Warning: this review contains spoilers. You can find all of my Agents of SHIELD reviews here.
“Paradise Lost” was a very good episode of Agents of SHIELD that shed light on Gideon Malick’s backstory, as present day events brought him closer to his doom.
Agents of SHIELD yet again chose to avoid stalling and explicitly showed us the vision Malick had last week—a not too surprising but pretty gruesome one of his own death at the hands of Hive. Combining that with the flashbacks of Malick’s past set up the audience’s expectations that “Paradise Lost” would indeed be Malick’s last episode among the living. That air of foreboding suspense permeated “Paradise Lost” and made it gripping, as even this despicable villain was humanized by his fear of the powerful being he’d unleashed.
The flashbacks themselves were strong and illuminating, revealing Gideon’s complex past with his heretofore unmentioned brother, and even including a welcome guest appearance by Season 2 antagonist Daniel Whitehall. It was easy to see what their conclusion was, as the episode very clearly set up Gideon’s betrayal, with Nate’s memories and personality living on in Hive. But rather than have that predictability be a hindrance, “Paradise Lost” leaned into the blatant foreshadowing in order to surprise us a very clever bait-and-switch at the end. Malick’s daughter dying instead of Gideon himself was both a great way of playing with the audience’s expectations (continuing a trend from last week) and a powerful moment in its own right. Though a good villain already, having Malick’s world rocked so thoroughly these past few weeks has made him an even better character.
Meanwhile, our heroes wasted no time responding to the discovery of Hive’s existence on Earth, dispatching two teams to learn more about it, while Coulson dealt with his decision to kill Ward coming back to haunt him. That point hadn’t been properly addressed since the return from midseason break, so I’m glad to see that Coulson’s moment of darkness has led to very tangible consequences in the form of a vengeful Hive (unlike, say, on Gotham, which continues to drop the ball on its similar “main character going dark” storyline).
May’s capture of Giyera was another strong element of “Paradise Lost”. It featured an awesome and very fun fight scene between the two (though not as impressive as Kevin Tancharoen’s work last week), and led to some major developments as Giyera escaped and everyone except Daisy and Lincoln was captured.
Speaking of which, Daisy also had a few great moments in “Paradise Lost”—like setting off those landmines with her powers—as she and Lincoln obtained a mysterious Kree orb, which is definitely something to be curious about. The not-yet-Inhuman they visited, James, was an entertaining character—if conveniently introduced—and I wonder if he’ll have a larger role to play in the future.
Meanwhile, Agents of SHIELD continued trying to make Lincoln actually interesting, to mixed results. Teaming him up with Coulson a couple of weeks ago was an inspired idea that made him feel more multi-dimensional and enjoyable to watch. This week, though, his whole alcoholism and temper story didn’t pack the punch that the writers probably thought it would. But at least it led to Daisy being forthcoming with him about her vision.
Finally, Secret Warriors assemble! That team-up storyline has continuously been teased since the beginning of the season, and hopefully our patience will finally pay off.
Rating: 4/5 (Great)
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