SPOILER WARNING FOR THE FOLLOWING REVIEW:This review will contain spoilers for the episode discussed, please make sure to watch the episode and then check out this recap, unless spoilers are your thing.
Paradise Lost is a very old poem written by 17th century English poet John Milton. It tells a tell, among many other things, of man’s fall from good graces with God and Satan staging a war that will destroy all humans. Or something like that. It makes a very ominous point for the show as Hive’s power is becoming obviously ever reaching and team S.H.I.E.L.D. are not the only ones getting worried. Malick himself is starting to come undone. Paradise Lost had an ever engrossing story-line as Coulson and group split up to go on two missions with one goal in mind: find out more about Ward/if Simmons thought the bird invasive species is scary she is not going to want to come up against him/Hive. Malick is given a surprising bit of back story that elevates his character from stereotypical rich industrious bad guy to a character you can’t help but feel sorry for as the sting of the end of this episode sets in for him.
Coulson and his hand are not happy. I think both knew deep down that killing Ward wasn’t wrong on principle alone; Ward was a nefarious villain and a bit heavy on the psychotic side. For all the people he has hurt and killed he most assuredly got what he deserved in the end. But what makes Coulson and his robo-hand regret this decision so much is the fact that Coulson drew so much satisfaction from it. Fresh of the death of Rosalind, Coulson had Ward in his sights, hell he even dive-bombed from a jet to land inside the portal to the distant planet Maveth just to make sure Ward got dead. And now Hive is the walking, living, reanimated dead flesh reminder that when you make the call to kill and know you are going to enjoy it, it’s going to take its toll. Coulson and Daisy need to understand more about this newly discovered threat, and they have some leads. Investigating the company Malick bought last week, Transia Corp., they find a subsidiary company that is under Transia’s commercial umbrella. GT Agrochemical, a facility that deals in pesticides, GMOs, and the like. They suspect some activity from Malick and his league of evil Inhumans, and when Giyera is spotted on location, they’re suspicions are confirmed. Lincoln on the other hand may have a lead on gathering some more information about Hive. There was once a potential Inhuman, James, at Afterlife who would tell stories to the tune of a second coming of an Inhuman space god, and the death of all Inhumans. Lincoln and Jiaying both thought he was crazy town, and banished him after he was caught stealing. He was always sore he was never chosen to be put through teragenesis and receive powers, but he might be able to shed some light on their current Hive problem.
Malick’s backstory took me a little by surprise simply because I wasn’t expecting to get any. But I was so glad I did. We travel back to 1970 as Gideon and Nathaniel Malick are at the funeral of their decreased father. They are beckoned to speak with Daniel Whitehall (!) at once and even though young Gideon has his reservations he agrees to go. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the return of Daniel Whitehall in this episode, his horrible German accent and all! It appears he, Whitehall, represents a faction of Hydra that honors science, while the Malicks represented a religious, almost zealot faction. Whitehall urges the young boys to reconsider their family ties and join him and his Hydra’s ideology of scientific advancement (remember, discovery requires experimentation). Nathaniel seems at least open to being swayed as Gideon is all no way, no how. He believes he and his brother need to honor their family and continue in the worship of the Inhuman god and take part in the stone ceremonies, the choosing of the “traveler” through the portal and to Maveth, and to a destiny of sacrifice to tentacle head. Whitehall plants the seeds of doubt in their minds by informing them of their father’s special trick and sleight of hand in order to always avoid being chosen as the traveler. Hidden in a copy of Paradise Lost in his study was a special white rock with an intend in it and switch it inside the bag, thus assuring he would never grab it and getting a one-way ticket to Maveth (death). Gideon is still not having any of it and he leaves in a huff, but Nathaniel looks like he has a lot to think about.
Back in real time Malick is not pleased at all to see he has a special guest in the form of Hive staying with him and his daughter Stephanie at the Malick estate. Stephanie is nothing short but smitten with Hive (who is very lucky Grant Ward is such a looker), while he is the very last thing Malick wants to see right now. When probed as to why he is not jumping for joy at their new house guest, and for the upcoming meeting of the inner circle of Hydra tonight that Hive as requested, Malick shares with Stephanie his vision homeless Charles, the precognitive Inhuman from last week, gave him. Malick saw himself as it looked to me, like he was being sucked into himself, blood coming out of everywhere and his eyes turning a sunken dark color. Stephanie says well tell Hive silly daddy, he’ll protect you. But Malick knows from the vision who is his killer, and it’s at Hive’s hand Malick comes to his end.
As Daisy and Lincoln travel to South Dakota and the home of James the unworthy Inhuman, Daisy can’t stop thinking of the cryptic vision she had of space, and one of the team’s death. Now Lincoln did warn that James’ personality was a bit on the salty side, but that still did not prepare her for their first encounter, to which she unknowingly steps on a landmine. Well, he did warn her not to move one more step. Daisy handles the landmine with her vibration powers and having enough of the daunting from James, Daisy assumes her classic Quake pose and hits the ground vibing, making all the rest of James’ sneakily hidden landmines go boom. This was a really cool shot and I really hope we see more of her causing some earthquakes in the future. After a quick electric take down zap from Lincoln they knock out James and have to wait for him to wake up to get to business.
Coulson and the second team head to GT Agrochemical to check out what Hive could possibly want with this company. It seems there is research being conducted on invasive species such as moths and birds, and this research has some key information that held some importance to Hive, as he had all the data on said research destroyed. While wondering what that could be about, Coulson and May also have to contend with Giyera. When dealing with an Inhuman who can control any inorganic object in his line of sight the best mode of action is to keep it simple. You just need two things: an empty room, and May. Coulson leads Giyera into the trap and after a fun cage style fight scene May takes out Giyera and they bring him into custody for questioning. Something tells me though he won’t be very forthcoming.
As James regains consciousness he needs to know that if he shares information with Sparkplug and Quake, what is in it for him? I found this part funny because I suppose James really doesn’t get out much but if only he ate more fish or started to take his daily recommended fish oil pills, he probably could have gone through teragenesis himself and not need to be baited into a trap when Lincoln presents a teragin crystal to him. Like a puppy dog with a treat, the proposal of getting powers has James salivating and he gives them a metallic orb he stole from Jiaying’s office, that Daisy somehow knows right away has Kree origins. He tells them of the story of the original Inhumans, the very first the Kree created to be their army, and one named Alvus, the Inhuman who was commanded to lead the army of Inhumans. Alvus became too powerful, and Inhumans and regular humans alike banded together to banish him. Alvus in Latin translates to hive, or beehive and stomach as well. Very interesting for the writers to throw that out there, I like that Hive is not going around demanding anyone call him by that name. After all this useful information James is very ready for his teragin crystal, but alas Lincoln fakes him out and tosses Daisy the mystery stolen Kree orb. Kind of rightfully pissed off, James spills the beans on Lincoln and his nonexistent, as far as this point, past on the show. It looks like Lincoln may have had a violent side, and almost killed his last girlfriend. Daisy, again kind of rightfully pissed off, confronts Lincoln as soon they get back to their jet and demands to know what the truth is, or they are done. Lincoln, in a great scene delivered by Luke Mitchell, tells the story of how he would fill the emptiness he felt with vodka, and his last girlfriend who would stay by his side maybe too many times, was in the car with him when he was drunk driving and killed her in a crash. It was then that Gordon (no eyes) appeared to him and brought Lincoln and his dead girlfriend to Afterlife, where they were able to save her. That is when Lincoln first found out of his Inhuman heritage and started feeling like he could have a much needed purpose in life. It is great to finally get backstory on Lincoln’s character, and I am fighting the urge to feel like this is too little too late in terms of development for him. After this episode Malick feels like a much more formed and well-rounded character than Lincoln has, which is sad considering we have been with Lincoln for almost an entire season at this point. I feel the writers have some grand trick up their sleeve for this character, but until then Lincoln still suffers from being undeveloped.
As Malick is racked with worry over the impending meeting of the Hydra inner circle and the premonition of his death, he tries to remind Hive that he is still important to the whole scheme of things. But Hive is much more interested in telling Malick how impressed with Stephanie he is. Hive tells him he sees big things for Hydra in Stephanie’s future, which doesn’t seem to ease Malick’s worry none. In a flashback to the 1970s, we found out that Nathaniel had to know if what Whitehall was saying held any truth, and is faced with the hard realization that their father was indeed a liar and a cheat. Gideon tells his brother that they will be better men than their father was. The stone ceremony is fast approaching and the Malick brothers make a promise to each other to see it to the end, together. Back in real time though, the moment of truth is upon them as the Inner Circle meet and Hive decides to reveal his true self to them. Now I don’t mind that we only got a sneak peek from behind of Hive’s tentacle head, I’m sure we will be getting a close up soon enough, but the special effects were done wonderfully and everyone’s shocked faces was enough to know Hive is one creepy baddy.
Malick though is left unkilled. A bit shocked Malick relaxes a little bit, until he sees Stephanie reading a little present Hive gave to her, a copy of Paradise Lost. This is probably the last clue that makes Malick realize he is screwed and the past is definitely coming back to haunt him. Back in 1970s, before the Malick brothers participated in the stone choosing ceremony, they chucked the white stone with the intend that their father used to bypass the ceremony into a pond, promising each other to see this through to the end. Well, it looks like Gideon has more of his father in him than Nathaniel, as Gideon faked the stone throw and sneaked the intended white stone inside the bag. As fate would have it, the Malicks are the only 2 left and inside the bag is one black, one white stone. Gideon, in a traitorous act of cowardice, chooses to sacrifice Nathaniel by choosing the black stone and leaving the white for his brother. Nathaniel goes to Maveth knowing that his brother sold him out. Nathaniel may have died on Maveth 45 years ago, but his memories didn’t die with him, they lived on in Hive. And now that Hive has returned he has some unresolved issues with his brother to hash out. Hive brings Stephanie along to finally confront Malick, who says he is ready to die on his feet for what he did in the past. Hive reminds him he still needs a Malick by his side, as he goes in to give Stephanie a kiss, then unexpectedly, spore kills her instead. Malick preparing himself for his own demise, was not anticipating seeing his daughter’s death before his eyes. Hive tells him now he understands sacrifice. The reveal that Nathaniel was inside Hive all along was terrific, and puts almost every scene between Hive and Malick in the past in a new light as the audience wonders how much of Alvus is speaking, and how much Nathaniel or any of the other past travelers inside Hive are expressing their own voice.
Back up on Zephyr One, a contained Giyera is keeping quiet on Hive’s grand plans. Simmons makes the unnerving observation that Hive may not be controlling these spores that they found on his victims, but might actually BE the spores themselves. Coulson is not taking the news of Ward’s dead body’s return well at all. While Coulson is brooding over the whole situation, Giyera, always the sneaky one, has managed to slip in a seat belt buckle that he has been working through the containment unit door. Giyera makes his escape and unleashed on the Zephyr One takes out nearly all our team. He gets control of the plane and makes it do an abrupt landing. Things don’t look good at all as May puts out a warning to Daisy and Lincoln. Unfortunately, Daisy and Lincoln alone would make a weak rescue team against the waves of Hydra they will assuredly have to fight against to save the team. Luckily for them (and the audience) they are not alone. It looks like now is a good time as any to call Joey and Elena in and unite the Secret Warriors.
The closing scene has Hive tell Malick that they are still in this together, until the end. Echoing the sentiments of Nathaniel as Malick grieves over Stephanie’s death. This episode brought great depth to Malick’s character, and makes me wonder if he may switch sides and unite with S.H.I.E.L.D. to defeat Hive in the end. I can’t wait to see the Secret Warriors come to the rescue in the next episode, but with the threat of a traitor looming over the team, we’ll see how successful Daisy’s team is when it comes to saving the day.
Photo credited to: ABCTV