‘Agents of SHIELD’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 3, Episode 16: ‘Paradise Lost’
Welcome back to another Agents of S.O.M.E.T.H.I.N.G., where Comics Alliance’s Special Agents Chris Haley and Ziah Grace debrief you on all the things to like and complain about in this week’s episode of Disney’s ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.!
This week, the secret history of Gideon Malick is revealed, the agents run drills, and Daisy and Lincoln are mean to an Australian. “Paradise Lost” was directed by Wendey Stanzler and written by George Kitson and Sharla Oliver.
Ziah: After teasing it last week, Chris and I are proud to present the official Comics Alliance Agents of SHIELD drinking game:
Drinks can be any size you prefer, and Comics Alliance is in no way shape or form responsible for any bodily harm you receive due to partaking in this game.
Alright, Chris, I’ve got a six-pack of beer and a willful disregard for my own safety, so I’m ready to play the AoS drinking game!
Chris: I’ll be the not-drinking control in this particular bad idea.. I mean, experiment! This fun game experiment.
Ziah: Well, let’s get into the episode. Regarding the drinking game, I finished three beers while taking light sips. Part of that was the murderous “Inhuman” rule and part of that was that this episode was just fairly well-done! Lotta twists and turns, a lot of the writers not just taking the easy way out. Pretty good episode of AoS, eh Chris?
Chris: Yeah, we should mention right off the bat, we made up the rules for the game before we watched the episode, so it was complete conjecture on our part. If you (are of legal drinking age and) decide to play along for future episodes and get completely sha-rammered while watching, it just means we are good at paying attention to this show.
Now, as you said, on to the episode itself! Yeah, it was pretty good. There were still some things that kind of needled me a bit, like a splinter you just can’t seem to get a grip on, but maybe those things won’t come up in our conversation. Or maybe they will. Perhaps the drinking game brought your critical eye down and your positivity up?
Ziah: Lincoln was even tolerable this episode? Is this real?
Chris: Now I’m worried about you.
Ziah: Haha, but seriously. Part of the reason I’ve been so hard on him, personally, (besides the fact that he sucks) is that none of the other characters seem to really dislike him any more than they dislike everyone. May was a jerk to him for… one episode before she got over it, and Coulson barely spent four scenes with him before they were cracking wise about The Terminator movies.
But here, we get an Australian proto-Inhuman (points to you if you could figure out who he was, cause I sure couldn’t, Chris) bringing up some very salient points about how unstable and generally bad Lincoln is. If other characters acknowledge how generally crappy someone is, it’s much easier to appreciate the dynamic they bring to the show, rather than just feeling as if it’s a terrible character that can do no wrong within the universe. How’d you feel about these revelations?
Chris: Everyone on the teams seems to really like Daisy, so I’d always chalked it up to them being begrudgingly nice to him so as not to upset her.
Ziah: That is… a very good read of it! I wouldn’t say it’s backed up by the actual text of the show, but it certainly makes it sound good.
Chris: It’s the only thing I can come up with that makes their treatment of him understandable. I actually thought that Australian guy looked a lot like comic artist John Cassaday. I’m sure that was just a coincidence, but now I’m always going to expect him to have an Australian accent
Ziah: I’ll take your word for it, since I don’t know what he looks like.
Chris: He’s very handsome. To your points though, I have a really hard time swallowing any of Lincoln’s backstory. I guess it’s just down to the actor they cast, but he just doesn’t look like the type to have an anger problem or a drinking problem or an anything else problem or be a doctor or anything other than a guy on TV. If he was a little older or a little less polished looking, maybe. He needs to be gruffed up some for me to buy any of that. I don’t know, I’m not sure I answered your question at all, but that felt good to say.
Ziah: Oh yeah, I 100% agree.
Chris: Also, what a total dick move offering that guy a crystal in a lunchbox and then snatching it away instead of holding up your end of the bargain. Way to be one of the good guys. Double also, what the hell was that thing? Inhumans just get their powers from crystals? I’m sure this was covered in previous seasons, but it seemed ridiculous here. Part of that may have had to do with it being kept safe in his little lunchbox in his little backpack.
Ziah: That was so messed up! What a creep he is. “Some people don’t deserve power”. You don’t deserve power, you butthead. But to be fair, that felt like it was set up in the show to be a crappy thing to do, so at least there’s that. And to your question, I think they get their powers through the gas inside of the crystals? Like the crystals are superpower poppers.
Chris: Good grief. Sigh, you know what? Fine. Whatever. Moving on. Did I get the story straight? He had a wreck while drunk driving when he was mad about a fight he and his girlfriend at the time were having and she got hurt in the wreck? Is that right?
Ziah: Yeah, you’ve got it. Which is a shame, to be honest. I was really hoping that the show would double down on Lincoln being kind of a terrible human being, and it really felt like the show was leading towards him being someone who was willfully terrible towards his girlfriend. As it is, it just kind of feels like he was an irresponsible idiot and she got hurt because of it, which is much more run of the mill, and gives Lincoln a chance to (ugh) redeem himself.
Chris: Yeah, that’s not at all the kind of “dark secret” the Australian guy’s digs made it out to be.
Ziah: It’s definitely a good reason to quit drinking, but also not really him actively killing his girlfriend either? Just some odd choices made in the writing, there.
Anyway, on to another odd couple of choices... We got a whole dynasty of Malicks this episode, although parts of it didn’t make… Malick of sense, you feel me?
Chris: You’re priceless. We definitely got to learn more about Gideon Malick than I ever expected, I’ll say that much for certain. Which parts didn’t work for you?
Ziah: I guess I’m confused why Ward would need a Malick at all? He said he always needs a Malick by his side, but why? It would be different if Ward seemed to be unsure about humanity or didn’t have some sort of charisma and needed a front man, but he’s got his stuff together! What’s he need some old dude for?
Chris: Yeah, I mean, other than to keep him/Hydra around, I have no idea. He seems to have the kind of incredible/non-specific powers that would let him kind of do whatever he wants without needing too many businessmen, but they’re acting like part of the “plan” involves pesticides and robo-suits or something, so who the hell knows. Honestly, I feel like this is another one of those times where you can either drive yourself crazy trying to make sense of something that ultimately doesn’t make sense or you can just go, “Siiiiigh… fine. Whatever.”
Ziah: Let’s play Spot The Movie Reference! I got maybe The Great Chocolate War from the stone game, and shades of literally any Kurt Russell character ever from the Australian guy. Oh, plus that fight scene in the white room was very reminiscent of that training level in the Matrix video game. You remember the Matrix video game?
Chris: Do you mean Enter the Matrix of Path of Neo? (This is what happens to your brain when you worked at a video game store.)
Ziah: There were two? Huh. I dunno, I’ve just got vague memories of a fighting scene in a full white room. I’ve also got vague memories of lots of things, so I don’t know dude. I just don’t know.
Chris: Maybe this was on purpose too, since Ward is clearly cosplaying Neo. Maybe this show is way geekier than we give it credit for? Or maybe we are. Either way, everyone reading this owes it to themselves to watch this Path of Neo video, because it is absolutely bonkers.
I really liked that their plan for Mag-not-o, who we learned this episode is actually telekinetic, and not limited to metals (maybe every previous time it was just a coincidence he was moving metal things around?), was to have him chase Coulson into a locked down empty room where May was waiting.
Ziah: I refuse to believe that they weren’t completely aware of how Magneto-y it was for him to only move metal and they were just being obstinate about it.
Chris: We give this show a lot of guff, but the way they revealed her there waiting for him was 100% badass and I loved it. I also loved that they finally let Mark Dacascos show off his real talents as a martial artist. I’m not saying he’s not a good actor, but hiring Mark Dacascos for your action-adventure-spy-superhero show and not having him beat people up with his feet is really wasteful. Maybe the producers only knew him from Iron Chef and then one day he was like, “Hey, you guys know I legitimately know how to kick ass, right?”
Ziah: That was great! Also great was his plan (unless this was just ad-libbed) to basically take SHIELD hostage by taking them out from the inside. Good swerve in plot, a good fight scene. How strange to compliment this show after everything it’s done.
Chris: Feels odd, right? I absolutely cannot believe that it was his plan. That’s just terrible writing if the show’s intent was for him to have planned all of that. It’s much better if he simply made the best of a terrible situation. Maybe this is nitpicking, but aren’t those rooms supposed to keep him from being able to use his powers? Seems like a more impressive feat there would have been for him to find a way out using his spy-guy skills and then getting out to wreak havoc with his powers… but maybe that would have taken too long to show.
Ziah: Gotta say, after that nice little scene revealing that Gideon’s daughter’s just as much of a crazy as her old man from two weeks ago, it was a real bummer for her to just get murdered in such an… untoward way. As it is, she basically exists to wear a cute sweater and to have someone for alien Ward to flirt with, which considering she’s also his niece (sort of?) was really weird. The twist that Gideon’s death was put off for longer is actually a really clever one, though! I’m a bit torn on this whole subplot, what’d you think?
Chris: Frankly, their whole dynamic made me uncomfortable, so I was glad to see her go. She just acted a little too much like a trophy wife and not like a daughter and made it feel like even creepier than a show where people get eaten alive by monster germs should.
Ziah: Definitely fair, and I also didn’t think she was really that good of an actress overall. Just kind of a weird character portrayal there, but I like the idea of HYDRA having the same kind of weird legacy and family dynamics as SHIELD seems to with Daisy and her not-dad Coulson. Or maybe I just want more characterization for the villains? Who knows.
Chris: Who knows indeed.
Ziah: We got to see Ward’s spooky face from behind, and he’s Hive, a HYDRA construct created by Jonathan Hickman and Stefano Caselli. The character’s not an Inhuman in the comics or from space, but otherwise is basically the same. Squid monster made up of parasites. Like Swarm without the bees.
So, he’s one of the major villains of Secret Warriors and it’s surprising how little else the show seems to be taking from Hickman and Caselli’s run. There’s Yo-Yo, but her character’s not that similar, and the plot-within-plot machinations that was central to the run is basically gone. Still. Hive. Yay. All you Hive fans can celebrate.
Chris: Well, I mean, nothing on this show is much like anything from the comics, so I wouldn’t say Secret Warriors specifically has been slighted. And they even said “Secret Warriors Initiative”, which, had anyone besides Lincoln said it, might not have made me groan so hard I thought I was going to turn inside out. That name just sounds so juvenile.
I mean, “Avengers Initiative” doesn’t sound much better, but I’m willing to let that slide because we were all so excited to hear the word “Avengers” in a movie and it seemed absolutely impossible that they’d ever actually make it to an Avengers movie. Also, I’m sure Samuel L. Jackson saying “Secret Warriors Initiative” would sound way more legit than Lincoln saying it.
Ziah: Haha so many sins of this show have been forgiven just because of the delightful gift of that .GIF.
Chris: I thought it might soothe things a little.
Ziah: But you’re right in that the comic series isn’t exactly slighted by the creative choices they make, I’m just baffled by the way they use some characters and ignore others.
Chris: Well, not to be too kind to the people making this show, but this season’s not over yet, and there’s still a whole ‘nother season to come, so I’d have to assume they have some kind of plan for what they’re going to do with these characters they’ve introduced. Also, have you noticed with Hunter and Bobbi gone, it’s seemed like the show has had a little bit of an easier time focusing in and having better episodes?
Ziah: You know, it has been better about writing character moments in, but I’m not in too much of a rush to heap praise on their absence as the reason. It’s not like taking two characters out of the rotation really made the show that much smaller, so if there is a marked improvement, maybe they just care more now? I don’t know. At least the show is markedly better now.
Chris: It can be a little from column A and a little from column B. Also, keep in mind I’m saying the episodes have been better, you know, for this show.
Ziah: Hey, Chris! Did you know Coulson has a robot hand and killed Ward and feels bad about it? Because if you didn’t, don’t worry! This episode will tell you a few times to make sure you got it. One of our discarded rules for the drinking game was to take a drink every time the show remembers Coulson has a robotic hand, and I might honestly have died if we’d kept that in.
Chris: It was polite of them to remind us. Hopefully, they’ll remind us again next week!