In the March 24 episode of “Agents of SHIELD,” while Skye (Chloe Bennet) and Coulson (Clark Gregg) were dealing with the effects of her newfound abilities — and Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki) and Mack (Henry Simmons) were enlightening Hunter (Nick Blood) about the “real” SHIELD that’s secretly being operated by Edward James Olmos’ Robert Gonzales — former agents Ward (Brett Dalton) and 33 (Maya Stojan/Ming-Na Wen) were doing their best Bonnie and Clyde impersonation and breaking Sunil Bakshi (Simon Kassianides) out of government custody, for reasons that have yet to be revealed.
It’s the first opportunity we’ve had to examine Ward’s motivations in-depth since he escaped SHIELD custody, and while the rogue operative’s agenda remains murky, he also seems to have a genuine rapport with Agent 33. “Love in the Time of Hydra” also gave us a hint that, while Ward might not have been thrilled that Skye tried to shoot him during their last encounter, he still has some lingering feelings for his former trainee.
Variety spoke to Dalton to break down the events of this week’s episode and find out what’s ahead for Ward and 33 now that they have Bakshi at their disposal.
In this week’s episode, Agent 33 offered Ward something she assumed he wanted — a chance to hook up with “Skye” — and it took him a minute to actually turn her down. If the option to rekindle things with the real Skye presented itself, do you think he’d take her up on it, despite her shooting him three times?
Dalton: If the option were there, I wonder myself if there’s something there. I don’t know, I imagine it’s like any great love –the embers are still aglow. But it’s whether or not you’re feeding it; whether or not you’re looking at it or looking away from it. You’re still in the same room, but you’re trying to put it behind you — it could be one of those things. We’ll have to wait and see.
I loved the “Pulp Fiction” homage in Ward and Agent 33’s diner scene — how much fun was that to shoot?
Oh my God, that was incredible, and I’m glad that we nailed it and I’m glad that came through, because that’s exactly what we were going for. You have these incredibly dangerous characters that could really do just about anything — they’re capable of violence, but also love. But you have these characters and you’ve just seen them do very bad things and now you’re watching them to do their normal thing which is sit down and order some pumpkin pancakes. Why? Because I like pumpkin pancakes, it’s my total favorite. To see somebody like that do something as normal as go to Denny’s and get the Moons Over My Hammy or the Early Bird Special, it’s just funny, and they get to say it out loud as well, the pancakes with syrup. It was a blast to do.
Also, that day, we had someone from the Make-A-Wish Foundation come and visit us on set, so that was really special. It was so great. I was so happy to be there for that, to be a part of this girl’s wish. That just took the cake. I mean, explosions are fun, learning how to ride motorcycles and jumping through windows… working with Bill Paxton; all of these wonderful things were really fun. There’s something special about [being part of a wish], though, that you take away. And to know that we’ve touched someone that deeply in that way was very special. We actually see her in the episode, she’s featured in it.
Ward opened up a little bit in this week’s episode when talking to Agent 33 about his past. How honest do you think he was being, and how much was manipulation?
That’s a good question. I don’t know. He did leave a lot of stuff out, but I think I remember some of the things that he said just offhand; he went to visit his parents, they were really taken aback at first, but they were really able to dig in and talk about their feelings, and he hasn’t looked back since. All of that is totally true and he chose his words very carefully. He really hasn’t, this season, actually told a lie. He’s omitted, perhaps. Or he used certain words for certain things, but he is definitely telling the truth.
I don’t know if it’s manipulation. I feel like it’s coming from a good place. Obviously that’s just my opinion on it, but I do feel like he’s trying to help someone else on their journey and in that way he’s kind of a mentor. I don’t think that he’s trying to brainwash everybody or some other crazy plan that he has hatched up — I truly believe it comes from a good place. And the one thing that Garrett said was, my weakness was my compassion. He’s coming from that place, actually seeing in Agent 33 a fellow dented can and saying, “hey, I’m on the other side of this, let me help you — I can help you. It gets better.”
Are we ever likely to see exactly what went down between Ward and his family when he went home after escaping SHIELD — since we got ominous hints from the news footage — or do you think it’s better left implied?
Yeah, I mean, if that news footage is real, there’s not much of the family left. So, that would be cool if it could be told in a flashback or something like that. I feel like they’ve done a pretty good job with the hints. I think the hints make it even more mysterious and maybe it’s more fun for the audience to fill in the blanks, because when we do hear a little bit of this and that, then that’s sort of analogous to May’s story with whatever happened in Bahrain — everybody has a different version of it. You hear little bits and pieces of it and it keeps it this really big mystery. You know something went down; you know she was not the same after that; you don’t know exactly what happened; maybe only she does. And maybe in the same way, Ward is really the only one who knows what went down. However it went down, it did clearly affect him and was a huge turning point in his life.
What can you preview about Ward and 33’s plan for Bakshi, now that they’ve busted him out of Talbot’s (Adrian Pasdar) custody?
We are starting a boy band called Bakshi’s Boys … Like, “Bakshi’s back, all right!” and it’s kind of a rip-off … We’re trying to be N’Sync with each other and turn up the heat to 98 Degrees … I was stalling because I don’t know how to answer that question. [Laughs.] It appears that, at the end of this episode, Ward might have two people looking up to him for direction or guidance. But what he decides to do with that is going to be the question for the next couple of episodes. Because clearly, he does have some people listening to what he’s saying, and on that end, he’s kind of on the other side of where he was in season one. The student has, in a way, become the teacher. He was always the one listening to orders from Agent Garrett and needing someone else to tell him what to do. Now he’s wrestled with those demons. He’s on the other side of that and he has a kind of clarity that now maybe he can impart, and other people are listening to. So it’s an interesting role reversal. I’m proud of him. I’m not talking in the third person, but I’m proud of him as a character, moving his life forward. There’s some pretty big things he dealt with and I’m proud of him for getting through it all. [Laughs.]
He doesn’t know what’s happened to Skye yet; how do you think he’ll handle the news when he eventually discovers her powers, since people with special abilities have never seemed to bother him much?
He’s seen a lot of super-powered people before. He’s familiar with the Index, so it’s not like he’s never seen these powers before. But there is a weird connection here that I was going to try and transition into… In season one, I was something all along that nobody else knew I was and now Skye is in that same position. She is finding out that she was someone other than what everyone else thought she was, other than the person everyone else thought she was. And so, in a way, we’ve both been a part of a group that we are a part of and yet at the same time keeping a secret from.
Skye didn’t know any of that stuff. She was piecing it together as she went, but now that she does know, it’s going to force the whole group to, I would imagine, reevaluate how they feel about this particular person, much like they did with me. With me, it was kind of like they voted and I got cast off. That was a pretty easy decision, but for her maybe it’ll be different. Maybe she’ll have more sympathy for me and the position that I was in. Or maybe she’ll just pick up a gun again and shoot off another couple of rounds. You never know. [Laughs.]
“Agents of SHIELD” airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on ABC.
What do you think Ward and 33’s plan for Bakshi is? Do you think Ward can be trusted? Weigh in below.