Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had two different characters dealing with their past decisions and the consequences they brought about. Coulson deals with the fallout of him murdering Ward, while Malick deals with his childhood cowardice via flashbacks.
It’s jarring at first to see Coulson reacting to Hive the way he did, but then you realize that the two characters really had no interaction since the series restarted after it’s winter break. It’s a bit redundant to hear them question the appearance of Ward even though we all know why he’s back. There is a bit of thoughtful back and forth going on between Fitz and Coulson about the morality/consequences of the murder, but it was ultimately the least interesting part of the episode.
Which is shocking to say, considering Lincoln was featured prominently in the episode. Lincoln and Daisy do share a painful (for me) exchange regarding Lincoln’s past as an alcoholic/wayward Inhuman. It’s a pretty on-the-nose exchange that, in conjunction with the Afterlife quest, is trying to force drama into a chemistry-free relationship. We also had to sit through some extra exposition, though seeing a clever use of Daisy’s powers was very refreshing.
The place where this episode really delivered, though, was with Malick. We see his early days in Hydra and the tension between the the weird, mystical Hydra stuff and the evil scientist Hydra stuff. Malick’s father was in charge of throwing people into the portal to the mystery planet, and although Malick claimed that such a journey was an honor, he eventually took the coward’s way out, leaving his brother to be sacrificed instead. The manifestation of the cowardice has come back to haunt him in a really profound way, even if watching Brett Dalton pull a Green Mile into that actresses mouth was a hilarious thing to watch.
This was a shockingly weak episode, although Malick’s backstory set him up as a bit more of sympathetic villain. Despite several different storylines and an action scene with the unflappable Agent May, it’s crazy to think about how little actually happened to our protagonists. For the amount of screen time devoted to them, none of them are really in different places (emotionally or physically). It’s disappointing to see so much wheel-spinning going on, but at the same time, that’s nothing new for the series. Usually we have great character work to augment that wheel-spinning and without that, this was a sub-par episode for our friendly neighborhood agents.
I couldn’t help but think about how much better this episode would have been if Bobbi and Lance were around…
Alex Russo likes to talk about television. You can read more of his insane ramblings on Twitter.