[Review] - Agents of SHIELD, Season 1 Episode 21, "Ragtag"

Courtesy of Marvel Television Studios

Let's all celebrate this episode for what it wasn't. It wasn't a redemption episode for Ward, which is what the previews heavily suggested. Ward, as I've mentioned, is beyond redemption. He is a villain, plain and simple. It doesn't matter how he got there, how many dogs he shot, or how many of his former teammates look at him doe-eyed. There is no coming back for Ward, and this episode thankfully didn't even try to convince us that he was capable of doing so. Yes, the shine on the Hydra badge is coming off, but that doesn't change the fact that for ten years, he's been mole-hill deep working against SHIELD. If the season ends with anything less than his incarceration, it'll be as complete a failure as anything else this show has done.

Hit the jump for the brief review, which contains spoilers that should have made another chart for this.

Actually, this was a good episode. Good for SHIELD, has become the refrain. As series go, there still isn't much about the series that makes it memorable or worth revisiting. But at least there is occasion for the series to be watchable while you are watching it, and this was one such episode, written by Jeffery Bell. The extended flashbacks to Ward's cultivation by Garrett were solid, if slightly underwhelming. It gave Paxton opportunity to have fun with his lines, and we can sort of understand why ward is so loyal to him, and so willing to be an agent of Hydra. As reasons for loyalty go, abandoning a person in the woods for several months so they can discover their true potential isn't a flashy reason, but it's an effective and subtle one, two things this series doesn't usually devote a lot of time to.

Elsewhere, the team went on the offensive, to hunt down their stolen plane and root out Garrett's operation as 100% vigilantes. Not content with just setting up new elements of the MCU, now the series is also setting up elements for Agent Carter, with Trip's bag of Howling Commando/Get Smart gadgets. It went a long way to showing the adaptiveness of the team, and showing how well the team works as a unit, something that the series has rarely given us a chance to see. Everyone placed a part, based on their individual skills, and no one felt unnecessary. Which was a nice change of pace. It also gave us a chance to see Coulson geek out over the old school tech, a personality trait we haven't seen since episode two or three (it's stuff like this, character defining stuff, that the series has felt apathetic about exploring, but is the most interesting).

I think I've nailed down what has bothered me most about the series, in parts thanks to this episode, and the stinger from last week. So much of it has felt made up on the spot. For a series whose writers claim to have had a plan, who are working from a road map that spans entire potential seasons, so much of the plot turns seem like they were shoehorned in when the writer's room couldn't figure out a way to get from A to B, or when they realized that they hadn't come up with a valid explanation or motivation. Or, when they just wanted to get rid of a plot swamp they had written themselves, as they did with the stinger from last week's episode. This week was the explanation that the Centipede program was down to Garrett dying, something that hasn't been mentioned at all until now. Something that smacks of convenience rather than design. I did like the idea that the Deathlok program has been running for years, and that Garrett has transitioned from experiment to leader of the program. But the rest of the stuff, concerning his health, his running on Centipede batteries, all seemed like contrivance to lead to his getting injected with the Guest House goo for a reason, rather than just letting it happen.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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