Review: “Ragtag”

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This week, on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: In the last episode before the epic season finale, Ward’s betrayal and Hydra’s shocking secrets are revealed as Coulson’s team goes undercover on a mission that leaves no one unscathed.

General Thoughts

Diego: Readers, please note how the reviews started getting slightly longer each time as the episode’s quality improved. Coulson’s team finally, as the title says it, is a ragtag crew and I really do enjoy that. Trying to make do with what they have gave some some great sequences, and the characters are finally defined enough so that when Fitz and Simmons (not Fitzimmons anymore) are dropped into the ocean by Ward, we feel the betrayal. Ward’s backstory was fine and all, but it doesn’t solve neither his blandness nor redeems him. It barely makes it understandable, as it is such a cliché story.

But again, the episode benefited from some really good stakes. The team trapped by a squadron of Deathloks? Awesome.

Matt: I very much enjoyed the episode again. Fitz’ blinding devotion to Ward not being bad did get a little annoying however. What didn’t get annoying was Agent Triplett (who I really hope sticks around) and Agent Coulson’s fanboying of the Howling Commando stuff!

It was definitely a slower paced episode than usual, but I assume that is to set up the finale. It is sort of Avengersesque (WAIT, please don’t throw garbage at me yet, read on first.) “You’re heroes are scattered, your floating fortress falls from the sky. Where is my disadvantage?” HYDRA has the upper hand, Fitz Simmons have fallen Thor style, Coulson and Skye butt heads, but are together, alone. Sort of like Stark and Rogers. It has some parallels whether you want to see them or not.

The finale will put this, and the rest of the season into context, but as a standalone I felt like it did what it needed to do.

Laura: I want to acknowledge how awesome the “Coulson and May infiltrate Cybertek disguised as Fitz and Simmons and then toss an entire file cabinet out of a window” plot was, but I want to spend most of my time talking about Ward (unfortunately).

So here’s the thing: I appreciate being shown how Ward becomes who he is, but that doesn’t excuse him one bit. For starters, I think it’s fairly obvious Garrett wasn’t following SHIELD regulations with how he broke Ward out of juvie and left him in the woods for months. Garrett constantly told Ward “this is your only option,” while never truly explaining why until the end. Garrett was clearly manipulating Ward into believing that Garrett’s way was the only way, but he was doing it through emotional abuse. So yes, I feel bad for Ward in that sense.

But this doesn’t suddenly make Ward super sympathetic or set him on a redemption path. Ward had plenty of opportunities to say no or get out. I mean, he raided cabins for the things he needed during those months. He could’ve asked for a ride into town and just gotten out of there. But really, let’s look at the reason he was in juvie to begin with: after all of the abuse his family dealt him growing up (which I’d still like to say, is INCREDIBLY SIMILAR TO BARTON’S BACKSTORY), he had left home but returned home to try to BURN HIS FAMILY’S HOUSE DOWN. Look, I get that families can suck. Familial abuse is horrible. That doesn’t make it ok to go murder your family. That doesn’t prove that you’re a better person. In this universe, “heroes” respond to that by moving on, and Ward clearly never does.

So no, this doesn’t make me feel any more sympathetic towards Ward’s arc. Especially not when the backstory is clearly paralleled with Fitz and Simmons, and this time he actively chooses to “kill” them. (Obviously, we haven’t seen bodies yet, but I’ll be super impressed however the show decides to handle the rescue attempt.) So can we get rid of Ward and keep Tripp already? I’d like that.

 

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Parting Thoughts

Diego: This show is juggling a lot of balls in the air right now, but I’m reasonably confident it’ll stick the landing for at least some of them. This episode fit in some pieces of the missing puzzle, and now the first arc of the show can end.

Matt: As I said above, it was a nice set up, lets just hope the payoff is worth it. I heard a review saying we should be thankful the show got picked up because of the way the finale ends, which makes me think we get unresolved things, which I don’t really like. A little tease for the next season is fine, but not a full-fledged drawn out mystery that won’t be answered. Let’s hope its the former.

Laura: It was a pretty solid episode all around. The setup for the finale was especially done well, considering it’s hard to imagine the finale having enough time to resolve most of the cliffhangers that have been set up, let alone having a Nick Fury cameo somewhere. I’m looking forward to seeing how the finale handles all of that, plus the officially picked up season 2! Hopefully the show will still have some momentum going in, and not just focus on fighting the escapees from the Fridge. 

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