Review: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “Paradise Lost”

"The weary fiend stood on the brink of Hell and looked awhile, pondering his voyage."

In which Damian and Hanna chat about the latest episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. with all the spoilers.

First, a brief recap: Daisy and Lincoln head to South Dakota to talk to a potential Inhuman about the history of Neo-Ward. The rest of the team tries to stop Malick’s nefarious schemes with limited success and Malick’s past comes back to haunt him.

Hanna: We’re back. Good episode, bad episode?

Damian: I think on balance, good episode.

Hanna: I think so as well. Some things I loved. Some things I didn’t love. So, let’s start with Daisy and Lincoln, since their storyline is sort of separate.

Damian: So they tracked down an old acquaintance of Lincoln — he’s an unpowered Inhuman. So what do we think of him?

Hanna: I thought he could be interesting, but he was played as straight up villainous. The protagonists dick him over, in a way that makes it seem like we should be sympathetic to the fact that they screwed him

Damian: They dangled the possibility of being powered and then snatched it away after they stole from him

Hanna: And then they talk about being an Inhuman without powers leaves you feeling empty and leads to alcoholism.

Damian: Which is kind of embodied by his current situation as a reclusive drunk in the badlands of South Dakota.

Hanna: I thought it might be more morally ambiguous than the show wanted it to be.

Damian: I don’t know. Maybe? At the end of the episode we learn about the Secret Warriors initiative Daisy has created — which seems like it would be the powered people. I would be interested to see if they introduced that character because they were going to make him powered.

Hanna: It felt like an introduction, as opposed to a one off character.

Damian: I wouldn’t be surprised, now that they’ve dangled Chekov’s blue crystal, if we’ll get him as a new Inhuman soon.

Hanna: What did you think of Lincoln’s confession about his past?

Damian: First of all, there’s a point where Daisy says he needs to tell the truth now or they’re over. I think it would have been cool if he’d responded: Well, we’re over. Of course he doesn’t. He bares his soul. I will say this, Lincoln as a character was the best I’ve seen him in this episode. Not that I liked him, but at least he’s been consistent. He’s sort of a soft presence who seems on the edge of murder. They let him have more to do and really he felt like part of the team.

Hanna: I feel like Daisy doesn’t have much reaction to his confession and this undercuts the seriousness of it. She jumps straight to forgiveness mode. But. Moving on the the Mailick plots. We have two. We have the young Malick brother plots and Neo-Ward being creepy. What’d you think?

Damian: I think Malick became a relatively strong character. He got strong motivations and Powers Booth did a really good job. He communicated a lot with his stony face and I actually felt some sympathy for him in this episode.

Hanna: I really liked putting Malick’s brother into Hive as a reason for Hive to dislike him. Because you’ve gotten the feeling that Hive doesn’t like Malick, but we haven’t known why.

Damian: And it is interesting that Malick was the one who brought back Neo-Ward, when he potentially has something to lose by doing it.

Hanna: I really liked that. I think killing the daughter was bullshit.

Damian: I think that may be where we disagree.

Hanna: Quite possibly. I agree that Powers Booth/Malick was really good this episode and I think it would have been a cool send off for him. Which would leave us with the daughter as a potentially interesting new leader of Hydra. Instead we get her commenting on how hot Ward is, telling her father to “man up” and then Hive kisses her and eats her skin to punish her father. Whenever you have a character and their only point is to suffer as punishment for another character, especially when it’s a woman introduced as a punishment for a man, we should reexamine why that choice was made. I think it would have been more interesting to kill Malick and let her be a person.

Damian: Hmm… Well, I think –*I have an ice cream headache. Give me a second.*

Hanna: I’m leaving that line in for the post.

Damian: Alright. So. I didn’t see it coming when they killed her off. I can see where it was telegraphed by the emphasis on Malick’s imminent death, but I was surprised. I’m not going to approach the social aspect because I don’t think she was a strong enough character to make that choice at that moment. I think that Powers Booth finally played that role strongly enough to connect as something more than a generic head of Hydra. I think you could have a larger discussion on why the evil heads of Hydra are always played by  men, but given the specifics episode I think they made the right choice.

Hanna: Hmmm… I did like Powers Booth this episode, but it would have been interesting to see the same beats from a woman. Overall, I was disappointed by wasting his daughter as a character.

Damian: I’m interested to see where Malick goes with it.

Hanna: Well, we know he’s going to die.

Damian: That Hive will kill him. Unless we’re missing something.

Hanna: They established the rules of the Inhuman who had visions pretty strictly. I hope they stick closely to those.

Damian: And Malick is clearly going to try to get revenge on Hive.

Hanna: One would think so. Speaking of revenge, what do you think of Coulson?

Damian: Coulson struggling with his guilt?

Hanna: Yes. His murdery-ness.

Damian: Well… the struggling only seems to have come with these consequences. Which makes it feel like a question of: “Are you sorry? Or are you sorry you got caught?” I think it would be cool if someone brought it up.

Hanna: Agreed.

Damian: Coulson seems more troubled by the whole: “When I killed him, Ward won.” thing. But what I think he means is that he literally did win. The Hive creature got to use the body and return to the world.

Hanna: I think it was supposed to read in the philosophical way.

Damian: I think it’s meant to sound like that, but is more important in the “I actually handed him a victory.” Coulson when he’s with people other than Daisy is always better. He was good with Fitz. We also got an interesting fight with May and Giyera. It was a little too flashy, but there was some cool stuff.

Hanna: I thought it was an odd combination of flippy choreography and impact. When he landed a hit on May, she went down. He hit the ground hard when she knocked him down.

Damian: And it did feel a bit like May had met someone who is as good as she is. The groin kick seemed a little — maybe that Giyera should have seen it coming.

Hanna: And not stood with his legs in a convenient V?

Damian: Yeah. He’s an arrogant dude, but it didn’t seem quite right.

Hanna: I was worried about Fitz when Giyera broke out. But I’m almost always worried about Fitz. Okay. So we have all the non-powered folks in a plane, captured by Hydra.

Damian: Knocked out on said plane.

Hanna: And Daisy is bringing in the powered cavalry.

Damian: And Daisy and Lincoln know someone is going to die.

Hanna: It was a pretty good episode.

Damian: Yup. Seems like they’re back in the swing of things. I enjoyed these last two episodes.

Hanna: Indeed. We’ll see what we get next week.

Hanna and Damian will return next week to discuss the next episode of Marvel’s Agent’s of S.H.I.E.L.D.