Agents of SHIELD

S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Brett Dalton Finds Ward's 'Sweet Spot' in Framework, Whereas Fitz Is the 'Cold-Blooded Killer'

Just when you thought he was out… they pulled him back in.

In launching the third arc of Season 4, ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (airing Tuesdays at 10/9c) put dearly departed-turned-Inhuman Grant Ward in Daisy’s bed, establishing from go that the Framework offered one funked-up reality.

Now, though, the former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent is back fighting for good. We think. While that sweet, soft-spoken Scot, Fitz, has become a stone-cold killer. TVLine invited original cast member Brett Dalton to talk about his latest encore, Ward’s latest “uphill battle” with “Skye” and the possibility that we will get fooled again.

TVLINE | It’s good to see you back on the show. That was a most unexpected twist a few weeks back.
You’re telling me! I was the one who got the phone call.

TVLINE | Talk about how you learned that you were needed, again.
Every one of our “fallen agents’ have all kind of gotten the same [goodbye speech], which is, “Well, this is a comic book universe, so you never know. You never know.” Up until now, though, there hasn’t been an opportunity to bring anyone back, so when I got the, “You never know” thing, I was like, “We’ll see what happens down the line.” And then [co-showrunner] Mo [Tancharoen] called me and told me the storyline, and I was on board. She “had me at hello.”

TVLINE | [Co-showrunner] Jed [Whedon] told me you actually weren’t available for the initial reveal, where Ward was first glimpsed under the bed sheets….
Yeah, yeah, that’s correct. It also worked better as a tag, since there was such a crazy explanation behind it.

TVLINE | Were you up to speed at all on the Framework storyline, or did someone need to sit Brett Dalton down and explain what you were  walking into?
[Laughs] No, no, I had it DVR’d. Ive been keeping up with the show. These guys are my family, so it’s nice to see what my brothers and sisters have been doing. [Season 4] has a different structure, so I can understand why they didn’t have room for this Hydra/S.H.I.E.L.D. conflict [earlier]. They were doing it in sort of three separate pods, starting with Ghost Rider. So as soon as they were in the LMD world, I felt like, “If there ever was an opportunity for them to bring me back, this would be it.” And thankfully I got the call.

TVLINE | How are you going about playing Ward here? Have you gotten any direction on who he is, who isn’t? Is this basically the Season 1A Ward…?
Right, right…. I think it’s a fun combo of “all of the above,” because he’s still a double agent, and he’s still capable, and you can see these flashes of things. I think that’s what makes it so interesting. You think that he’s one thing, but because we have three seasons now of this backstory, we don’t know exactly how much of that translates into the Framework. So as soon as we see Ward raise his gun in the forest and say, “Ladies, we need to talk,” before he claims that he’s part of the Resistance, that should be an, “Oh s–t!” moment. See! I trusted him, and he did it again! My God! There should be moments like that where we’re really not sure. Even in this week’s episode, Skye and Jemma say, “I’m pretty sure we can trust him…”

TVLINE | I’ve enjoyed skeptical Jemma’s running commentary à la “Once a mole, always a mole.”
Exactly! It just doesn’t matter what, she always has a grudge against me, in the real world and in this world. I feel like Grant Ward-slash-Hive is like, “Why does this girl have something against me so much? I’m doing the right thing, even when I’m bad!”

TVLINE | The all-too-briefAgents of SHIELD synopsis for this week says, “The truth behind Fitz’s turn” will pose a threat to S.H.I.E.L.D., or something. What exactly do we mean by “Fitz’s turn”?
Well, I feel like last episode was as big of a reveal as Grant Ward being a traitor. We knew that Fitz was second in command at Hydra, we knew that he was someone to be feared, but I think that until now, we hadn’t really seen any action on this scale that proved he was a cold-blooded killer. But we saw him just shoot someone in cold blood, and it’s a scary thing. I think that Iain [De Caestecker] is really killing it. He’s got a huge range and Fitz is one of the most compelling characters on the show, but this is just another whole color that we haven’t seen from him, and it’s really chilling. It’s cool to see all of us in the Framework have a different “side” of ourselves that we get to play, other than [Chloe Bennet and Elizabeth Henstridge].

TVLINE | Might weAgents of SHIELD see Daisy start to warm up to this Ward, or she is the mind, “Fool me six times, shame on you”?
That’s a good question. It feels like all of the stuff with Skye, Ward… that’s always an uphill battle. It feels like once we turned the corner and once she found out that I was  spy, she can’t un-know what she knows in the real world — or undo any of those things. But for Grant Ward it’s just a Tuesday! Obviously some things have happened, but he wakes up [in the Framework] and is like, “What’s the problem? All of the sudden my girlfriend is going crazy!” I think that Ward has always had an uphill battle with Skye’s affection, so he’s going to have to work really, really hard for that. Even when I was like an anti-hero in the gray area there, in the real world — like Season 2, Season 3 — I would promise to protect her, but it seemed to never really make that much of a difference. In the very next episode after I introduced her to her father, she shoots me in the chest three times! [Laughs]

TVLINE | Well I was going to say, Ward is one of the more polarizing characters on TV. Half the people were thrilled to see you back, half aren’t. What do you have to say to the ones who are like, “Him again??”
I’m baaaaack! [Laughs] I think that this is a nice sweet spot, actually, because he’s still someone that is fun to watch, because you’re not really sure what hes going to do. I’m in that good guy/bad guy territory again. But at least I’m not wearing Hive’s green coat anymore, because then you knew I was a bad guy. It’s a fun return to form I think, straddling this line.

TVLINE | Heck, I’m nor even convinced he is a good guy. This could be a triple cross.
It could be a triple cross. It could be a triple cross, sure. That’s always a possibility!

Want more scoop on S.H.I.E.L.D., or for any other show? Email and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Television says:

    I really can’t stand the framework episodes they are focusing on. It is so boring, it doesn’t really matter what happens cause it is just in the framework. Tired of them going back and forth on personalities, and there are infinite possible storylines they could be telling instead.

    • Oh for crying out loud. This is one of the most interesting arcs the show has ever had. How the heck can you find it ‘boring”?
      “It doesn’t matter”? What does that even mean? Of course it matters, a lot, to the people involved. Even if they all make it out alive (which is not a given – if you die in the Framework, you die in the real world), they aren’t going to forget who they were, what they did, what they saw others doing. It’s going to stay with them.

      “It’s not real” is the silliest reason to hate on the storyline. Is the show otherwise about real people and events? I guess it must be a documentary.

    • Phil says:

      Of course it matters. If they die in the framework, they die in real life. And the memory of stuff they did in there will remain with them. How do you think Fitz will deal with learning he actually killed someone in cold blood once he gets his actual memories back? And not just someone, someone whose closest thing to life left was actually existing in the framework? That will wreck him. Mack will be a wreck as well because he’ll have to lose his daughter all over again, this time one he got to know.

  2. “In the very next episode after I introduced her to her father, she shoots me in the chest three times!”
    Well, it may have had something to do with the fact you kidnapped her, brought her to the Hydra headquarters and put her in danger, ignoring her agency and her wishes every step of the way…

  3. MLD says:

    Actually I started loving Shield again this season once they wrapped up the overly bombastic Ghost Rider arc. The writing jumped up by 20 IQ points after that and the actors are obviously having a great time with the scripts, showing different sides to their characters. If Shield had been cancelled after season 3, I wouldn’t have terribly minded but now that the show is in a creative renaissance I really want to see a season 5. I am also glad to have Brett Dalton back.

  4. Kristina says:

    Count me in the camp that’s thrilled to have him back! I love that we’re getting the chance to see what Ward could’ve been like. For as long as it lasts, anyway :)

  5. laurelnev says:

    So…WHEN ARE WE GOING TO SEE BOBBI AND HUNTER IN THE FRAMEWORK? Those 2 are the most beloved, cut characters…and maybe Tripp too?

    • Katherine215 says:

      I keep saying the same thing! I miss them all so much. There was an African American agent shot from the back last episode and on my first quick glance, I thought it was Trip. Then I took a better look and realized the body type wasn’t Tripp’s at all. :(

  6. Fits is real an LMD built by Aida/Queen Hydra, and his real Framework consciousness/program is tucked away in a closet.

    Ash leash.

  7. Dominique says:

    this season has been so good and this framework arc is fantastic. i bet the actors all have a lot of fan playing a compeltely different version of their character.
    as one of the people who LOVES that brett dalton is back, i’ll keep saying it over and over; i hope they bring him back with them out of the framework. they can build him an LMD, right?

  8. KayCeeCee says:

    I’m glad that Ward is back too!

  9. ndixit says:

    I love that Ward is back and this is such a n amusing twist on the character. He’s the same, but he’s also not. I am kind of hoping we get some more Simmons and Ward bonding in the next ep. I mean, at some point Simmons should really try and accept the fact that this Ward is helping them. I don’t foresee a triple cross because that would just be convoluted. The fun of this version is that he is a double agent for the good side.

  10. Jooshua says:

    It would be cool if they somehow get this version of Ward out of the Framework. Or use those memories for an LMD.

  11. Amy says:

    Personally happy to see Brett Dalton back. Ward is perfect in this ‘what if’ framework plot and Dalton just oozes charisma on screen.

  12. Joey Padron says:

    Great interview you did with Brett. It’s great to have him back on the show as Ward again. Happy he’s a good guy again. The Agents of Hydra arc been really good. Hope some other old characters will be shown in the framework world soon!

  13. Luis Roman says:

    Great interview! A very clever twist reintroducing Ward through The Framework. While ABC has yet to renew,AoS, I feel hopeful based not only on the Marvel connection, but on my perception that the show has improved creatively every season. Beginning to end, this has been the best season of AoS yet.

  14. writeriowa says:

    I love this Ward. I want this Ward in the “real world.” Perhaps put him in an LMD? That being said, after all, we have been through with Ward, I am still ever leery. But, Brett Dalton is amazing, so I am just happy to have him back.

  15. Ian Fleming says:

    Oh Ward, don’t triple cross. Just be a good guy for once in your life. Glad to have Brett Dalton back.

  16. Sky says:

    I absolutely love framework ❤️ I hope grant ward stays. He’s an amazing actor. It’s crazy for someone to think this season isn’t amazing. I love the fact that fallen agents have returned. I’d love to see them crossover to the real world. Great job.