ABC‘s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Ragtag TV Show Review. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 1, Episode 21: ‘Ragtag’ allowed the home audience one last look behind the curtain that was Agent Ward (Brett Dalton), the nature of his relationship with John Garrett (Bill Paxton), and the effect his betrayal had left on his former team, as a set up to the season finale.
We do not, however, get any more detail concerning Ward’s childhood trauma, or the key relationship he had with his brother, only the aftermath. This backstory began with Garrett bringing a Faustian bargain to a teenage Ward’s stint at Juvenile Detention. From there, we not only got to see some of the conditioning that went into Ward’s detached talents (not nearly as harsh as Natasha Romanov’s beginnings), but some of the whys of John Garrett. Between the two of them, there was no real trace of noble cause or justification to signing on to H.Y.D.R.A.; but their was a satisfactory notion of Darwinist self-determination.
Between them, there was also a small matter of a dog named Buddy, and the subtle question of how being “man’s best friend” – however useful a loyal soldier – fit in with the brutal realities Garrett had in mind, past and present.
At present, for Ward & Garrett, was getting Ian Quinn (David Conrad) back on the horse, as a future merchant & front-man, with Raina (Ruth Negga) providing the product, by way of Skye’s records. There was a much more personal (i.e. selfish) motive behind Garrett’s overall scheme, which threatens to put him at odds with Raina’s belief based motives. There was also the beginnings of a shift in focus, from Ward’s background to Skye’s (Chloe Bennet), and a personal interest in that background for Raina; but fodder for the future, I guess….
At present for the other former Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., a matter of salvaging the loss of Skye’s data. The plan was simple enough, but without agency resources, it was Agent Triplett (B.J. Britt) that brought the mission hardware. With that hardware coming courtesy of his grandfather – a Howling Commando that served from WW2 through S.H.I.E.L.D.’s early years (keep that in mind as an Agent Carter series takes shape) – Skye’s digital solution was due for an analog execution. It was only fitting that part of the problem would be analog, as well.
With May (Ming-Na Wen) back onboard, the gambit to get field agants into a Cybertek facility boiled down to May and Coulson (Clark Gregg) fronting for Fitz-Simmons (Iain De Caestecker & Elizabeth Henstridge), playing Cyrano. Something of a humorous parallel to professional age gaps, but that Cybertek analog problem turned out to be more Coulson & May’s speed.
I’m going to assume that Cybertek’s stash floor was so analog that a hard line was the only means of raising an alarm; but Coulson and May still managed to contact the others wirelessly, and such a secure space really shouldn’t have large, easily shattered windows (given the lack of security response). It was still fun to see the gang go old school, though.
Triplett has brought more charisma and charm to the role of team muscle than Ward had managed to for the duration of his good guy role play. Throw in Triplett’s demonstration of more geek cred than the average field ops agent is allowed (see episode 12, ‘Seeds‘), and I’m even less inclined to miss Agent Ward, the hero. Thankfully, Fitz seemed to be over his perception of Triplett as a threat (interloper, at best), although a preoccupation with the nature of Ward’s betrayal might have a bit to do with that. Transference or not, it was good that they moved on – Fitz’s take on the fist-bump being a nice touch.
As for Fitz’s fixation on Ward, an opportunity for payback served to redeem what would have otherwise been an unnecessary (and annoying) breech of orders, by Fitz-Simmons. The fallout from that action provided an answer both to the question of Fitz’s hopes for Ward, and Buddy the dog’s place in the grand scheme of things.
As for the rest of the team, Garrett’s trail led them to a better means of implementing Skye’s solution; provided they can get past some ghosts of crises past – some of them multiplied & amplified.
‘Ragtag’ may have been the single best filler episode of Agents‘ inaugural season. It filled in key elements of the show’s past, adding context to the present, while setting up a very promising future. A future, I suspect (i.e. hope) involves more tie-ins to MCU projects; projects like, say, Guardians of the Galaxy (someone in Agents’ cast may be a monster in cute’s clothing, so Blue may be the Cross-over-est Color). If this turns out to be the case, then Agents stands to remain an active part of the joint MCU, instead of just living off of the association.