Warning: This post contains spoilers for the first 10 episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s third season. If you are not caught up on the series, I advise you to turn away now.
When Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns in a few days, it will do so with a brand new version of Ward. Following the events on Maveth, it looked like we had seen the end of the character. Even with Ward himself dying, his body will live on as the embodiment of Hive.
This is not the first time Brett Dalton will have to change his performance. He started off playing S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Ward, then became traitor Ward, the leader of Hydra, and now the oldest Inhuman. Becoming a whole new character will be his biggest challenged yet, and meant saying goodbye to the character he grew into over the course of three seasons.
Dalton spoke to Comic Book Resources about what the change means for him and if Ward is still in there somewhere. It should not be a surprise that he is going to miss playing Ward.
I was very attached, and I still am very attached to this character. I think it was particularly kind of an emotional moment because they had given him such good stuff leading up to Episode 10 of Season Three, where he died on Maveth — or, I should say, where Coulson crushes and that whole… thing happens. Episode 9 was called “Closure,” there’s so much beautiful stuff that happened. I got a really nice couple of ‘attaboys from the EPs, “You’re bringing so much to it,” I think they knew that Episode 10 was coming up. [Laughter] It was a point where I was really feeling some closure myself with the character and like, “Man, I’m finally starting to get this guy.” And then this whole thing happens…
It’s a beautiful act out, it’s great for a midseason finale, but it also then is a new set of challenges/opportunity for when we pick this up and return in March. It’s fun, it’s cool, it’s all good, but really I was at a point where I was all, “You know what, third season, I’m really starting to love this guy.” And then this whole thing happened. I think it’s a good thing, it’s a new, crazy thing that the writers are doing and I don’t think they make any easy choices. It seems that they really are trying to push the envelope here.
Now that he is no longer Ward, it will require Dalton to reinvent the way he plays his role. He is not worried about changing it up, instead looking at it as a blessing to test his abilities.
Oh, I don’t know, trying to say “Yes and” rather than “No but,” but that’s really it. And I’ve taken all of these things as opportunities. I know that I said earlier, they all have their own new sets of challenges and stuff, but it is an opportunity every time. And look, I’m on a network TV show and more or less I’ve gotten to play a different character every time, which is beautiful.
So this is great, as an actor you couldn’t ask for anything more, and you know, I’m just very thankful for these opportunities. I could be on a lawyer show or a doctor show, and be very close to where I started.
The biggest question that remains is if Ward’s mind, memories, feelings, and thoughts are still somewhere in his body and how that could affect Hive. It sounds like no one has the answer to that yet, as even Hydra themselves do not totally understand what they have brought back.
These are the same questions that [Gideon] Malick has, and Malick is asking the same things in his head. And also, you’ll see there’s a lot going on, because this is a weird thing — Hydra has existed for centuries trying to bring this creature back, and they’ve been unsuccessful until now. And so, there’s this whole build up about ‘what’s HYDRA going to do’ and all of this stuff. And now that we’ve done it — okay, now what? What does this mean exactly? What are this guy’s intentions? Do they line up with the people on Earth and Malick and his intentions? How much Ward is left in there? Or is it just ‘it’ in the body of Ward? There’s a million questions here that we’re all kind of asking at the same time. So Malick, in a way, becomes the audience’s lens through that whole thing.
Episode 3×11, “Bouncing Back“, of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will air on Tuesday at 9 p.m. EST on ABC.