TV Show Review

TV Review: AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 3, Episode 16: Paradise Lost [ABC]

Bethany Joy Lenz Powers Boothe Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Paradise Lost

ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Paradise Lost TV Show Review. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., season 3, episode 16, ‘Paradise Lost,’ was more about a titular plot detail, than allusion; but managed to get this season of Agents closer to showdown shape than most episodes, this season. From a peek behind the Hive-Ward (Brett Dalton) curtain, to establishing his relationship with Gideon Malick (Powers Boothe), to getting Coulson (Clark Gregg) back in pre-vendetta shape, to giving the respective heavy-lifters of both sides their time to shine, ‘Paradise Lost’ covered more ground – with less filler – than most episodes.

If anyone thought the Worm-Ward reveal didn’t get enough attention from Coulson & Fitz (Iain De Caestecker), last ep, well Coulson certainly took a moment to take it all in, this time around. This wasn’t just about unfinished business, either – Worm-Ward was Coulson’s proof, that his effort at Ward removal was too big a step out of bounds. Coulson was also quick to pick up on the nature of Hive – so maybe he’s the only one to have actually seen John Carpenter’s The Thing (or read its source) – but the brazenness of Hive-HYDRA left the focus on one of their ops-in-progress, and an opportunity to nab Malick’s right hand, Mr. Giyera (Mark Dacascos).

With the episode turning out to be heavy on the facing-one’s-demons trope, a Cavalry charge on Giyera was one hell of a pugilistic palette cleanser. Anybody remember me saying how Dacascos was wasted on hands-free work? Well: this. For all of his background flunky work, I’d say this episode was something of a compensation – hands-on & off.

Giyera’s overtime may have also served as a pretty good set-up, for Daisy (Chloe Bennet) to let slip some Secret dogs of War; but a road trip errand, with Lincoln (Luke Mitchell), meant getting some useful intel, a potentially essential item… and some lingering baggage off the carousel.

Frankly, I was disappointed by what was supposed to have been the infamous dark side to Lincoln, that we’ve been hearing about. Not to inject too serious a subject matter into a still relatively family friendly show, but recovering spousal abuser would’ve followed through, on all of that foreshadowing, a lot more sensibly – giving Daisy a lot more to do/ consider, regarding their relationship. Ah, well – one less bag to check, getting her Secret Warriors off the tarmac, I guess; and her counter revelation was more relevant, anyway.

Of more immediate consequence was Malick’s revelation, about his own vision of the future. The reveal would prove pivotal to his daughter, Stephanie (Bethany Joy Lenz) – in her reception of drop-in guest of honor, Hive – and to a parallel flashback story, about the newly orphaned Malick brothers, Gideon & Nathaniel (Cameron Palatas, Joel Courtney). A flashback story set in motion by Daniel Whitehall (Reed Diamond), of all people.

Whitehall served as a reminder that Agents does have a penchant for messing with source character roles & fortunes (not as severely as, say, Arrow; but, nonetheless). Given that the Malick clan is a series original (MCU, if you wanna be particular about it) figuring a place for Stephanie was hard enough for me, without being distracted by her passing resemblance to Linda Fiorentino. Linda Fiorentino….

Hm? Yes – so about character placement, fortunes, and more reveals.

I was afraid they’d cop-out on the Hive reveal, and cop-out they did. Still, it was better to have gotten a glimpse of Hive-actual done right, than a full-on look at the character done less justice. There’s still time & space enough, for Waiting for the Worms to Crawl; but wormy Ward ways remained the order of the day.

Stephanie’s actual role was to serve as a screen – added to Malick’s fatal vision to give viewers a false sense of the episode’s direction. Even if viewers were able to pick up on where the flashback story of the Malick boys was going, the detail they likely missed was how that outcome could be used, when added to the memories of Grant Ward.

Somehow, Ward had found a way to get back to settling scores with big brother. I’m not sure if to regard this as lazy, or clever – the whole affair may have been handled too subtly for casual viewers to catch – but we are definitely back to Ward being reassuring in the wake of casual murder. Makes me wonder if the original article has been/ will be more than just the face of Hive.

An example of just the kind of question a season like this needs to be generating, at this point, as a lot of appealing possibilities seem to be making themselves known. There will always be the risk of generating too many missed opportunities, of course (still crashing, after BvS); but I’d call it a win if any of these potential issues are broached – let alone addressed.

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About the author

Sam Joseph

Sam is an Avid consumer/observer of Geek culture, and collector of Fanboy media from earliest memory. Armchair sociologist and futurist. Honest critic with satirical if not absurdist­­ wit with some experience in comics/ animation production.

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