Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s “Paradise Lost” focuses on the backstory of resident Season 3 antagonist, Gideon Malick, along with his relationship to his brother and the “ceremony” that essentially feeds people to Hive through the ages. Normally, this would be seen as something of a filler installment to be sure, but Malick’s backstory is dripping with enough intrigue and betrayal to make it fascinating. Gideon and his brother, Nick, find themselves mourning the loss of their recently departed father, who had “won” the ceremony in being chosen to be food for Hive on the alien world that Simmons found herself on earlier this season. Shepherded away for a meeting with Season 2 baddie, Whitehall, the “Malick Boys” realize that it’s their turn to take their father’s place in the ceremony and potentially be the winners of this horrifying lottery. It’s not a great spot to be in, especially when they discover the true character of their father later on.
In the present, Hive makes a house call and visits Gideon and his daughter at their lavish estate, getting ready to meet with the Hydra higher ups. Hive also uses this opportunity to reveal his true form, which the audience gets to see from the back harkening to his slimy, tentacle filled comic book appearance. Brett Dalton continues to do a fantastic performance with the villainous Inhuman here. With the “goodie two shoes” Grant Ward and the crazy as a loon Ward we got later on, it’s great to see the nuance and restraint on the screen that delivers something of a haunting performance from Dalton. Malick is meanwhile struggling with the fact that he was witness to his own death in the previous episode, being shown the future that includes him literally imploding. Props also to Powers Boothe for really selling Malick here and throughout the episode, he has to demonstrate a vulnerability we hadn’t seen previously.
Meanwhile, Coulson and May mull over the return of Ward to the fold/arrival of Hive, wondering if their new S.H.I.E.L.D. even helps anyone or merely puts out the fires they themselves had started. The pair manage to come up with a scheme to capture Malick’s right hand man, Giyera, who happens to have telekinetic powers. There is a weakness to these powers in that Giyera can’t take control of organic material, so May lays a trap for him involving an empty room and her fists. During this kidnapping, Daisy and Lincoln head out in search of a former resident (James, from last season) of the Inhuman base (Afterlife) to discover more about Hive. The pair’s relationship is still in an odd limbo though it’s explored a bit more later on in the episode, though the plots involving S.H.I.E.L.D. are far weaker than the Malick fare.
Back at the Malick residence, we get a look into more of the relationship between Gideon and his daughter. I absolutely love the idea of Malick, ever the villain, telling his daughter to “man up” following her mother’s death; it’s completely perfect for the character we’ve seen so far. We also get more of a glimpse into Gideon’s past as both he and his brother Nick discover the horrible secret of their father. With each “ceremony”, a winner was chosen thanks to whoever received a particular stone with Malick Sr. performing a sleight of hand trick to make sure he was never chosen. Nick was taken aback by this revelation, believing their father to be nothing but a con-man, but in an unnerving scene, Gideon decides to pull the same trick, making sure that his brother would become food for Hive.
With the truth revealed, Hive also informs Gideon that each victim the Inhuman kills, he gains their memories and personalities. Speaking to Gideon as his brother Nick, Hive tells him that a price must be paid and proceeds to kill Malick’s daughter in a creepy fashion. So much for her being a future villain I guess! In a particularly chilling scene, Gideon sits terrified in his chair, staring at the fireplace as Hive monologues about how their relationship can now truly begin. This plotline definitely did a lot to not only dig into the background of who the Malick family is, but also gave us some nice reasons as to why we should be scared of Hive. Good stuff all around when it comes to this one.
Unfortunately, I can’t exactly say the same for the Agents. After the run in with James, Daisy lays it out there that there can’t be any secrets between the two if they want to keep moving forward. Lincoln lets her know that during one of his bouts with alcohol, he inadvertently killed his past girlfriend when he wrapped his car around a tree. To be honest, it’s a good view into Lincoln’s character though I wish it had been done a little less heavy handedly. On the Quinjet, Giyera manages to escape his captivity and take the plane for himself, leaving Daisy and Lincoln with no other choice but to assemble the Secret Warriors for a rescue operation!
While not exactly the home run that last week’s episode was, it still managed to be a nice glimpse into the minds of some of the villains, and set up nicely the arrival of the fully formed Secret Warriors next week.
Rating: ★★★ Good
Agents of M.I.S.C.E.L.L.A.N.E.A.
-Hive going full out on the Keanu Reeves look from The Matrix in this one, eh?
-Has there ever been a time in the history of fiction where a villain says, “I’ll make sure you get what you deserve” and it didn’t result in said party’s gruesome death?
-Looking forward to seeing the Secret Warriors all together, though there are definitely a few members from the comics missing that I hope can be added in future episodes.
-So we still don’t exactly know how Hive got to earth? They’re really dragging their heels on that one.
-May: “You said you killed him.”
Coulson: “I did.”
May: “Well you didn’t kill him hard enough.”
-James: “Take your little boy band hipster scruff and piss off.”
-Coulson: “Hydra’s in the oil business now? They’re not even trying to avoid the bad guy clichés.”
-Coulson: “I knew it would come back to haunt me, I just didn’t know it would come back to haunt me!”
-Hive: “Now you understand sacrifice.”