Spoilers ahead for “Paradise Lost,” the latest episode of ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.!
The short version: The team captures one of Gideon Malick’s top henchmen, who then takes over the S.H.I.E.L.D. plane (oops!); Daisy and Lincoln get a mysterious Kree artifact; and Hive-Ward gets even creepier (as if that were possible).
The Good: Hive-Ward brings the twists, great fights and Inhuman action
No doubt, this episode was action-packed — and it’s always fun when May gets a nice one-on-one fight scene. Her slugfest with Malick’s bodyguard, Giyera, was truly brutal, and an excellent payoff to the mission to capture him. The resident Inhumans, Daisy and Lincoln, also got a chance to show off their superpowers while tracking down a rogue Inhuman leftover from the Jaiying days. Daisy’s ground-shaking move to blow all the land mines was an excellent scene. A clever, fresh use of superpowers.
After several episodes of setup, we also finally got some momentum in the Hive-Ward department, including the first tantalizing peek at his true form (as comic fans are sure to note, that octopus-style face is certainly true to the canon). It turns out Hive has been inhabiting all those sent to the alien world as sacrifices, and he even retains their memories. That’s bad news for Mallick, because when they were kids, he betrayed his brother during one of the rituals — and his kid brother ended up being sent through the portal to serve as a meat puppet for Hive. Ouch.
After dropping some not-so-subtle hints that he can remember that event (i.e. giving Malick’s daughter a copy of the same book the fake stone was hidden in when Malick was a child and they discovered their father had cheated the ritual to avoid being sent over), Hive-Ward finally taps into Malick’s betrayed little brother and, instead of killing Malick, sucks the life out of his daughter. Considering many fans were speculating she would end up as a love interest for Hive-Ward (which the writers seemed to be setting up), it was a shocking twist to have him suck out her life with a kiss. It was a great move to keep fans hopping, and it also sets up an interesting story for Malick moving forward. Yes, he devoted his entire life to getting this creature back from the alien planet. But, now that it’s killed his daughter, is he still loyal? Plus, what does Malick’s vision of his future death mean? Will he still meet that end?
We also got a nice throwback to the Inhumans' origin as ancient experiments of the Kree (an alien race we’ve met in Guardians of the Galaxy, natch), thanks to Daisy and Lincoln’s side mission to totally screw over a potential Inhuman to gain a mysterious artifact that you just know is going to turn out to be an important McGuffin down the line.
Last but not least: Coulson’s crisis of faith finally occurs, as he’s forced to literally face the decision he made back on the alien planet to kill Ward. This thread has been an interesting to tug at, as the pinnacle of good guys is finally pushed to his breaking point. Whether you think Ward deserved to die or not (he totally did, for the record), the decision is still weighing heavily on Coulson.
The Bad: Giyera’s escape, the lingering death mystery
Sure, we know the episode needs Giyera to escape and take over the plane so we can set up the awesome Secret Warriors episode next season. But, seriously? Locking him in a cell with inanimate objects he can control, then not leaving one guard to keep an eye on him in case he starts trying to manipulate things in the room to escape? It obviously took him a while to crack through that door, and there were definitely a few random S.H.I.E.L.D. guys running around on that plane. Could they not leave one dude to watch that door? A small complaint, sure, but still a bonehead move.
This episode also peeled back another layer on the bizarre flash forward that has lingered over the season, where a member of the team (apparently?) dies while almost in space aboard a quinjet. Though we finally connected the foreboding scene to a future glimpse caused by last week’s Inhuman, it still seems largely disconnected to the narrative. It doesn’t feel like a great mystery hanging over the season — just a random scene they really need to start explaining.
Lincoln’s backstory from before his time as an Inhuman also surfaced via the Aussie Inhuman he tracked down with Daisy, who dredged up some mystery from his past. Before he found his inner peace, Lincoln was a raging alcoholic — and nearly killed his ex-girlfriend while drinking and driving. It’s great to see them try to humanize Lincoln, but this storyline just felt tacked on. If they want to make Lincoln interesting, they need to do more showing. Not telling.
Last thing: So...Hive-Ward has Mallick's brother's memories, and seems to be putting the moves on Mallick's daughter. Then, he kills her with a kiss? Yeah, that's just...icky.
Line of the night: “Plus side? Maybe I'll get a chance to kill him, too.” -May
Up next: With the S.H.I.E.L.D. plane under enemy control, Daisy and Lincoln are assembling the Secret Warriors for a full-on assault. Oh, and twists! Next week should certainly be fun.