Agents Of SHIELD: The Curious Case Of Grant Ward

Source: ABC
Source: ABC

Remember when I said that things were getting dark on Agents Of SHIELD? Well, that was a bright and sunny day compared to “The Things We Bury,” the second-to-last episode of the series before a long winter hiatus. (Side note: I’m so psyched for Agent Carter to start, but really bummed for Agents Of SHIELD to leave us, just when it’s getting so good) In last week’s episode, we finally see Grant Ward and his brother, Senator Christian Ward, come face to face. Needless to say, things don’t go so well for Christian.

The show has done a really good job at keeping us on the fence about Christian – is he telling the truth, even though he is hella shady? Then again, how can we trust Grant, who we know for a fact is a liar and a traitor? We’ll probably never get a real answer – maybe they’re both just horrible people and it doesn’t matter which one of them tortured their little brother in the well. Maybe Grant’s flashbacks are genuine, or maybe it’s the show playing with our heads, giving us Grant’s warped memories instead of reality. Regardless, it’s going to be hard for Grant Ward to find redemption after all this.

Source: ABC
Source: ABC

After escaping from custody (and shaving off his beautiful, beautiful beard), Grant kidnaps Christian and takes him for a stroll down memory lane – into the woods where the infamous well is buried. He forces Christian to dig up the well – literally as well as figuratively – and threatens to kill him if he doesn’t confess to forcing Grant to throw Tommy Ward into the well. It doesn’t take long for a terrified Christian to admit to the entire thing – he hated Tommy because his mother favored him, and didn’t abuse him in the same way she abused the rest of her kids. He wanted to punish her, but he didn’t have the guts to hurt Tommy himself – that’s why he made Grant do it.

Now, this obviously begs the question – was this confession coerced? I mean, Christian was certainly under duress. He might’ve said anything to live. In an interview with Zap2It, Brett Dalton said:

“We can debate whether or not it was an honest confession or a coerced one, but he definitely needed to hear certain words from his brother about that particular event in his life. I think he heard what he needed to hear. I don’t know how true or untrue that was, but I do know he needed to hear those words from his brother.”
And then, apparently, he needed to kill him anyway. We learn later in the episode that Christian, along with his parents (!!!) were killed in a fire. The police find a taped confession from Christian – a recording Grant made at the well, natch. So he gets what he wants, but he still murders his family. Then he joins back up with Hydra. Why? Is Grant Ward capable of feeling anything anymore? He has no true loyalties, not to family or agency. Can he truly be redeemed after this – and why do we want him to be?
Source: ABC
Source: ABC

It’s even more interesting when you compare Ward to another potential psycho out for some familial revenge – Skye’s father. In “The Things We Bury,” we also learn a lot about Skye’s father’s backstory – what motivates him, what the Diviner means to him and why he’s such a damn lunatic. Quick recap: it turns out, the Diviner isn’t a weapon – it’s a tool from the same city Coulson and his team are searching for. Within that city is something even more powerful, by the way, so sh*t will really hit the fan when they get there. But I digress. The Diviner was sent to Earth to put an end to mankind – all of mankind except for those the Diviner “chooses” – one might say divines – to be worthy. These are the people who can hold the obelisk and not shrivel up and die, like Skye’s father and Raina. Whitehall harnessed the power of the Diviner to stay eternally young, but not after years of horrific human experimentation. How did Whitehall eventually discover the Diviner’s power? By dissecting a woman he’d found before the war – who was the same age when he found her again 44 years later. It’s all pretty disturbing, especially when you learn that this woman was Skye’s mother. I know, right? Turns out that Skye’s dear old dad isn’t so much working with Whitehall as waiting to completely destroy him, probably gruesomely. Yikes.

Source: ABC
Source: ABC

Which brings me back to Ward – it seems like everything Ward did to his brother and parents was for revenge. Growing up in an abusive household, being forced (maybe?) to torment his little brother by a maniacal older sibling…this pain drove Ward to become the man he is today, and it’s how he’s able to commit such violent crimes. But as I said above, it’s all pretty shady – and even if everything he’s said is true, it’s hard to find pity for a man who’s killed countless others as well. So why does Ward feel more sympathetic than Skye’s father? Is it because Skye’s father is more terrifyingly powerful? Ward is, after all, just a man and God only knows what Skye’s dad is. Is it because Kyle MacLachlan is just really good at making crazy eyes – better than the stoic and handsome Brett Dalton? Or is it because we want Ward to be good, even though we know he isn’t. Skye’s father has been clearly set up as a villain since before we met him – Grant Ward used to be our hero.

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