Nature vs. nurture is the debate amongst our S.H.I.E.L.D. agents tonight. Is Ward truly evil or has he been shaped into something terrible? The fate of our team may depend on the answer. In “Ragtag” they try to get inside one of HYDRA’s many heads by sneaking into Cybertek, while Garrett makes some big progress on finishing the Centipede serum. All the while we’re left to wonder whether Ward will truly hail HYDRA or stand with S.H.I.E.L.D.
What you need to know:
A boy and his dog: Fifteen years ago, Garrett visits a teenage Ward in juvie and offers to teach him how to “be a man”. This means hard but fun work and getting involved in a secret organization. Ward says yes. Soon after, in the Wyoming woods, Garrett leaves him alone to fend for himself for a few months with just a bag of clothes and his dog, Buddy. When Garrett returns six months later he sees Ward has set up a nice camp by raiding cabins for supplies. Five years later, Garrett tells a story of how he was severely injured while on an operation and S.H.I.E.L.D. left him for dead. That’s when he decided to align with HYDRA. A little while later, Ward is accepted by S.H.I.E.L.D. and Garrett tells him in order to successfully infiltrate the organization on behalf of HYDRA, he can’t ever get attached to anything or anyone. To test this, he orders Ward to kill Buddy. Alone with the dog, who has been his constant companion for several years, Ward can’t bring himself to do the deed and instead scares the dog off. Shortly thereafter though, we see him tracking Buddy with a sniper rifle but never see if he takes the fatal shot.
A large file transfer: At their makeshift base of operations (aka a motel), Coulson and May have figured out Cybertek is connected to all of their problems. This has the added bonus of giving Skye somewhere to upload the Trojan horse she’s programmed into her external hard drive. Once she does, it’ll allow them to track HYDRA. Trip arrives with a suitcase full of his grandfather’s vintage S.H.I.E.L.D. spy gear, over which Coulson fanboys. As they take inventory, Fitz accidentally sets the curtains on fire with a cigarette laser. “Watch out Hydra, here we come,” May deadpans. That afternoon, she and Coulson are all geeked up for their meeting with Cybertek. Skye comes up empty scanning for digital data but does find an extra reinforced door on the fourth floor for them to investigate. After their meeting is a bust, they go there and learn why Skye couldn’t find anything digital: all of the files are hard copies. They locate a report from 1990 showing Garrett was the first Deathlok. After shoving the whole filing cabinet out the window, they zip line down to the van and make a clean getaway.
Control your anger: With the files on Garrett, the team now knows he wants the completed Centipede serum to heal himself. Fitz again tries to rationalize Ward’s actions, which pisses Skye off, since she knows Ward is in the evil business of murdering people. Earlier they had argued about Ward’s reasons for his involvement with HYDRA, with Fitz wondering if he’d been forced to via an eye implant like Deathlok. Skye responded that Ward is just evil. In a private conversation with May though, she gets some much-needed advice from The Calvary about not wasting your anger on little outbursts. See Melinda May is pissed but she’s reserving that energy for something special. “I’m going to mine it, save it, and when we find Ward I’m going to use every bit of it to take him down.”
Skye’s parents are monsters: On the stolen bus, Raina reports she’s close to finishing the replication of the drug that revived Coulson and Skye. Ward and Garrett argue over the latter, nearly letting the former die in order to find out how to decrypt the hard drive. We think Ward might actually be getting fed up with his mentor, until Garrett collapses and Ward instantly swoops in to save him. As he reboots Garrett’s Deathlok panels, his daddy figure tells him he’s only got one to two months to live. Later, when they’re in Havana, Raina pages Ward to tell him what she’s discovered about Skye. See Raina knows that story Coulson and May heard about the village in China that was destroyed by some monsters who were looking for an extra special baby. But now we get a new twist: the monsters were the baby’s parents. Ward keeps this new information from Garrett. HYDRA starts packing up their lab because they know Coulson is hot on their trail. Before they leave, Raina gives Garrett the only vial of the miracle drug she’s copied.
Ward’s moment of truth: The team splits up with to find HYDRA base in Havana. It’s FitzSimmons who finds the bus but it’s three hours away from the tactical part of the team who are at the barbershop. Ward finds the pair and takes them to Garrett. Fitz sets off the disguised EMP he got from Trip, causing Garrett to double over as his Deathlok panels go haywire. Ward frantically tries to save him even as Fitz yells to let Garrett die so Ward won’t have to take orders from him any more. A dying Garrett asks Ward to kill FitzSimmons as retribution. The pair have managed to escape from their guards and are sealed off in a containment cell. They plead with Ward to come back to the good side but he refuses and launches their cell into the ocean. Back with Garrett, Raina has injected the Centipede serum complete with the miracle drug into his system. He convulses for a moment and then stabilizes and smiles with maniacal glee.
An army of super soldiers: In the basement of the Cuban barbershop, Coulson, May, Trip, and Sky find a HYDRA computer to upload the Trojan horse to. Just then, a group of Centipede soldiers cut the lights and advance menacingly from the shadows. Meanwhile in Washington D.C., Ian Quinn, representing Cybertek (but really HYDRA), meets with the U.S. military to pitch selling them a thousand super soldiers.
Coulson’s motivation for hunting down HYDRA is two-fold: “I’ll be damned if I let Garrett and Ward get away with murder…And I want my plane back.”
In a line of pure manipulation that may come back to bite him, Garrett tells the teenaged Ward, “Don’t trust anybody, ever, especially me.”
I love how Coulson almost breaks into Fitz’s accent while being fed lines during the meeting with Cybertek! Fantastic scene for both Clark Gregg and Ming Na.
Coulson to May after she flips down a hallway to prevent a guard from sounding an alarm, “I don’t know if I’ve said it enough, but I’m glad you’re back.” Squee!! #TeamPhillinda
Who else thought Ward was going to kill the dog to survive when Garrett first dumped him in the woods? I like the direction the show ended up taking but I was really worried Buddy was going to be Ward’s dinner.
Coulson: “Skye, get ready for a large file transfer.”
Skye: “How large?”
(entire filing cabinet smashes down behind the van)
In excellent casting news, teenage Ward (Austin Lyon) was dead on.
Ward: “You were going to let me die!”
Garrett: “Ok, first off I think we should use our inside voices.”
I am so beyond thrilled to see Glenn Morshower in this episode, even if only for a brief minute at the end as a military liaison. Is this what he’s doing instead of appearing on 24: Live Another Day?
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