Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Ragtag Review (Mania.com)

By:Tim Janson
Review Date: Tuesday, May 06, 2014
Source: Mania.com

***WARNING SPOILERS***

About half through “Ragtag” I had to check my calendar…Was I suddenly transported back to January?  This felt like a middle of the season episode of MAOS, certainly not the penultimate episode leading into the first season finale.  This had about as much excitement buildup as microwaving leftover pizza.  

In flashback sequences to 15 years ago we find out how Ward first met Garrett.  Ward is being held in a juvenile detention facility for setting his family’s house on fire…with his brother inside.  He is approached by Ward who offers him a choice:  Go with Ward or stay behind and face charges.  Ward makes the obvious decision and the place is immediately swarmed by a group of (presumably) S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who hold the jail guards off while Ward makes his getaway with Garrett.  So what’s the implication here?   S.H.I.E.L.D. can just bust into a jail and take a prisoner, drawing guns on innocent guards?  Was Garrett acting as a rogue agent or did this have Fury’s blessing?  The entire premise was as flimsy as a wet napkin.  I certainly hope there is far more to the reason why Garrett wanted Ward other than he saw some sort of psycho bad-ass promise in the kid.  After busting Ward out he offers the kid some tough love, leaving him to fend for himself for several months.  While it was great to see the history between the pair this is something that should have been covered weeks ago, not in the last episode before the season finale.  This brings the anticipation to a grinding halt.

Meanwhile, Coulson and May infiltrate a Cybertek facility, posing as former S.H.I.E.L.D. scientists so Skye can hack Cybertek’s computers and activate the virus that Skye left on the hard drive.  Instead of computer systems they find decade’s old files.  The files show that Garrett was actually the first Deathlok, getting his cyborg parts back in 1990 after nearly being killed in an explosion.  This incident is also what served to turn Garrett and become a HYDRA agent.  The show treats this as if it was some startling revelation.  But we already saw that Garrett had artificial parts.  Wouldn’t it have been silly if he was a cyborg but not a Deathlok cyborg?  

Garrett informs Ward that his organs are failing and he is dying.  He needs Raina to synthesize the alien-derived drug used on Coulson and Skye in order to heal his organs and save his life.  Raina discovers some interesting facts about Skye while studying her DNA.  She tells Ward about a tale from China years ago where two “monsters” wiped out an entire village…the monsters being Skye’s real parents.  If this is a reference to someone from the Marvel Comics Universe I am drawing a blank.  There are numerous heroes of Chinese ancestry although most of them are mutants.  Ward captures Fitz and Simmons and as Raina administers the drug to Garrett, he orders Ward to kill them.  Fitz and Simmons escape into a room, locking the door behind them.  They try to reason with Ward…trying desperately to appeal to the friend they thought they had.  After struggling with his decision, Ward ejects the room from the plane, dropping it into the ocean, seemingly sending the pair to a watery death.  After receiving the drug Garrett first looks like he will have the Extremis reaction and explode until he stabilizes, healed from the process.  The episode concludes with Ian Quinn meeting with high-ranking military officers and offering to sell them an army of Deathloks.

“Ragtag” was a fitting name for a mostly disappointing episode.  We see why Ward is loyal to Garrett but it doesn’t explain what makes Garrett a cold-blooded killer.  Is it really blind loyalty?  The fact that he tried to burn down his house with his brother inside definitely hints at a much darker side and frankly that is more enticing than Ward getting him out of juvie…This episode seems to reveal much but in reality it is just teaspoonful’s. We knew Garrett was a cyborg…revealing him as the first Deathlok?  Meh!  We already knew there was something special about Skye.  We found that out at the beginning of the season.  Finding out her parents were “monsters” was no “senses-shattering” (apologies to Stan) surprise either.  I don’t think this episode will ultimately hurt the show but not sure it helped it either. There were some cool things this week such as Agent Triplett pulling out his grandfather’s trunk of old S.H.I.E.L.D. gadgets.  Coulson and Triplett were like kids in a toy store and it made for a couple of funny scenes.  I am starting to like Triplett more and more and hope he stays in the mix.   Nick Fury next week but then most of us figured that was coming. 


Mania Grade: C+
Episode: Ragtag (Season 1, Episode 21)
Starring: Clark Gregg. Ming-Na Wen, Brett Dalton, Chloe Bennet, Elizabeth Henstridge, Bill Paxton
Written By: Jeffrey Bell
Directed By: Roxann Dawson
Network: ABC
Studio: Mutant Enemy, Marvel Television, ABC Studios
Series: