When Daisy woke up inside the Framework (the virtual reality created by the show's resident mad scientist, Dr. Holden Radcliffe) in the most recent episode of "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," she was surprised to discover a man in her life -- or more specifically -- her bed. The man was not Lincoln Campbell, as she had hoped, but Grant Ward, the fallen Hydra agent who previously trained and betrayed her.
When "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." returns for the final six episodes of its fourth season, Grant Ward will officially be back among the (cyber) living. He, Daisy and Agent May all work for Hydra, the organization that "saved America," at least according to a recently released promotional poster."
Ward's reintroduction to the show was a huge surprise, considering he was killed by Hive on the planet Maveth last season, so when the press caught up with Brett Dalton at WonderCon, we were eager to learn how he felt when he was invited back to participate in this storyline. "It was great to get the phone call, it’s great to know that I’m still loved on the set," Dalton enthused. "[Maurissa Tancharoen] had mentioned the possibility at the end of Season 3, like hey, you never know... and then as it started getting further and further towards the thing, I was like, 'Oh, man this is never going to happen.'"
Dalton was not featured at all in the first fifteen episodes of the season, even in flashbacks or any promotional material. As such, like many previous "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." stars, the actor was considered by most fans to be done with the series completely -- but executive producers Jed Whedon and Tancharoen had other plans for Dalton. "When I got the call, [Tancharoen] told me about the story. I kind of knew where this was going to go, and I was like, 'Oh, that’s fantastic!' There are so many more stories to tell about Grant Ward."
Asked how Framework Grant Ward will differ from S.H.I.E.L.D. Ward, Hydra Ward and Hive Ward, Dalton deferred to Whedon, who explained, "The thing that we love about Grant Ward and the thing that Brett plays so well is that he lives in a gray area." Asked about the fan reaction to Ward's return, Whedon said, "There’s a lot of mixed feelings about Ward. Anytime anything happens to this character, we are both cheered and booed for doing it, because so many people love to hate him, and hate to love him."
"I think we will have some familiar feelings about Grant Ward where we’re not sure how we feel, which is again our goal," Whedon added. "We use Brett’s likability against the audience, and there’s an expectation now with his character that you didn’t have when you first met him which we’ll also use against the audience. So the answer is we can’t tell you [what Ward will be like in the Framework], but have fun." Indeed, Dalton's likability is what drew many fans to his character in Season 1. When he was revealed to be a sleeper Hydra agent embedded within Coulson's team, many fans turned on the character.
What's even more interesting about Ward's return is that he's not a real person -- he is a creation of the Framework, designed not for Hydra, but for Daisy. Their relationship will be a key testing point for Daisy as she's given a second chance with a man she at one point may have loved. Whatever direction the show takes with Ward, Dalton guaranteed he "was on board from the very beginning," so it will be fascinating to watch this unpredictable character come back to the show when the stakes inside the Framework are so high for Daisy.
Returning Tuesday, April 4 at 10 pm ET/PT on ABC, “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” stars Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson, Chloe Bennet as Daisy “Quake” Johnson, Ming-Na Wen as Melinda May, Iain De Caestecker as Leo Fitz, Elizabeth Henstridge as Jemma Simmons, Henry Simmons as Alphonso “Mack” Mackenzie and more.