Throughout this first season of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” we have seen Agent Grant Ward, wonderfully portrayed by Brett Dalton, go from the action hero leading man type to the show’s most treacherous villain. There have been hints along the way, but this week we learn the true secret origin of former Agent Ward. Also Coulson and May go all Clark Kent undercover at Cybertek. All this and more when I review “Ragtag,” the penultimate episode of the season, after the jump.
It’ll Be Fun
We open on Ward’s recruitment by John Garrett fifteen years ago. Bill Paxton as Garrett is made younger fairly well via make up but a different actor was used for Ward. The kid, Austin Lyon, just doesn’t have the chops to pull off Ward, but then again, maybe Ward wasn’t really Ward yet. The scene is the guest area of a prison, and young Ward is in jail togs.
Garrett recruits him (for I’m guessing SHIELD, but could be Hydra) as he’s about to be convicted for arson and attempted murder. He apparently tried to burn down his family’s home, not knowing his brother was inside. That last bit is for the viewer so we know that Ward isn’t completely evil as a kid I suppose. With mom and dad pressing charges, and Ward looking at hard time, Garrett makes him an offer he just can’t refuse. “It’ll be fun,” Garrett says.
Meanwhile, our Agents of Nothing are planning their next step against Hydra, Ward and Garrett inclusive. In their temporary hotel room headquarters, Coulson is explaining the plan from a plotting board that was probably up in the writers room at “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Seriously, it was nice to see all of the season’s plot points in one place, it makes a bit more sense that way.
Apparently all roads lead to Cybertek Industries. You might recall that they built both the Centipede units and Deathlok. They’ve also been shipping weaponry to Quinn who works for Garrett. The Kree DNA (which it’s notable has not been mentioned as such on the actual show yet), called GH-325, may just stabilize the Centipede soldiers the same way it saved Coulson and Skye.
The Howling Commandos Spy Kit
Of course, all of that info on GH-325 is on the flashdrive that is now in Garrett’s hands. Skye has a Trojan horse virus program that has to be input into a Hydra computer, so a visit to Cybertek is on tap. Coulson and May take the lead, going undercover, as Clark Kent. Who says glasses aren’t good disguises?
The glasses are just one of the toys from Triplett’s grandfather’s Howling Commando gear. Coulson is like a kid in candy store when he sees what’s in there. Or should I say he’s like a kid with a signed Captain America trading card? Bonus points if you get the reference. Lots of cool old school spy stuff in the trunk. Maaan, I want a Howling Commandos Spy Kit. If that’s not in the cards, just more of this kit on the show, it rocks.
Andy Griffith He’s Not
Meanwhile at Hydra, Garrett is enjoying both his leadership and his success. He sent Deathlok to Bogata to kill a drug lord, just as a vulgar show of Hydra’s power. Ward’s not happy, more than a little perturbed Garrett almost had Deathlok kill him last episode. Maybe he’s thinking of trading back sides? The next flashback scene doesn’t make Garrett out to be the best substitute dad.
We see Garrett and young Ward and dog walking through the woods, a Norman Rockwell hunting scene similar to the opening of the old Andy Griffith show, but as with all things SHIELD, nothing is as it seems. The duck is Garrett’s and he’s stranding Ward in the woods. Survive, and he’ll come back for you in a few months is what Ward is told. At least he left him the dog.
The Kents, I mean Coulson and May, go to meet with Cybertek, trying to sell old SHIELD tech, while the rest of the team looks for a way in to their computer system. Fitz and Simmons are in Coulson and May’s ears for the interview. Basically Cybertek is unimpressed what they have to offer, but it’s a hoot to watch Coulson and May play dummies to Fitz and Simmons’ ventriloquism. Love it!
What I loved more is when later exploring Cybertek, they’re seen and May has to take out the witness before he calls security. May somersaults through the air down a hallway, puts him down, and gently places the phone back in its cradle – all without missing her hair or losing her glasses. May rocks. To paraphrase Coulson, I’m glad she’s back.
As if the Howling Commandos Spy Kit wasn’t enough, Skye’s virus plan is a wash, because Cybertek has no database or mainframe at that location. Everything is hardcopy. The team ends up stealing an entire filing cabinet. I love this. When Coulson says to prepare for a large file transfer and pushes a filing cabinet out the window, I was grinning. This show is fun. I’ve talked before about how cool it is to have a spy show on TV again, especially one with a sly sense of humor. And this show just keeps getting better.
The filing cabinet is full of Deathlok information, stuff that goes back to 1990. It turns out that Garrett was patient zero, he was the first Deathlok. Oh yeah. He doesn’t just want the GH-325 for Hydra, or for the Centipede program he wants it got himself. This does follow, folks who read the comics know that when John Garrett was introduced in Elektra Assassin #2, he was indeed a cyborg.
The Secret Origin of Skye?
We thought this episode would be about the secret origin of Ward, and it is, but we also get a hint of the secret origin of Skye. We know she’s an orphan, but Raina, the girl in the flower dress, distilled some interesting details from the flashdrive and her own experience and research.
Raina recalls a story of an incident in the Hunan province of China several years ago. Monsters destroyed the village, killed every man, woman, and child in the village. Only a child survived, the daughter of the parents, who were in fact, the monsters. The child disappeared after that. I wonder, could those monsters have been blue? Could they have been Kree? I am sure there’s more to come in the next episode, our season finale.
Speaking of season finales, it’s next week, and we have quite a number of cliffhangers to worry ourselves over until next Tuesday. First, Garrett is dying, and the only thing keeping him alive has been his cybernetic parts and the Centipede serum. His human parts are failing, and he hopes that the GH-325 will help regenerate them. In pursuit of Hydra, the Agents of Nothing get separated, and Fitz and Simmons are captured by the bad guys on The Bus, that’s where Fitz EMPs Garrett.
After Garrett orders Ward to kill Fitz and Simmons, Raina injects him with GH-325. There’s a transformation. He becomes something else, what, we’ll have to wait until next week. Meanwhile, moment of truth time, Fitz realizes that Ward is indeed the bad guy, as he jettisons the pair off The Bus into the ocean. This is the cliffhanger that has me the most nervous. I love these two, and in a Whedon show, as we all know, somebody’s gotta die.
Our end stinger has Quinn trying to sell and army of Deathloks to the US military, ironically to protect them from Hydra, but that’s not the real cliffhanger. The rest of the team is trapped in the SHIELD base under the barber shop in Havana with a handful of Centipede-powered Deathloks, and one of them has the Asgardian Berserker Staff. This is not good.
Next week – the season finale of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”