  Knowing Joss, I would expect any major deaths to be sudden and unexpected, rather than teased in a preview.  Still, Trip was in danger for a little bit there, as he, Coulson, and Fitz encountered some resistance in the Australia base.  It seems that Skye’s father had the same idea as Coulson, hacking the satellites to search for the city.  When Trip was shot, he stepped up to help, only slipping up when he mentioned Phil’s name and tipped him off.  What followed was a tense conversation with Trip’s life hanging in the balance.  Skye’s father sliced Trip’s artery, holding his life hostage as a means to escape, but giving Coulson instructions on how to save him.  There were some revelations, such as learning that the Diviner will open in the temple revealing something inside (an Infinity Stone?), but also some humor, like when Skye’s father said that it was power on the level of the Tesseract, before admitting that he doesn’t know what that is.  He also got angry when Coulson called Skye by her chosen name, insisting that it’s not her real name.  I’m eager to see the pair resume their conversation in the future.
  • At the end of the episode we got two big reveals.  First, Ward has joined HYDRA after burning his parents’ house to the ground with his brother in it.  He framed Christian for a murder/suicide using a recording of Christian’s confession at the well.  While I didn’t think Ward would let Christian get away with it, I didn’t expect something quite that cold.  As for joining HYDRA, his possible motivations are endless, from a sincere desire to return to the fold to him playing them in order to help Coulson and Skye down the road.  Or perhaps he’s just keeping his options open.  Ward is infinitely more compelling as Whitehall’s right-hand man than was Bakshi, and I can’t wait to see where this alliance takes them.
  • The other revelation was that the ageless woman from Whitehall’s experiment was Skye’s mother.  We saw her father discovering her abandoned body after Whitehall was through with her, and as he cradled her in his arms he promised revenge and to tear the man apart who was responsible for her death.  After which, in the present day, he looked Whitehall straight in the eye and the two smiled.  Does he know that Whitehall is responsible?  Is he using HYDRA to help get the power of the Diviner in order to use it on Whitehall?  Or is the desire to go after Coulson that he claimed as his motivation to Whitehall true, and he’s wrong about who is responsible?  Only time will tell, but if Skye’s father and Ward are both not what they seem, it looks like Whitehall is in for a rough time.

What do you think?  Did you enjoy “The Things We Bury”?  There’s so much still to cover, but I’m saving the rest for my full recap!  What do you make of the new revelations concerning the Diviner/the city/Skye’s mother?  Do you think the Inhumans connection is more or less likely after this episode?  Are the special, worthy chosen ones a result of Kree experimentation, giving them healing powers at the least?  What power is contained within the Diviner?  Are you glad Trip survived?  Did you enjoy Fitz’s moment of triumph?  What’s up with Bobbi and Hunter?  What about Ward?  Were you surprised by Christian’s confession, or by Ward’s murder of him and their parents?  What do you think Ward is up to in HYDRA?  Does Skye’s father know Whitehall killed Skye’s mother?  Was it good to see Agent Carter again?  What did you make of the crazy preview for next week?  Let me know in the comments!

5 thoughts on “Instant Reaction: Agents of SHIELD – “The Things We Bury”

  1. Yes. I’m certain that Creepy Wildcard Dad knows that Whitehall killed his wife/Skye’s mother. That line about keeping your enemies close while staring straight at Whitehall…. awesome.

    I’ve got two theories about what’s inside the Diviner: either an Infinity Stone, most likely the Time stone* OR it’s whatever gizmo wibbly wobbly sci fi stuff they’re going to use in the MCU to activate the Inhumans in lieu of the Terrigan Mist.

    * so far we’ve had it confirmed by the MCU powers that be that the Tesseract is the Space Stone and the Orb is the Power Stone. Given the way it operated, and has been used in HYDRA experiments according to the Winter Soldier post credits scene, it’s logical to assume that the Sceptre holds the Mind Stone. The Aether was “dark matter” – Reality Stone? Adam Warlock’s cocoon was confirmed to be in the Collector’s museum on Knowhere and it was shown to be blown apart in the post-credits of Guardians of the Galaxy – Warlock is always tied up with the Soul Stone. That leaves the Time Stone. Not entirely sure how the Time Stone would work with Inhumans though….

    I’m not convinced about Christian Ward’s “confession” to Grant Ward. Did he genuinely confess, or was he saying what he thought Grant wanted to hear to save his own skin? Either way, Grant Ward showed he has no compunction in carrying out the murder of his family that he’s been planning since he was a teenager: remember, he was in juvie when Garett first recruited him. Why was in in juvie? For attempting to burn down the family home with his family inside it! This isn’t a random act of vengeance, this was a murder he has been plotting for years. The Ward family sounds 50 shades of dysfunctional for sure, but I don’t buy that Christian is really the big bad guy that Grant made him out to be. He was Grant’s way of distancing himself from the realities of what he has actually done.

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    • You’re probably right that the Doctor knows Whitehall is responsible for Skye’s mother’s death, especially given that awesome look!

      I like your theory about the Time stone. Based on the MCU stones we’ve seen so far, it seems the most likely. It might also account for the lack of aging by Skye’s mom, and Whitehall’s new youth. It could allow chosen people to age differently. If it’s a stone, I think you’re exactly right!

      I would suspect your other theory is more correct, that it’s a way to activate the Inhumans. It does seem like all of the chosen people (Raina, Skye, her mom) are waiting to have their powers activated. Perhaps upon reaching Attilan (if that’s really the city they’re looking for) a chosen person can use the Diviner to unleash that power and give all of the Inhumans their abilities. Of course, if this is all leading to the creation/activation of the Inhumans, it certainly raises the question of how it will all tie into the 2018 film Marvel announced.

      I think it doesn’t matter at this point whether Christian told the truth or just what he thought Ward wanted to hear. Either way, Ward killed him and their parents, and that seems like the more important issues. I love “50 shades of dysfunctional”! You’re right that Ward is always trying to distance himself from what he’s done and is always eager to blame someone else for his actions. He can say that he’s taking responsibility, but his words don’t seem to mesh with his emotions or his actions. It does seem like the murder’s been planned since he was sent to juvie, so it all seems like Christian’s confession was merely a convenient excuse to pull off the murder he attempted all those years ago.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

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      • Wow. I turned out to be so wrong.

        Jaiying remained young because sucking the life out of people was her Inhuman power, the Diviner contained Terrigan Crystals, and the Time Stone is most likely in Dr Strange’s Eye of Whatsit necklace….

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  2. Good reaction, and there is still so much more to tackle. I personally believe that Christian was telling the truth. They’re both pretty messed up people, and we have the advantage of actually seeing what happened in the well. If Christian wasn’t responsible, the scene probably would have been more ambiguous. Plus, Christian already lied to Coulson that there wasn’t a well when there really was. Clearly, there’s some blocking going on. Still, Grant is nowhere near the hero he should be, though he’s probably joining HYDRA to infiltrate the group and keep his promise to Skye (disturbing but potentially helpful).

    To think that there might be an Infinity Stone in the temple is interesting. I was wondering if there could be ways to bring it up as there were some suspicions about the Obelisk, but this is a more likely scenario. I still think there is some connection to the Inhumans but the distance from the movie in 2018 is making me doubt. Either way, there’s going to be a big mid-season finale.

    Bobbi and Hunter…definitely have some explaining to do next episode. They seem to be going undercover together, so it’s inevitable. I don’t know where that’s going but that makes it a little fun.

    While no one died this week (and I’m glad about that), I believe that something’s going to happen. The fact that Trip’s life was threatened probably wasn’t a coincidence, and something big has to happen eventually. Probably something sudden and unexpected since that was exactly how I felt when Trip was shot.

    Anybody else wondering what Skye’s real name is? We’ve known for a while it’s not really Skye, but this was the second time her father emphasized that it wasn’t her name. Is it something important? Is it a name from the comics? I’m inclined to the latter because they have emphasized it at this point, but Skye could still be an original character.

    Finally, yay for Fitz and Agent Carter (loved Simmons’ fangirling by the way). They made me look more forward to the new series and what Fitz can do.

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    • I do think Christian was telling the truth, but given what we saw in the well and the seeming sincerity of the confession and the fact that Christian obviously lied before changing his story I feel like he was telling the truth. Though, I’m not sure it matters now given Ward’s actions. I agree that he’s probably trying to help Skye by infiltrating HYDRA, but as helpful as it might be it’s definitely disturbing like you said.

      I’m a bit perplexed about how the developments this season will tie into the MCU, particularly when it comes to the Inhumans. I don’t think the temple actually has an Infinity Stone, but it’s an interesting theory and a possibility. More likely is that everything connects to Inhumans, which raises all sorts of questions about the film in 2018.

      I’m enjoying the Bobbi/Hunter dynamic much more than I thought I would. They obviously have a spark but have serious issues to work through. I’d love to see them undercover together, and they’re quite the equal match. It’s a new dynamic for the show, and it’s been a good addition so far.

      I think you’re right that something unexpected is going to happen, and that Trip being threatened wasn’t a coincidence. I’m getting a little nervousness to go along with my excitement for what’s to come.

      You know, I haven’t actually given much thought to Skye’s name, but they do seem to be making a big deal about it. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if it’s something familiar from the comics. I haven’t a clue what it would be, and even if/when we do learn I don’t have the comic knowledge to necessarily make the connection, so I’ll definitely need your help when the time comes. I feel like it would need to be something pretty big in order for casual fans to pick up on it, but perhaps they’ll go a different direction.

      I loved Simmons fangirling, and Fitz making jokes at Coulson’s expense feels like a big step forward for him. Agent Carter should be lots of fun, and using it during the midseason break should work out really well.

      Thanks for being a loyal reader and commenter! You always give me new things to think about!

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