Declassified: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – “Ragtag”

Oh Fitz, why won't you believe Ward is evil?

Oh Fitz, why won’t you believe Ward is evil?

This week’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.EL.D. gave us a look into Ward and Garrett’s relationship to possibly explain why Ward would betray his team for this man. Though at first it seemed this episode would make us sympathize for Ward and show his redemption, it instead showed us just how weak he is. The past and present mirror each other in this brilliant episode. What awaits in next week’s monstrous season finale?

Ward Says Yes:

If we are to believe what Ward has said – and flashbacked back – about his past, he lived in an abusive household where his older brother forced him to beat up his younger brother, which resulted in the younger brother’s death, and their parents either encouraged this or didn’t care. We find out in this episode that Ward got out and went to military school, but after some time he drove all the way back home in order to set his childhood home on fire – while his brother was still in it.

First Meet

Charged with arson and attempted manslaughter, Ward sits in a juvenile detention center awaiting his trial for which his family is pressing that he be charged as an adult. This is when Ward meets Garrett. Garrett admits to being an arsonist when he was younger too and tells Ward that he would like to recruit him for his ‘secret organization’ that looks for young men like Ward.

Although this organization isn’t S.H.I.E.L.D., but rather Hydra within S.H.I.E.L.D. With promises of a fresh start, being a man, and ‘having fun’, Ward agrees to Garrett’s offer and the two are off on their way. Although as Ward’s story continues, we find less and less of a sorrowful kid to be redeemed, and more of a coward who tries with all his might to be a sociopath – which is far worse than if Ward had been simply evil.

 Raiding Cybertech:

Oh Agent May, Coulson may have said it a thousand times, but I'll say it another thousand. 'I'm glad you're back'

Oh Agent May, Coulson may have said it a thousand times, but I’ll say it another thousand. ‘I’m glad you’re back’

Meanwhile back at Hotel Coulson, the team decides their next move is to go after Quinn’s company CyberTech. CyberTech has been connected to almost every problem the team has faced thus far. So if they can’t get to Garrett in person, they’ll get to him through Cybertech.

It turns out that the ‘surprise’ Skye left on the Hard Drive was a Trojan Horse virus that could map all of Hydra’s computers and more. The downside is that Ward dragged her out of Providence Base so fast – and was hovering over her shoulder so much – she never got time to build it. There only option is to insert Skye’s newly made drive into any Cybertech computer, which would connect to Garrett and activate the virus in Skye’s Hard Drive.

Anyone suddenly feel the urge to play Operation?

Anyone suddenly feel the urge to play Operation?

Once Coulson and May sneak into Cybertech disguised as run-away S.H.I.E.L.D. scientist, they discover no computers but do find a storeroom full of documents detailing how the Deathlock program started years earlier with Garrett. Garrett didn’t care about super soldiers, but was only trying to save himself from intense bodily damaged he had sustained while abandoned on a mission from S.H.I.E.L.D. – which was the reason for his turn to Hydra in the first place.

Giddy Coulson:

The greatest moment of this whole set up/ break in wasn’t actually the break in itself – although seeing Coulson and May undercover was hilarious. The best moment had to be when Agent Triplet brought in his grandfather’s Howling Commando’s gear for the team to use on their mission. From EMP joy buzzers to laser smokes that can set drapes on fire in an instant, Coulson was gushing about all of it.

WOOOOOOHOOOO FanBoy Coulson is back!!!!

WOOOOOOHOOOO FanBoy Coulson is back!!!!

We haven’t seen Coulson go all fan-boy over something since we learned of his love of all things Captain America. Many were disappointed that he was so calm and collected when Hand mentioned Captain America a few episodes ago, but remember that SHIELD was literally just destroyed at that point – he had bigger things on his mind. This scene showed that Coulson is still the same fan-boy we always knew he was, which is one of the reasons why we love him.

Past and Present Mirrored:

Back to Ward’s story, after the initial set up for this episode we find Ward’s current state of affairs perfectly mirrors his first few years with Garrett. These mirror stories not only prepares us for some of the things to come, but also shows us that Ward is still the scared little boy he always was – the boy who thought turning a blind eye to things is strength. In the larger scheme of things, Ward went from one bully telling him what to do (his older brother) to another (Garrett) rather than relying on his own will power and sense of right and wrong.

Garrett teaches Ward everything he needs to know - aka be a heartless killer

Garrett teaches Ward everything he needs to know – aka be a heartless killer

The mirroring starts when we see Garrett leave a young Ward alone to fend for himself in the wilderness for 6 months. When Ward – in the present – picks back up with “I could have died”, you have to remind yourself that he is talking about Deathlock stopping his heart on last week’s episode and not what happened 15 years ago. Both situations show Garrett putting Ward in a situation that could have easily killed him, but didn’t. In the past, Garrett knew Ward had it in him to survive. In last week’s episode, Garrett knew Skye would never have let Ward die because – as he thinks – she is weak with compassion.

If you didn’t spot the story parallels at first, it’s okay – that’s what I’m here for. Although I’m quite certain you spotted the next one. Right before Ward is accepted into the S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy, Garrett gives him one final task: put down their dog Buddy. When Ward was out in the wilderness to fend for himself, Buddy was the only one there for him. “Smart, loyal, trustworthy”, he was the perfect companion. Though if the present is mirroring the past, then that means Ward is going to have to put down someone equally as “smart, loyal and trustworthy”: Fitz.

How can you say no to those eyes?

How can you say no to those eyes?

In many ways, Ward’s time with Coulson’s team was like his time in the wilderness where he had to fend for himself and not become attached to anything. When he survived the endeavor, his reward is having to put down the dog – or team – that stood with him throughout it all. This parallel is made even more clear when we see Buddy’s puppy dog eyes intermixed with Fitz’s puppy dog look at Ward. Till the very end, neither can believe that Ward would do anything to hurt them. Even though Simmons and the rest of the team knows Ward is evil, Fitz refuses to believe them and hopes that by taking out Garrett, Ward would be free to return to them.

We have a moment of hope when we see Ward let Buddy go in the flashback, but once we see him get Buddy in his sniper sight, that hope quickly fades away. Ward ejects Fitz and Simmons out of the plane into the ocean below. With them both locked in a large steel box and no one knowing where they are, Fitz and Simmons are most likely dead.

Fitz Simmons: Dead or Alive

If television, comic books, and Agents being impaled through the chest by an Asgardian Scepter have taught us anything, it’s don’t believe someone is dead until you see the body . . . and then some. So did Ward kill Fitz and Simmons or did he release them from the plane to save them. In the flashback, we never actually heard him fire the gun when he had Buddy in his sniper sights; but all the overall feeling does point to him shooting him. Why use a sniper sight if you weren’t intending to fire. Maybe Ward didn’t have binoculars, but I’m sure he could have found some – or the writers could have given him some if they intended it.

NOOOOO

It’s almost certain that he killed buddy and thus Fitz and Simmons. Dropping them in a heavy metal cargo case out into the middle of the ocean seems like a death sentence. With no one to know where they are, the chance of rescue is slim to none. Add in the fact that such a fall could severely injure them, and it doesn’t look good. We don’t even know if that cargo bin would float or sink. Fitz and Simmons are quite smart, so if they were THAT afraid of being dropped out of the plane, they knew it wasn’t an act of kindness. I hope Fitz and Simmons are somehow still alive, since we never got to see Fitz tell Simmons he liked her. Though even if they are still alive, far too many have died by Ward’s hand. Ward’s .1% chance of redemption lies in a self-sacrificing death, which seems slim since he treats Garrett like his father.

Compassion – Weakness or Strength:

In addition to Ward’s mirror stories, we also got an amazing juxtaposition between of two conflicting ideas. Is compassion weakness as Garrett has always told Ward, or is it a strength like Coulson told Skye. In many ways, Skye and Ward are the end result of these different ideas and thus will have to face off in the end – which the preview for next week’s episode seems to confirm. Coulson has been like a father to Skye – as Garrett has been to Ward – and he’s always beelived that strength lies in not killing. Anyone can kill someone, but it takes true strength to give someone a chance and show compassion because it can end up hurting you. To kill is to show your fear, but to let go shows confidence in your strength and your actions.

May tells Skye to harness her emotions and use them if she ever comes face to face with Ward.

May tells Skye to harness her emotions and use them if she ever comes face to face with Ward.

Ward on the other hand occasionally shows signs of kindness but repeatedly pushes them down by thinking of them as weaknesses. He motto should be ‘Orders are orders’. The only thing that shocks us more than Ward dumping Fitz and Simmons is that he did it when he cares about them. If he was just heartless that would be bad, but to be that cruel when you do care about someone is just awful. He seems no different than the frightened kid with sociopathic tendencies that realized the only way to survive was to take from others. It doesn’t matter how cruel the act, ‘orders are orders’.

The sad part is that the more you think about Ward’s excuses, the more they fall apart. When Ward tries to thank Garrett for everything he’s done, Garrett says Ward doesn’t owe him anything:

‘Don’t do that. You don’t owe me or anybody else a thing, you earned it by yourself’

If Ward truly doesn’t owe Garrett anything then why is he so quick to turn his back on everyone he ‘cares’ about? Ward is following orders because its easy for him. He never has to make any calls on his own. It’s much easier to follow orders than use something like a conscience. When Ward and Skye do face off, Ward might have physical strength, but Skye has something Ward doesn’t have: Strength of character . . . and maybe something else.

 Monsters:

Oh lord, Garrett's sparkling in the sunlight. He's either getting super powers or worse . . . becoming a Twilight character

Oh lord, Garrett’s sparkling in the sunlight. He’s either getting super powers or worse . . . becoming a Twilight character

We knew that Skye’s past was shrouded in mystery and bloodshed, but not like this. Skye’s status as a 0-8-4 – aka object of unknown origin – might have just been given an origin. Raina told Ward this episode that she was interested in Skye because her blood looked similar to someone she had seen/heard of before. This then prompts her to tell Ward about how monsters slaughtered everyone in a province of Hunan, China looking for their baby. Could Skye be this missing baby? Though more importantly, what is Raina’s connection to it.

Raina mentioned how she thought what was in Skye was inside her too. This could mean Raina has some sort of power too, but it could also mean that she is one of those ‘monsters’ in the story. This idea is later hinted at again when Garrett says he is unsettled by what’s behind her eyes. At the very least, Raina has to have some connection to the events that took place in Hunan, China; but is she the only one.

What if the blue alien – most likely a Kree – that the GH-325 drug is derived from is actually one of those ‘monsters’? This is just a theory, but the H. in T.A.H.I.T.I. could stand for Hunan. If Skye is one of these aliens, then he real strength is about to be revealed very soon; and Coulson will need all the help he can get with Roid-Rage Garrett. There’s no telling what kind of effect GH-325 will have when mixed with the Centipede EXTREMIS formula that has been keeping Garrett alive since now. I’m not sure what he means by ‘feeling the universe’, but it’s a safe bet that increased strength is going to be a part of it.

Deathlock

One final note here is how Mik Peterson aka Deathlock keep showing more and more promise for redemption. Ward being redeemed isn’t as important as Deathlock’s. He’s forced into a corner and has no other way to keep his son safe. He has 0 love for Garrett, Hydra, or anyone in that organization. He deserves a happy ending with his son; and a chance to be the hero he always wanted to be.

Cybertech’s True Aim:

While Garret’s off feeling the universe and Ward’s being a douche, Quinn is taking advantage of the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. to sell his super-soldiers to the US Government. If an army of super powered Hydra controlled cyborgs sounds bad, Coulson and his team agrees – considering they just came face to face with a squad of them.

Trouble

After breaking into what’s left of Hydra’s Cuba base, the team discovers a Hydra control room but is interrupted when a bunch of Centipede soldiers surrounds them. To make matters worse, one is carrying the Beserker Staff. With their team fragmented, Coulson and his crew will need a miracle to stand up to Garrett’s forces – or maybe just an awesome cameo.

Joining the show just in time for the Season Finale will be Nick Fury himself. We’ll have to find out just how much of a role he’ll play, but from the looks of things the final battle is coming. I could start predicting where to or next Season – Agents of Stark?, Agents in Space?, Etc. – but I’ll save that for after next week’s finale. So for now, lets get ready for the season finale of the surprise hit of the year.

Is this real? Of course he's real. He's the realest man you're ever going to meet!

Nick Fury? Is this real? Of course he’s real. He’s the realest man you’re ever going to meet!

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2 thoughts on “Declassified: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – “Ragtag”

  1. Buddy biting the big one destroyed the episode for me. I get that we have to see how twisted Ward is, but that was a really sad scene. Now I can’t wait to see the heroes crush Ward in the finale.

  2. Pingback: Declassified: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – “The Beginning Of The End” | The Insightful Panda

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