Is Ward Really Dead? What’s Next for Agents of SHIELD

Explaining what the shocking twist ending means for the show and where Agents of SHIELD may go in the second half of the season.

Agent Ward returns.

Agent Ward returns.

Is Ward really dead? That’s the question that’s on everyone’s mind. If there’s one thing that Agents of SHIELD isn’t afraid of, it’s surprising the audience. Fans have all but come to expect a big twist at the end of a season or before the mid-season break, but nobody expected this week’s episode to end like it did. So where will things go from here?

After the shocking twist at the end of the mid-season finale, “Maveth,” we are left with Coulson having apparently killed Grant Ward and the ancient Inhuman entity that Hydra worships using Ward’s form. This is the reason that some fans aren’t sure whether Ward is really gone… after all, is Ward really dead if we’re going to continue seeing his character in the remainder of the season? Could this bring about a new evolution for the character? Or is Ward just a temporary form that will be cast aside down the road?

Who is Grant Ward?

Ward's death at Coulson's hand.

Ward’s death at Coulson’s hand.

Ever since it was revealed that Ward was a member of Hydra, fans have been speculating about whether he would eventually be revealed as a character already familiar from the comics. The primary target of this speculation was the villain known as Taskmaster, a character who often trained other bad guys and who had the ability to copy the moves of others after seeing them fight. It was easy to see Ward in the training role for Hydra, but that idea seemed to come to a violent end when he ran afoul of Coulson’s robotic hand.

Is Ward really dead, though? The Entity seemed convincing when he was in Will’s form, so it’s likely that at least some part of Ward still exists within him. This could be just in the form of memories that the Entity can access, or it could be a separate personality held within the Inhuman. Either way, it would mean that at least some part of Ward survived his death at Coulson’s hand. If there’s at least some part of Ward left within the Entity using his form, we can assume that this isn’t just a temporary form for the entity and is instead the next evolution of Ward’s character.

Coming into his power

The Entity is capable of sustaining even a heavily damaged body.

The Entity is capable of sustaining even a heavily damaged body.

If some part of Ward’s core personality is going to continue after the midseason finale, we’ll likely see him develop new powers to go along with his formidable combat abilities. This could actually be the step that develops him into a character from the comics, similar to how both Deathlok and Quake had long setups to their development. Agents of SHIELD has a history of playing the long game with its comic characters, so if Ward is going to be a major villain then Marvel’s going to take its time and keep fans guessing.

There’s still a possibility that Ward could develop into Taskmaster, too. The Inhuman Entity could augment his combat prowess and give him the move-mimicking ability of Taskmaster in the comics, along with a few other MCU-exclusive abilities. It could even help Ward to develop Taskmaster’s skull face (though it’s just a mask in the comics) to make him a more fearsome opponent. This would even fit in with the Entity’s death motif. Lead characters in the show to stop asking, “Is Ward really dead?” and start asking, “Is Ward really Death?” Which, let’s face it, would be pretty cool.

Is Ward really dead after all?

A body-jumping entity would present a bigger problem for the SHIELD team.

A body-jumping entity would present a bigger problem for the SHIELD team.

Let’s assume for a moment that the character of Ward is really gone, though. If that’s true, then we’ll probably see actor Brett Dalton for a few episodes in the second half of the season and will see him either killed again or cast aside by the Inhuman Entity before the season finale. While it would scuttle the possibility of Ward becoming an established character, it could make for some very interesting storytelling.

Instead of fighting a powered-up version of a foe they know, the SHIELD team would have to fight an enemy that could take on the form of countless strangers. We might even see the team employing Lash to track the Entity down (though good money is on him being part of the final battle regardless). A season without Ward would be more intense, even if it did mean that Ward’s really dead in the Marvel universe.

What about the Agents?

Even victory can hurt.

Even victory can hurt.

Ward isn’t the only one affected by the twist in the mid-season finale, of course. Several members of the core team will likely face fallout from the episode, regardless of whether Ward is really dead. The quick glance at the end of the episode suggests that Coulson and Fitz will likely have trust issues to deal with moving forward, and Simmons is going to have a lot to deal with when she finds out the truth about Will. And that’s not counting the rest of the team that had to battle against the Inhumans.

Even though some people felt that the season started off slow and was a bit too hung up on the Inhumans storyline, the mid-season finale brought everything to a head and set up a pretty major conflict against Hydra and the Inhuman Entity/Ward in the second half of the season. Regardless of how that turns out, though, we can expect the season finale to serve up another twist that we won’t see coming.