Agents of SHIELD Season 1 Episode 20 ‘Ragtag’ Review: “Watch Out, HYDRA, Here We Come”

out of 5

One episode of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD remains. One episode to wrap up the whole HYDRA vs. SHIELD storyline. One episode to explain Skye’s origin. One hour, folks. Forty-four minutes without commercials. That’s all we get.

With no advance word on a second season, this could very well be it. Two months ago, I would have welcomed it. But now, now this show is one of my favorite shows on TV. That usually means that it will be cancelled. Hopefully they resolve all of the above in this last hour and we aren’t left wondering what could have been when a terrible reality show takes the Tuesday night timeslot in the fall.

Here are the 6 Qs of this week’s Agents of SHIELD.

1. What is it?

Agents of SHIELD Season 1, Episode 21, titled ‘Ragtag.’

2. Who’s in it?

The series regulars, Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson, Ming-Na Wen as Melinda may, Brett Dalton as Agent Ward, Chloe Bennet as Skye, Elizabeth Henstridge as Simmons, and Iain De Caestecker as Fitz. Guest starring this week is Bill Paxton as John Garrett; J. August Richards as Deathlok; B.J. Britt as Agent Antoine “Trip” Triplett; David Conrad as Ian Quinn; Ruth Negga as Raina; Austin Lyon as Young Ward; and Glenn Morshower as High-Ranking Military Leader.

3. Who made it?

‘Ragtag’ was written by Jeffrey Bell; the episode was directed by Roxann Dawson.

Agents of SHIELD Season 1 Episode 20 'Ragtag' Review: Watch Out, HYDRA, Here We Come
4. What is it about? (**Spoilers Ahead**)

‘Ragtag’ opens 15 years in the past as a young Grant Ward (Austin Lyons) is visited by John Garrett (Paxton) who offers him a choice: stay and serve his sentence for arson and attempted murder of his brother, or go with Garrett and join his organization. Ward chooses to go, of course, and then armed guards storm the juvenile detention center and Ward and Garrett walk out.

At the hotel, 616 finds a news report of an attack in Bogota, Columbia that points to Deathlok. Coulson (Gregg) and May (Wen) try to figure out HYDRA’s play there.

On the Bus, Raina (Negga) tells Garrett all she learned of GH325.

Team 616 decides to infiltrate Cybertek Industries so Skye (Bennet) can hack their systems to try and locate The Bus and Ward. Fitz (De Caestecker) refuses to believe that Ward is bad, even when faced with overwhelming evidence and eye-witness accounts. Simmons (Henstridge) cannot even convince him.

Since SHIELD is no longer a thing, Trip (Britt) borrows his grandfather’s things from his time as a Howling Commando, giving 616 rudimentary tools — including a cigarette that shoots out a high-powered cutting laser, and a joy buzzer that acts as an EMP when activated. Team 616 loads up on the ancient tech.

In the past, Young Ward is abandoned by Garrett in the wild, who forces the young man to survive and survive he does. Garrett leaves Ward with a dog named Buddy and he promises to come back in two months.

At Cybertek, Coulson and May pose as e-SHIELD tech geeks and with Fitz and Simmons giving them instructions via two-way ear radios, they get into an argument as they channel Fitz and Simmons, who are in a truck outside the building with Skye as she tries to hack into Cybertek’s systems. She can’t get into the system, because there is no system. Skye finds a “dead spot” on the fourth floor and May and Coulson investigate, only to find a huge room full of paper files. Coulson finds the “Deathlok” file that is dated to 1990 and he learns that John Garrett was the first Deathlok! They institute a file transfer by throwing the file cabinet out of the window and Trip and Skye secure it in the truck as they speed off.

On the Bus, Raina and Deathlok (Richards) discuss their individual reasons for working with HYDRA, and Deathlok reveals that he’s only doing it for his son, while Raina admits that she likes it.

Garrett collapses while getting a briefing and Ward clears the room. Garrett’s cyber implants are failing and in short, he’s dying.

Agents of SHIELD Season 1 Episode 20 'Ragtag' Review: Watch Out, HYDRA, Here We Come
Back at the hotel, Fitz is still adamant that Ward is brainwashed. The rest of 616 are able to track Cybertek shipments to Cuba and deduce that HYDRA is using an old SHIELD base.

In Cuba, Ian Quinn (Conrad) visits for a trim and explains that with SHIELD no more, he was absolved of all charges and is now a free man able to do business with whomever he chooses. Raina tells Ward what she found on the hard drive about Skye and that her parents were monsters that once destroyed a village in the Hunan Province of China.

In the past, Garrett finds Young Ward alive and well six months later. Ward has learned to survive and adapt. Garrett then begins to teach him how to shoot.

In Cuba, Garrett packs up the base and prepares to move back into the continental United States, now that SHIELD is dissolved. Raina gives Garrett that last known vial of GH325 that she refined. HYDRA leaves the Cuba base.

Team 616 finds the barbershop base empty, while Fitz and Simmons find the Bus at an abandoned airfield. Before Fitz can do anything, Ward finds Fitz and Simmons.

In the past, Ward is now older, wiser, and stronger. Garrett tells him about how the world works. How SHIELD cares only about SHIELD and how HYDRA is the true future.

On the Bus, Ward delivers Fitz and Simmons to Garrett and Fitz sets off the joybuzzer EMP that nearly shuts down Garrett and his implants. The Bus lifts off and Garrett allows Raina to work on him while demanding that Ward kill Fitz and Simmons.

In the past, Garrett tells Ward that he has been accepted into SHIELD. He then orders Ward to kill Buddy the Dog, as a true agent can have no emotional ties. Garrett leaves and Ward is holding a gun while the dog looks on.

Team 616 finds the barbershop base empty but they search every corner.

Agents of SHIELD Season 1 Episode 20 'Ragtag' Review: Watch Out, HYDRA, Here We Come
On the Bus, Raina discovers that her centipede serum is what is keeping Garrett alive and Garrett demands that she inject him with the GH325. Fitz and Simmons try to escape but Ward corners them. Fitz and Simmons hide in the airlock cargo container and Fitz pleads with Ward to remember his friends.

In the past, Ward cannot kill Buddy and fires the gun in the air. Buddy runs away. The last we see is Buddy in the middle of crosshairs.

On the Bus, Ward ignores Fitz and launches them out of the airlock into the ocean. Raina injects Garrett with the GH325 and his reaction is similar to the Extremis reactions from Iron Man 3. He then stabilizes and pronounces that he can “feel the universe.” Uh oh.

At the secret base, 616 finds a secret room with a HYDRA computer just as a small army of Deathlok soldiers — one even wielding the Asgardian Beserker Staff — descends upon them.

In the post-SHIELD scene, Ian Quinn is in Washington D.C. meeting with presumably two of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, telling them all about the mission in Bogota, and emphasizing that it was one man: Deathlok. When one of the high-ranking military men (Glenn Morshower) asks if Cybertek is trying to sell the one super solider to the U.S. Military, Quinn tells them no, and reveals that they have thousands of them.

5. Any revelations, tie-ins, easter eggs, etc.?

Not really. Hints at Skye’s backstory/origin. Not much else.

6. Will we watch next week?

Yes. The season finale of Agents of SHIELD is shaped up to be exciting. I truly hope that ABC and the Whedons don’t puss out and “redeem” Ward here. Hopefully we learn more about Skye and her 0-8-4 status, and I hope beyond hope they at least discover her birth name is “Jessica.” That would be enough for me this season.

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