They’re Not Afraid: What the Hell is Agents of SHIELD’s Ward?!

 

paradise

All hell broke loose in the last Agents of SHIELD, with Ward’s true form, stories of ancient Inhumans, and the lead-up to the team promised in last season’s finale. Let’s find the episode’s secrets!

Sorry for the extreme delay – some personal issues have kept me back a bit. A lot of stories on the pipeline though, so let’s get kraken! .. uh.. Cracking!

The Story Thus Far: Ancient factions of Hydra have dedicated themselves to an otherworldly Inhuman just as Inhumans on Earth have feared the return of It! Now the Agents are trying to uncover the truth as Hydra tries to grapple with the monster that’s been unleashed!

Comic Connections in “Paradise Lost”

paradise-kraken

The episode opens in 1970, with flashbacks to young Gideon Malick‘s formative years alongside his brother Nathaniel, following their father’s death. It seems the Malicks were raised in the spirit of old Hydra, the Hydra that worshiped an ancient Inhuman parasite, but with their father gone, agents of Daniel Whitehall, who represents the (comparatively) new Nazi-inspired Hydra, seek them out. Whitehall was a major threat last season when we learned he was a war criminal captured by Agent Peggy Carter before he gained renewed youth after experimenting on Daisy’s mother Jiaying. In 1970, however, he was still in jail. Whitehall was a significant (if short-lived) Hydra leader in the comics, better known as Kraken, before he was replaced by another.

paradise-traveler

Inviting the boys to his cell, Whitehall successfully tarnishes their father’s memory by proving the man of “faith” was no such thing. It seems the elder Malick hosted many of the obelisk rituals (also shown last season) that sent many “volunteers” to their deaths on the alien world. Each volunteer, called a Traveler, was chosen by pulling a ceremonial stone from a bag – and the elder Malick made sure he was never chosen by hiding a marked stone in a copy of Paradise Lost. “Traveler” is an interesting name for a space-jumping person sent to keep an ancient sleeping evil alive, since it was also a name used by Cable when he was time-hoping person going to kill an ancient sleeping evil. Paradise Lost is one of the most influential pieces of English literature, as it cemented the concept of the devil’s war against Heaven in the public consciousness.

paradise-it

Despite promising each other they would never cheat as their father had, Gideon cheats the ceremony, unwittingly condemning his brother to death – a fact Nathaniel understands all too well. Nathaniel is sent to the planet Maveth where he is apparently killed, possessed, and eventually consumed by the creature Hive, and in doing so, permanently becomes parts of Hive’s memories. As Simmons points out “It” (as the SHIELD team repeatedly calls the creature) destroyed an entire civilization on that world before coming to Earth in Ward’s dead body. I’ve mentioned this before, but “It” (with the emphasis Fitz-Simmons gives) is clearly meant to be a name, and there have been a few significant “It” characters in Marvel. The most significant being a giant stone monster animated by the mind of a Hollywood background artist.

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In the modern day, Malick is none-too-pleased to learn Ward/Hive (Wave?) has made itself at home in his mansion alongside his daughter Stephanie. The prophetic vision from Charles last episode revealed to Malick that he will die painfully at Ward’s hands, but Stephanie, who seemed somewhat impressed by Ward’s looks but more-so by Hive’s power, sides with the Inhuman monster when she learns about her uncle’s fate. Bucking expectations, Ward reveals his true self to the Inner Circle of this branch of Hydra. Though still not calling himself “Hive,” his true self sure looks like the comic book version of Hive. As of now, Hive is not an ancient Inhuman, but a collective organism created only a few years ago by Hydra scientists that quickly became part of Hydra’s Inner Circle. Of course, it just takes a good retcon to establish Hive as an ancient Inhuman menace. Also, “Inner Circle” is a common enough term, but most associated in Marvel with the Hellfire Club. Although the HC are mostly seen as X-Men villains (indeed, that was what they were when they first appeared), they are prevalent throughout the Marvel Universe. Malick’s form of Hydra has a lot more in common with the Hellfire Club (including their forked symbol) than Strucker’s Nazi-influenced Hydra.

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Then Hive kills Stephanie, rather than Gideon Malick. When Stephanie briefly appeared a few episodes ago, it seemed like she had potential as a great new villain, now it seems her role was merely as an impetus to Gideon’s eventual rebellion against Ward. She was fridged, a term that has come to mean any time a female character is killed (or maimed) just to give a male character more emotional development. Hmm.

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Back to the main cast, Coulson is pissed to learn one of his few cold-blooded murders (in that it wasn’t in the heat of battle) was not as permanent as it previously seemed, so he sends one team to check a Transia subsidiary GT Agrochemical that was hit by Malick, and Daisy and Lincoln to learn more about the entity inside of Ward. The pair visit James, a demolitions expert and mercenary from Australia who was rejected by Jiaying’s Afterlife Inhumans. Now living off-the-grid in a compound surrounded by active landmines, James (who Lincoln says is “Crazytown”) is unaware that Jiaying and the “no-eyed, bootlicker, Gordon” are dead, but after Daisy uses her powers to first delay then set off mines, James is convinced to give up an artificat in exchange for a Terrigen Crystal. Lincoln renegs of course (though this begs the question: where did Lincoln get it from?), but he and Daisy make off with the strange sphere. Between his horrible attitude and connection to Daisy, James seems a lot like the James of Secret Warriors, better known as Hellfire. Seems unlikely though because, aside from not being remotely Australian, he’s empowered by a genetic connection to the Ghost Rider legacy, so no need to make him an Inhuman.

paradise-sphere

James claimed the alien thingamajig was designed by the Kree to command an Inhuman army. It was stolen by “one of the first Inhumans” called Alveus, but the other Inhumans feared him so, they teamed with regular humans to banish him to another world. Huh. So there is an Inhuman named Avius, but he was just a pink-feathered “goony-bird” that pestered the Human Torch once, but “Alveus” doesn’t ring a bell yet. Anyway, this is apparently the ancient name of Hive. The thingamajig sure looks like Doctor Strange’s window, but that’s probably a coincidence. Less coincidental, the sphere also looks like the sphere Starlord stole in Guardians of the Galaxy, so could there be an Infinity Gem inside? Wouldn’t that be something…

Daisy learns Lincoln’s dark secret: apparently before he became an Inhuman, he was a disaffected drunk who nearly killed his girlfriend in a drinking and driving incident. Thankfully, she was healed by an Afterlife Inhuman.

May and Coulson’s team hit the GT Agrochemical plant in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. They find several dead moths, and evidence the site had been studying numerous invasive species (including scary, scary sparrows); the Inhuman telekinetic Giyera sent the stolen info to an abandoned oil field in Schoonbeck on the Dutch-German border.

paradise-moth

While on site, the team encounters Giyera, whom we learn can only affect non-biological things with his powers (conveniently explaining why he tried to throw a fire extinguisher at someone last time). Planning for this eventuality, May traps Giyera in a room where he’ll have nothing to throw at her, and he’ll be forced to rely only on his special ops ATCU training. It’s a tough fight, but she takes him down with a nut shot. It’s interesting, there’s another Marvel villain with powers similarly limited – and she’s connected to moths (much like those seen in this episode). Skein would have had no trouble taking out May, as she would have telekinetically removed May’s costume and beaten her with it (yes, that is her modus operandi).

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Simmons theorizes that Ward is possessed by a creature made up of a colony of parasites that reanimate dead flesh, and Giyera says “we don’t have leaders,” so the implication is that Hive is controlling him to, in a way. In the comics, Hive can possess dead flesh, control others, and even grant powers to others within his thrall, as he did with Madame Hydra.

As Coulson’s team is about to reach Schoonbeck, Giyera uses his Inhuman powers to break through his Inhuman-proof cell (well, that didn’t work out so well, did it?). Fitz had the foresight to create Giyera-proof guns, but (as predicted) it’s just used to pistol-whip him. Giyera is pleased to realize he can control Coulson’s non-biological hand, and soon he takes out much of the team as Zephyr-One comes in for a landing.

When Daisy and Lincoln learn about this, they decide to call in the Secret Warriors Initiative – all the Inhumans Daisy has been recruiting for SHIELD over the past several months. This is all well and good, but Daisy did have a vision that a member of their team will die soon. That doesn’t bode well for the team.

Next Time: The Secret Warriors

 

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7 comments

  1. I think the idea that “they decide to call in the Secret Warriors Initiative – all the Inhumans Daisy has been recruiting for SHIELD over the past several months” would have more impact if it was more than basically two other people – the speedster Spanish lady and the metal melting guy. Are there more than that, or is that pretty much it? If so, it’s a bit of a let down. Or am I missing a few?

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