It's nights like tonight where I almost wish I was one of those people in the future who are binge-watching all of Season 1 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. because those people will get to jump to next week's episode right away. The rest of us have to sit and wait until next Tuesday night for the "Beginning of the End," which is actually the end of the season -- but hopefully not the series. The penultimate episode of Season 1, "Ragtag" did not disappoint. In fact, tonight's episode was another suspenseful, tension-filled installment of what's proven to be a really spectacular final handful of final episodes.
"Ragtag" worked Hydra, Centipede, Cybertek and vigilante
As funny as Coulson and May's bickering was -- mirroring FitzSimmons nerdy banter -- I think my favorite moment from the interview scene was the pause Coulson did when he noted that the icer had a cool... name, as though Coulson would have stopped himself from actually saying that last part if he'd known where the sentence was going. It's moments like these that I think have to be pointed out because the episode was full of so many other big moments that the little ones tend to get lost. See also Fitz using the cigarette laser to burn down the motel curtains.
On Coulson's end of the story, the team was looking to use Skye's Trojan Horse flash drive to track Garrett's movements. Through a confusing diagram, Coulson pointed out that Cybertek is at the center of pretty much everything that's going on, including Quinn, Deathlok, Garrett and other factors. That brought them to Cybertek headquarters, which as it happens, is about as low tech as it gets. The fanciest piece of technology glimpsed at that place was a red wall phone used to alert security (assuming the person trying to use it could get to it faster than May, which wasn't the case tonight.)
Coulson and May discovered old files -- as in physical files in a file cabinet -- that outlined the full history of Deathlok. They transferred all of that data out the window and later examined it to discover that Garrett is the original Deathlok. Parts of him are more metal than others.
Garrett's side of the story revealed the origins of his relationship with Ward. From what we saw in the flashbacks, Garrett recruited Ward straight out of juvy. He busted the kid out and adopted him... sort of. Ward was left to fend for himself in the woods for a while, which he did, accompanied by a friendly dog that Garrett didn't seem to appreciate as part of Ward's survival strategy. The dog was a weakness from Garrett's point of view. From mine, the dog represented Ward's appreciation for friendship and loyalty, and perhaps his longing for it. It's something I still think he has in him, and I don't consider it a weakness, but we'll get to that. Garrett's not about loyalty, he's about survival.
It sounds like Garrett's turn toward Hydra was due at least in part to S.H.I.E.L.D. not being there for him when he was in a bad situation and in need of major backup. I get the impression that Garrett sold Ward on the whole Hydra thing by leading him to believe the organization was about survival and something stronger and better than S.H.I.E.L.D., as opposed to being the sinister organization that it actually is. But that still falls in line with my theory that Ward's loyalty is toward Garrett more than it is Hydra.
Until/unless we see Ward attending Hydra meetings, learning the secret hand-shake, spouting off Hydra rhetoric or anything else that shows his own personal allegiance toward the organization, I maintain that he's pro-Garrett above all else. And I think that's because Garrett was there for him when no one else was. And Garrett accepted him, flaws and all. Garrett seems to be pushing Ward's bonding nature as weakness, but I have to wonder if Garrett has considered that he too is a "weakness" for Ward. Think about how desperate Ward was to save Garrett during the occasions when his health was failing him. There's an emotional connection there. Is Garrett blind to that, or is he exploiting it?
Moving on to other "weaknesses," Ward was faced with having to kill FitzSimmons tonight. Fitz has taken Ward's betrayal the hardest. He seems unwilling to accept that there was nothing genuine about his friendship with Ward. Tonight the two came face to face when FitzSimmons found the bus in Cuba. Armed "only" with a pocket EMP and a quarter that is a tiny walkie talkie, FitzSimmons was ushered onto the bus by Ward, to face Garrett.
Fitz quickly used the EMP to shut down the power, knocking Garrett's Deathlok technology out of commission. We learned earlier that he only has like 2 months to live, hence his determination to get the GH325 serum. While the crew got the plane back up and running, Garrett's already failing body began to fail much faster. Garrett ordered Ward to kill Fitz and Simmons. And here's where the dog thing comes back into play. It seemed like Garrett was determined to get Ward to "cross off" these weaknesses, not because they might pose a problem, but because they were dragging Ward down. I think Garrett knows Ward has goodness in him, and that's of no use to him (unless that loyalty's being pointed toward Garrett, anyway).
FitzSimmons managed to get past their own guards, and it helped that they know their way around the bus. But Ward caught up to them. They barricaded themselves into some kind of cargo pod -- some other air locked container that could be ejected from the plane with a few taps of a touchscreen. Ward couldn't get them to come out, so he sent them packing. The obvious questions are, are they dead and did he try to kill them or was he helping them escape?
I'm going to theorize no and no/yes. Ok, maybe "helping them escape" is generous and a bit too optimistic. I do think Ward hoped they would survive the drop to the water. If he really wanted them dead, he could have figured out a way to unlock the door, or else put a guard on it and wait them out. If he wanted to make sure they were dead, he could have killed them is my point. He didn't. And as he dropped the cargo thing, he admitted aloud to himself that he does care about them and "It's a weakness." So I think, at the very least, he was trying to push them out of the picture however they could.
And I refuse to believe he shot the dog in the final flashback. I guess I'm a Fitz. I think there's some good in him and I think he'd give the people he cares about a fighting chance, at the very least.
Meanwhile, Raina -- who spent a lot of tonight's episode reminding us that she likes people that are special -- used her vial of almost-GH325 (distilled genetic comments of previous samples) to save Garrett. It's all that was left of the samples and it seems to have recharged Garrett and then some. Replacing the Centipede serum, the GH325 serum nearly made Garrett's face explode, but he seemed to be ok after that. Maybe better than ok. We probably have good reason to worry about him as this finale looms closer.
Last we saw of Coulson, Skye, Triplet and May, they were standing face to face with a Centipede soldier and surrounded, so there's that to worry about. Fitz and Simmons might be dead (or in danger of dying), but that quarter's a walkie talkie, right? So maybe they're ok and they'll call for help. And finally, there's Quinn, who was last seen selling an army of super soldiers from Cybertek to the military. Not good. But interesting...
Next week's episode will close out the first season of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Will Ward turn completely toward the dark side, or will he have a change of heart? Garrett's life-altering situation might be a deciding factor, especially if it makes him scary powerful. Garrett's determination to make Ward kill FitzSimmons makes me think he might personally target Skye just to eliminate that "weakness" and force Ward to be more focused. If that's the case, maybe Ward will turn against him. Or maybe I'm still grasping at hope that there's a chance for redemption there.
In the meantime, next week: NICK FURY!