TV Review: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Season 3 Episode 16 "Paradise Lost"
EPISODE 16: "Paradise Lost"
SYNOPSIS: S.H.I.E.L.D. hunts for information on their dangerous new enemy, and a shameful secret from Malick's past is exposed, threatening to destroy his HYDRA legacy.
REVIEW: When Marvel Studios finally makes their announced INHUMANS movie, one would have to wonder what the heck it would be about. Over the last two seasons, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has delved deeply into the mythology of Marvel's non-mutant mutants and this episode is no exception. With the reveal of Hive and a bit more back story about the Inhumans and the Kree, this series is finally delivering a villain of extreme power and someone who would rightfully be a foe for The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, or any other hero or team in the MCU. Still, this episode provides us a much needed entry into the final stretch of this season while also delivering some much needed back story that helps sell what is coming next.
Tonight's episode really breaks into three distinct subplots. The biggest of these revolves around Gideon Malick and his vision of his own death at the hands of Hive as witnessed last week. Questioning his faith and alliegience, Malick is brought back into the fold by his daughter. At the same time, we get flashbacks to Malick's childhood, Just after the death of their father, Malick and his brother Nathaniel are summoned to former HYDRA leader Dr. Whitehall. Whitehall informs them that their father shirked his duties as "traveler" for fear of sacrificing his life to Hive. They find the proof in the form of a stone hidden in an edition of Paradise Lost. Malick even goes as far as to allow Nathaniel to be the traveler in his stead to protect his own life. Malick's weakness is evidenced by his fear of being murdered at the hands of Hive despite his daughter's pleas to believe in their faith.
At the same time, Coulson and the team investigate the reappearance of Ward whom they believed to be dead. Researching Hive's movements, the team finds a ransacked research facility where they have destroyed experiments into swarming animals and insects which leads Fitz and Simmons to hypothesize that Hive is, as his name implies, a creature that can control organisms to do his bidding. With Mr. Giyera in pursuit, the team manage to take him prisoner but not before he breaks out, fights May, and knocks the plane down into the hands of HYDRA and Hive. After a lot of talking and a bit of murder, this episode finally gives us Hive in all of his evil, supernatural glory.
This was really a showcase for Brett Dalton. As Grant Ward, Dalton overstayed his welcome in the eyes of many viewers but has found renewed vigor as the Inhuman entity Hive. This episode delivers the first reveal of Hive's true visage despite only being from behind. The effect is very CGI heavy but is in line with Hive's look in Marvel Comics. His true moment here comes when he reveals Malick's sacrifice of his brother's life. To even the odds, Hive kills Malick's daughter and tells him that is what true sacrifice is like. Malick appears crushed but still questioning whether his death at Hive's hands can be avoided.
While these events are taking place, Lincoln and Daisy head to meet with a wannabe Inhuman who may have stolen items from Afterlife that could help the S.H.I.E.L.D. team. With the promise of a Terrigen crystal, Lincoln's contact reveals an alien sphere that once belonged to the first Inhuman, Alveus, who was created by the Kree to command their army. When he turned on them, the Kree had to team with normal humans to stop him. It heavily seems that Hive could be Alveus, but it is not confirmed. Still, this seems like a massive mythology reveal that would have been better used in a feature film which makes it surprising to see on the small screen. Before they leave without giving up a Terrigen crystal, we learn that Lincoln almost killed his ex-girlfriend in a drunken rage but Daisy is not afraid to stay with him. When they learn that their team has been taken captive, Lincoln convinces Daisy to call in the Secret Warriors to help rescue them.
Another solid outing that balanced a ton of back story for Lincoln, Hive, Inhumans, and Gideon Malick while also providing some solid drama and a nice entry for the Secret Warriors as an assembled team. Brett Dalton was damn good this week and I cannot believe I am saying this but I hope he stays on as the main baddie beyond this season. Clark Gregg also does some very good work here as Coulson deals with the emotional turmoil of seeing Grant Ward seemingly alive. Gregg is always a great performer and this week gives him more than just a few one-liners, although he has some good zingers this week as well. I have a feeling that the Secret Warriors will be a bit underwhelming, but I hope they stick the landing after the promise of such a good run of episodes recently.
MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE REFERENCES: There were no major reveals or connections this week.
NEXT ON MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.: "The Team" airs April 19th - Agent Daisy Johnson must call upon the Secret Warriors for an inaugural mission that will leave no member unscathed, andS.H.I.E.L.D. learns more about Hive's powers, forcing them to question everyone they trust.