Oh, man, this is one episode that just really didn’t let up. There’s a lot of answers here, and a lot of revelations, so if you’re behind on anything leading up to this week, including the Marvel movies, maybe you should go catch up a bit before you come back. I’ll only write the spoilers if the people who shouldn’t read them agree not to.
The Things We Bury
So first of all, we pick up this episode in 1945 in Austria. Dr. Whitehall’s old self, then known as Reinhardt, is trying to find out “truth through experimentation” about that obelisk they found. He’s convincing / forcing villagers to touch it, and timing how long it takes them to die. However, there’s one who doesn’t die, and she looks an awful lot like she comes from the Hunan province of China…and is probably Skye’s mom. The obelisk doesn’t kill her, but it does light up, and Reinhardt gets a new experiment to try. He can’t do it now, though, because the Red Skull has just been defeated, and they need to pack up and go. He is, however, captured in the attempt.
In the present, Reinhardt as Whitehall (yeah, get used to it), consults The Doctor (Who? No, different thing.) about the obelisk. The Doctor clears the air that it’s not a weapon, it’s a key. It only kills to protect itself from people who aren’t worthy of it’s “true power”. Turns out there’s a special place, and if one of the chosen few worthy takes the key to the place, it’ll do something. “Much cooler”. And that’s about all we get to know.
Meanwhile, May stays in a base with Mac, Hunter, and Bobbi, who is trying to get Bakshi to talk anything other than Hydra party lines, while Coulson takes Skye, Tripp, and Fitz to Hawaii on the plane for a mission. Step one: fly to Hawaii deliver a button and a watch and pick up some dry cleaning. Step two: fly to Australia to install a transceiver in a satellite station. Big picture: when that button (which gets sown into a general’s jacket) comes near that watch (given to someone as a gift), they will cause an EMP explosion. Those two people will meet at an impenetrable satellite station in Hawaii, causing the backup station to turn on in Australia. Another reason to only read these blogs if you watched the episode, because dang.
They have a six-minute window for Fitz to install the transceiver, under pressure, in the field. Coulson gave him ample time to practice and get the muscle memory, and he comes through with flying colors. The trouble is, though, that there’s a fire fight going on around them, and Tripp gets hit. Unceremoniously, randomly, just boom and down. Luckily, there’s a doctor there to help. Yeah, That Doctor. Commercial break. And I can’t fast forward through commercials fast enough.
Meanwhile, the team on the ground is looking into the old files located there. Something Bakshi said implies that Whitehall has a personal connection to Red Skull, because apparently they haven’t been watching the flashbacks with the rest of us. After enough digging, they find a photo of Reinhardt, and Simmons immediately recognizes him as Dr. Whitehall. Not a relative, the actual guy. Flashback to Reinhardt being imprisoned for over 40 years, only to be released by some “Senator Pierce.” Remember that jerk from Captain America 2? That guy. Reinhardt is now an old man, and is taken back to his lab in Austria where he runs into that same woman who could touch the obelisk, and she hasn’t aged a day. He finally has the time to perform his dissection of her, and he takes “all he can” from her, and completely restores his youth. He instructs his henchmen to dispose of the rest of her body, and he goes on his creepy way.
Coulson and The Doctor are working together to keep Tripp alive until The Doctor slips that he knows who Coulson is. Unfortunately, he intentionally sabotages Tripp’s circulatory system and tells Coulson that if he lets go, Tripp will die. (And apparently, I am incapable of writing in more detail without making myself sick, so there ya go.) He provides detailed instructions on how to save his life, which will give The Doctor time to get out, and all of that happens exactly. Fitz has successfully installed the transceiver, and Skye is able to hack the satellites with her “Geek Squad” (Anyone else hear the “Time Lord” code name?). They now have the power to scan every inch of the surface of the planet, underground, everywhere a city could be built. They plug in all the coordinates they got from the carvings and paintings and weldings from that alien serum, and wait for the beep.
Meanwhile, throughout this episode, we’re watching the family reunion of Grant and Christian Ward. The brothers grim. They take a walk in the woods and talk memories. All Grant wants is to hear Christian admit that he forced Grant to push their littlest brother into the well, and Christian insists that he’s crazy. And I don’t trust either of them very much at all. Christian digs up the well, with Grant’s “encouragement”, and Grant nearly throws him in until he screams out a confession. Grants hugs him and they walk off into the sunset.
Except for the fact that the next time we see Grant, he is asking Whitehall for a second chance in Hydra, since he knows a lot of intel. Whitehall takes him seriously, especially considering a recent news story about a senator and his parents being burned alive in their homes in an “apparent” murder suicide. They found a confession tape. It’s identical to the confession Grant got at the well. Grant killed and burned his brother and parents.
We close the episode with the city found by the satellite (yay! It’s on earth!), and an interesting meeting between Whitehall – expert in Hydra, Grant – expert on SHIELD, and The Doctor – expert on the Obelisk / Diviner. We also get a flashback that The Doctor really really wants to kill, dismember, and do anything else possible to the person who killed his wife, whom we know to be Whitehall. So we have one of those “let’s work together until I find it appropriate to kill you” things building up.
And next week, SHIELD and Hydra converge on that city, in the temple. And then we wait until MARCH! ARGH!
I loved this episode, because it really went a long way to solving a bunch of riddles, without giving too much away too easily. It also set up some beautiful conflicts into which we can really sink our teeth in the coming months. I’m also loving the ageless aspect of Whitehall / Reinhardt, because it set up Peggy Carter beautifully, and gives us a reason to hear that story when we do.
I do have a few interesting questions, above and beyond the obvious “what’s up with that city?”
First of all, am I alone in wondering what the heck happened to the youngest brother Ward, Tommy? He didn’t die in the well, although he came close, apparently. But Christian Ward is dead, along with their parents, and Grant talked a lot about him. That much time spent, you’d think he’d pop up at some point. I’m thinking somewhere in the later half of this season, after the break. Or, we’ve already learned that he’s dead and I missed it somewhere.
Also, I am very interested in seeing how this team works out, between Grant, Whitehall, and The Doctor. The Doctor wants to kill Whitehall, we know that 100%. We’ve also see Grant try to “make good” with Hydra, and it ended up with Bakshi tied to a chair and delivered to Coulson. Is he playing the same game with Whitehall, is he actually reuniting with Hydra, what is his plan? The best guess I can make is that he is aligned “chaotic neutral” and just does whatever he wants, when he wants, how he wants, for his own purposes, and for no one else’s agenda. And that scares me more than Whitehall who, as Coulson says, is predictable, despite his evil intentions. Just wonder “what’s the most horrible action someone could take on their way to destroying the world?” and you’ve probably figured out Whitehall’s next step.
As for the Doctor, I’m really starting to wonder what his true history is. We’ve learned before that his village was destroyed, and people ripped apart, etc. etc. etc., and it sounded like he had a tendency to Hulk out when he lost his temper. Now, though, it looks like he’s just a maniac and has no moral qualms with slicing a man’s artery to cover his getaway. It looks like the destruction of his village was caused by Hydra and/or the obelisk. I want to see either The Doctor’s true power, or a flashback to what actually happened that day. Something’s not adding up.
I’m also wondering what’s been going on with Raina all this time, although I didn’t realize I was wondering that until I saw the preview for next week, where she popped up again.
All in all, like I said, this ride is getting very exciting, and it may be building up toward something that doesn’t completely come to fruition until a movie in the coming years. Either way, I’m loving all the connections which, as heavy-handed as some of them are, are completely passing me by until much later. They’ve got a great team writing these, and I can’t wait to see where we go next!