When the Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. team announced that Disney Channel star Dove Cameron nabbed a role on the show, fans speculated aplenty about who she might play. A lot of people thought her animated Gwen Stacy would debut in live action. Instead, Cameron played an original character for the series in season five: Ruby Hale.
Ruby was not someone to be trifled with. Engineered and raised to be Hydra’s perfect soldier, Ruby lived in isolation and developed a taste for torture and power. When she joined the series, she brought with her some of the worst things a villain did on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
While the audience already knew Hydra members could be ruthless, they probably didn’t expect a teenage girl to be as vicious as Ruby.
One of the first big scenes the character had involved a confrontation with a team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. When Elena Rodriguez tried to put a stop to the fight, Ruby used a vibranium chakram to cut off the other woman’s arms. The move in a small skirmish made it clear that Ruby wasn’t really interested in taking prisoners.
General Talbot was a long-time ally of Phil Coulson’s team on the series. When Talbot suffered a severe brain injury as a result of a gunshot wound, Coulson and his team weren’t around to offer their support. Instead, Ruby and her mother offered to get him medical care. What they really wanted was information.
Ruby helped her mother hold him prisoner in an old Hydra base, manipulating him by appearing as a regular angry teenager until the moment was right. Then, she helped her mother torture him for any information he had about his S.H.I.E.L.D. allies.
Just as she manipulated General Talbot in an attempt to catch him off guard, Ruby did the same to S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Piper. While the majority of Coulson’s team went to the future in season five, Piper was one of the agents left behind in the present.
She thought the Hales were allies. With Ruby’s mother as a member of the military who had an alien device, Piper thought the duo could be trusted. Ruby, however, turned on Piper as soon as she got the team to her. Piper, an accomplished agent who had already thought she lost most of her teammates, realized she had been duped.
Ruby’s big plan during her Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. arc was to use gravitonium to make herself as powerful as her idol Daisy Johnson, or Quake, as she liked to call Daisy. Despite seeing how unstable the element was, and how it nearly drove the test subject mad, Ruby still elected to use the gravitonium on herself.
She didn’t just want to have superhuman abilities; Ruby wanted power. In fact, she wanted to make herself powerful enough to take on Quake and destroy the world. The decision only caused her pain and a loss of control.
Of course, in order to infuse herself with the gravitonium, Ruby needed a little help. She decided to use two of the smartest scientists in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to do it.
Fitz and Simmons were only at the former Hydra base because they elected to take on a mission without the proper backup. When Ruby ran into them, she seized the opportunity, not allowing them to leave. Fitz and Simmons were held against their will and forced to help her. Kidnapping people for what’s in their heads is a bit of a pattern with Ruby.
As the children of high-ranking Hydra members, Ruby Hale and Werner von Strucker knew one another from a very young age. Perhaps that’s why Ruby seducing Werner to get what she wanted from him is so awful. Unlike everyone else she went after, Werner wasn’t a stranger.
When Ruby’s mother brought Werner to their homebase, she was interested in his memories of his father’s work. Ruby manipulated him by, surprisingly, telling him the truth, but with the addition of hitting on him and promising they could overpower her mother together. Ruby eventually developed real feelings for Werner, but she still ended up crushing him when infused with gravitonium.
While Ruby held Fitz and Simmons captive, she initially believed she only needed Fitz’s expertise. As a result, she kept Simmons tied up while Fitz worked. Just to rattle him, she used Simmons as target practice.
While Fitz worked, Ruby repeatedly threw her chakram blade at Simmons, always making sure to just miss her. The repeated throws rattled Fitz so much, he eventually implored her to stop and let Simmons help him. Ruby claimed she was just “having fun” since she didn’t get out much.
Fitz didn’t just face psychological torture at the hands of Ruby. He also received her physical wrath when his work wasn’t going as fast as she liked.
Sure that Fitz and Simmons were purposely dragging out their work to prevent her from accessing the gravitonium, Ruby laid into Fitz. She repeatedly beat him while Simmons was forced to watch. It wasn’t until Simmons begged her to stop that Ruby decided to let them get back to work. She made her point, but she also showed the audience, yet again, that she was something of a monster.
Once Ruby had the gravitonium running through her veins—or 8% of it since her body couldn’t handle it—she had as much power as Daisy Johnson. While Daisy could only “quake” particles, however, Ruby could literally defy gravity.
She initially lacked control of her powers, accidentally crushing Werner’s skull. It didn’t take long for her obsession with Daisy to cause her to grasp at control though. She targeted her former hero by trying to crush her internal organs. Ouch.
Through all of Ruby’s bad deeds, she always thought she was right. It didn’t matter how many people tried to reason with her. Talbot, Coulson, her mother, Fitz, Simmons, and even Daisy all saw her as a vulnerable young woman who needed help. Ruby refused to listen to any of them.
That might be the worst thing of all. If she had stopped to think for a moment and set aside her own ego and quest for power, she might have found a way to control her impulses. She also might have survived the fifth season.
Ruby Hale was certainly one of the more interesting villains in Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season six has its work cut out for it to match her level of viciousness.