Spoilers if you haven't seen tonight's episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. "Providence"!
The game has most definitely changed. Ok, we could've said that last week. We probably did. But this week's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. took its next step into Hydra territory as Coulson's team figured out what to do next and Agent Garrett succeeded in gaining access to a lot of things Hydra probably shouldn't have. But first, what's the deal with Ward?
Is Ward Team Hydra or Team S.H.I.E.L.D?
I'm going to say neither. Some may still be hanging on to hope that Ward is a double agent or a triple agent or something. Tonight, Ward killed more S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, handed off a flash drive full of secret Coulson info to Raina (after helping her escape her jail cell) and helped Garrett break into the Fridge to gain access to a treasure trove of super-powerful, super-dangerous equipment and help more bad people escape. If someone wants to make an argument that Ward did all of that just to gain Hydra's trust, I'll hear you out but right now it's looking like he's firmly in Hydra's camp... because Garrett's in Hydra's camp. If Ward is team-anything, I'd say he's Team Garrett.
Unless I missed something, I haven't heard Ward say anything that's pro-Hydra or express any direct loyalty toward the organization. But he has expressed deep loyalty toward Garrett. As Ward pointed out to Raina, Garrett recruited him as a teenager, pulling him out of a bad situation. And from his conversation with Garrett, it sounds like Ward was planted in Coulson's team to spy on him from the beginning on Garrett's orders.
But wait, you might be thinking, if Garrett is Hydra and Ward is Team Garrett then isn't Ward technically Hydra too? Eh, kind of by default but not entirely, at least not as it relates to Ward's character direction in this series. Let's just assume for now that I'm right in saying that Ward's actions are a demonstration of his devotion to his mentor and not necessarily his mentor's cause. Then there's probably a better chance that Ward could redeem himself at some point in this show. Having an emotional attachment and devotion to a person whom he's trusted for years is a bit different than having a devotion to an evil organization. At the very least, I think there's a bit more wiggle room for Ward if his actions are due to misplaced devotion toward Garrett than if they were due to a desire to serve an evil organization.
Ward also might not have counted on the feelings he has developed for Coulson's team, assuming any of them are genuine, and I'm going to say that some of them are. Maybe. As of right now, it seems like he's willing to exploit his budding relationship with Skye to get the information Garrett needs, but it's hard to tell if this thing with Skye that's making them all flirty with one another is based on something genuine or if it's just something Ward decided to nurture to bring him closer to the group.
Ward claims some of his past actions -- saving Simmons, his relationship with May, etc -- were all demonstrations to prove himself trustworthy. Maybe that's the case. But maybe there's something more to it than that. Or maybe not. Maybe his feelings for Skye are the only thing genuine. Maybe even those are fake. It seems like we're intentionally left to wonder about that, which is fine. It's actually kind of fun, and a lot more interesting than if tonight's episode revealed that Ward was undercover on behalf of Coulson. Dark Ward is interesting.
And even with his actions in the past few episodes, he's not unredeemable, especially when we consider the mention about Garrett getting to him as a teen. Garrett may be pulling his strings. If there's anyone who might be able to cut those, I'm betting it's Coulson.
Or maybe Ward's just a bad guy and we need to accept it.
Speaking of Coulson...
Coulson and his team -- now sort of including Tripplet, who's been allowed to tag along under Simmons' watch -- decided to abandon the S.H.I.E.L.D. facility when Col. Talbot (Adrian Pasdar) announced that the military was sending peacekeepers out. While Coulson was willing to set his S.H.I.E.L.D. badge aside, he refused to give up hope, especially when his badge showed a bunch of coordinates that Coulson was certain indicated that Nick Fury was still alive.
Coulson led his dubious team into snowy Canada to a remote location with nothing but trees and mountains. Also a big hide-a-key-like rock that leads down into a super-secret unnamed ("Providence") S.H.I.E.L.D. facility being watched over by Patton Oswalt's enthusiastic Agent Koenig, who revealed to Coulson alone that Nick Fury is alive! He's alive! (We knew that from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but still...).
Here's what I don't get. Why is it ok for Skye to make a phone call to anyone from that facility? I get that she was calling Ward, thinking they could trust him. But why did they let her? If Koenig only trusts Coulson and can't trust anyone from his team until they're vetted, wouldn't it be a good idea to confiscate their cell phones? Just saying.
Of course, if they did that, Ward wouldn't know where to go to find Skye and try to finesse information out of her, which seems to be his plan. The easy way will be to chat her up, continue to make eyes at her until she talks and then sneak off with the intel. But something tells me it's not going to be that easy. So maybe next week will be the week when Coulson's team discovers May wasn't the only mole among the group.
Oh, and also...
Ian Quinn is out and complaining about the all-meatloaf diet S.H.I.E.L.D. had him on. He seemed like he was in a much better mood when Garrett presented him with his Gravitonium.
Raina seemed pretty majorly disappointed that Garrett's only a figurative Clairvoyant and not actually clairvoyant. She really bought into that whole act. I'm wondering if she'll end up turning on Garrett.
Coulson's angry and eventually tearful rant in the woods was a great demonstration of his loyalty to S.H.I.E.L.D. and his unwavering faith. That felt important, especially in this time of betrayal and division.
Fitz is noticing that Simmons is buddying up with Triplett and he seems a bit threatened by it. At the very least, he's worried things are changing, which they are. I adore Fitz-Simmons as a team, but I really hope Triplett's not secret-Hydra. I like him.
Patton Oswalt is awesome.
So is Adrian Pasdar's mustache.
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