Source: IGN

For better or for worse, it’s a Malick episode!

Our journey starts in 1970, shortly after the funeral of Gideon and Nathaniel Malick’s father. At first I thought, “there’s no way Gideon would be in his 20s in 1970”, then I realized 1970 is creeping on 50 years ago. Yikes.

As a HYDRA member unironically calls their dad a “true believer” without even a hint of a Stan Lee impression, Gideon informs him that they intend to continue their father’s work, which is seemingly mindlessly sacrificing people to the Monolith every now and again. His brother Nathaniel approaches, and tells Gideon that they have to go see Daniel Whitehall. Gideon doesn’t want to, because they don’t believe in his HYDRA – but the two bodyguards near the car aren’t asking. They get in the car, and as Gideon stares out the window, he ages 46 years.

In 2016, Gideon Malick’s car pulls up to the Malick family estate, where his daughter Stephanie is waiting for him. He tells her that they need to talk, still rattled from his vision of the future from last episode, but all she wants to talk about is how hot Hive is. She casually lets it slip that Hive is already there, and has invited the inner circle of HYDRA cultists. Gideon is clearly flustered as Hive descends the steps, and tells him he felt it was time to show his true face.

At the Playground, a pissed off Coulson is staring at the security footage of the reanimated Ward with intense hatred. May enters the room and scolds him for not killing him good enough, and asks what they’re dealing with – and Coulson has no idea. He tries to talk to her about Andrew, but she brushes it off and stays on topic. Coulson admits he feels like they’re just fixing problems they created lately. May agrees, but relishes the fact that she gets a chance to kill Ward too.

As Daisy inspects the meaty bones of one of Transia Corp.’s upper management, Mack shows up, complaining that Ward just doesn’t seem to stay dead. Welcome back, Alphie! Simmons and Fitz states their theory that Ward is possessed by “It” from the other planet, but they have no idea what he did to the bodies; all they know is he decimated an entire planet. Mack asks Daisy if she saw anything else helpful in her vision from last episode, but then recurring-background-agent-who-looks-like-Sunil-Bakshi interrupts, saying Coulson wants to see them all in his office.

Coulson decides that the best way to find SquidWard is to find Gideon Malick, and they’ve traced weapon shipment activity to a GMO company he owns (and Simmons despises, in a rather out-of-character line for a biochemist). They decide to split up; Daisy and Lincoln have a stop to make in the badlands, as an Inhuman Lincoln used to know from Afterlife may have some answers on what “It” is and how to beat it.

At the Malick estate, Gideon explains the vision he saw to Stephanie; he saw himself being torn apart from the inside by Hive.

In 1970, young Gideon and Nathaniel meet with Daniel Whitehall in prison, in an interesting cameo from season two. He is old and in prison, and still has a German accent, but is calling himself Daniel Whitehall and not Werner Reinhardt – which may be an anachronism. Maybe I just need to rewatch season two. Whitehall tells them that their ritual is foolish, but their father was no fool – the only reason he stayed alive through all these stone ceremonies was by cheating. This angers the Malick brothers, and as they leave, Whitehall tells them to check the book “Paradise Lost” in their father’s study for more answers.

In present day, Stephanie is telling Gideon that Hive isn’t going to hurt him. He says there is no denying it, and he believes it to be tonight – he sent Giyera away and is gathering the inner circle so he can kill him in front of them as a show of power, as he no longer has any use for him. Stephanie thinks this is ridiculous because he is a faithful follower, and tells him to “man up”.

As they ride in the Quinjet, Daisy has a flashforward to the Quinjet explosion vision three months from now. Lincoln snaps her out of it, and Daisy questions why Lincoln never told her about another Inhuman. He says that he’s actually only a potential Inhuman, who never got his powers – and assumed he was crazy until Ward’s reanimated corpse showed up. He promises he wasn’t trying to keep anything from her, and debriefs her. He’s an Australian former mercenary and demolitions expert named James who was banished from Afterlife after breaking into Jiaying’s study, and wouldn’t stop ranting about the second coming of an ancient Inhuman that could raise the dead. He also notes that he is bitter that he didn’t get powers, so to be careful around him.

On the Zephyr One, Fitz and Simmons show Coulson the newest research they have uncovered – that “It” appears to control parasites that picked the bones clean(ish). They also believe he may be using them to reanimate people. Mack has confirmation that the GMO company is the right track, as he finds security footage of Giyera.

At the estate, Hive and Gideon are walking through the yard, and Hive tells him that he is impressed with Gideon’s daughter. She is a “true believer” (again) and will play a key part in their plans. As Hive starts skipping stones, Gideon asks him how much he remembers of his past hosts, and if their memories live on in him. Hive asks if there is anything specific he wants to know, and then says that all will be made clear tonight.

On the Zephyr, Coulson debriefs everyone on Giyera (though they should all know who he is at this point). They reiterate that he is telekinetic, but can only control non-biological material. They prepare to fight him with A.T.C.U. biological recognition guns, and May questions about one particular room on the floorplan.

Lincoln and Daisy approach James’ shack, which looks straight out of Borderlands. James approaches with a shotgun and cheerfully tells them not to take another step, or they’ll regret it. Daisy does so, and steps on a landmine. James is under the false impression that Jiaying sent them after him, and is surprised she didn’t sent Gordon. Daisy uses her powers to hold the landmine down long enough for her and Lincoln to get out of the way, and then she shakes the ground in a classic Quake pose from the comics, detonating any other landlines in the area. James goes for his gun, and Lincoln fires a blast of lightning at him, knocking him unconscious.

Good talk.

In the mansion, Gideon is playing with a small white stone, and it flashes back to 1970. Gideon walks into his father’s study, where Nathaniel is sitting at the desk. Gideon makes small talk about not being able to sleep, but an emotional Nathaniel claims he “had to know” and holds up “Paradise Lost”. He opens the book to reveal that there was a hole in cut in it, which hid a small, notched white stone – their dad had swapped in that stone and felt for the notch, to ensure he never got chosen. He was a coward, a cheater and a liar. Gideon resolves that they will be better men. They got to the pond where Hive would skip stones decades later, and proclaim that they are together to the end as Gideon throws the stone into the pond.

In present day, Stephanie tells Gideon to “man up” again, and he rises to greet the inner circle. As he acknowledges that they all had doubts that he could bring back the HYDRA god, Hive steps out of the shadows and announces his exile is over. As one HYDRA cultist dismisses Hive as Grant Ward, and he says that Ward is merely a vessel. He instructs them to “see and believe”, and as the camera conveniently pans behind him, his head dissolves in a mass of tentacles that appear to be very comic accurate to the Hive we know and hate.

As Mack, May and Coulson infiltrate GT Agrochemical, they find a bunch of dead moths and other insects. The data on the servers was transmitted offsite and wiped, so Coulson tells Mack to gather up the experiments for Simmons. Giyera approaches and starts trying to attack Coulson, but he’s prepared. He leads him on a chase until he is trapped in a small objectless room with May. After a fantastic fight, May knocks Giyera unconscious, and they load him into a containment unit. As Fitz traces where the server data was sent, a mostly unconscious Giyera starts moving stuff from inside the open containment unit, so they clear it out and shut the door.

As James comes to, Lincoln just has some questions – but he accuses them of working for Jiaying again (and Lincoln of sleeping with her). Daisy tells him that Jiaying is dead, Afterlife is ashes and they’re all on the same side. As incentive, since James isn’t the “out of the kindness of my heart” kind of guy, Lincoln offers him a Terrigen crystal. James claims that most of what he stole was junk, but this wasn’t – a Kree sphere, which he wants to trade for a crystal. He has no idea what it does, but claims it belonged to Hive (who’s real name is Alveus), who led the charge on the Inhumans vs. Kree fight centuries ago. He is one of the most powerful original Inhumans, and was eventually banished by other Inhumans after they started to fear him. They steal the orb and refuse to give James the crystal, telling him that not everyone deserves powers. He questions the idea that Lincoln deserves powers, saying he nearly killed his last girlfriend. Lincoln leaves and tells Daisy to follow, as James screams that men like him don’t change.

On the Zephyr One, Simmons reveals that HYDRA was studying invasive swarm species of birds and insects, and was testing plant and animal resistance to them. Coulson tells her to keep looking – maybe they can find the chink in his armor. Simmons presents a new theory – that the parasites they found on the bones aren’t being controlled by Hive – they are Hive. A pissed off Coulson crushes a pipe with his robo-hand, and Fitz tries to convince him that he did the right thing killing Ward. Coulson disagrees; it was pure revenge, and that is not what S.H.I.E.L.D. is about. Fitz says the alternative was letting him win, but Coulson tells him that by killing him, he already has won.

Mack tries to question Giyera, who is still hiveminded and speaking in the royal we and being generally unhelpful. As May tells him they are approaching the destination the server data was transferred to, they decide they will see what he is up to, cooperation or not.

In the mansion, Stephanie pours Gideon some scotch and continues reading her book. She claims it was a gift from Hive, for standing by his side. She reveals it to be a copy of “Paradise Lost”, which unsettles Gideon. He decides to turn in for the night. He goes to examine the copy of “Paradise Lost” in the study, which still has the hole cut out for the stone. Hive approaches and notices he kept the book… and the stone, which he produces. Stephanie questions what’s going on, and Gideon tries to get her to leave – but Hive invited her there. Hive reveals that Gideon threw a different stone in the pond that day, and kept the notched stone. He asks if it was a deliberate betrayal, or just to save his own life. We flash back to the stone ceremony of 1970, as Gideon and Nathaniel are the last two to draw stones. Nathaniel drew the black stone, and sees the notched white stone in Gideon’s hand. He says “I thought we had a deal”, as he is heartbrokenly led to the Monolith. Hive repeats, “I thought we had a deal – what happened to ‘together until the end’?”, and Gideon finally recognizes what is going on.

Gideon claims that he had to do it; that he gave up everything so Nathaniel could return. Hive angrily retorts that Gideon was never willing to give up everything. Stephanie is disgusted with Gideon, but he won’t let her remember him the way he remembered his dad. He will die, but refuses to die a coward. Hive says that this must be made right, but he still needs a Malick by his side, and passionately kisses Stephanie.

That’s your niece-ish, dude!

As he kisses her, he releases his spore-dust into her mouth, giving her a kiss of death. Her flesh dissolves as she collapses into skeleton on the floor, to Gideon’s horror. Hive proclaims that now he understands sacrifice.

On the Quinjet, Daisy and Lincoln are fighting about what James said. She claims that he can’t just “show her Mr. Perfect all the time, that’s not how this works!” That sure isn’t how character development works. I have high hopes for you, Mr. Campbell!

Lincoln tells a sad story about his alcoholism and rage issues, which led to a near-fatal car crash – then Gordon showed up and they were able to save his girlfriend, and ultimately, “save” Lincoln. I know I’m downplaying it and it sounds a bit cheesy, but this is really is one of the best character-developing moments for Lincoln. He’s finally becoming a three-dimensional character!

As Lincoln tells Daisy that he would never hurt her, she reveals her vision to him – a member of their team is going to die.

On the Zephyr One, Giyera has been a regular telekinetic MacGyver and has orchestrated his escape with a seatbelt buckle. As the agents try to fight him off, Giyera knocks them out one by one, and controls the ship’s steering while into a swan dive. As the only conscious agent, May pages Daisy and says that Giyera has taken control of the plane. Giyera knocks her out. Lincoln tells Daisy that’s it’s time to call in the Secret Warriors.

In the post-credits scene, Hive tells Gideon of Giyera’s exploits. He claims they have balanced the scales today, and proclaims them together until the end.

This episode, though touted as an excelerated fast-track until the end of the season, felt almost like a jump back in pace from last week’s That’s So Raven antics. It was still an enjoyable episode, with an unexpected Stephanie Malick bait-and-switch. Overall, it’s another firm 7.5/10. Luckily, it looks like the last five minutes really stepped on the gas.

Crackpot theories and speculation

  • Simmons is going to meet Hive and, knowing what he can do regarding past hosts,  it’s going to hurt.
  • According to press releases, one of the Secret Warriors is going to turn on the team. My guess? The only one we’ve seen alone with Hive; Lincoln. Besides, Daisy only dates personality-less S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who end up being controlled by Hive.
  • James the potential Inhuman is slated for a few more episodes this season. But who could he be? My guess is the Secret Warrior James Taylor (J.T.) James, Hellfire.