Review: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 1.21 – “Ragtag”

S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Leo Fitz wonders what would make Grant Ward, an agent he thought was a friend, turn evil. This week, we find out how John Garrett made a man out of Ward, who the original Deathlok was and what could be more evil than HYDRA.

 

***** SPOILERS BELOW *****

 

Some of the episode traces Ward’s development from teen terror at a juvenile facility in Massachusetts in 1999 to a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Young Ward (Austin Lyon) went AWOL from military school and drove a thousand miles to burn down the family home with his older brother inside. Garrett’s method is tough love, to say the least. After getting him out of jail, Garrett forces Ward to live off the land for six months, with a hunting dog named Buddy at his side. He also tells Ward to never get attached to anyone. Garrett even admits at their first meeting Ward shouldn’t trust anyone, including him.

In the present day, Garrett still plays the father figure to Ward. He also has a hold on Deathlok (J. August Richards), rewarding him for SHIELD not Cybertek job interviewbeheading  a drug lord in Columbia with some video of his son…who is also a prisoner. Reina (Ruth Negga) is also helping out trying to replicate GH-325, thanks to the hard drive Ward got. Deathlok asks Reina why she’s helping Garrett. She says she’s helping people with gifts, like DL, waiting for what’s inside to be revealed. For some reason, she also claims she and Skye have something in common.

Meanwhile, S.H.I.E.L.D. tries to battle HYDRA without super computers or the Bus. Using a whiteboard, Coulson decides to infiltrate Cybertek because it’s connected to everything, including Garrett’s plans to replicate GH-325. The “surprise” Skye left on the hard drive for Ward was a Trojan program that will allow the agents to track to Garrett, but it needs to be activated, which means they have to infiltrate a Cybertek facility.

S.H.I.E.L.D. also gets a technological edge thanks to Triplett (BJ Britt). He uses his grandfather’s weapons from when he was with the Howlin’ Commandos. Coulson is excited by the “old fashioned” weapons like a hand-held hypno-beam, joy buzzers that release EMPs and laser e-cigarettes. Coulson and May have to pretend to act like Fitz and Simmons to get inside a Cybertek facility in Palo Alto. They do a good job against two scientists named Ott (Joel Johnstone) and Diaz (Paul Ella), but they find out the offices don’t have computers. They have filing cabinets filled with info, including the fact that Garrett was the original Deathlok and he needs GH-325 to be a whole man again.

Actually, it’s more than that. Garrett needs the drug to keep from dying. Ward uses a  computerized jolt to keep Garrett alive. He hopes GH325 will bring him back from the dead, as it did Coulson and Skye. However, there are those side effects Coulson expressed concerns about in that video from last week.

There is a great scene between Skye and May where they discuss Ward, and how stoic May is. She tells Skye she’s actually mad, and will use that anger to take him down. Skye then asks for “hate-fu” lessons.

SHIELD looking at Cybertek filesThe action shifts to Cuba, where Mr. Cybertek, Ian Quinn,  (David Conrad) meets with Garrett and Ward about what to do next. Quinn mentions he’ll be meeting with top military brass, and enjoying his new-found freedom thanks to the fall of SHIELD. Reina then tells Ward she might have been wrong about Garrett, and also relays information about Skye. A village in China was wiped out by “monsters” looking for a baby girl, who apparently was Skye. Turns out the monsters were her parents, but it’s still unclear what that has to do with Reina.

As Garrett’s crew packs up for the States, Reina does have GH-325 for Garrett. It looks like SHIELD may be too late. Fitz and Simmons wonder if they can get a drone inside the Bus before it leaves. They don’t have to worry. Ward has them. Fitz is able to stall for time with one of those EMP joy buzzers, but it ruins Garrett’s bionic guts. Is it time to use GH-325?

Also, is Grant Ward truly evil, beyond redemption? It all goes back to what Garrett taught him, to not get attached to anyone or anything.   In a flashback where Ward is about to leave for SHIELD, Garrett tells him to shoot Buddy the dog. Ward doesn’t follow the Old Yeller script, although it’s hinted someone else finishes the job. We also find out Garrett claims SHIELD was about to desert him when an IED nearly killed him in Sarajevo, and that’s why he hailed HYDRA, instead.

When Ward traps Fitz and Simmons in a room, they try to tell him he has a choice, to care. He says he does. And it’s weakness. He drops both of them in a canister into the ocean. That doesn’t prove he’s completely evil, because he must know they’ll be found. However, it also means he’s not forgiven, even if that is still possible.

In Havana, the other SHIELD agents are still looking for a computer to activate the tracking program. They find one, along with a large group of Centipede soldiers and a HYDRA agent holding the rage stick from the episode “The Well.” As for Garrett, he does get the only dose of GH-325. How does it feel to him? He says, “the universe”. It looks like he’ll recover, but what about side effects?

The worst news, though, occurs in Washington D.C., where Quinn meets with military brass and talks about how Deathlok eliminated that drug lord. He promises that Cybertek can make a thousand Deathloks that makagents-of-shield-abce “corrupt” groups like SHIELD obsolete, and at a fraction of the cost. He even throws in the “better, stronger, faster” motto from The Six Million Dollar Man. Thus, Cybertek becomes a group more evil than HYDRA, profiting from chaos (emphasis on profit).

The episode revealed some things about Ward, Garrett and maybe Skye, but it’s mostly set-up for the final showdown next week. Fans will also learn about ABC’s new shows this fall, which may include another Marvel TV show.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs every Tuesday at 8 PM Eastern and Pacific on ABC.

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Post Author: David Mello

Worked nearly eleven years at a radio station as a board operator, news reader, and assistant producer for baseball broadcasts. Have been a staff writer for Whedonopolis since July 2008