'Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' S3E16: Paradise Lost

★ ★ ★ ½

No past bites harder than a Whedon show's past. A notorious motif in series such as Dollhouse, Buffy, and Angel, the choices characters make, whether right or wrong, always come back to haunt them one way or another. This morally dubious exploration of decision-making in heroics gives heroes the room to question themselves and each other, navigating through gray moral dilemmas splitting both sides of each team. The world S.H.I.E.L.D.'s in is on the verge of a civil war, but is that a war between other people or their own selves?

Even Ward had second thoughts. Yes, while he was a perfect soldier according to several Hydra leaders, Ward had notions to work against Malick in lieu of saving himself, but, then again, he was too trusting to realize he had been duped into sacrificing himself. Hive didn't just take over Ward's body, he took over his place in the organization. And while he was a god to Hydra, Hive still had to deal with Malick's doubts, which became evermore present in "Paradise Lost." The civil war in the Marvel universe is broadly used to elaborate on the self-destruction of the organizations within this world in light of the situations that are changing the landscape of how things are run. Malick, of course, saw his own death by Hive's hand, which prompted him to demonstrate the survival instinct that had kept him out of Hive's, well, hive for so many years. Malick sure did follow in his father's footsteps, using the white pebble trick to not get nominated for sacrifice. Little did he know, his brother would figure out Malick's deceit and would be thrown into the portal to serve as a Hive host, which gave Hive the memories of Malick's disloyalty. It's interesting to have seen Hive be skeptical of Malick from the beginning, except now his distrust of Malick has been revealed to have more evidence than Malick's seemingly abusive power hunger. Malick's past bit him in the butt and cost him his daughter's life.

Agents of SHIELD: S3E16

As Hive's storyline develops, S.H.I.E.L.D. is revealing as much as it possibly can about the character without giving too much away. Glimpse by glimpse, Hive gets more and more curious as he goes from simply being an entity trapped on a distant planet to a god-like, Inhuman army-wielding, cellular parasite colony copycat that just showed his true form to a select Hydra few. Only the back of his head was shown, so hopefully there is a heck of a reveal for the face that inspired the Hydra insignia.

Coulson, obviously, is beginning to regret his decision to kill Ward the way he did, especially since if it weren't for Coulson crushing Ward's ribcage with his bionic hand, Hive more than likely wouldn't be on Earth. Fitz can't get Coulson out of that rut, even with the given support for killing Ward. It's just too big a consequence for Coulson to handle.

On another, though more on the nose, exploration of misgivings, Lincoln's past was confessed after James told Daisy (and us) about his girlfriend's near-death experience. Turns out Lincoln used to be an out-of-control drunk with a temper, which doesn't yield as much of an impact as you'd like to think. The forceful insertion of Lincoln's past into the episode doesn't add to his character. He's far too different a person for it to directly affect him presently. At most, it could lead him to have an alcoholism storyline, but even then it's hard to picture him going off the deep end and returning to being a dangerous individual. We caught glimpses of his angry behavior at the top of the season, but it wasn't developed nicely enough for any of the deaths caused by Lincoln to rattle either him or audiences. At this point, he's a Boy Scout Inhuman whose character-development flaws are that of Season 1 Ward's. Lincoln doesn't need to stay on the bandwagon but, rather, fall off it. Hard.

The team managed to get Giyera into custody just long enough to get into the air before he got out and took over the Quinjet. Giyera's a terrifying threat whose capabilities were rather underplayed until "Paradise Lost" showed him going mano a mano with May. Not only was he able to keep up, but he won in the rematch. It's time to finally debut the Secret Warriors, even if there are only two other members out there.


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