This Season of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been miles above last years underwhelming first half – the fast pace has upped the excitement level to a peak, which is great. Yet it’s still not quite there because with the increased pace some of the amazing character moments that made this show so loveable in the first place have been lacking. Take “The Things We Bury”, it has some phenomenal character development – and some truly fantastic moments – but the amount of stuff packed into the episode does allow sufficient time to bask in the beauty of these characters.
Let’s face it, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s biggest draw card, are the characters and their relationships with each other. Sure the way they have integrated the show into the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe since Captain America: The Winter Soldier is praise worthy – but as an espionage spy thriller, S.H.I.E.L.D. is somewhat lacking. For the most part the familiar storylines don’t affect overall enjoyment because the the emotional impact holds true but if they continue to withhold important character moments for the sake of narrative pace then the emotional beats are not going to have the same impact.
That’s not to say that this episode wasn’t as entertaining as usual, because it was. It’s just that if the trend of sacrificing well-developed emotional journeys for the sake of pace continues S.H.I.E.L.D. could lose its charm, and that would be terrible. Of course an easy fix for this problem would be to get rid of Lance Hunter, who continues to exist for some reason. The way they pushed the romance between Hunter and Bobbi came across as forced and was a waste of space in an already packed episode.
Lances continued references to Bobbi as his she-devil ex-wife are supposed to be funny (or possibly endearing) but really it’s just horribly misogynist and I can’t for the life of me work out what she sees in him. Seriously it’s starting to worry me because the only thing that make sense is that she was actually brainwashed by Daniel Whitehall and is working for Hydra after all. Let’s get this clear, I am 100% unwilling to accept Bobbi Morse’s death – besides her turning out to be a brainwashed traitor would be the most boring boring twist in existence. It’s clearing going to be Simmoms, that’s much more heartbreaking (although that could be a little too much like Ward last season).
The point is that Lance Hunter is still there and he is yet to have a point. Also he is getting his boring sexist self all over a fabulous female character so he needs to go, which is not going to happen – at least until the end of the Season – because he is a series regular. It’s so disappointing.
Anyway moving on. Agent Coulson’s storyline wasn’t brilliantly executed – I thought the stuff with the errands in Hawaii was a bit twee even for this show – but it worked well enough. The worst part was the reminder that Tripp is the most expendable member of the team, which is just not great for Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s diversity and the best was Coulson and The Doctor’s confrontation. While his integration into the episode wasn’t particularly organic Kyle MacLachlan continues to be the best new addition this season. He lights up every scene he’s in and his argument with Coulson was no exception.
Reed Diamond’s Daniel Whitehall/Doctor Reinhardt is a less compelling villain but he still does a damn good job. The timelapse depiction of Reinhardt’s life in prison and the calm calculated way that he cuts up the woman on the operating table were particularly effective ways of developing his character into a genuinely scary villain. The final reveal that the woman Reinhardt held captive was the Doctor’s wife (not that Doctor), and probably Skye’s mother, was not unexpected but worked nonetheless.
SIDE NOTE: At this stage I assume that anyone with knowledge of the Marvel Comics is assuming that Skye, her father and the secret city are heading towards the InHumans but we still have 4 years before Marvel’s InHumans movie is slated for release and it seems strange for them to waste the backstory on a television series. Still, blue Aliens – assumed to be Angels – that sounds like Kree to me. And a secret city (Attilan) and a bunch of humans with special attributes. Marvel doesn’t have the rights to the X-Men mythology so it really seems like InHumans is the go. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
The best and worst part of this episode was Ward’s storyline. I never would have guessed it but Grant Ward as gone from the weakest member of the team to one of my favorite characters. There’s no doubt about it, insane-evil-Ward is the best thing that happened to S.H.I.E.L.D. And while his confrontation with his brother is not directly connected to this seasons arc – it’s more of a left over from last season – it still deserved more screen time than it got. Seriously, the reveal at the end was shocking and all but they just killed off someone that was sort of set up as being a prominent character going forward and they basically confirmed that Ward is batshit crazy. That should have had more impact than it did and it was a waste to use it as a cheap cliffhanger.
Also in case anyone forgot Peggy Carter is the best. Every time she appears on screen I am reminded of how amazing she is and I get excited all over again about her show. She was particularly great in this episode – displaying that rough exterior and on point lipstick. While she only had a couple of short scenes Haley Atwell did a fantastic job of showing the issues Peggy would be dealing with as woman in a predominately male workforce. In this we all all Simmons as she fangirls over the fact that Agent Carter touched the paper she is holding.
Bobbi: “Any Hydra member could’ve been [brainwashed] and we wouldn’t know it.”
Simmons: “Yes, that’s true. Oh…”
Simmons: “Peggy Carter, founder, happens to be British, held this in her hand.”
Peggy: “They’ll send rockets into space. Maybe they can strap you to one of them.”
What did you think? Do you miss Ward’s prison beard? Is Peggy Carter the best? Is Agent Coulson searching for Attilan? Could Simmons have been brainwashed? Let us know in the comments.
Author: Undie Girl
Undie Girl (aka Von) has a BA (Hons) Major in Cultural Studies. The title of her honours thesis was “It’s just gay and porn”: Power, Identity and the Fangirl’s Gaze. She’s currently pursuing a Masters of Media Practice at University of Sydney. Von’s a former contributor The Backlot’s column The Shipping News and a current co-host of The Geekiary’s monthly webcast FEELINGS… with The Geekiary.
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