Agents of SHIELD Season 2 Ep 8 (TV Show Review)

In last week’s “The Writing on the Wall” we got to see something rather incredible. Phil Coulson finally managed to solve the mystery of the alien writing that he had been doodling of late, and which had driven John Garrett madder than the hatter last season. And it was pretty incredible, setting the scene for what I think is going to be a fantastic addition to Marvel’s line-up of upcoming movies. You can read my review of the episode to see all the spoilers and speculation since I don’t want to mention any of that here.

In the latest episode, “The Things We Bury“, we see the antagonism between Grant Ward and his brother, Senator Christian Ward finally come out in the open as far as the characters are concerned, and as far as the readers are concerned as well. The web of lies and half-truths that the two of them have been weaving around each other all their lives is exposed and it is a pretty powerful moment. The episode brings back Milan Cheylov, who directed the debut season’s third episode last year, one of the best of the entire season, and it is a pretty good foot forward by the show that has gotten only better in the second round.

Now that we all know what the alien writing is about, an alien city that is quite possibly somewhere on Earth itself, we move into the second phase of the second season as Team Coulson heads out to try and find the location of the city. Coulson takes Skye and Triplett on the hunt while May stays behind at the main base to coordinate things with the other members of the team even as Bobbi tries to break Daniel Whitehall’s right-hand man Bakshi, who was delivered to SHIELD courtesy of an escaped Grant Ward at the end of the last episode.

There are a hell of a lot of things to talk about in this episode. For instance, we see that Coulson is really trying to fill in the big shoes left behind by Nick Fury when he left SHIELD at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The man had a particular way of doing things where he kept all knowledge of any mission and SHIELD activity “compartmentalized” but still managed to remain ahead of his enemies a few steps. Didn’t always work out for him, but it did work more times than it should have and we see how Coulson tries to imitate his mentor’s attitude and way of thinking, which works out beautifully for him in this episode.

Then there’s the whole thing involving Bakshi, which in the end sets the team on the heels of Daniel Whitehall, and they learn the real truth about him, that he is a former Nazi war-criminal and that he has somehow managed to stay alive all these years. And not only that, but also to stay young. Bobbi’s interrogation of Bakshi is pretty fascinating to watch, especially when she deconstructs it all for her ex-husband Hunter later on, which just gives us more insight into these characters and what their relationship used to be like and how it could be. Some pretty brilliant character development on that front.

Of course, the more important bit in here is that we get to see the awesome Haley Atwell as Peggy Carter on the show once again, a sequence that Cheynov and writer DJ Doyle use to show us what happened to Daniel Whitehall at the end of World War II when the Howling Commandos under Agent Carter assaulted his base and took him captive. It is really nice to see that ABC is going for some great synergy like this between Agents of SHIELD and the upcoming January-debut Agent Carter. Hayley Atwell and Reed Diamond are pretty good in these scenes and I would love to see more, though I doubt we are going to see the two of them together in the same scenes.

Daniel Whitehall’s story eventually segues into the whole mystery surrounding Skye’s real identity and the fact that her father is quite often a raging psychopath, a role performed brilliantly by Kyle MacLachlan. In this episode, we finally begin to get some answers as to what turned MacLachlan’s character to a life of creme and even hints of how Skye came to be with SHIELD eventually. This is a brilliant subplot in this episode, and helps tie together a number of other subplots from both seasons. Honestly, this is the kind of story that I’ve wanted to see from this show for a long time and the second season is delivering left and right on what I want.

Agents of SHIELD Cast 0002

What’s really great about this episode, both as a standalone and in the framework of the rest of the season, is that we are finally beginning to see a lot of different plot-lines intersect in a way that you couldn’t have imagined last season. MCU execs seriously hampered the show last year, forcing it to wait till Captain America: The Winter Soldier to get really off the ground and connect with the movies in a meaningful way that actually drove the overall plot forward. On this season, right from the start, things have been very different and this episode embodies that to a great degree.

If we could get episodes like this every week, then I’d be really happy, that’s for damn sure.

When this episode ends, you really have to admire how the writers, all of them working on the second season, are continuing to set things up for an explosive finale. Tying in the mysterious alien city to the overall plot means that the show is taking huge leaps forward in embracing comic roots and also veering more into the whole futuristic science-fiction side of things, which is nothing to scoff at, I assure you. Where the previous season was marred by several clumsy missteps, the new season has taken things in stride to deliver a much, much better experience overall and “The Things We Bury” is leading the charge on that.

More Agents of SHIELD Season 2: Ep 1, Ep 2, Ep 3, Ep 4, Ep 5, Ep 6, Ep 7.

Agents of SHIELD Season 1 reviews can be found here. I’ve reviewed every episode so far.


Posted on November 19, 2014, in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Review Central, TV Show Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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