TV REVIEW: Agents of SHIELD’s “Ragtag” Peels Back the Layers on Ward’s Troubled Past

By Felicia Kudronowicz

The first season of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is coming to an end and this week’s episode “Ragtag” makes for a great prelude to the season finale.

This history-heavy episode opens with Ward and Garrett’s first meeting fifteen years ago. Ward is in juvenile detention for setting his family house on fire while his brother was inside. Garrett has come to mentor him and break him out. The episode constantly flashes throughout Ward’s history with SHIELD/HYDRA and present day.

Our SHIELD gang is still camping out at the motel and has figured out that the company Cybertek is at the center of everything going on. They decide to break in and see what they can find. Since they no longer have SHIELD’s fancy gadgets, they use Triplett’s granddad’s old spy equipment, including a laser cigarette. In order to do this May and Coulson go in pretending to be SHIELD scientists (aka Fitz and Simmons) wanting to transfer to Cybertek. After a somewhat humiliating initial meeting, they sneak around and find that all their files are hard copies, meaning no way to hack into this one. Instead, they steal an entire file cabinet, once again going old school.

Through the stolen files and flashbacks with Ward, we learn that Garrett is actually the prototype for Deathlok. He has robotics keeping him alive and together. He actually wants the GH cure for himself because he’s dying and believes it to be the only thing that can save him now.

The team separates with May, Coulson, Skye and Triplett in Cuba searching for a HYDRA computer system to hack into, while Fitz and Simmons search for their bus. Both are successful in their search but not so much on their execution. Ward captures Fitz and Simmons as they are spying. Fitz uses one of the old timey spy tools to take out the electricity, which includes Garrett’s robotic parts. Garrett orders Ward to kill them. Fitz and Simmons run into what looks like a panic room, but it’s actually a pod that Ward (without flinching) launches into the ocean. At the same time, Rayna injects Garrett with the GH serum as his last hope to live.

Back with the rest of the team, they find the entrance to HYDRA’s computer system only to be surrounded by Centipede soldiers.

The episode ends on a cliffhanger in which no one is safe, setting the pieces in place for what will surely be an eventful finale. “Ragtag” did an admirable job at illustrating just how the young and troubled Ward got his start as Garrett’s protégé, but with Fitz (perhaps echoing a strong corner of the fan community) constantly expressing doubts that Ward is actually evil, we find ourselves echoing those same doubts by the time the credits roll.

We’re in a unique position where we finally have almost all of the answers we’ve craved this season, even with some hints at Skye’s origin story thrown in for good measure. I’m honestly not sure if our whole team will make it through, and for the first time this season, I’m thrilled at the prospect of the unknown.