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.”
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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-brief 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 we 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!