Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. recap: Paradise Lost
It’s about damn time that we got an episode focused on Hive, and more specifically, an episode that focused on why we should be scared of this Inhuman monster. Sure, Hive LOOKS terrifying. And Brett Dalton is doing some awesome vocal work in making the character different even though he looks like Grant Ward still. And we’ve seen him be ruthless with his powers. But in this world of Inhumans, there are a lot of people who have crazy powers. So what’s Hive’s deal?
To understand, we need to flash back to the 1970s, and to a young Gideon Malick (Cameron Palatas) and his brother, Nathaniel (Joel Dabney Courtney), after the loss of their father. Nathaniel interrupts Malick’s mourning by telling him Daniel Whitehall want to see him — you remember Whitehall, right? The man responsible for searching for the obelisk? But Malick has no interest in Whitehall because apparently he believed in a different kind of Hydra that their dad was against. You don’t ignore Whitehall, though, so off they go. Whitehall attempts to persuade them to choose his path in following Hydra — the scientific path rather than the one Malick is intent on following, which involves the whole stone ritual of sending people through the obelisk to try to find the Inhuman monster. Malick still is hesitant, even when Whitehall suggests that his father may have not as been as brave and strong a Hydra leader as he’s always believed in. Now, who does he REALLY want to follow?
A present-day Gideon Malick comes home to the same old house and meets his daughter, Stephanie — who greets him by saying she hadn’t known their guest was so tall, dark and handsome. A worried Malick realizes Hive has already arrived, and Stephanie confirms he showed up earlier, asking to gather the Inner Circle. Why? Hive thinks it’s time to reveal his true self. Stephanie realizes something’s up with her father, who is less confident than usual, and Malick tells her that he saw his death (remember, Charles the Inhuman touched him in the last episode). And it was a bad death. Because his killer? None other than Hive. Hive and Hydra have certainly worked their magic on Stephanie, however, who is convinced that he’s not going to hurt her. But Malick thinks he’s going to be killed tonight, which is why he’s gathering the others. Stephanie reminds him that he can fix whatever he’s worried about and turn the tables. After all, he can remind them of how important he is. He did show her how to be a strong example of Hydra, after all.
At base, Coulson is looking at a surveillance feed of Hive while May is trying to figure out how the hell he’s still alive. (Hey, MAY still wants to kill Ward.) Daisy, recovered from last week’s vision mishap, shares an adorable moment reuniting with recently returned Mack while Simmons tells the group that she thinks Ward’s body is possessed by “It” from the other planet. They figure “It” has Ward’s memories, but they can’t figure out his intent since he’s not coming after them and he easily could. Fitz, Simmons, and Coulson examine a feed of organisms that eat living flesh, which leads Simmons to wonder what if whatever this monster is uses the organisms to reanimate dead flesh?
Coulson calls everyone in and says if they can figure out what Malick wanted from Transia, it can hopefully lead them to Hive. Lincoln admits there’s an Inhuman he knows that might have answers for what possesses Ward — or rather, a potential Inhuman. He lives in South Dakota and is kind of a rebel who used to be at Afterlife but broke into Jiaying’s office raving about an ancient power that can bring people back from the dead.
NEXT: Talk less, smile more
Malick meets Hive in his backyard, where Hive tells him his daughter is a true believer. She impresses him! More importantly, she’ll play a key role in his plans. Malick wants to know how Hive works — specifically, if he remembers other Hosts and what he remembers from inhabiting their bodies — but Hive is mum about answering. In a flashback, we see Young Malick find the book Whitehall has mentioned he should check out: Paradise Lost. Inside, Malick finds a stone that he realizes is a failsafe: His father would swap the stone from the bag in order to ensure he was never chosen as a traveler to the other side. Malick realizes his father was a coward, which Nathaniel doesn’t want to believe. But it doesn’t matter. Because they’ll be better men than their dad. They’ll do the ceremony the right way, let fate decide, and won’t be scared to face their fate.
Meanwhile, Daisy and Lincoln are on their own mission to find James (Axle Whitehead), who apparently really is living the private life, complete with landmines and barbed wire and a trailer in the middle of nowhere. His attitude leaves something to be desired, but hey, at least he’s got his looks going for him. And his accent. Despite attempting not to use their powers, Daisy and Lincoln end up protecting themselves with quakes and lightning bolts, knocking him out so they can enter his home. When James comes to, Lincoln tells him they’ve come from S.H.I.E.L.D. to ask questions. He offers him the Terrigen crystal (which could potentially awaken his powers) in exchange for an artifact Daisy recognizes as Kree. James tells them that it was snatched up by Maveth, the first Inhuman, who was designed by the Kree to command an Inhuman army. Eventually, though, his power became too much, and the Inhumans had to band together with the regular humans in order to banish him. Information gathered, Lincoln refuses to give James the crystal, which is kind of crappy behavior, but I don’t blame him. He just feels that guys like James can never change, which leads James to angrily alert Daisy that Lincoln hurt his ex-girlfriend.
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Coulson has led his team to an agrochemical building in Michigan, where they think they’ll find Giyera and lab equipment and files. Coulson gets word that Giyera is coming and attempts to take him on (I don’t know why) but eventually traps him with May. This whole fight scene is worth it just to get an awesome scene of May being badass. (Like, she literally does the Black Widow jumping-off-walls move — it’s amazing.) They manage to get Giyera knocked out and into the containment unit, where Mack tries to interrogate him but with little success. Coulson is having his own moment of regret over killing Ward, which honestly seems about five episodes too late, but whatever. He tells Fitz he crossed a line and let him win when he killed him because he knew it would come back to haunt him. I appreciate the fact that Coulson is finally realizing he made a mistake, but we’re a little late on viewer sympathy here. Simmons, for her part, has done more research on whatever inhabits Ward and comes to the conclusion that he’s a parasite that retains memories of the body he took over. This we knew, but to what extent? We’re about to find out.
NEXT: Memories…all alone in the moonlight
Stephanie wants to know if her dad is okay and tries to soothe him. What we learn here is that Malick really has taught his daughter well in terms of being a Hydra stan. She brings him in to meet the Council, whose members have all come to celebrate! What have they come to celebrate? Hive, of course. He keeps his promise and shows his true form, though we only see the back of his head. But we see enough to know he changes into the scary octopus Hydra head that’s so symbolic of the group. Afterwards, Hive finds Malick with Stephanie, who is all excited because Hive gave her a gift as a token of appreciation for standing by his side: Paradise Lost. Malick is shaken, and we learn that as much as Malick wanted to be just like his dad, he became the coward himself: He kept the stone and didn’t throw it away when he and his brother went down to the river together, which his brother learned the hard way when they drew stones during a meeting.
And here’s where things get interesting: Hive takes on Malick’s brother, who we’re assuming went to the other side and died there at some point and had his body inhabited by the creature since it has his memories. But he basically becomes his brother, chastising him for his mistakes. Malick tries to apologize, and Stephanie becomes upset that her father lied to her, but Hive insists he needs a new Malick by his side. He kisses her — and then, before we can fully take in the moment, he uses his parasite powers to kill her. Right in front of Malick. Talk about ruthless. Now does Malick understand sacrifice?
Daisy wants to know what James meant by what he said about Lincoln almost killing his last girlfriend, and Lincoln tells her how before Afterlife, he couldn’t control his temper or his drinking. He got into a fight with his girlfriend and they got into the car, where Lincoln drank too much and got them into an accident. Gordon showed up and saved both of them and brought Lincoln to Afterlife for the oddest intervention ever, but hey, it kind of worked. He insists he’d never hurt Daisy and wants no more secrets between them, so Daisy gives him one of her own: her future vision, where someone on their team is going to die.
On the Bus, things are going from bad to worse as Giyera escapes and takes everyone down easily with his powers. He gets into the control room and uses his powers to nosedive the plane, but instead of crashing it, he manages to land it while still knocking everyone out. May tries to radio that they’ve been compromised, and Daisy and Lincoln manage to catch the transmission before it cuts out. Daisy has no idea what to do because everyone from their team is on that plane. Except, nope. Not everyone. Remember when Daisy was smart enough to keep her new team scattered?
Secret Warriors, assemble! You’ve got work to do.
- Nice parallel of Hive looking at white stones in front of the lake with Malick, which segued into finding the symbolic white stone in the book in a flashback.
- I admit I’m kind of upset and also surprised Stephanie was introduced only to be killed off so suddenly because I was really looking forward to seeing more of her and her dynamic with Hive and Malick. Plus, I’m always here for potential female antagonists that seem smart and cunning.
- “Together to the end”: So is Malick going to be used as a vessel for Hive’s needs until he’s disposable again? Don’t make me feel for the poor man because if this goes on long enough, I just might.