Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D S01E21:Ragtag (open spoilers)

Directed by Roxann Dawson
Written by Jeffrey Bell

Garret takes Ward extreme camping, Fitz continues his mancrush to it’s logical conclusion, old spy gadgets are used to full effect, and we are left with not one, but two cliffhangers in this whirlwind penultimate episode of the Agents of SHIELD’s first season.

The episode starts 15 years ago at Ward’s juvenile detention center. I could tell it was 15 years ago, because Agent Garrett was wearing a turtleneck, and that was the style at the time. Ward had tried to burn down his family home, and Ward was offering him a chance to join a secret agency. (hint, it wasn’t SHIELD. It was a secret secret agency.)

In the present day the team is back at the hotel watching Deathlok on the news. Telling each other how they knew him when. Skye reveals that her surprise to Ward was an incomplete Trojan Horse that will reveal the bad guys’ location, and let them get their plane back. They also reveal that Cybertek is the locus of all this season’s activities. It’s amazing how clear things are once you view them through the eyes of Picture Pages.

Triplett brings a bunch of his granddad’s mint condition classic spy gear. Coulson and Trip bond over their love of old toys, while Fitz takes a minute to stop lamenting the highjacking of Ward’s good name to use spy gadgets to burn down the hotel.

We’re back to 15 years ago and Garret is taking Ward out to the woods for a Father Figure Son hunting trip. He leaves him out there with Buddy the dog and says they both have to fend for themselves.

May and Coulson dress up like FitzSimmons to visit Cybertek. Skye hacks some sort of system and finds that the 4th floor is heavily fortified. Coulson and May force their way to the fourth floor and discover the reason it was so difficult for Skye to find any computers. They haven’t had a chance to digitize their records yet. They found the files on Deathlok, and discovered that Garrett is the original Deathlok model. They download the files by throwing them out the window, and some more old school tech gets used as the zip line out of the building Howling Commandos style.

Deathlok and Rayna have a conversation. For some reason, he’s still upset with her taking his son away. She tells him that she is interested in helping people with powers. Saving them. She’s also interested in Skye. She asks Deathlok more about her. She seems to think that Skye and her stories are related, somehow.

We’re back to Ward in the rain with good old Buddy to keep him company, and with that thought present day Ward is complaining to Garrett about how he almost let Deathlok kill him. In the middle of this argument Garrett starts having an attack. Ward has to reboot him.

Skye and Fitz talk more about the nature of evil. She goes off by herself where she is secretly staring at a picture of Ward. May brings her a drink, and starts to talk about Ward. She admits that she is furious at him and is channeling that anger to use the anger against him one day. Skye wishes she could do that, and May tells her she gets up at 5 every day. I’m not sure why Skye was looking at the picture, but maybe she was thinking of what sort of mustache to photoshop on it.

Rayna tells Ward that she is less sure of Garrett now that she knows he has little interest in people with special powers, but is simply afraid to die. She starts to give him with a little bit of info about Skye, and and then says she will just tell Garret. Ward demands more. She tells him that she’s been reading Skye’s story and it turns out her parents are monsters that destroyed a city in China.

The team heads to Cuba. They have intelligence that is where the bad guys are. Coulson, Skye, May and Tripp go one way, while FitzSimmons does some searching on their own. The four big guns find the headquarters, but see that it is abandoned. Meanwhile, FitzSimmons find the plane, and all of the bad guys. They decide to go onto the plane, even though Coulson told them not to. That’s right about when Ward catches them.

Oh wait. Let’s go back 10 years. Garrett and Ward are hanging out with Buddy. Ward is showing off his long range shooting. You know, the actor who played Ward 15 years ago doesn’t look much like him, but this guy from 10 years ago? He could play his double, easily. Excellent casting. Garrett tells him how he became a Deathlok, and that this the reason you can trust no one. He goes on to tell him that he has been accepted into SHIELD. Before he can go, he has to get rid of Buddy. Ward can’t shoot Buddy. He shoots into the air, and Buddy runs away.

Back on the plane Fitz uses the Howling Commando Joy Buzzer EMP bomb (Agents of SHIELD writers must love Checkov) to cause a distraction, and mortally wounds Garrett. Fitz beseeches Ward to let Garrett die, and save them. Garrett insists that Ward go kill FitzSimmons and let Rayna take care of him. Rayna sees that he has been using her centipede formula, and he asks her to use the material that saved Coulson and Skye, the last of it left, to save him.

FitzSimmons escapes right into the hands of Ward. They appeal to his better nature. And, we see that he must have a better nature, since he let Buddy go free. Look at that. Ward is a good guy. Even after killing Hand, he has a heart. SO, they appeal to his better nature, but he doesn’t help them, and starts to send out the storage pod from a flying plane with them in it. “You care about us!”, Fitz insists. And, Ward says “I do”, as a clip of Buddy being followed in a long range scope is shown, “that’s a weakness.” and the pod is sent out of the plane and into the ocean.

Garrett takes the last of the life everlasting potion and he can now see the universe.

Coulson, May, Trip, and Skye are at the old base underneath the barbershop. Right when Skye is about to plug her flash drive into the Hydra computer, is right when about 10 million Centipede soldiers show up to stop their plan.

And, Quinn is out in DC selling these soldiers to US Government officials. His selling point is “You can’t trust corrupt SHIELD, and you never know when a Hydra is going to pop up.”
And, see you next week, for the last episode of the season!

I liked it. Ward’s loyalty to Garrett was well explained. I was effectively teased by the story’s attempts to sell Ward’s redemption to me. “Hey look, Garrett shot him! He’s just another Deathlok. He must be good.” “Hey look, he didn’t shoot Buddy. He’s going to free FitzSimmons. He must be good.” Nope. It turns out any attachment is a weakness, and he doesn’t care for weakness. He’s been forced to not care for weakness.

But, I’m over the Ward story. Now, I’m intrigued by Skye and the monsters and Rayna. Is Rayna going to turn on her current masters and help Skye and her team? Are they sisters? If she had any plans for that, why would she give that solution to Garrett? I don’t know! But, it’s fun to think about, and it was fun to watch.

Just a couple of things I remember this episode.
[li]Coulson and May make a cute nerdy couple.[/li][li]Loved the scene were Rayna played Ward with the Skye info.[/li][li]“Give me one reason not to blow your head off” “I brought tacos.”[/li][li]“Does your sweater itch?” “Like a bitch”[/li][li]Wasn’t Quinn’s argument a little bit redundant? SHIELD is corrupt! And, what about HYDRA. You mean the agency that corrupted SHIELD? [/li][li]“Not a day over 30.”[/li][li]“Vigilantes” “I was going to say doing this because it is the right thing to do.”[/li][li]“OH MY GOD. Is that an exploding hypno beam?”[/li][li]“Speak up son, I’m not a mind reader.”[/li][/ul]

6 months in survival mode and Ward shaved every day?

Coulson is such a 40s geek.

Somebody needs to kick Fitz in the nuts.

The homing quarter must come into play next week. Otherwise Chekov will be disappointed.

So what is Skye? And Rayna? Ancestors of Dr. Morpheus? (15 points to whoever gets that.)

You forgot about the best line -

Skye - Get ready for a big download.

Okay, I think this episode says they’re trying to turn us back on Ward. Yes, he kicked Fitz and Simmons off the plane but he clearly did it in a non-lethal manner. And this got them away from Garrett who wanted them killed. (The parallel with Buddy was pretty clear.) So while it was harsh, it was a means of protecting them. Granted, Fitz has probably now joined the “Ward is evil” club.

I’ll admit this episode seems to have killed my “Simmons is Hydra” theory.

If Ward bounced back up a little, Garrett dropped all the way down. It’s pretty clear he never had any real regard for Ward - he just saw him as a useful tool right from the beginning. And he’s revealed he has no higher allegiance to Hydra or his current team. He’s only looking out for himself and he’s barely bothering to conceal that. You have to wonder how far he can push the people around him before he breaks their unreciprocated loyalty.

Overall, this episode seemed a bit too much like filler after a string of really top-notch episodes. Not bad and it had its moments but not great.

And “I want my plane back.”

I think he killed Buddy with the rifle. I think he intended to kill FitzSimmons, but this being a Marvel product, they will likely be rescued somehow. Also think **Silenus **called Garrett and Ward being brothers–and that was at least implied in this episode.

From the preview, was that Fury being announced for a guest spot next week?

I think I need to watch this episode again before next week. There’s a lot going on, and our dogs raised a ruckus during part of it.

They showed the scope sighting in on Buddy. I’m assuming that it was Garrett that shot him. After having a scene where we saw Ward spare Buddy’s life it makes no narrative sense to have another scene where somebody killed Buddy while off camera and to assume it was Ward. If you want the audience to think Ward’s a dog killer, you don’t intentionally lead us away from it first.

I missed the implication that Garrett and Ward were brothers. Ward has said he had a younger and an older brother. No mention was made of the younger brother in this episode (it was hinted that he died in the well incident). But Garrett spoke of the older brother in the third person and clearly wasn’t talking about himself.

Why exactly are we supposed to feel that Ward has some overwhelming loyalty to Garrett? We certainly didn’t see any basis for that in this episode.

All Garrett did for Ward was break him out of prison. Ward might as well feel loyalty to the gun men who were there for the breakout.

Garrett told Ward he was doing it because he thought Ward would be useful to him. There was no implication he was doing it on Ward’s behalf. He then drove Ward out into the woods and dumped him there for six months. He didn’t give Ward any training. He wasn’t even there to bond with him over the campfire. Ward taught himself everything he needed to know so why would he have felt obligated to Garrett? Garrett then gave him a speech about how loyalty was bullshit which is always a great tool in recruiting a follower. The only thing Garrett did for Ward was give him a dog - and then he ordered Ward to shoot it.

Ward already hated his mother, his father, and his older brother. After the way Garrett acted, the rational response would be to have added Garrett’s name to the list. Instead Garrett treated Ward like shit but for some reason we’re supposed to accept that Ward became his BFF from the experience.

Minor quibble:
His quote was, “Little bit.” Coulson’s fairly understated in most things. When describing Banner’s experiment to Captain America:

Cap (watching video footage of The Hulk) : Didn’t really go his way, did it?
Coulson: Not so much.

We had to be patient at the beginning of the series, but I have to say it’s paying off. I’m greatly enjoying the characters and the story. I’m going to HATE to wait another 6-7 months until it comes back!

Quite. When he found out who was responsible for the TAHITI project, his face spoke volumes, but he only said “Huh.”

Someone somewhere suggested the best way for us to accept Ward could return to the team is for it to take an entire season with him slowly turning away from HYDRA. I like that idea. At the least half a season. If it’s any quicker they’re selling a great story thread short.

Thanks! What a dumb mistake. I was kind of shocked as I wrote that down last night. “I don’t remember any rhyming. And a curse word? I guess May must have said it. If I wrote it down, it must be true!” They were right in grade school. Penmanship is important.
From the context of the scene with Ward and FitzSimmons on the storage pod, I thought Ward was the one who had Buddy in his sights. At first, he let him go, because he cared for him. Later, after he had gotten 1800 feet away, he took him out because allowing something he cared about to live was a weakness. That’s why he tells Fitz he does care for him, and that’s a weakness. Going by FitzSimmons’ reaction, getting thrown out of the plane and into the ocean wasn’t a kindness.

Garrett might have left Ward out in the woods defenseless, but he left him with the words “I believe in you.” He saved him from juvie, and he gave his life purpose. Oh also. Garrett didn’t kill him when he could have, instead he taught him how to shoot. And, that is good. I guess? I’m not saying it’s a healthy relationship.

“Better, stronger, faster” - nice 40 year old reference.

There’s no way Garrett is Ward’s brother. When 16 year old Ward walked in to the visitation room, he showed no recognition of Garrett, and no surprise/confusion when Garrett introduced himself as a friend of the quartermaster from his military school. Clearly Ward had never seen Garrett before in his life. Maybe some kind of Speed Racer/Driver X secret older brother, but I don’t see the point in that.

Yes, it was Fury.

There’s a solution to those dogs you know… unless you’re weak.

It’s clear young Ward was completely screwed up, and Garrett took full advantage of that. First he showed Ward he’s capable of survival, when no doubt his family told him he wasn’t capable of shit for entire life. Then he taught him shooting and probably other fun agent type skills, then got him into an agency where he could use those skills and have a lot of fun doing it. His loyalty isn’t surprising in the least.

No way to prove who had Buddy in the scope unless they revisit it. I thought it was Garrett watching to see if Ward did it, then not letting him get away with faking it. I suppose Ward could have shot the pistol in the air to get Buddy to run off(“Damn dog takes off running every time I take a shot. . .”), then shot him from a distance with the rifle. Maybe it was easier to do it when he’s not looking the dog right in the face (like he was doing with FitzSimmons).

There are a few possible things to take from the dog/FitzSimmons parallels:

[li]Ward couldn’t kill the dog when he was looking him in the face. Ward couldn’t kill FitzSimmons when he was looking them in the face, so he ejected them to get them out of danger so that Coulson could find them.[/li]
[li]Ward couldn’t kill the dog when he was looking him in the face, so he shot him from a distance. Ward couldn’t kill FitzSimmons when he was looking them in the face, so he turned his back on them as he operated the controls to send them to the bottom of the ocean.[/li]
[li]Ward killed the dog. Ward killed, or tried to kill, FitzSimmons.[/li][/ul]

The dialog is inconclusive. Ward could be admitting that caring is a weakness even as he gives into it and tries to get FitzSimmons out of harm’s way. In real life, of course, that kind of ejection into the sea results in many broken bones and fatal head injuries, but we have to remember this is a comic book movie, so FitzSimmons could be alive and the ejection could be construed as an attempt to save them.

Also, I knew Buddy was dead as soon as Garrett left him with Ward. That sort of sick initiation is in Evil Villain 101.

Just to clarify, the voiceover said that there would be a special Marvel guest star. Then they showed footage of a photograph of Fury, and then they played audio of someone (Coulson, I think) talking about Fury.

So we’re supposed to assume the guest star will be Fury, which means it almost certainly won’t be.

Sorry, I see it differently. We see nothing but Garrett forcing Ward to bond with him strongly.

Yes, he left him out in the woods alone for six months. But Garrett told Ward that he knew he could make it. When he came back (without tacos, damnit), Garrett praised Ward’s skills and abilities, and started mentoring him in new skills that he was already starting to learn on his own. Ward was a confused impressionable teenager whan Ward pulled him out of jail, and Garrett started treating him like an adult when he returned to the woods. This is just an extremely personal version of any military basic training - break them down and build them up.

My one confusing point in the whole timeline - did that IED incident that made Garrett Deathlok 1.0 happen during those six months? If so, then I guess it was real SHIELD agents that stormed the prison after young Ward said yes. And that Garrett initially had every intention of making Ward a top SHIELD Specialist. If it happened before he found Ward, then I guess Garrett wanted Ward to be his mole within SHIELD.

THats my guess - Garret was abandoned by Sheild during those first 6 months.

Was that the Berzerker staff held by one of the Centipede soldiers?

Garrett found Ward 15 years before the present day. He had his IED incident 25 years before. Garrett never left SHIELD, he just felt abandoned by them, and when HYDRA found a way to help him survive he joined up with them, while remaining a SHIELD agent. Those agents that stormed the prison were probably HYDRA agents mixed with real SHIELD agents. He offered Ward a chance to join a secret organization. He meant HYDRA all along.

That’s not how i saw it. Ward tried to kill them the only way that was available to him. He fully intended for both of them to die. Just because they will (hopefully) be saved shouldn’t make us feel any different than if Ward just shot both of them in the face, which was what he was going to do if Fitz opened the door. I thought Garret killed the dog, but it seems pointless unless Ward knows about it.

BTW, I really like how Raina played Ward in the scene where she revealed what she knew about Skye. She’s really planning on heading off on her own, possibly taking Ward with her. Unless of course the GH-325 makes Garrett interesting to her again.

Nice theory, but it’s been widely reported that SLJ will guest star in the season finale. Plus he was wearing his post-CA:TWS sunglasses instead of an eyepatch.

Looked like it to me. Especially given they made a point of showing Ward holding it during the raid on the Fridge.