Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (2013) season 3, episode 16
WRITERS: GEORGE KITSON and SHARLA OLIVER
DIRECTOR: WENDEY STANZLER
AIR DATE: April 12 2016
"Paradise Lost" - it is an epic poem by John Milton, one that everyone’s heard of and no one has read. It deals with the fall of man, and that makes it appropriate for an episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that literally includes the book, while incorporating the ongoing Hydra story line and the sense of its members giving themselves over to a dark force. It also pulls off the nigh impossible and makes us feel a bit of empathy for Gideon Malick (Powers Boothe).
Speaking of whom, he’s a driving force through the episode, both in the current day and in flashbacks to the distant past. The death of his father leads the young Gideon and his brother Nathaniel into taking his place within the hierarchy of Hydra. That may include the prospect of an eventual sacrifice - giving oneself over to serve as a host for the Hydra god (we’ve since gotten to know him as the Inhuman entity Hive (Brett Dalton), currently using Ward’s body as a host. The brothers are sceptical at first - an encounter with the imprisoned Daniel Whitehall (Reed Diamond making a return in the role) doesn’t much help. There’s a secret involving their late father’s machinations that comes to the surface.
Gideon in the present is preoccupied. He’s had a vision of his own death - at the hands of Hive. His daughter Stephanie (Bethany Joy Lenz) is concerned, with good cause. A look at Hive’s true form during a Hydra meeting might well be enough to discourage her from pursuing what might have been an attraction to Ward/ Hive. And by episode’s end, when you think things are going to go one way, instead they go another... leaving Malick devastated. It’s surprising - perhaps there’s something in Boothe’s general history as an actor of playing unsympathetic characters that makes us assume the worst of any character he plays, but his character actually evokes sympathy as the actor conveys pain.
Lest we forget, this series is not called Hydra, and so it’s the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that form up the rest of the episode, and find themselves going along two fronts. Daisy (Chloe Bennet) and Lincoln (Luke Mitchell) are out to seek some answers from James (Axle Whitehead), a slightly paranoid and crazy untransitioned Inhuman, once exiled by Daisy’s mother. Along the way Lincoln opens up to Daisy about a part of his life he’s not proud of - and it humanizes a character that’s been a bit sketchy thus far in the series.
Coulson (Clark Gregg) and the rest of the team are busy themselves, having had caught Giyera (Mark Dacascos). And yet the character, who is in and of himself a telekinetic Inhuman, has a few tricks up his sleeve, and the episode ends with the bulk of the team in what we can best describe as peril. This definitely rates as one of those to be continued moments, even if the series doesn’t use that tag for any of its episodes. Fortunately we have more of that to come next week, and a sense that this season is now starting to work towards the end game. Whether or not Ward/ Hive will be a factor after season’s end is another matter. Honestly, the man’s harder to kill than Wile E. Coyote, but he’s pretty much been backed into a corner story-wise. We’ll have to wait and see.
Stephanie and Gideon Malick