Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Review - "Ragtag"

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CLARK GREGG, MING-NA WENIn this week’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode, we get a flashback look at the adolescence of Grant Ward and get to watch as our group of ragtag S.H.I.E.L.D. misfits try to do undercover missions without any sort of backup or current-age technology.

It’s honestly a blast.

Not-So-Short Summary: There are a handful of flashbacks into Ward’s past that show how he met Garrett and became so loyal to the man. Garrett rescues him from jail just before his parents and brother press charges. Turns out Ward ran away from his military school by stealing a car and headed back to set his house on fire with his brother still inside. He tells Garrett that he didn’t know his brother was in the house, but you can tell it’s a blatant lie.

Garrett’s way of training Ward to make sure he’s ready is to throw him into the wilderness and leave him with nothing but his dog Buddy for six months. Turns out, Ward does just fine on his own. Five years pass and when Garrett returns, he regales Ward with the truth about S.H.I.E.L.D., who turned their back on him as his intestines were falling out of him (gross, I know). Garrett turns to HYDRA and brings Ward along with him.

And then we find how truly evil Ward is when Garrett tells him to get rid of Buddy. At first it looks as though Ward is going to simply scare the dog off and lie to Garrett. But no. Ward is completely evil and while we don’t see him shoot Buddy (thank goodness), the implications are enough to turn anyone’s stomach. (There’s also the thought that it’s Garrett that shoots the dog in the end, unbeknownst to Ward, but who knows?)

We get the reveal that Garrett is Deathlok 1.0 and terrified to die. He wants GH-325 to help himself stay alive.

Backtrack to the rest of the crew. They discover that Cybertek links together everything they’ve dealt with this entire season. Which is great because Skye’s trojan horse she installed on the hard drive needs to be activated by plugging in a flash drive to any of the computers at Cybertek.

Triplett returns from his mom’s house with the remnants of his grandfather’s Howling Commandos tech. They open the briefcase to reveal everything and Coulson’s inner fanboy comes out: “We should systematically take a full inventory of everyth–oh my god, is that a handheld hypno-beam?!” I actually watched this part twice because I was laughing so hard.

Infiltrating Cybertek is yet another funny scene, with Coulson and May posing as FitzSimmons, nerd glasses and all…and a slip up of their accents as well. Of course, Cybertek isn’t impressed with anything they can show them since they don’t want to give anything away. Coulson and May head up to the fourth floor to get to the computer mainframe…which turns out to be hard copy files.

Their sleuthing takes them to Cuba where they find the barbershop where HYDRA/Garrett were taking cover and letting Raina try to recreate GH-325. Unfortunately, they caught wind of the Deathlok files being stolen, so they have packed up and moved on. FitzSimmons are on the hunt for the Bus and the rest are still back at the barbershop. They find the basement and some computers where Skye can connect her flash drive when they realize they’re cornered by a large number of Deathlok-type soldiers.

CLARK GREGG, MING-NA WENIn the meantime, FitzSimmons encounter Ward on the airstrip. He takes them back to the Bus where Fitz, in his naivety, tries to be valiant. He uses one of the EMPs to screw with Garrett’s tech and send him spiraling toward his deathbed. FitzSimmons manage to lock themselves out of harm’s way with Ward outside looking in. In an attempt to appeal to Ward’s good side, Fitz plays the “we’re friends”/”you care about us” card.

Ward agrees. Yes, he cares about them. But it’s a weakness, and that’s dangerous. So he jettisons their container into the ocean, spelling their deaths… except that Fitz has a walkie talkie disguised as a quarter in his pocket that will probably help the crew rescue them next week. Still, Ward’s going down an evil rabbit hole and I don’t think he’ll be redeemed very easily.

Best One-Liner: “Skye, Triplett, get ready for a large file transfer.”
“How large?”
(Filing cabinet flies out a fourth story window)

It’s literal enough to be an Asgardian quip.

Badass Moment Of The Week: May beating the Cybertek guy to the emergency phone was pretty good, but I’m going to give this week’s to Agent Triplett for making Coulson fanboy over all the original Howling Commandos stuff.

This whole episode (flashbacks at least) is Garrett telling Ward that emotional ties are weakness and to never be attached. It’s fairly obvious that the one emotional attachment Ward cannot break is the one with Garrett. From the start, he has always followed his leader with the utmost attention. I can’t help but feel this will come back to hurt him in the finale next week.

The end of the episode has Ian Quinn discussing the super soldiers with some high-rank generals. As he’s selling them on this point of a thousand super soldiers with minimal risk and minimal cost compared to other military endeavors, I couldn’t help but think, “Didn’t we already try this with Captain America? And what were those things in Iron Man 2? Oh yeah, super soldier drones.” You would think the American government would be skeptical by now…

Raina makes mention to Ward about Skye’s interesting past and the rumor of the baby whose village was destroyed by monsters. Turns out, the monsters were her parents. Anybody have any guesses as to what Skye is? (Or who?) I haven’t really cared much about Skye’s super powers or whatever, but Raina’s sprinkle of clues has piqued my interest a bit.

Raina pumps Garrett with the only remaining solution of GH-325 (and it’s really a conglomerate of all the samples). “What are you feeling?” Ward asks after Garrett goes through a fit/seizure. “The universe,” Garrett replies, looking completely and utterly crazy. So what evil super villain will he be next week? And will he lose his mind because of the drug? It already looks that way. He didn’t die like Coulson, so it will be interesting to see what the effects are and what causes the insanity.

So who will die in next week’s episode? I feel like someone’s death has to happen—aside from Garrett, who I’m assuming will be taken down by Coulson in a fashion similar to when he shoots Loki before dying in The Avengers (totally unexpected and off-the-cuff, not the just-before-dying part). You can’t kill both Fitz and Simmons. Skye’s mysterious past is a huge focus for a lot of this season.

Also, who else is leaning toward Ward being a psychopath? His few emotional attachments just aren’t enough to warrant any sort of redemptive arc, as much as I feel like this show will try to redeem him. If anyone deserves an arc, I vote for Deathlok. I mean, he just wants his kid back.

Next week is the season finale. After a stellar second-half of the season and leaving this episode with so many cliffhangers, I’m interested to see how they’ll close everything out. ABC hasn’t announced many renewals yet, but I can’t see them giving up on S.H.I.E.L.D. just yet (plus Disney is their parent company, so I can only assume good things will happen).

Plus, Samuel L. Jackson is in the finale, so there’s that to look forward to.

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