TV Review: “Agents of SHIELD” Episode 21 – “Ragtag”

Written by Alex Bowman May 10, 2014


Nothing can be more exciting than watching a TV show you have followed since the beginning be slowly drawn to a close. I say this with any lack of real world experience for not having partaken in actual exciting things like sky diving, so “Agents of SHIELD” will have to fill that void. It is certainly doing a good job of filling me up with excitement and surprise. This is the last episode before the season finale and already things are building up to a very loud crescendo that I am sure will re-create everything we, as the audience, originally thought about this show when it first aired. This week takes us on both a thrill ride and a blast to the past so buckle up.

“That’s not a sign of weakness, is it?”

This week’s episode serves two purposes; one plot deals with showing how Ward grew up under the wing of Garrett and how he shaped Ward into the unstoppable killing machine he is today. We also learn a lot more about Garrett and why he had such a rage boner for SHIELD. Meanwhile, in the other plot, the team find out that they can essentially super-hack Garrett’s defenses and they travel to their secret base in Cuba. High jinks ensue, tension is elevated and a particular dynamic duo may be… dead?

Oh, Coulson, you nerd

This week’s episode was very well done; much better in comparison to others, in all honesty. This was another great throwback to how the writing team can give us really hard-hitting episodes and then throw us right back into high speed action drizzled with a thick coating of Whedon hilarity without us even noticing. It felt refreshing to find myself laughing so much throughout this episode, even at times when you didn’t expect it. The scene where Coulson and May sneak into Cybertek in order to data-nab is pure genius, you can tell they were having a blast behind the scenes attempting to channel their inner Fitz-Simmons.

That is to say, the episode is not completely lopsided; the story does a fantastic job of splitting the plot between goofy action and grim back-story. We finally get to see how Garret turned the right amount of screws in order to mold Ward into the perfect killing machine. The final flash-back does kind of shoot itself in the foot with the whole “Ward doesn’t kill the dog? NOPE JUST KIDDING” moment inter-cut with him SUPPOSEDLY killing off Fitz-Simmons. Let’s face it, they’re not dead. I know Whedon has this giddy obsession with killing off his characters when we least expect it and that’s why their death in particular felt too forced; almost like it was planned ahead of time by a committee. I have a strong feeling they will be back next week. If not, then I guess Whedon is still full of surprises.

“Try not to set any of the drapes on fire”

The one major problem I had with this episode is Garret and how he was written for this episode. It is revealed that he was patient zero for the Dethlok project and that he is essentially using the tech he was given to stay alive, despite the fact that his organs are past the point of no return and he is slowly dying. This is all because SHIELD wouldn’t help him in his time of need, so he joined HYDRA and wah wah wah, call the wambulance.

I really, REALLY, fucking hate it when authors try to make us, as the audience, sympathize with the villain. The whole point of the villain is that we are supposed to hate them; they commit horrible atrocities and we scream in triumph when the hero comes in and kicks them in the hacky-sack. We feel sorry for the struggling hero because we want them to succeed and we sympathize when they are cut down. So why should we feel sorry for the psychotic murderer just because SHIELD was mean to him and he may be dying? NO! Give Paxton all the puppy dog tears you want, he is still the villain and I refuse to have the writers trick me into feeling sorry for this guy who would sacrifice his protege just to suit his own selfish needs.

“How do you feel?… The Universe!” (huh?)

Despite a really poor attempt at making us sympathize for the obvious villain of the show, I still give this episode credit for getting me hyped for the season finale next week. I am really hoping that the finale is one that will redefine how we have perceived this show; a simple show that a large majority of people doubted would succeed which may end up surprising us at the finish line. I’m expecting an ending of epic proportions next week, here’s hoping it doesn’t disappoint.

My Rating: 8/10

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