Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1, Episode 21: "Ragtag" Review"

CLARK GREGG, MING-NA WEN

In “Rag Tag”, the team goes on the offensive to stop Hydra. Meanwhile, the secret to Garrett’s (Bill Paxton) mysterious origin is revealed.

Continue reading for a spoiler filled recap of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1, Episode 21.

Let’s Discuss What Happened!

Rag Tag: I started watching Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. because Joss Whedon’s name was attached to the show and I liked the idea of a TV series set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that could fill in the blanks in between movies.  But it hasn’t been until the second half of the season that I could say I was invested in the show because of the show itself.

I Told You It Was Going To Be Fun: Last’s week “Nothing Personal” packed some dramatic weight with Fitz’s emotional reaction to Ward’s betrayal and Skye calling Ward a Nazi. “Rag Tag” brought back the lighter moments amongst the drama. The most amusing moments are May smiling (I knew May could smile) while posing as a lab nerd, Coulson geeking out over the Howling Commandos spy craft gadgets and “prepare for a large file transfer”. Not everything worked though, it’s cool to see May do a double flip kick but the race to the red telephone wasn’t the most logical decision on the security guard’s part.

We Have To Go Back!: We previously seen Ward’s flashbacks in “The Well”, but this time it’s utilized more effectively as it better defined Ward, explored his history with Garrett and informed his present day decision-making. Garrett spent more time tormenting Ward than being a father figure. Maybe the victim mentality of being an abused kid with abandonment issues explains why Ward is so attached to Garrett as much as getting rescued from the detention centre.

Regardless if this paves a way for his redemption, I like this nuanced take on why Ward does the terrible things that he does. If Ward was simply evil as Skye said, it would be easy to dismiss him as a disposable villain. Whereas the inner struggle between being a lone wolf lost in the woods and believing getting too attached to people is a weakness helps to add a layer to his character. Fitz’s belief in the goodness within Ward is quite endearing. It may be a little too on the nose for some viewers, but I liked the analogy between having to put down his faithful dog and Fitz-Simmons.

Deathlok 1.0: The flashbacks also helped to explain why Garrett crossed over to Hydra’s side. S.H.I.E.L.D. is supposed to be stopping their enemies but after leaving Garrett to stuff his intestines back inside with duct tape, they created a traitor/monster. In the penultimate episode, we finally get a clear picture of the end game for the Centipede super soldiers and why Garrett’s personally obsessed with Coulson’s resurrection miracle. It all makes sense, nothing really surprising here – well except that Garrett is the original Deathlok! Speaking of reveals, I’m curious about what Raina has in common with Skye but without more details to go on it’s a bit underwhelming to find out Skye’s parents were the monsters who took out a village.

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Say Yes: Without the writers overemphasizing it, or maybe I’m reading into things too much, I do like how this episode revolves around the degree to which a person has the free will to make their own decisions. At the juvenile detention centre, Garrett presents Ward with the offer to either come with him or stay locked up, with the latter having a long list of reasons for not being a good option. At the end, Garrett is faced with the choice to inject the serum or not but if he wants any chance to live it’s a risk he must take.

As for the former S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, they aren’t following orders given by their superiors to stop Hydra. They do it because it’s the right thing to do. The choice to freely act for the greater good rather than obeying directives helps to better define them as heroes. Of course, the biggest decision of the episode belonged to Ward. It may be a bit ambiguous but the way that I saw it was that Ward freed Fitz-Simmon, he didn’t leave them to die in the ocean. Perhaps the confusion is that the cross hairs on the dog ended with a loud bang, but it sounded more like the pod getting released from the Bus than a rifle firing.

The Wrap Up

The road to the season finale has been long, full of bumps and perhaps a few more detours than expected.  But for those that stuck with show, the latest run of episodes are an entertaining ride with some fun twists and turns. If Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. follows a traditional Joss Whedon finale, we can expect next week for the major story line of the season to be resolved, the conflict with the big bad to have wrapped up, and possibly lots of heartbreak.

Was Ward’s intention to free Fitz-Simmons or kill them? Any predictions for the season finale?

 

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