Last week, we finally saw a crack in Malick’s cool demeanor as Hive-Ward (Hward? Wive?) dangled true power in front of him only for it to be taken away by episode’s end. Though HW makes his exoskeleton gift seem altruistic, what we learn about Hive and Malick’s relationship this week casts things in a different light. When Hive told Malick to take the Transia CEO’s life, it seemed as if Gideon was being pushed to his next level of villainy. But after the reveals in last night’s “Paradise Lost”, it reads more like the “Do you feel in control?” scene from Dark Knight Rises. Maybe it’s not about granting Malick power, but more of a power play by Hive to show the human just how weak he truly is. And that’s all before Malick receives a frightening vision of the future and has Hive take away his Inhuman bodyguard, Giyera.
The Malick we’re greeted with at the beginning of “Paradise Lost” (and the one present throughout the episode) is almost an entirely different character from the scheming, confident, big bad we’ve seen all season (and while talking down to Fury from his World Council seat in The Avengers). We soon learn that the vision he had last week was of Hive killing him after calling a HYDRA meet-up at the Malick residence. So when Gideon learns that Hive is in his house and has rallied the troops, he’s naturally a little panicky.
We often take for granted the origin stories of our heroes. They’ve become so commonplace that many people cheer when a film/series subverts or entirely avoids the trope. But when done right, they serve the necessary function of showing us the human side of these fantastical individuals. When it comes to villains, often the opposite problem exists: they show up, chew scenery, kill a bunch of people, and then get roundly defeated. They’re rarely given pathos or even believable motivations, and on the film side of things, Marvel is largely guilty of this narrative transgression. But when it comes to TV, they’ve proven that the most captivating villains are those given just as much attention and nuance as our heroes (Wilson Fisk and Kilgrave, from Daredevil and Jessica Jones, respectively, are the strongest examples of this).
Showing a more vulnerable side to Malick in last week’s “Spacetime” helped us connect on a deeper level to a character who’s been a bit one-note so far, and thanks to tonight’s pseudo-bottle episode and flashbacks to the Malick boys following their father’s death, we now have a much more rounded bad guy. Hive still remains enigmatic, but we learn that Malick wasn’t always the true believer he claims, and that he’s spent most of his life not just trying to bring Alveus back from Maveth, but to bring back the piece of his brother that he lost. Unfortunately, Hive-Nathaniel isn’t quite so forgiving of his brother’s lack of faith and chooses to disintegrate/fridge Stephanie Malick (a barely used Bethany Joy Lenz). It’s an unfortunate choice as it continues the terrible comic tradition of killing a female loved-one to bring about change for a male character and logically killing Gideon and elevating Stephanie to his position would have made a lot more sense for the organization and story.
While all this is happening, Giyera is playing the agents, getting them captured and setting up the next episode (which sees the Secret Warriors unite). Director Wendey Stanzler is given the unenviable task of shooting an action scene the episode after Kevin Tancharoen helmed things, but we’re treated to a pleasant surprise when she manages to top his previous work. The setting and choreography of the fight between May and Giyera makes the sequence one of the most visually rich in the show’s history, and the dynamic camerawork was an exhilarating parallel to the performers acrobatic fight moves. Let’s get her back in the director’s chair ASAP.
We also get a little more Inhuman and Hive backstory this week as jilted James reveals Hive was designed to lead an Inhuman army for the Kree and the ancient Inhumans and humans had to band together to stop him. He also reveals his original Latin name, Alveus, mentioned above. Daisy and Lincoln even get their hands on a mystery Kree object that may just serve as a sort of codex for Inhuman knowledge so hopefully we’ll be treated to some more backstory before the finale. Every since FitzSimmons laid out the evolution of HYDRA earlier this year, this season has been doing a phenomenal job of weaving all of its story threads together, meaning the slow reveal of Hive and Inhuman backstory elevate the tension and excitement of each other. Whenever the Inhumans movie finally happens, it’s going to be impossible for S.H.I.E.L.D. gang not to be brought into the fold.
4 Landmines out of 5. Though it features a bit of table-setting, overall a tense episode which further fleshes out our villains while providing some fantastic effects and action sequences.
Doug’s busy working on a bunch of videos for the site so I moved from my regular gig of doing the S.H.I.E.L.D. breakdowns to handling the review this week.
Hive finally unleashes his comic-friendly true appearance, but we only get a behind shot so hopefully we’ll get the full reveal in the coming weeks.
Loved Daisy using her powers to stop the mine and then going off an taking the rest out. A great visual and use of her powers.
Wait, so the version we’ve been seeing of Lincoln every week is his perfect side? Yikes. Sorry, Daisy.
James is really gonna kick himself for being such an isolationist when he finds out all he has to do to get Inhuman powers is eat some tuna.