‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Transforms Ward & Becomes a ‘Must-Watch’ Show

Published 1 year ago by

agents of shield season 1 episode 17 coulson oswalt Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Transforms Ward & Becomes a Must Watch Show

[This is a REVIEW of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Episode 17. There WILL be SPOILERS.]


Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. took audiences by surprise with its Captain America: The Winter Soldier tie-in, delivering an episode which truly reinvigorated the series, as well as giving a real sense of purpose to Coulson’s rag-tag team of secret agent misfits. However, this week’s adventure is more than enough proof that a clear vision, not some super-powered fluke, is now what’s driving the heart of the series.

In this week’s episode, “Providence,” written by Brent Fletcher (Spartacus: War of the Damned), Agent Grant Ward (Brent Dalton) takes center stage in this post-HYDRA world, overtaking S.H.I.E.L.D. at every corner, while at the same time keeping his allegiances a secret from those who, unfortunately, still trust him. As Coulson (Clark Gregg) and co. erase their identities and leave the Hub, mysterious coordinates lead them to a hidden S.H.I.E.L.D. base in the Canadian wilderness. When Ward and Garrett (Bill Paxton) – the Clairvoyant – free prisoners, as well as alien artifacts, from the Fridge, and Ian Quinn (David Conrad) reclaims his Gravitonium, Skye inadvertently becomes HYDRA’s most important asset.

Make no mistake, Grant Ward is now a real, honest-to-goodness secret agent, and this week’s episode shows off all his abilities to manipulate those around him, maneuver effortlessly, and confidently through enemy territory – and, of course, shooting whomever deserves it in the face.

agents of shield season 1 episode 17 ward garrett Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Transforms Ward & Becomes a Must Watch Show

Whatever plans were made for this series, it’s clear that Brent Dalton, through his character, has been held back by these late-stage developments, as his transformation into the series’ most formidable villain is something that cannot simply be turned on and off. Thanks to Ward’s destruction and deceit, audiences now see how easy it is to infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D. from within – something Captain America: The Winter Solider never really touched upon, only presented the consequences of.

S.H.I.E.L.D., at its core, is secure; however, with all the many agents which make the whole, S.H.I.E.L.D. falls victim to the earnest respect for the life of their (presumed) brethren, which allows Ward and Garrett to gain access to areas which a true security lockdown would prevent. At this point, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is no longer simply piggybacking off of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe; it’s now giving back to this wide and expansive world, allowing audiences to truly see the the smaller, everyday impact of these larger events.

agents of shield season 1 episode 17 coulson skye Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Transforms Ward & Becomes a Must Watch Show

For pure entertainment value alone, audiences should all hail HYDRA – except that Garrett is already self-aware of the slogan, mocking its continuous use, which leads one to ask, without answer: How did Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. becomes so good, so fast, and remain so consistent? This is, for sure, a different series, through and through, and it’s finally earned the respect of the many dedicated Marvel fans which stuck with it through all the many hours it took for the series to find itself.

Patton Oswalt as the Howling Commandos’ Eric Koenig, too, is a terrific sign that a clear vision is driving the series. Oswalt’s love of comics is well-known, and his appearances on other shows are always hilarious and memorable. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a different beast, however, and past episodes have shown that comedic lines can fall flat when paired with a weak plot.

agents of shield season 1 episode 17 raina Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Transforms Ward & Becomes a Must Watch Show

Fortunately, Oswalt’s effervescent personality in this setting reveals that, not only was he given a clear direction on how to balance humor with story, but his execution of Koenig shows that he trusted the environment he was in enough to trust the producers – not his learned skills as comedian – to make the most of his appearance. Additionally, it allowed them to slip in the “Nick Fury is not dead” plot point to Coulson without making the entire team aware, which essentially separates Coulson from his team, again, returning him to place of control within his assembled team.

Yes, Captain America: The Winter Soldier helped turn Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D around, and last week’s episode was an enjoyable return to the world established in theaters. This episode, however, is much more than that, and such a continuation of quality, though feasible, isn’t easy to pull off without a clear direction in mind. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. now has that.

Wherever the final episodes of season 1 take us, there’s no doubt that fans will be tuning in with the same enthusiasm they had when they first tuned in to the pilot. This whole thing is an experiment and, as such, deserves all the criticisms that it received. Still, if experimentation has taught us anything, it’s that success and failure never truly reveals itself until it’s all over.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns next Tuesday with “The Only Light in the Darkness” @9pm on ABC. You can check out a preview of next week’s episode below:

Follow Anthony Ocasio on Twitter @anthonyocasio
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  1. Another great episode. Pattons part was awesome.

    • Nope… too geeky. The “Call of Duty” dialog was painful.

  2. I’ve been watching since the pilot and I have to say (knowing that the last few episodes have been getting better and better) Providence was the first episode I’ve watched, where while sitting there I said aloud ‘this is dope.’
    A well put together episode, I’m eagerly waiting for next week’s.

    • was a great episode, my only gripe is the part they are outside the secret base the acting was a bit mediocre. But i have been watching since the pilot and i have liked it a lot. Im still unsure if ward is truly a baddie or not. Guess i will have to wait and see.

      • And see, I didn’t like Ward to begin with, until his turn. If he turns out to be good, he should sacrifice himself in heroic fashion (Ward and Skye can’t fly around the world in love, that would ruin the show) but after Garrett is defeated, Ward should take over and be the big-bad for season 2.

        • Right there with ya. Can’t watch this high school romance thing for much longer. Just like in This is the End “he’s GOTS to go!” I’m worried Fitz and Simmons are getting there too…

        • I don’t know what happened, but he’s so much cooler as a villain.

          He just seemed sort of dopey as a SHIELD agent, but I actually take him seriously now.

          IMO, this is a better move than killing him off. The greatest damage they can do to the show now is turn him around again.

          • Who knows if it was intentional or not, but it sure makes his woodenness throughout the season seem brilliant.

            • All through the series until this last couple episodes, Ward was the only one who acted like a true secret agent/operative. Toughest guy in the bunch, most dedicated to his philosophy and team, etc. The guy I would pick on the team to save my butt in a pinch.

            • This series has finally achieved must watched status. Still, I hope Ward gets two in the chest and one in the head. That’s the only way this series redeems itself after 15 episodes of blah. They couldn’t have filled the ranks with more undesirable actors if they tried. In fact, regardless what happens there needs to be a thinning out. It’s been a major problem with the series since its premiere.

              • I don’t know about “must watch status” dude, but you may be onto something about killing Ward. I think a major character overhaul is in order.

                • Oh, NOW people are coming around to a character overhaul :-D

                  …Where were you guys when I said this after episode ONE!?!?! http://screenrant.com/qM4

  3. To answer the question:

    “How did Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. becomes so good, so fast, and remain so consistent?”

    It’s always been that way. You just needed patience and not expect spandex in every episode. The characters have to be built or else the “Turn,Turn,Turns” aren’t going to pay off. If they didn’t build Ward to what he was the first half, it wouldn’t make sense for the second half.

    And it all connected nicely with Winter Soldier and Hydra. This is also a great character development platform for Coulson. From the no-nonsense, by the book, trusting agent, to a “Don’t trust anyone except Fury” one.

    I think the writers should be congratulated for how they tie this show into the storyline of the cinematic universe. It’s not directly dependent, but it’s affected by what goes on in the big screen while keeping it’s effect on the big screen minimal (which is how it should be).

    • “It’s always been that way.”

      I have stuck with the show from the beginning, but you can’t tell me you think the quality of the first eps is anywhere near the past 7 … can you?

      • I liked how awkward the team first felt, and how they really started to gel with each other. I started watching late, with low expectations, and turned out loving it more than Arrow, even though I’m a big DC fan. To each their own, I guess.

        • Agreed! I really like Arrow but I now like AoS more. AoS has turned into a great show. I truly believe that the events from CA: TWS saved this series.

      • @WordofTheUndead:

        Maybe because I had the benefit of binge-watching the first episodes I got a better notion of how the characters were being developed. After the first episode, I decided that this would be more like a Fringe or Warehouse 13 type series and set my expectations accordingly. I enjoyed the first few eps seeing how these “new” characters were built and even how the Coulson character was being deepened.

        Everyone is saying how great these last few episodes were but they would not have been as good if they weren’t set up that way. The Ward turn is more impactful because everyone complained how boring his character was. I thought it was very interesting how he explained to Garrett and Raina how he played Coulson and his team. If you watched from the beginning, all those moments got tied together and now paid off.

        And I don’t get how so many are annoyed by Skye. How many comic book “geeks” would turn down a date with her? At a minimum, she can get you unlimited XBox Live points. :)

        • The binge watching could make a huge difference. Also, not having the long breaks in between eps would have been nice as well.

    • “It’s always been that way.”

      Always? Really? REALLY? First ten episodes were crap, pure crap, since then they were better, not groundbreaking and far from great, but better.

      We have a different definition of the word: Always.

      • @Brandon B:

        Please see my comments to WorldofUndead.

        Yep… “always”. You can find my past comments for the last 2 months on ScreenRant where I keep saying that AoS is better than the comments I have read because I had different expectations.

        I think many went in hoping to see a film-sized production replete with superheroes running around. It’s a TV show on a TV budget. The tagline was “Not all heroes are super”. Others complained about the acting, the stories etc… but what are you going to expect from this type of show?

        To me, of the new “scifi-ish/action” shows this season, it was always better than Almost Human, slightly better than The Blacklist (only due to its Marvel connection) and certainly better than The Originals and The Tomorrow People.

        And yes, my opinion on “always” differs from yours. But a show can’t become “good, so fast and remain consistent” just on the last 3 episodes.. like house, it needs a foundation and if you were patient, you have a more solid build.

        • +1

          Gotta agree… I’ve enjoyed pretty much every episode and have LOVED the time that they’ve taken to build this up. These last 7 have been great, but to me, they’re only great because I’ve enjoyed these characters so much and care about where they’re headed.

    • Its definitely taken a turn, turn, turn in the right direction. I still feel they should have gone with Arim Zola as the clairvoyant. But all in all the show is watchable now and getting better with every episode. Lovin’ EVIL Ward !!

      just one question? If Bill Paxton is the “clairvoyant” where the hell is DEATHLOK?

      • Zola should be the Clairvoyant. I’m not too convinced that Garrett is the real Clairvoyant.

  4. Good job Slim, first indeed as far as I perceive.

  5. Agent Ward has finally become a likeable character!

  6. This series has been slowly improving since ‘The Bridge’, but the last three episodes have been the first to make it something actually worthy of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. ‘Providence’ is the best episode yet, and if they can make this momentum last (and manage to carry it through to next season), we’re going to be in for quite the ride. Here’s hoping we see fewer and fewer case-of-the-week vignettes in favor of an ongoing, serialized story packed with the action, intrigue and characterization SHIELD is capable of delivering.

  7. Who was the one male prisoner that was shown when they released the male and female prisoners. I didn’t catch if that was anyone of significance.

    Anybody know for sure?

    • That was Blackout. His powers have been altered a bit from the comics through, he’ll appear in next week’s episode.

      • My understanding is that he’d be one of the two blackouts backstory but have the other ones powers…

  8. Remember when people criticized Skye to be annoying, Fitz-simmons to be too bubbly, and Ward to be boring…

    Agent Ward’s really become my favourite character ever since he showed his true colours; a combination of character development and great acting by Brett Dalton did it. He’s a lot more complex now and his ‘boring’ scenes from earlier in the season paid off.

    Skye has also gotten a lot better in terms of being an important aspect of Coulson’s team, as opposed to just “some hacker”.

    I’ve never had a problem with Fitz-simmons because you need comedic relief and they provide the team with that balance.

    • As stated in the Podcast the first 16 episodes were “crap,” the last two have been a while new show.

  9. Ward is walking into a trap. Could on knows The Fridge has fallen and that can only happen if Garrett is running wild. The scene with award in the chair gives me hope there will be another surprise in store.

  10. So help me out everyone one on a thought I had…

    I consider myself very very knowledgeable on MARVEL trivia BUT…

    Do you all think it was an “Easter Egg” moment when Garrett says to one prisoner (whom we see his face too) something like…

    “Make all your dreams come true.”

    Is there a Marvel villain that is alluding to? A villain who manipulates dreams or nightmares?

    Could it be that that was in fact the villain Nightmare? (in human form)

    • Could it have been the hero Sleepwalker

      Or maybe a villain from the Mindscape realm like Cobwebb?

    • Introducing Nightmare in Agents of Shield instead of Dr Strange would seem a bit… strange.

    • As said before this was blackout.

      In this universe he is somehow connected to Coulson’s love interest that was mention in the Avengers.
      The line was intended to make him go back after her ( I guss he loves her or something like that) so Coulson will have to leave the hydra fight and go save her.

      we will see it all next episode.

  11. cant wait for end of seasons for both Aos and Arrow now

  12. Sorry Anthony, prepare for the torrent of “It didn’t suddenly get good, we were right all along” comments.

    I personally felt like this episode was weaker than last weeks, but it moved the whole series forward and didn’t drop the ball in the way previous episodes did. If this episode is an accurate sample of what the show can be, then I’m down for more seasons.

  13. Skye just kills the show for me. her nasal voice and her dopey eyes and that mouth agape expression just makes me cringe. The whole love triangles are written right out of some teenie bopper twilight book. She is about as bad as Laurel from Arrow, if not worse. You can find better dialog in “The Little Engine that Could”.

    I am a crazy azz comicbook fan and I’m still not sold on this show.

    • Maybe the problem is that you’re a ‘crazy azz comicbook fan’.

      • Haha could be!

  14. Any thoughts if the prisoner Garret talks to saying, “Make all your dreams come true”
    could be alluding to

    A) the hero Sleepwalker
    B) the villain Nightmare
    C) the villain Cobwebb

    The prisoner looked mad at Garrett. Maybe the prisoner was wrongfully imprisoned and doesnt like HYDRA so he gave Garret a bad look.

    Sleepwalker would be an intersting hero to introduce!

    • that was apparently Blackout. (I asked the question elsewhere and someone pointed it out). I think his “dreams” involve the Cellist. Paxton makes a comment about getting info about Ward gave him on the Cellist.

  15. I still maintain that Ward is not bad.That will involve another twist at the end. I don’t think Han dis dead either.

    • Ward did shoot those 2 guards in the head..

      • Yeah when he first flipped I thought maybe it was a rise so he could be embedded with the enemy, but the body count made me reject that theory. I thought the flip was out of nowhere and it probably was but at least they explained it with the whole belie you are agent Ward scenes.

  16. My personal take is that when they started this series, they wanted to show the inner workings of S.H.I.E.L.D., however they knew (since it was already in production) the turn that CA:TWS was going to take. Since this show is tied in to the MMU, they couldn’t set up plots or characters that would differ from what was going on “on screen”. As a result, the first 16 episodes of this series were saddled with long drawn out character developments, the Coulson mystery, leftover tie ins to IM3 and The Avengers, and other story arcs that moved it along at a snails pace.

    These last two episodes have blown me away… the writing, the characterization, I’m loving where they are going…. My hope though, is that they keep Ward around for next season and don’t write him out in the season finale.

  17. anthony ocasio, how did this show get so good so quick? i think time to do better
    research because the winter soldier tie had some of worst ratings of the season.
    this show needs to be put in file 13 and see what netflix can do with their heroes.
    the agents of shield are better served by being part of those four shows versus this
    standalone mess that is headed no where.

    • ratings =/= quality. The running hypothesis is that last episode had such low ratings because most viewer’s didn’t want to spoil The Winter Soldier. If anything, the last three episodes have demonstrated that the show is finally heading somewhere.

    • Don’t accuse someone of not doing research if you haven’t done your own.


    • Rod…


      FACT: AoS currently is the highest viewed show on television by men 18-34. In fact its ratings shot up last night.

      This implies that people held off on seeing the episode cause they wanted to see Winter Soldier first.

      Is it doing worse than expected? Sure. But it is doing well with a significant demographic while up against T.V.’s top 2 shows during its timesslot.

      Im sure ABC isn’t worried.

  18. Careful- this sounds like a compliment! haha
    This show is the perfect connection it needs to be. I remember the “first look” during some movie I was early for, and was a little worried. Then I waited for it to fidn its feet and it did. And then we find out that after 2 weeks, Wheedon was all “oh by the way, no big deal but… don’t get to ahead of yourselves because SHIELD is going to fall in February, so… work on that first.” I think that was the biggest wild card of the show and it didn’t even include characters.

    Anyone else wonder if Strucker was involved in bringing Coulson back? Since it was a “miracle” that he’s alive, and we are officially in the “Age of Miracles”? For some reason that crossed my mind. I know it was Kree blood, but that would be a pretty wild tie in to AoU, and an easy way to bring Coulson back into the movies. Anyway, great show, glad the villains are back on the streets to get a little “reset” going for next season. Let’s see what happens!

  19. Well I guess that puts an end to the Coulson sent Ward in undercover theories, ironically it was the opposite.

    The past two episodes have been some of the shows best work and there is no question of an improvement from, say, The Dark World tie-in until now.


    • Yep, as one of the “Coulson sent Ward in undercover” theorists, I have to admit not it was a genuine Face-Heal-Turn.

      Now, I hope they don’t ruin it with Ward pulling a Face-Heal-Turn back.

      • That should be “Heal-Face-Turn in the second sentence.

        Please give us an “edit” button…

        • Long as you are looking for the edit button – it should be “heel” not “heal”.

  20. Big question was brought up last night:

    If Fury wasn’t in charge of the procedure that brought Coulson back to life.. Who was?

    • Stephen Strange. Magical.

  21. Great episode. Hoping we see Talbot more than just that back and forth with Coulson. Patton Oswalt was very good. He is such a geek in everything he does, he is perfect for this.

    Ward still has me flip flopping about where he really stands. Is he really Hydra? Did Coulson talk him in to going deep cover? Did he hit Hand with a Night Night gun? Its all such a good storyline.

    I am still holding out hope that there is a top Hydra agent behind Garrett. I am thinking at this point there isn’t, but a person can still hope!!

    Blackout coming next week is very interesting. Super powered villain against non super powered heroes is what will make them real heroes. I always feel that when a villain is more powerful than the hero and the hero still finds a way to win, THATS what makes them super heroes.

    Lastly……GRAVITON!!!! I can not wait to see if they have the character of Graviton come out of that liquid when they break the glass. As soon as they said they were going to “Raid the Fridge” I thought of him being there, and Ward was the only person from Hydra that knew he was there. As soon as he wanted to shoot through the floor, I got goosebumps. If Graviton becomes part of this universe, there is no way he can only be on AoS. No way they can even handle a villain with so much power.

    • I’m wanting to know what will become of Blonsky.

  22. Dont people just watch a show for the entertainment instead of analyzing every episode?

    • It’s called “reviewing”, I guess.

  23. I will be severely disappointed if they turn Ward back to the side of good at this point. They have done a great job of working in the idea that every decent action he took while on Coulson’s team was not a softening from being good but a calculated manipulation. More than that, they have set him up as being Hydra’s answer to Natasha Romanov. I would like to see that idea continue and see him truly unleash that caliber of hand-to-hand combat against the team in the season finale

  24. I don’t think I saw the same episode as everyone else this week, for me this was the return of Agents of Meh

    When the episode ended I had a ‘that’s it?’ moment – cos nothing really happened
    Coulson led the team on a walk through the snow to Patton Oswalts man-cave (in order to try to prove that shield still means something)
    Nathan Petrelli didn’t seem that great, although he didn’t have much to do
    There really isn’t anything to say about the other team members as they all didn’t do anything this episode except grumbling while following Coulson on his walk through snow

    Ward and Garrett broke prisoners out of ‘the fridge’ but none of the prisoners were that interesting – Quinn, the nameless nobodies, and Gravitron (the only worthwhile one) but he is still a blob even though it’s been months since the post-credit tease we got of him
    Hydra has assembled their own B-team of misfits to challenge Coulsons school bus

    Oh and Garrett is the Clairvoyant. What a letdown
    But maybe next week will be worth watching (crosses fingers)

    I did quite like the Han/Chewbacca type thing when Fitz was fixing the ramp on the plane

    • This is spot on. I’ve watched a bunch of dull clunky episodes to get to this point and I’m definitely not handling out rewards yet.

    • I totally agree. The scenes with the team were awful. As was Coulson’s constant whining. What is this Shakespeare?!
      I do like Hydra though. What’s different is that they needed to develop some real villains. Not villians of the week. Ward finally has some edge and no I don’t think that was “planned”.

      The love triangles are cringe worthy. I love Patton, but he was miscast. After Cap 2 we finally see real “Agents of Shield” and now were back to clowns again? Why can’t we get a real espionage show with bits of humor?

      Love the way Skye makes a call from a secret base and gives up it’s location or the only thing stopping Shield’s most important facility from falling is 2 idiot agents at the front door!

      That being said, I do think it’s getting better but not as good as some folks think, but to each his own…

  25. I wonder if the Ward being a villain was a part of the plan all along, or if the decision to turn him bad was a result of the outcry there was about Ward (and Skye) and the show being so boring? I could not stand Ward as a good guy. He was so darn bland and stiff. And have you noticed that Skye’s role has changed just a bit? She’s been a lot less whiny IMO. I still wouldn’t be upset if they killed her off or made a dramatic change to her character.

  26. I guess I’m in the minority.
    I enjoyed – to a degree – the entire first part of the series.
    I didn’t think it was great, but it was watchable. And yes, it did improve as the series advanced.

    But they lost me.. actually the really pissed me off, when they ruined a plot point from the movie Captain America 2, a mere five days after the movie hit theatres. Yeah, I didn’t get a chance to be first in line to see Captain America 2. I didn’t get to see it until yesterday (I live FAR from the nearest theatre).

    But then, they went and committed what are cardinal sins in my book of script writing: people being complete idiots, just to get a plot to advance.

    Really? SHIELD has fallen, the world is in chaos, and they have TWO guards at the top of one of THE most important assets of the agency? And those two guards are complete idiots? Not only that, all it took was a bunch of machinegun fire to NEARLY get through the “glass” doors of the entrance? (come on, you have to admit that it wouldn’t have taken much to get through that)

    And now Ward is going to be a spy among the remaining cast? It simply doesn’t ring true to me.

    The show has almost guaranteed that I’ve lost interest.

  27. I’m so stoked for this show now it has been getting better since the winter hiatus but the last three episodes have been outstanding. Props to Bret Dalton he plays the cold manipulative double agent very well i hope he remains that way at least until next season. Whoever decided to cast Bill Paxton as Garrett is my hero he is freaking priceless the line about being a west Texas cheerleader at a pep rally was pure gold. I stayed with this show because I knew who was behind it. people can’t let themselves be sucked into the mediocrity because that is how Wheadon operates he starts out slow and sort of cornballs it for the first part of the season and then hits you with epicness at the end. Can’t wait for next week and Amy Acker. this show is definitely becoming one of my favorites to watch.

  28. Not going to go into how this episode continued to blow my mind cause it’s clear that it’s blowing a lot of people’s minds.

    Instead I am going to say how glad I am that the Screen Rant crew posted a recap which pretty much had almost nothing but good things to say about this show.

    Also, going back and rewatching previous episodes puts them into a whole new perspective. Many of what we thought were “one off episodes” are all being linked back to the main storyline. It actually reminds me a lot of the Avengers cartoon where they spend the first several episodes establishing the heroes and villains, so that they can have a prison full of super villains who then break out and require the Avengers to assemble.

    With ratings slowly moving up, I anxiously await a season 2 renewal at the upfronts.

  29. I really like Providence.
    We got pretty deep solid performances, dialogues (“Im everyones type!”) and an unexplored till now interesting bond between Ward and Garret.

    And Clark Gregg oh boy!… Good moment when he is tearing apart in the snow.

    “We are not Agents of Nothing! We arent Agents of Shield!!!!”