TV discussion

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 1×21 – ‘Ragtag’ – TV Rewind

Since the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier things have just been going from strength to strength for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as the titular organisation has fallen apart, reducing our heroes to a lone band of agents with no resources or back-up. This reaches its peak in ‘Ragtag’ as Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his team are left planning a secret op from a motel room using a case of 1950’s spy gadgets.

The addition of Agent Triplett (B.J. Britt) to the team really comes to life in this episode. Whilst before he hasn’t stood out much as having brought anything new to the group other than replacing Ward (Brett Dalton) this episode has him bonding in wonderful ways with Coulson as the two of them geek out over his grandfather’s old Howling Commandos kit of classic spy gear.

We’ve known for a long while that Coulson loves history, particularly that of the S.H.I.E.L.D. organisation, so watching him act like an excited school boy over laser cigarettes, EMP joy-buzzers, and hand held hypno-beam. It finally feels like Triplett has his place on the team, he’s the super agent who is actually fun and friendly and gets on well with the team, which is a big breath of fresh air from the Ward we had at the start of the season.

The low tech and retro gadgets are a fun change for the show, ditching the hologram tables and computer hacking. The mission where Coulson and May (Ming-Na Wen) have to infiltrate the Cybertek facility in order to steal files becomes much more enjoyable when you realise that the files aren’t on a computer. The ‘large file transfer’ moment is honestly one of the best jokes in the season to date and feels well earned.

A large portion of the episode is given over to a series of flashbacks that reveal a lot of the backstory for Ward, showing how Garrett (Bill Paxton) recruited him from a youth offenders prison and moulded him into a Hydra agent, or at least someone loyal to Garrett; as Ward has said more than once that his loyalty is to Garrett over Hydra.

Despite these flashbacks explaining a lot of why Ward feels like he is in the man’s debt, I can’t help but feel like there’s something missing from the relationship, something that would instil complete loyalty in the man. I kept expecting a moment where Ward’s life would be saved by Garrett, or some kind of big moment like that, but alas not.

We also get to learn a little more about Garrett in this episode too, particularly the fact that he is the very first Deathlok prototype. Whilst his character in the comics has no connection to Deathlok he was a cyborg, so combining those two here actually makes a loot of sense as it keeps things connected to the main story without adding the complications of a second completely unconnected cyborg.

The highlight of the episode, however, has to be the confrontation between Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) and Ward. After attacking Garrett with with an EMP Fitz and Simmons are locked in a storage unit on board the Bus, at which point Garrett orders Ward to kill them.

Whilst I never thought that Ward would simply shoot them in the head, as Garrett wanted, but the two of them being dropped out of a moving plane into the ocean is a shocking moment. Yes, it’s not an instant death and there’s a chance that they could survive they’re not safe by any means, and even is they live there’s a good chance that there will be serious consequences from this action. It also completely puts to bed the notion that Ward may not be completely evil, truly cementing him as a villain.

The series has a lot that it needs to resolve moving into it’s final episode, but the show has more than proven that not only is it a great comic book show worth the time to watch, but that it can more than just survive without the S.H.I.E.L.D. organisation, but it’s been thriving.

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