Is There Room for a Grant Ward Redemption Arc on ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’?

Brett Dalton, Agents of SHIELDABC Television Network

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. made quite the bold move when they revealed that strong-but-silent (not to mention super handsome) Agent Grant Ward was actually a mole for HYDRA. Few saw it coming – though as Skye pointed out, he does have a touch of Hitler Youth about him.

Fans all over the interwebs have noted each of Grant’s (played by Brett Dalton) subsequent killings with a solemn “There’s no coming back from that.” He has shot Victoria Hand point blank, slaughtered several miscellaneous agents, strangled the beloved Patton Oswalt-portrayed Agent Koenig, and most recently, dumped FitzSimmmons into the ocean… and the body count continues to grow. As Skye notes (she has a lot to say about her evil almost-paramour) he’s become quite the serial killer.

It may seem that so many cold blooded killings would be hard to come back from, but it’s starting to look like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. might just be headed for a redemption arc: this week’s episode paints Grant as somewhat sympathetic, seeking to highlight his yet untapped capacity for empathy (or as Garrett calls it, “a weakness”). We’re encouraged to sympathize with Ward after we see how brutally Garrett indoctrinated him from a very young age – after years of trials, including surviving alone in the woods for six months, Garrett forces him to kill his one loyal companion, Buddy. But does Ward actually do it? To me, it read as ambiguous, just as his treatment of FitzSimmons does. He speaks of his so-called “weakness” when he ejects their pod into the ocean, but A) they didn’t fall very far, and B) they’re more than smart enough to find a way out of the locked container, a fact that Ward should be well aware of. I’m not condoning the fact that he just dumped his two most adorable former friends into a situation worthy of Houndini, but the ambiguity of it all points to Ward eventually switching back to the good team.

There’s also his love of Skye to consider – a love that he confides to evil bro/mentor Garrett, is genuine. And as much hullabaloo has been made about the Skye/Ward relationship (according to Chloe Bennet, they’re soulmates), it would make sense that we might just be going down the “true love conquers all” route.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for true love – but will the Skye/Ward-together-at-last satisfaction be worth the capital A Angst that is sure to follow? He’s always been something of an angsty guy, and to borrow a phrase from Agent Romanov, he’s sure going to have a lot of “red in his ledger” to atone for if he comes out of this mess a good guy. Surely it will take at least a half-season of angry outbursts, silent tears, and sullen silence if he ditches HYDRA for S.H.I.E.L.D., and is that really something we want? Besides, he makes such a charming-yet-incorrigible villain!

What do you think?