Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Ward… do we love him? Yes, we do.

26 Jul

At the end of season 1 of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Charity and I were working on a post about why we loved Agent Ward. Even though he was with Hydra and evil. Life happened, the finale aired, and we never finished it.

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But it has lingered in the back of my mind ever since.

Ward is evil. He is Hydra. But we still love him. Below is an excerpt from the discussion we had regarding Agent Ward.

EA – I wrote about how I loved the show and how that love had grown following a mid-season re-watch where I was able to focus on the smaller pieces instead of just the overarching story of the episode. It’s also where I tried to explain my love for Brett Dalton as Agent Ward.

CT – You mean it’s not just because Agent Ward is played by the very talented and good-looking Brett Dalton…? 🙂

Ep.18-WardEA – Not gonna lie… damn he’s a good looking man! (did you see the Vegas scene? YES!) And I have quite enjoyed watching him develop his character. I also have an interest in seeing more of Dalton’s work… So, yes, it’s all about him. Haha! Speaking of Ward… last time we did this we discussed our great love for Olicity and briefly touched on how unsympathetic the Laurel Lance character is. Ward has undergone a lot this season… becoming- SPOILER ALERT- a villain of the story. But to me, especially looking back throughout the season- he’s sympathetic character and I care about how him what happens to the character. What do you feel about the arc of Ward’s character?

CT – I think – unlike the development (sort of) of Laurel’s character on Arrow – Ward’s shift has been structured and  played very well.  First, it was sudden but realistically so – running alongside the major events.  Second, just as we follow the confusion/shock/anger of the other characters, we (as audience) get the relief of understanding how Ward became a villain. It’s not so simple. It’s messy.  He’s done bad things, but you question where the blame falls in his actions in light of seeing that amazing sequence of scenes that give us his backstory in last week’s episode.

EA – If you go back and rewatch the episodes, you can see that it wasn’t as sudden as it appeared. I remember the moment of Ward shooting Agent Hand and my absolute outrage at him apparently being evil. But it was so subtle that it looked like he was turning from a lone wolf into a solid part of the team. It was extremely well done. And like you said, we started to get information on why Ward is the man he is by learning some of the backstory of his relationship with Agent Garrett (beautifully portrayed by Bill Paxton!). I was almost nauseated by the obvious bullying and manipulation that Ward was the victim of. Poor kid! He needed a hug!

ward trustCT – I think we’re supposed to be able to look back and see it in hindsight, but I think if you’re just going along – like the other characters on the show – it is more sudden than not.  I think that’s what I like most about this segment of the season.  We’re not as caught up about “learning who people are” so much as being empathetic to them and understanding what they’re going through.  I think there was a natural ease to how the audience might empathize with the team finding out about Ward.  I’m glad they did the back story reveal because I was pretty much angry that he was evil too – like “Why?  What?!”  I believe we had a few exchanges about the shock of all that and weren’t really sure how they were going to go with it.  But I’m glad for this approach because it adds complication for us as audience members and for the team when they begin to learn – perhaps – of how he came to be this way.  It was really interesting how each team member took to his change – how adamant some were, confused others were, and downright in denial as well.

EA – Poor Fitz needs a hug and a cookie. He is not taking Ward being evil well at all. Though I am betting that after being dropped out of The Bus, he has probably gotten over that. Yes, I agree- the fact that it’s visible when rewatching, but not in the original viewing keeps the audience in the same headspace as the characters of the team. Which is nice- even if/when we get information that they do not have, we are still in the same zone. I am interested to see how Skye actually acts when the time comes in the season finale… She is very angry, however, there is an undercurrent of hurt and unhappiness under all of that anger. (But I am totally looking forward to Melinda May kicking Ward’s ass!) I think I would be in the disbelief group, with Fitz. I would be desperate to know the why and believe that it was part of some plan- I was firmly in the camp that Ward was undercover…

CT – Oh definitely with “Poor Fitz!”  I am happy that they chose him to be the last hold-out of faith in Ward (at least in this round).  I am curious to see how Skye is going to react because I think it’s very difficult for her to trust people and to feel that Ward betrayed her must be a deeper level of terrible which gets expressed as anger.  She basically has written it off and adding in having to play the “I love you/I believe in you” card with Ward probably didn’t help.

EA – I was also glad to see Fitz holding out in his belief that Ward was a good guy or something was going on that they didn’t know about. He has some hero worship (which is adorable!) but there is also a very familial bond within the team, with Fitz-Simmons as the kid siblings… And yes… I cannot wait to see how the Skye aspect plays out in the finale- can Ward be redeemed? Can Skye forgive him? Should she? Does he actually have feelings for you (that he used to manipulate her)? Is he even capable of having feeligs for others? Ward has been so heavily manipulated and molded by Garrett to be the Hydra agent that Garrett wanted… is he a true sociopath or is he just the product of his creation?

CT – Maybe it’s the hopeless romantic in me but I honestly think that Ward does have feelings for Skye as well as the other members of the team.  I think it’s a little easier for him to categorize and kill agents that he doesn’t have any real connection to – but he had to connect with the other team members in order to have them trust him.  I say this knowing that Ward shot that dog.  But I can also see him convincing himself that it was a good idea somehow.  I guess I just want Ward to be a decent guy under all that mess. Call me an optimist – or naive!

EA – HE DID NOT SHOOT THE DOG! I won’t accept that. He set the dog free! That’s why I hold out hope that he can be redeemed- he has true feelings for the team. I think that if he had to face off between Coulson and Garrett (in a crazy triangle thing), he might actually shoot Garrett because Garrett taught him to take out the enemy, and while Coulson is not Hydra, he’s dad… he protects instead of harms… I want Ward to come out of this as a decent guy. (Editors note- D’oh!) I think- again, go back to dropping Fitz-Simmons off the plane; I still think one of the buttons probably could’ve suffocated them (I think we’ve discussed this before)- that he cares for them. He can’t hurt them because of this, but the… training that Garrett put him through makes it hard to turn away. It’s Stockholm Syndrome.

CT – Believe what you will. I think he did. I think it adds to the conflict and confusion.  I believe it’s Stockholm Syndrome all the way, but I think it was much stronger before Ward had to get to know the team because Garrett was all he had.

BRETT DALTON, BILL PAXTONEA – Oh definitely, Garrett had much more control over Ward prior to putting him in the team. I wonder if he was supposed to fall for Skye or if that just happened? And yes, I refuse to believe he killed the dog… I don’t want him to be that cold! PUPPY!!!

Veering off Ward for a minute… your thoughts on Garrett? Did all of this stem from his being wounded and left to rot, or was he Hydra from the get-go? Do you feel his sociopathy was part of him prior to Hydra and the wounds? Or was it more a product of being left to die?

CT – I think if he does care about Skye it was incidental.  I don’t think it was part of the mission – perhaps it was just also the best use of the strategy as things evolved?  Given the May situation – it’s not like they can’t compartmentalize to – ahem – do what’s required.  But romantically or not, I want to believe that’s the case with the team.  He didn’t mean to care about them, but ended up caring about them.  As for Garrett, I think he’s a sociopath.  Whether it’s because of Hydra and the wounds, I’m not sure.  I think based on his behavior – especially in how he manipulated Ward – the end game is not Hydra for him so much as trying to save himself.  Garrett’s first priority was quickly revealed to be Garrett.  What do you think?

EA – Garrett is definitely number one in his play book. Hydra’s goals matched up better with his own then S.H.I.E.L.D., in my opinion. So whether Hydra got to him in the beginning of his career or later after his battle wounds, his own narcissism and feelings of self-importance make him top dog. I feel like Ward lacked healthy attachment and thus when shown any interest by an adult (in particular an adult male) he latched on and did everything possible to ensure the connection grew and strengthened. It’s sad, really.

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So there you have it… perhaps a bit dated now- seeing as how the first season is over and season 2 will be here soon, but… still interesting (I think)(I may be biased). As always- a pleasure chatting with Charity. If you haven’t- be sure to take a peek at our conversation about one of favorite fandoms- Olicity!

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