‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Proves Story Still Matters & Sets Up An Exciting Finale

Published 12 months ago by

agents of shield season 1 episode 21 may coulson Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Proves Story Still Matters & Sets Up An Exciting Finale

[This is a review of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1, Episode 21There will be SPOILERS.]

The penultimate episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. takes us back 15 years, revealing the origins of Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) and what all went into making him the one-man force of destruction fans are now excited to watch. A bit melodramatic, yes; but this week’s adventure is a worthy lead-in to what is certainly a must-watch finale.

In this week’s episode, “Ragtag,” written by Jeffrey Bell (The X-Files, Spartacus: War of the Damned), a young Grant Ward is offered a deal he can’t refuse: prison or freedom – both of which come with a price.  As Garrett (Bill Paxton) takes an escaped young Ward into the wilderness for “lone wolf” training, he soon realizes that his new recruit has attachment issues which can only be rectified through bloodshed. Elsewhere, Coulson (Clark Gregg) connects the dots, invades Cybertek and discovers Garrett’s mechanical secret. Meanwhile, Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) face off against Ward, who learns more of Skye’s (Chloe Bennet) origins, while Ian Quinn (David Conrad) prepares to sell the government Centipede’s new super solders (minus Deathlok).

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has a driving force behind it now; a force which takes this episode – technically a string of maintenance tales to set up the finale – and redefines what this series can do without incorporating headshots or superhero destruction. There are no real advancements here, in terms of battles and successes, yet what it accomplishes is something Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has struggled with from the beginning: story.

agents of shield season 1 episode 21 may coulson fitz simmons Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Proves Story Still Matters & Sets Up An Exciting Finale

“Ragtag” gives this series a chance to prove its characters and dialogue are as important as the fantastical superheroics which inhabit this universe, and at no point is there a desire to step away from these intimate tales which exist in a relatively closed environment. For all intents and purposes, this episode proves that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has the ability to not only be the little sister to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, but also that, when necessary, the series can be self-sufficient, relying only on established relationships and characters to create an entertaining hour of television. If season 2 never occurs, the series can at least hang its proverbial hat on this accomplishment.

Coulson and Ward are now the series’ two main leads, at least in terms of structure. Coulson is tasked with delving in to Hydra’s allegiances, revealing how underpowered and outmatched the remains of S.H.I.E.L.D. truly are, while Ward is a man of details and specifics: Hydra, GH-325 and Skye, who apparently is the daughter of monsters. And even though there’s no doubt that Ward is evil, at least in his actions, there’s an emotional connection and earnest intrigue which surfaces when Skye’s name is mentioned. Fitz and Simmons, on the other hand, are disposable.

agents of shield season 1 episode 21 may Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Proves Story Still Matters & Sets Up An Exciting Finale

Early-on in the series, Fitz and Simmons were the first two characters which felt fully developed and realized, regardless of their role as comic relief, and this week’s episode continues to push them further, in the face of danger, which they confidently attempt to take on alone. Fortunately, Agents May (Ming-Na Wen) and Coulson step in as literal Fitz and Simmons impersonators, mannerisms and all, and show that the “grumpy adults” of the team are able to have just as much fun as the series’ two endearing technicians, if the story so allows it. Sure, if the roles were reversed it would have been more of a battle; however, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has had more than enough battles this season – on-screen and off – so it’s exciting to see that they feel confident in leaning on the story for an entire episode, leaving all the “leg work” for where it counts: in the finale.

What happens in the finale is truly anyone’s guess and it won’t be until its final moments that audiences will decide if it’s worth returning next season. That being said, the sheer fact that audiences can be excited about tuning into the finale is an accomplishment in and of itself. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has come a long way and Captain America: The Winter Soldier introduced a surprising twist which impacted the actual development of the show after it was already ordered to series. What’s most important is, when given the chance to change, they did, and the series is better because of it. The past is the past, and many early episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. were absolutely underwhelming. This series now, however, is something entirely different and, arguably, can be called a success.


Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns next week Tuesday with “Beginning of the End” @8pm 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. I Love what series has become, the writing and actor are so much better in the past episodes since Captain America The winter Soldier, the cast is comfortable in its skin and with each other. i thought the humor and drama mixed perfectly in this episode. i am really looking forward to the Finale.

  2. “Watch out Hydra. Here we come.”

    If nothing else, I’ve always appreciated AoS’s willingness to poke some fun at itself.

    • @ freedomispopular, Which is a take on the Invaders when they shouted “Okay Axis, here we come!”

  3. I hope the finale is a two hour spot to give it justice.

  4. I Love what series has become, the writing and actor are so much better in the past episodes since Captain America The winter Soldier, the cast is comfortable in its skin and with each other. i thought the humor and drama mixed perfectly in this episode. i am really looking forward to the Finale.

  5. I’m not sure how Anthony Ocasio can say the series “changed” from when it started. If you go back and watch the first half of the season, you can see how that connects to what you see now.

    Now, if the claim is that what the series is now is not what it was meant to be, then that is also some pretty good writing to modify the path of AoS because that means:

    1. Mike Petersen was not meant to be Deathlok
    2. Ward was not a double agent
    3. How Coulson was revived was not important to the big bad’s end mission
    4. Hydra tie-in was not planned (but it had to be as the script to Cap2 was done prior to AoS)
    5. Garret’s character was created mid-season

    Are there articles out there that interviewed the writers of AoS to find out how much was pre-planned and how much was changed?

    Seems like #ItsAllConnected all along (that’s the hashtag AoS keeps using in Twitter).

    • I think he means the feel of the show has changed. The difference between the start of the show, including the Thor tie in, and now is night and day. Since the Cap tie in the show is about a 7/10 consistently and at the beginning it was 4/10.

      Sure, it can be all connected but that doesn’t change the fact that the show was awful to start with. The pacing, acting and writing have all improved but let’s not pretend that AoS was even remotely good quality at the start.

      • No, the writers here at SR don’t seem to understand that the first of the season was meant to introduce the characters and prepare for what was to come after Cap 2. They literally have this show no chance. I’ve said it before, that the first two seasons ST:TNG were hit and miss but look what developed into.

        • The first of the season was still bad…. really bad and intolerable at points. Even allowing for building story arcs and characters, it was just awful. In the last few weeks SR has acknowledged the change.

          There’s no defending some of the early episodes.

        • Sorry Gman, but that’s just not how you write a story. Good writers don’t need to spearate character building from plot progression. If that was their plan all along, to just bide their time until after Cap 2, then they have no business making shows. These most recent episodes prove that if they take the time to write well, it can be a good show. There is no excuse for those past episodes.

        • That might be why the early episodes played like filler with some of the story points never really going anywhere. They left so many of their story lines open that it is hard to tell what was originally planned and what might have been altered to fit in with the Captain America tie-in.

          There is also still the opinion of some people that the character development they did with the main cast early on was not as effective if viewers did not really like the characters in the first place.

  6. I’m curious how often Agents of SHIELD will have to adjust storylines on the fly based on whatever twist the movies decide they want to employ, like what happened with Captain America.

    • I like that they have to change according to some Big Movie Event.

      Image if you lived in a world where superheroes started appearing or aliens invaded NY. you would have no setup, no warning. The tides of forces beyond your control would carry you along, and you would have to adjust as best you can.

      • I would be curious to see how Avengers 2 tie in are handled.

  7. still hoping for them to keep ward hydra and not make him good

    • I honestly don’t understand how anyone could believe that he might be made good again. Only if dies immediately after an unselfish act. He cannot be accepted back into the fold, period. He is a murderer, many times over, and must pay for all of his crimes.

  8. Ok so Skye (and Raina for that matter): Inhumans who haven’t been exposed to the Terrigen Mist? Would definitely explain the line about Skye’s parents being “monsters.” Would also account for the belief that Skye does have latent powers which haven’t manifested themselves yet because she hasn’t been exposed to the TM. Anyone else have any thoughts?

    • That’s what I was thinking. Black Bolt and Medusa had a child in defiance of the Council. In the comics it was a son, but maybe they changed it up a little and it’s Skye. The Council was hunting her down.

      Also, Quicksilver and Crystal had Luna. She was sent to Earth for a while to hide her as well. I think, if I remember correctly, to keep Quicksilver from exposing her to the Terrigen Mists because she was born with no mutant or inhuman characteristics.

      Not sure but those storylines would be pretty cool if they used them.

      • Yeah I was actually she’d be Black Bolt and Medusa’s kid. She’s told old or Quicksilver is too young for that to be it, but I think the inhumans thing is fairly likely. Monsters though? There’s only a couple of them who don’t look mostly human and I don’t think Black Bolt would level a town and kill everyone.

        • Raina stated that Skye was like her and in the comics Raina is a Saurid, not an Inhuman. AoS may have a Savage Land tie-in, Man-Thing was mentioned in episode 20.

          • Raina in the comics?!?! You’re talking about the SAURIAN from the Savage Land, in their version of the X-Men (mutant Saurians). Saurids are aliens. Ch’od from The Starjammers is a Saurid.

            I’m pretty damn positive that Raina from this TV show has only one thing in common with the Saurian Raina: NAME.

          • Also, I’m pretty certain Man-Thing has nothing to do with the Savage Land, so I don’t know why you mentioned both of those like they’re linked.

            • That’s right, Man-Thing doesn’t have anything to do with the Savage Land; he’s in Florida in the Everglades I think. I really don’t see either AoS or the MCU doing anything with the Savage Land. As for Raina, I’ve never seen anything to indicate she’s from the comics, unless I’m completely missing something.

    • I just hope that they finally explain what the hell Skye really is… heck I hope they answer all of the show’s questions and not leave us hanging over the summer. I’ve hung around too long for them not to give up answers and close loops. I hope the last episode is full of bombshells.

  9. A few things in my mind:
    1) Ward won’t have/be a redemption arc because he’s killed too many good guys.
    2) Fitz-Simmons aren’t dead; they would’ve been given a bigger death scene if they were.
    3) I’m really liking the Terrigen Mist theories on Skye (and Raina); but does Marvel want to introduce Inhumans in a television series?
    4) Fury will be a huge boost, hope he says something about what he’s been up to since CA:TWS.
    5) Season 2 should be confirmed soon. I believe they’re waiting for Agent Carter to be officially green lit so they can announce both series together.
    6) I hope they join Stark industries in season 2 since Stark is “privatizing global security”… whatever that means.

    • If Marvel introduces Inhumans in the show would give it a stronger connection it to Guardians of the Galaxy. Introducing the Kree in T.A.H.I.T.I., well we assume it was a Kree, was a “foot in the door” for the series to continue the #ItsAllConnected theme with GotG.

      It’s going to be interesting to see if they make a solid, confirmed connection to Guardians in the season finale OR we get a limp wristed handshake and left waiting for stronger tie ins next season.

  10. FitzSimmons – not dead. They’ll be found by the coin link. They are definitely setting up Ward for redemption as a sympathetic figure. They may kill him off, but I think he’ll be carried over to next season with full redemption involving Skye some kind of way. I see Garrett taking a fall in the finale probably at the hands of Ward.

    • Even if Ward turns on Garret and “redeems” himself, he’s still a member of a terrorist organization who killed Victoria Hand, Koenig, and several other SHIELD soldiers. He would be sent to prison to rot in a cell for the rest of his life no doubt, and I don’t see how anyone on the team in their right mind would ever forgive him for what he did; much less trust or work with him again.

      • Yes! It’s actually scary that anyone would think he could or should be accepted back into the fold. He is a murderer many times over. Come on, people!

        • At least he spared the puppy :)

          • Nope, he killed it offscreen in the second try(flashback)

              • I believe it was implied that, after Ward initially let the dog go, he (Ward) later killed it with a rifle.

                • I had not noticed who last had possession of the rifle (assumming there was only one), but I was left with the impression that it was Garrett who finished off the dog.

                  Which if you think aobut it is pretty informative re: Garrett’s character. He was testing Ward for a weakness, watched how he did on the test and then kept that information in hand in the event it would prove usefull in manipulating Ward in the future.

                  • I disagree. The dog was shown getting shot right before Ward ejected the two young agents from the plane. The analogy demonstrated that if he could kill his pet dog, he could kill the agents. It was he who also commented that he had liked the agents…but that was a weakness, which he “rectified” by ejecting them. Ward shot the dog.

                    • I think you have the wrong interpretation, Jeff. He ejected them to save them, just as he wouldn’t kill the dog, he wouldn’t kill his friends. That was his weakness. Had they remained on board they were as good as dead. They’re setting up his redemption.

                    • I think they left it open-ended on purpose so we wouldn’t know if that was Ward or Garrett who killed Buddy and we wouldn’t know if Ward was ejecting FitzSimmons to kill or save them.


                    • Stan, I believe you are incorrect, but BigNerd is correct.

                      Before ejecting them, he attempted to get at them…more likely than not to kill them. He only ejected them after they would not come out. In the real world, they would both likely be dead from the jar that they would experience when smacking the ocean.

                      The ONLY way he could be redeemed is if he dies in the process. He CANNOT be accepted into Shield again. He has many murders to pay for, if not with his death, then with life imprisonment.

  11. With regards to Fitz-Simmons, doesn’t the box they were in open from the inside? Because Ward asked them to open the door when he was chasing them… So even if they were dropped in the ocean they can still open the door and swim/stay afloat until they get help.

    • A fall from that height, and the resulting jar that they would experience, would likely kill them in real life, but obviously, they are not dead.

    • If the box was air-tight then they would have a limited air supply which would leave the other characters time to find them with that tracking coin thing. If the box is too heavy and the water is too deep I don’t know how the team is going to get it since they now have limited resources. Fitz and Simmons opening the door would also be problematic due to the amount of water that would rush in and be able to cause instant drowning.

  12. I didn´t like yesterday´s episode that much.
    However good revealing about Skye´s monster parents though…They could be kree right? perhaps thats the reason why her body accepted well that GH medicine…

  13. I was one of the ones who hated this show originally. Glad it’s gotten better and hopefully we’ll get to some lead in to AoU next season.

  14. Anthony has such a way with words and an obvious MARVEL fan. He makes an un-watchable show almost worthy of viewing……almost. Still cannot get through an entire episode as the acting is below sub-par in line with the writing. Josh, just stop!

    • Here’s an idea…Pirate, just stop watching!

    • who is this Josh?

  15. I’ve been saying it since the beginning of this series… Give it time to find it’s legs!!! And it really has!!! I’m hoping they get their Season 2 and that we get some answers to some questions and told what’s going on in the rest of the MCU with Fury this next week… I’ve been a fan since the very beginning and will remain so to the bitter end.

    So until Banner and Stark go out Disc-Golfing in Malibu…

    Make Mine Marvel!!!!

  16. Since the Winter Soldier tie-in this show has actually been very, very good. This show deserves to be renewed regardless of the ratings. However, the show should revolve around the 2 annual feature film releases. 6 episodes for the April-May release, and 6 episodes around the time of the second film.

  17. Does anyone think that trojan virus Skye keeps mentioning might be significant, maybe early Ultron? Plenty of Inhumans look normal but have powers not specifically combat oriented, like Karnak, who spots weaknesses in anything. She created the trojan post terrigen, so her inhuman powers would be active. Ultron needs some superhuman origin and if they’re introducing Inhumans in avengers 2, it would make sense to tie the two together.

    • Trojans are to avoid viruses, etc., silly. get some protection for your affection…!

  18. Fitts Simmons? Gone?…… ;-;

  19. I thought this was one of the more fun shows when it first started, and I still do. At one point early on everyone blew a roody-toot-toot on the old Wazoo-horn right in my ear for defending APO. Well, how do ya like me now, poopsies?!
    This not only deserves a second season, it deserves a third after that!

      • Why? He has been shown murdering numerous agents. He cannot be brought back into the fold, ever. In reality, if someone did that, they would have to pay for their crimes, either with the death penalty or life imprisonment. The show would cheapen itself, and send the wrong message, if they let him come back.

  20. “Prepare for a large file transfer.” :D

    • i almost shot coffee threw my nose when he said that.

  21. After Raina gave Garrett the serum didn’t he say that he could feel/felt like the universe or something and, if I’m right, was glowing with dots of light (almost like stars). If that is what happened and I remembered correctly I wonder if it’s possible Garrett now is clairvoyant? Would that be ironic?

    • Wasn’t the orange glow under the skin the usual Extremis reaction that the Centipede serum was based on?

      • Even after that though there weren’t some specks of light still coming from Garrett? They probably were just from the extremis stuff but I thought that maybe they could mean something else had happened when he said the universe thing, although it probably doesn’t mean anything. I really wish I was clairvoyant right now, although I guess that would ruin the fun.

        • I think you are referring to the spit on his face/neck. If you watch it again you will notice that when he has his first convulsion he spits straight up. All of that came back down and landed on him. Pretty gross/cool.

          • I just rewatched the scene and I think you’re right. Didn’t even realise it was spit, good spotting (or maybe I’m just really bad at noticing things). Thanks for telling me by the way.

    • the test subjects at TAHITI suffered from Hypergraphia (obsessive writing ala The Shining). Perhaps it is because they received some of the alien’s memories. This would explain Centipede going after that room filled with Alien writing in EYE SPY.

      • Good thory, I’d forgotten all about the writing on the wall but it would be pretty cool if it was done by the TAHITI test subjects as you said. It would also make sense for Coulson not to suffer from hypergraphia as his memories were altered while Sky’s heritage may protect her. If it isn’t memoies that were transferred to the subjects it seems to be somthing neurological. I guess we’ll just have to wait to see what the GH stuff does.

      • Good thory, I’d forgotten all about the writing on the wall but it would be pretty cool if it was done by the TAHITI test subjects as you said. It would also make sense for Coulson not to suffer from hypergraphia as his memories were altered while Sky’s heritage may protect her. If it isn’t memoies that were transferred to the subjects it seems to be something neurological. I guess we’ll just have to wait to see what the GH stuff does.

        • Whoops, posted that twice and theory not thory.

  22. “…the sheer fact that audiences can be excited about tuning into the finale is an accomplishment in and of itself.”

    Agree 100%. This show has done a complete 180 and I’m glad for it.

  23. Am I the only one who thought there was weird sexual innuendo in the line “Plug Sky’s flash drive…”?

  24. THERE BETTER BE A SEASON 2!!! This show is the best. The stories, the characters everything is great. THIS SHOW IS A SUCCESS!!!! We will revolt if there is no season 2.

  25. The only issue I had with the episode was the guy they cast as young Ward. Really didn’t look like him at all.

    • Close enough, for an implied 20-year age difference. Young Ward was supposed to be a teen, whereas I believe old Ward is probably in his 30′s.

      • IIRC, it was 15 years ago (captioned during the first scene).

        They could have used Brett Dalton, after all, they used Bill Paxton. Just give him a different hair style and make him clean shaven.

        Banshee does it and there is no way those actors look 15 years younger.

  26. Jeff, this is a comics universe where a little drop into the ocean in a box is no big deal. They’re alive because Ward saved them. That’s his weakness. He said as much.

    • I disagree. His only current “weakness” is Skye.

      You forget that he was going to kill May at the hideout before she left. If he was going to kill her, he was going to kill Fitz and Simmons. The guy has now been shown to be a murderer multiple times over. Ejecting Fits and Simmons in that pod was the only way of potentially killing them at the time, since they locked themselved in it. There was absolutely no certainty that they would survive the fall.

      People should give up on his “redemption”, because there can be none to the extent that they want. He can never be brought back into the fold, as he cannot be forgiven for all of the murders that he has committed. Let’s get serious here.

    • Let me put it this way: either Jeff is correct or this show is setting up an incredibly weak and unsatisfying arc with Ward. He garroted Patton Oswalt, for cryin’ out loud. You KNOW May and Coulson want to kill him (especially May!), not mention how Fury will feel when he finds out. Didn’t you see Fitz & Simmons pleading with Ward to NOT eject the pod they were in? Did you see him do it anyway? Do you think they felt grateful to Ward afterwards? Fitz was the only one who still had a hangup about Ward somehow being good, and now he knows Ward is definitely NOT good. I’m still thinking either Fitz or Simmons may not survive.

      Regardless, there’s no way the show can satisfactorily have some kind of hand wave occur where everybody decides to let bygones be bygones. Ward has done some pretty evil stuff. It’s not like Skye and her hacking earlier in the show. They can’t put some bracelet on Ward for a few episodes until he shows he has changed his attitude.

  27. Clark Gregg announced on Twitter and Facebook that AoS got a 2nd season and Agent Carter was picked up.

    (can’t post links on SR anymore)

  28. Fitz and Simmons lives, trust me. It is so predictable. And the team will forgives him.

    All members of the team will survive at least until the end of this season.

    Even at this close to the end there is still awkward moments and crappy dialogue, like for example when Garrett asks Ward what Fitz had on his hand, then everything just went… gosh such stupidy.

    I know how this is ends,

    Fury resurfaces and helps Coulson and his team escaping Deathloks army, Fitz and Simmons would get picked up by them on their way chasing Garrett, jump plane reattached to bus, ward reunites with skye and there is some dramatic scene before they get interrupted by blind beast May, Coulson tries to defeat Garrett but surprised now he is strongeer than ever, fortunately Fury has one last trick up his sleeve so he gets defeated nonetheless, all the while explaining that he watches on the back of the stage all along now it gets out of hand he needs to come on stage himself, and… O yea Ward, Fitz and Simmons successfully reasoning with May, explaining he is still had some heart left he didn’t kill them, Ward is forgiven on the end.

    • I agree. This is the bad part about it. Ward will obviously prove himself to the team and Coulson will forgive him and let him back on the bus. While Skye and May will be hesitant and concerned, the show will continue with Ward as “the good guy”. Though in the real world, this obviously wouldn’t happen and he’d be charged with life imprisonment, the producers believe the best way to make season 2 a hit, would to have Ward make a great redemption. Honestly, everyone’s gonna hate them for it. It’s a terrible direction to turn the series in. Sucks. I started to actually like this show.

      • Still sure about that whole Ward redemption theory? Like nearly everyone has said, Ward has killed multiple agents, including many high-level ones (and shot/killed several cops). He’s not just a baddie, he’s a baddie that betrayed a loyal group of friends and an organization he had been a part of for 13 years. May and Skye hate him, and the rest of the team has given up completely on him. At best he will return later in the show as some vengeful villain with a new purpose, but never again will he find redemption with his old team.