Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Tuesday’s episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Read at your own risk!
While the fake Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are facing a hostile takeover by the real S.H.I.E.L.D., Ward (Brett Dalton) is slowly but surely moving puzzle pieces into place for his ultimate endgame—though what that is remains to be seen.
First, Ward tracked down a scientist who could fix Agent 33’s face, though without knowing her true identity, she couldn’t completely get back to normal. Instead, 33 tried to seduce Ward by taking on Skye’s (Chloe Bennet) face. He oddly turned her down and put his focus on getting 33 her vengeance by infiltrating a U.S. Army base to capture Bakshi (Simon Kassianides), whom Ward and Agent 33 (aka Kara) they are now brainwashing. To what end? EW caught up with Dalton to get the scoop on what’s ahead. (Get scoop on the leaders of the real S.H.I.E.L.D. here.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Were you a bit worried about Ward when you read the first few scripts after the midseason finale and he didn’t appear?
BRETT DALTON: Yes, thank you for bringing that up. [Laughs] The point of which I got most worried was when I read in the script in our midseason finale that I was shot in the chest because that’s how that ends. You’re supposed to think, for a beat or two, “Oh my God! They killed Ward!” Obviously you find out in the next scene that Agent 33 comes down and helps me to my feet and we hobble off into the sunset together. For a minute there, I thought I was a goner.
How do you think Ward has changed from the agent we first met to now becoming a leader in some ways?
Oh goodness, how much time do you have? A lot of Ward’s transition actually has happened off screen. We picked up with his storyline in season 2 after six months of wrestling with his demons in this padded cell, attempting to commit suicide and all that stuff. He has questions of, “Who am I without someone telling me what to do?” He promises Skye to reunite her with her father, so for 10 episodes it’s all about, “Hey, I’m just trying to help you and fulfill my promise to you.” He doesn’t lie. It’s still for a purpose. It’s not 100 percent out of the kindness of his heart. We see this huge transition from somebody who followed someone, made some interesting choices along the way and turned into someone on the other side of that who seems to have a mission and some kind of clarity this season and a purpose.
Does he feel comfortable as a leader or is he trying to fake it until he makes it?
You are a good watcher of the show. [Laughs] I think that not everybody gets that and that’s an important distinction. It’s like the student is now becoming the teacher. Him and Kara are very similar characters actually in the fact that Ward was never brainwashed, but he did follow a powerful man down a very dark path. When that person is gone and no longer in his life telling him what to do, he’s forced to make some decisions on his own and answer the question of who is he without this other person? He’s been there and done that and now Kara is in the exact same situation. He sees an opportunity to help push her life forward. Ward is not a made man, he’s a re-made man. He’s trying to be in control of his own story.
Let’s talk about that dynamic between Kara and Ward. When Kara took on Skye’s face, was there a part of Ward that was tempted to sleep with her?
I can’t answer no to that question. I would imagine that certainly flashed through his mind. That would be the next best thing to having Skye. That is essentially having Skye in the room, but it blurs the lines of what their relationship is. It is, at times, kind of romantic. It’s a really complex one to be honest, because it is kind of romantic at points, but it’s also student-teacher at points, and there’s even some times where it’s a brotherly protection kind of thing.
Is it actually romantic or is he just using her for whatever his endgame is?
I really feel that he’s coming from a genuine place. He sees this as an opportunity for Kara to move her life forward. I don’t think that at the end of this, he’ll be like, “Peace! I got mine!” It’s actually coming from a good place, and there are some really terrible things that they end up doing to move their lives forward from the outside in. From the inside out, this is all so that Kara can heal her wounds and rewrite her own life story. Kara is on her way, but not in the same way Ward is. Ward is an usher, the guy who can move her life forward and guide her along in her own path.
Does Ward still have feelings for Skye? What might their first real meeting look like?
For the first 10 episodes, it seems like there is still a little bit of a spark and maybe the possibility of these guys getting together, and maybe the SkyeWard ‘ship is not completely sunk—maybe it’s just got a couple of holes in it. But it seems that her shooting me has really answered that question. I don’t think that flame will ever really be extinguished, but I think he’s moved onto the next chapter in his life and sees in Kara an opportunity for himself to move on as well.
We see at the end of the episode that they are brainwashing Bakshi. What can you tease of whatever they’re ultimately after and if that will put them in the crosshairs of S.H.I.E.L.D.?
What they want to do is start over and hit the reset button. Yes, they are brainwashing him, but washing all that stuff away so we can start over and we all have an opportunity to move forward together. Ward is a wild card more than anything. He’s not strictly the enemy. He’s always not S.H.I.E.L.D.’s favorite person in the world, but it’s also a complicated relationship because they’ve worked with me before. At least some people—I would hope—like Fitz or Skye still believe that there might be a little bit of good left in Ward. They’ve glimpsed it. They’ve seen him do things that actually speak to that weakness that Garrett talked about: There is a good person somewhere deep, deep inside of him. I like that he’s on his own team. When he’s there, stuff is going to hit the fan.
As the real S.H.I.E.L.D. plans to take over Coulson’s S.H.I.E.L.D., will Ward be involved in that at all?
That’s an interesting question. It feels like that might be an issue for S.H.I.E.L.D., like an internal issue: S.H.I.E.L.D. 2.0 vs S.H.I.E.L.D. I’m not sure how interested he is in that. At the end of the day, they probably both want the same goal, they just have a difference of opinion—sort of like a civil war between S.H.I.E.L.D. It would be more strategic to stay outside of that.
Does Ward think he could ever actually have a good reunion with the team or is there too much love lost there?
Yeah, that hope is still alive. It might make for some good television. We’ve seen him be naïve in certain ways or blissfully optimistic that people would understand his point of view. He has these moments of, “They’ll understand! They’re on my side,” and they’re like, “No, you straight up murdered people. You can’t come back from that. And you lied to us for months.”
If and when Ward and Skye cross paths again, how will he feel about her having powers?
Maybe that’s an opportunity for some kind of understanding between the two. For the better part of the first season, Ward was hiding a certain part of himself from the team. They all thought he was one thing and when they found out he was another thing, they all had to reevaluate. Some people like Fitz held onto the hope that he was a good guy, and the same with Skye, but they were forced to think twice about who they think this person is. Skye wasn’t deliberately hiding anything, but she was born with this Inhuman thing inside her. The team is in a simiar position. “I thought I knew who this person was, now I’m forced to completely reevaluate who this person is.” In some ways, there may be a strange understanding between the two of them because they’re both kind of in a similar situation.
And Ward has seen super powers as well. He’s so smart. I’m sure he knows everything he possibly could know. He probably knows something big went down in the Temple. He’s not sure what, but the way her dad was talking about her, I’m sure he’s pretty good at putting two and two together. There’s also a lot of talk in season 1 about monsters, and we see in season 2 a lot of that stuff is coming to fruition. There’s this whole question in season 2 about what characters have become. What’s Ward becoming? Raina is becoming a version of a monster. Raina mentioned, “Maybe you two can be monsters together.” Raina’s intuition is quite good. I don’t think it’s some random thing that she said. It might have more weight to it than that.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.