TV Recap: Agents of SHIELD – 1.21 – Ragtag

CLARK GREGG, MING-NA WEN in Agents of SHIELD - 1.21 - Ragtag

Is it wrong that I was still rooting for Ward to come back from the dark side despite all the murderin’ he’s committed and various dastardly behavior? I can’t help it, I sort of like the guy and I was hoping that tonight’s episode “Ragtag” would justify my faith in him. Why, he can’t be all bad, right? Turns out, he kinda is. If one of “Ragtag’s” intentions was to humanize Ward, it sorta does, though it does nothing to really keep me rooting for him. This dude is a goner and it’s going to take a hell of a sleight of hand in the upcoming finale next week to convince me otherwise. Of course, that doesn’t mean I think they’re going to kill Ward off. If anything, I think he would make a pretty good ongoing villain, especially given all the betrayals he’s left in his wake.

So, picking up in the aftermath of last week’s humdinger of an episode, “Ragtag” has Coulson and company more determined than ever to put a stop to Hydra lackey Garrett’s plans to, well, be evil and such. To this end, Coulson and May go full-on nerd and infiltrate Cybertek, the company responsible for turning Mike Petersen into Deathlok. While incognito, the pair discover that Petersen was not the first Deathlok. There were many, many more before him — including Deathlok Version 1.0, which just happens to be … wait for it, wait for it … the traitorous Garrett! Maybe this explains his cold heart. Cause, you know, it’s metal. Ahem.

BILL PAXTON in Agents of SHIELD - 118 - Providence

Speaking of Garrett, he and his protege Ward are still in Cuba doing what bad guys do — plotting and stuff. Garrett has been sending Deathlok off to do bad things like kill people so he can eventually sell Deathlok super soldiers to the American military with the help of the silver-tongued Quinn. Yes, that guy’s still alive, too. We are eventually let in on Garrett’s big secret and why he’s so hot to uncover Coulson’s whole TAHITI experiment — because Garrett is dying from his Deathlok merging and he’s got, at best, a few months left to live. That means he needs the super blood that brought Coulson and Skye back from the dead. And oh, maybe he can make more Deathloks with it too, but basically Garrett’s just looking out for #1. What a guy!

As for Ward, we do get some background on him, like how he was originally recruited by Garrett and trained to fight and shoot and survive. Well, actually, Garrett sort of just tossed him out into the woods with a dog and told him to survive. It’s not exactly Boy Scouts material, but hey, Ward seemed to do just fine when Garrett came back for him. The two bond and Garrett gets him into SHIELD, then tells Ward to shoot the dog. Man, Garrett’s a dick! So is Ward really a bad guy? I dunno, he’s done a lot of bad things, certainly, but you can sort of understand where he’s coming from. He’s hopelessly connected at the hip to Garrett, who he views as the father he never had. It’s kind of hard to drop that kind of relationship for a bunch of strangers or a nameless agency like SHIELD. Cause let’s face it, SHIELD is kinda a shitty organization when you really get down to it, run by a bunch of douchey anal pencil pusher types. Or at least, as portrayed on the TV show.

BRETT DALTON, J. AUGUST RICHARDS, CHLOE BENNET in Agents of SHIELD - 120 - Nothing Personal

While Coulson and his entire team have given up on Ward, Fitz is still holding on for dear life. He gets to try out this totally unfounded belief when he and Simmons are captured while in Cuba looking for Garrett. Fitz, armed with an EMP doohickey, nearly kills Garrett but ends up just shutting down his Deathlok bio gear. Nice try, egghead, but that little stunt earns he and Simmons a death order from Garrett. Fitz doesn’t think Ward will do it. Turns out, he’s wrong, and he and Simmons get dumped into the ocean. Yikes! Garrett, meanwhile, decides to use himself as a guinea pig to test out the super blood that Raina has managed to synthesize. If you were hoping Garrett bites the dust in this episode, you’ll be disappointed. I could be wrong, but the guy’s probably gotten even harder to kill now. Damn, super blood!

Meanwhile, Coulson and the gang have gone into that swanky Cuba barber shop to search for Garrett, only to find an empty basement. Well, not empty for long. Soon, they’re surrounded by a bunch of super soldier goons. How will they escape? No idea, I guess we’ll just have to wait until next week’s season finale to find out.

All in all, a decent episode, but probably not worthy of being the penultimate ep of the season. I was very disappointed with the Ward flashbacks. It felt as if they wanted to shed some light on Ward, but honestly that didn’t come through. The writing kinda stunk up the joint on this one, and the whole thing was a lost opportunity, especially considering that this is, again, the next to last episode of the season. And finally, I know “Agents of SHIELD” ties into the larger Marvel Universe and that this is one of its gimmicks, but I’m kind of sick of hearing about Nick Fury and how great he is. Personally, I always thought Fury was kind of an asshole, but maybe that’s just me.

Promo for next week’s Season 1 finale episode