NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” are present in this review
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is continuing to ride high after its recent hot streak this week, with, “Paradise Lost”, an episode that was all about diving into the psychology and history of the bad guys. As S.H.I.E.L.D. starts scratching the surface of Hive, HYDRA’s inner circle is called to a meeting at Gideon Malick’s estate, where we also learn his story before rising through the HYDRA ranks.
The flashbacks for Malick that were peppered throughout the episode were all very well done, as we learn that Malick once had a brother, who participated with Malick in the 1970 ceremony to travel to Maveth and make contact with Hive. The flashbacks even provided a neat, albeit brief return by one of last season’s big villains, Doctor Whitehall, as he warns the Malick boys from prison that their ceremonies are foolish, and that he’s not a believer in religion, but science. This no doubt references Whitehall’s own campaign to activate the greater population of Inhumans during Season Two, though it could also lay out some potential promise for this show’s confirmed fourth season, after the whole Malick/Hive mess could have well been sorted out, likely paving the way for a new evil to surface within HYDRA.
Unsurprisingly, Malick’s flashback tale ends in woe, as he makes a promise to his brother to participate in the Maveth ceremony fairly and leave their fate up to chance like everyone else, after Whitehall points the Malick boys to evidence that their father cheated in the ceremony to avoid traveling to Maveth, and was likely killed over it. Instead though, Malick takes after his father, and ensures that he won’t grab the white stone, which ends up in the hands of his brother instead, who is shortly thereafter killed by Hive on Maveth.
This beautifully ties into Malick’s newfound paranoia, after coming into contact with the Inhuman homeless man last week, who showed Malick his death, now confirmed to be apparently at the hands of Hive. When Hive calls the meeting of HYDRA leaders, Malick believes that he will be killed in front of them, as some sort of example, and relays his concerns to his daughter, who essentially tells him to man up. It seems too early in the season to kill Malick, but the evidence is definitely there. Hive really does act like Malick is about to be made an example of throughout the episode, especially when he reveals his true face to all of HYDRA’s higher-ups, though it’s only glimpsed from behind for now. Still, the tentacled visage looks like a great live-action representation of Hive’s monstrous, tentacled form from Marvel Comics lore, especially for television standards!
It’s not that simple though. The episode provided an awesome fake-out towards its climax, as it reveals that Hive retains the memories of his former hosts, not just his current one. This led to a highlight scene where Hive speaks to Malick from the memories of his brother, and correctly accuses Malick of rigging the Maveth ceremony in 1970, which now requires an equalization. This appears to be the moment that Malick will be killed, especially when Hive claims that he will still have a Malick at his side regardless, but in a shocking twist, Hive actually kills Stephanie, and tells Malick that he now understands the pain of sacrifice. This will no doubt leave Malick even more unhinged as the season goes on, and could call into question whether Malick will ultimately stay loyal to Hive. Either way, does he really have a choice?
While Malick deals with the presence of Hive, S.H.I.E.L.D. makes a move against Malick’s lead enforcer, Giyera, the telekinetic fellow who has given Coulson’s crew trouble on more than one occasion already. After they manage to corner Giyera in a room with no objects for him to manipulate, May takes him on in hand-to-hand combat, resulting in an incredibly cool action scene that puts even May to the test, since Giyera’s one fearsome fighter! Fortunately, May manages to subdue Giyera, and S.H.I.E.L.D. tosses him in one of the Inhuman confinement cells… And then just leaves him unguarded.
This was the one crack in an otherwise very strong storyline this week. Why the hell would the team leave someone as dangerous as Giyera, an Inhuman no less, completely unguarded?! Yes, those containment cells are pretty useful, and even somehow keep Lash from escaping, but I doubt that Coulson would want to leave anything to chance like this. It serves as a forced excuse to have Giyera inevitably escape, and then take the plane hostage with his abilities, as a hook for next week. Sure, it’s a good hook, but given that there was already warning that Giyera could escape, and Fitz went to all the trouble of rigging guns so that they could only be fired by their owners, there really wasn’t a better way to keep an eye on this guy?
As for Daisy and Lincoln, they went to visit a former inhabitant of Afterlife, an Australian hick with a bad attitude that Jiaying apparently expelled from the sanctuary, on top of denying an awakening to, due to raving about what turned out to be Hive. Thinking they can squeeze the guy for information, Daisy and Lincoln have to use their powers to subdue him, bribe him with a Terrigen Crystal, then lie about giving him powers, instead snatching an important artifact that ties into the original Kree design of Hive as a planned Inhuman leader. Pretty sneaky of Lincoln, I’ve got to say.
This also served as the opportunity for Daisy to fess up about the vision she saw of someone, possibly her, dying in the near future, which she glimpsed last week, after Lincoln tells a sad story about his former alcoholism. There’s not much time to ponder though, as May just barely gets a message out to the two Inhumans, before she’s knocked out by Giyera. With no other options, Lincoln convinces Daisy to call in the Secret Warriors. Finally, they’re going to be back in play next week!
The insight into the bad guys made for a cool direction for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this week, though the good guys still got a good amount of quality material to work with as well. Sure, someone needs to be reprimanded for that Giyera screw-up, one that inevitably had bad consequences for the team, but the rest of the episode continued to be a great, highly satisfying offering for this especially strong season. Things should get even more exciting next week as well, as the Secret Warriors finally rejoin the party in full, to liberate S.H.I.E.L.D. from Giyera’s grip!
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. delved deep into the histories of Malick and Hive this week, while also setting the stage for the Secret Warriors' first proper mission.