Everybody’s favorite agent/traitor/aggregate of megalomaniacal parasitic cells is back on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and, as is typical for Grant Ward, nobody’s quite sure whose side he’s on. Ward is dead in the real world, so is Ward in the Framework the same manipulative monster, or is he actually a good man who won’t turn on Daisy like he has so many times before? We talked with Brett Dalton about his character, who has now had more returns than Best Buy the day after Christmas.
A lot of people are referencing The Matrix when talking about this Framework reality that the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents find themselves in, but Dalton likens it to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, where humans stumble into a forest and fall into the mischievous hands of magical fairies. “It’s not the real world, but it’s kind of the real world,” he explains. “And things can happen that obviously will affect the real world once you return to it. It’s an opportunity for characters to come back to life; for storylines to intersect that normally wouldn’t or that we’ve turned a corner on. Anything can happen.”
Of course, one of those storylines is the twisted relationship between Ward and Daisy (do we still call it SkyeWard, or should we be saying GrantSy now?), which takes on interesting new dimensions because we don’t really know who this Grant Ward is.
“I’m picking and choosing with his back story,” says Dalton when asked about Ward’s motivations. Not even he can say for sure whether or not his character can be fully trusted because, of course, in the first season, he didn’t know he had always been a Hydra agent until around the same time that everyone else found out. “I’ve been given some information and some of it will be revealed as well,” says Dalton, but odds are good that we’ll be kept guessing until the very last. “When they told me I was coming back as Grant Ward, not as Hive, I was very excited about that. Hive was cool, but he was a little quiet and a little too world domination-y to explore. But Ward is someone who deserves much more storyline because he is such a complex character that it just pays off.”
In the Framework, everybody gets his or her greatest regret taken away. For May, it was killing the little girl in Bahrain; for Coulson, it means getting to be a teacher instead of a spy. But what is Ward’s biggest regret? Is it something big enough that the entirety of his character becomes different? We’ve seen glimpses of his horrible childhood in the past. Has the Framework removed enough scars to make him, for lack of a better word, good? Or will his working as a double agent for S.H.I.E.L.D. turn out to be a ruse — just another in a long line of betrayals?
“There are one or two switches that are turned off that [old] Grant Ward had turned on,” muses Dalton about his new self. He won’t come out and say which regret was erased, but here’s what he will say: “There are hints — not in the Framework episodes necessarily — but if you were to go back to some of the storylines with Grant Ward’s past, there are events that come up more than once that will give you a fairly good idea. The breadcrumbs are there.”
As for the actor himself, Dalton is glad that he gets to erase a regret of his own. “There got to a point where I was too much of a perfectionist about my work.” He says he would dwell on what went wrong, and what could have been if they had just done one more take “I was holding on too tight to a lot of things,” he says. Then he realized, “I needed to have more fun. I needed to get out of my head and stop thinking so much.” When it came time for Ward to return yet again, Dalton told himself, “This time when I go back, I’m going to enjoy every second. This is a blessing to have another shot at this and a character that I love.” Maybe life in the Framework isn’t so bad after all.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on ABC. Watch clips and full episodes of MAOS for free on Yahoo View.
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