‘The Things We Bury’
The race is on between Coulson’s motley band and Hydra to discover the hidden alien city and the true power of the mysterious obelisk. But before all that, let’s sit down and get some much-needed back-story out of the way.
Yes, SHIELD fans, with only two more episode before the winter finale, ‘The Things We Bury’ feels like one big setup for what’s to come, filling in a few gaps in the narrative and answering a couple of questions before venturing forward next week.
Opening in Austria 1945, we find Reinhardt (aka Daniel Whitehall) ‘experimenting’ with the Obelisk and its effects. He comes across a young Asian woman who is unaffected when she touches the obelisk, but his experiments are cut short with the announcement of the Red Skull’s death at the hands of our favourite shield wielding American Patriot.
Reinhardt is interrogated by Peggy Carter (reminding viewers that she has her own show coming up in 2015) and is locked away for fifty, only to be freed by undercover Hydra agents who reveal that they found the woman from 1945, who, as it transpires hasn’t aged a day. It isn’t long before Reinhardt is channelling his inner Josef Mengele and engaging in some disturbingly dark surgery.
Reinhardt/Whitehall’s flashbacks were an interesting look at the mythical villainous Hydra head, and they answered a few burning questions, mostly regarding his infinite youth and Skye’s parentage. We also learn The Doctor’s ultimate goal with Hydra and his burning desire to kill Whitehall.
Meanwhile, back in the present, Coulson and his team split up, with Coulson leading half his team in a hunt for the alien city while the rest of the crew do… paperwork. Yes, May and co. are left with very little to do besides filter through old files and offer ways into the flashbacks, slowing the pace way down to the point of clunky dullness.
Even Morse’ interrogation of Bakshi, which felt like it should’ve revealed more than it did, was simply another way to convey dull back-story. The cyanide in the cheek however was a nice touch.
With all this going on, the show even has time to make for some dark, twisted family drama. As a matter of fact, the Ward/brother subplot was perhaps the weakest point of the show. Tonally it felt out of place, with clunky dialogue and severe lack of emotion in a subplot that deserved more. Even the revelation that Ward may have murdered his brother and their mother feels empty.
Thankfully, the episode picks up whenever Coulson and his team are on screen, with Coulson’s briefing to Skye and Tripp regarding the devices a wonderfully, humorous exchange, with Clark Gregg’s trademark deadpan delivery selling it every way.
The pace picks up in the last third with a blistering shootout and a wonderfully tense confrontation between Coulson and The Doctor, with Tripp’s life hanging in the balance. It’s a great ending and sets the tone nicely for the next couple of episodes to come.