CLARK GREGG, MING-NA WEN

The intensity within Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. kicks up again as we draw closer to the finale.  It’s time to get an in-depth look at Agent Ward’s (Brett Dalton) past. “Ragtag” has the vigilante team sneaking past Hydra, but it’s Ward’s backstory that ties this episode together.

The Players:

  • Director: Roxann Dawson
  • Writer: Jeffrey Bell
  • Cast: Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennet, Brett Dalton, Iain de Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge, Bill Paxton, B.J. Britt, August J. Richards, Austin Lyon

Episode Title: “Ragtag”

With no additional help, the former S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives have nothing more than a few Howling Commando tools at their aide to take down Hydra. Meanwhile, Ward is working behind the scenes, making sure everything is running smoothly in Hydra. But his allegiance towards the sinister organization makes him reflect on how he got to this point.

The Good:

  • Ward’s Past: In previous episodes, we’ve received tidbits about Ward’s shady past, one riddled with bad deeds that inevitably brought him into the care of S.H.I.E.L.D. We know Agent Garrett (Paxton) took Ward under his wing, but we had no idea how that allegiance was formed. Garrett broke Ward out of juvenile hall, threw him into the woods and helped him learn how to “become a man” by fending for himself. In their first encounter Garrett said, “Don’t trust anyone; especially me.” No truer words were spoken. In some ways Ward is an old softie. But his rough past and his time with Garrett has prevented him from letting the good part of him grow. Ward has a chance of redeeming himself, and one of his actions in “Ragtag” may prove that he still has some good in him. He ejected agents Fitz and Simmons out into the ocean, but there’s a strong possibility they survived. Why is that? It’s all due to the last part of his backstory that parallels that moment between the two agents. He was placed under direct orders by Agent Garrett to eliminate his dog in the woods; one that was his closest, and only friend while he was struggling to survive. In the end, he let the dog run away, and it’s easy to speculate that he did the same with Fitz and Simmons in that capsule.
  • Super Soldiers: Hydra has big plans for the world, and one of them is selling their armies of super soldiers that were created from the Centipede Program. Since the agents are alone in their endeavors, having tons of super soldiers flying around the world will make their job more difficult. Comics tend to throw extraordinary people into monstrous situations, so it’s about time we get an extra dose of that in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • Howling Commandos: When Triplett (Britt) came by with his grandfather’s Howling Commandos gear, we finally saw one of the sides of Coulson fans have been missing. There’s this whimsical, youth-filled layer of the character brought out by Clark Gregg that many viewers have adored since he first arrived in Iron Man. Once this Hydra business is behind us, we’ll see less brooding and more of the happy, almost fanboy-ish side of him pop out.

The So-So:

  • Poor Fitz: If there’s one character in the group that’s the purest of heart, it’s Agent Fitz. He gets himself beat up mentally and physically throughout this first season yet he still believes there’s good in all people. He clings to the idealistic dream that Ward is ultimately a good person, but everybody in the group has been telling him otherwise. In some ways, he’s turned into the most whiny and uninteresting character on the show. At this point he’s becoming far too annoying to stand. Maybe his character will change up a little, that is if he survives the season finale.
  • Garrett’s Fate: The writing was on the wall that a big bad villain wouldn’t be lurking around Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. forever. It’s been revealed that Agent Garrett was the first patient to be tested under Project Deathlok, showing that he has a fair amount of bionic things built within him. Now that he’s been injected with almost the same serum that flows through Skye (Bennet) and Coulson’s (Gregg) veins, he may just have a little longer to go. There has to be some sort of comeuppance for this character. It’s easy to predict that he may croak by the end of this first season. It’s a little cliché and boring, but it’s a possibility, even though it sounds rather dull.

The Bad:

  • More About Skye’s Past: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has a habit of laying out half-assed explanations for topics. The first one was what was it that was keeping Coulson alive? It turned out to possibly be Kree blood. The reveal was a little more dramatic than it needed to be but it was easy to see why they had to play it up. The same pertains to the reveal into Skye’s past when Ward finds out her parents weren’t just human. In some ways the comment was placed under the rug when all of the Hydra moving was taking place in “Ragtag,” but that bit of information is more upsetting than anything else. Why tell us anything about it now since we’re so close to the finale? Skye’s past has been so underplayed. Here’s hoping the remainder of it doesn’t sound as, or is delivered as blandly as it was in this episode.

Overall:

“Ragtag” ended with quite the build up, so let’s cross our fingers and hope we get the explosive season finale we’ve all been waiting for.

Rating: 8/10

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

What did you think of the episode?