SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for “Maveth,” the midseason finale of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
In “Maveth,” the recently aired midseason finale of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” Director Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) exacted his revenge and killed turncoat former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Grant Ward (Brett Dalton), crushing him to death with his prosthetic hand. Unfortunately for Coulson, that death didn’t exactly stick — and the new Ward may just be worse and more powerful than ever, now that he’s possessed by the Beast. Despite S.H.I.E.L.D.’s efforts to the contrary, they’ve set the Beast loose on Earth, and now it’s wearing a familiar, loathed face.
Brett Dalton, who plays the ever-changing Grant Ward, shared just why this shift in Ward’s status quo is bittersweet, his character’s new journey, what it was like to be killed by Clark Gregg and more.
CBR News: This is a huge status quo change for Ward. When did you find out this was going to happen?
Brett Dalton: Much like the big reveal that happened in season one, I found out about the episode before that this character was going in a different direction. Not a ton of heads up, but — as I have found on this show — that is a blessing rather than a curse, because you have to play these moments as they come, one step at a time, and as truthfully as you can. It doesn’t necessarily help to know, “Oh! By the way, this is what’s up ahead for you,” or “By the way, you know all those things that you did? Well, actually it was because you were a spy and that was all to enact some greater scheme that you had in mind.” So it’s actually a blessing to not know all that stuff.
You know, this is a new direction — obviously [laughs] — and this is something that is a very big departure and, in some ways, harder to do than the original turn. Regardless, I’m very thankful that this particular character has had such a journey, because I feel like I’ve gotten to play three different characters, a new character each season almost, and that’s a real blessing to have such an arc and such a range of things I get to do with the same character.
Over the course of the show, Ward has descended deeper and deeper into villainy. Do you see this latest shift as the end of his journey or more as his next evolution?
That’s a difficult thing to answer! I think that, when we leave him, Grant Ward’s journey has ended. Grant Ward’s journey ends on Maveth. We know in the episode that he — his body — dies there and, yes, he comes back somehow, miraculously, as Will did. It looks like Ward’s journey could be coming to an end, but there’s a new journey ahead.
You’ve worked with Clark Gregg for quite a while now. What was going through your head when you were filming the scene where Ward died by his hand?
His hand! [Laughs] No, that was my chest. It was kind of an emotional sort of thing, to be perfectly honest. Even though Brett Dalton is still alive and I get to continue Grant Ward’s journey after this — I’m not being killed off the show — it was still sad because that version of Grant Ward is dead, and I had really gotten attached to it! We’re going to see some colors, we’re going to see some of these things come back, but Grant Ward as we know him is no longer.
When you see him again, it’s something entirely different, and I had gotten quite attached to where he was, that version, especially with the last couple episodes: episode eight, episode nine and a lot in episode 10. We saw a lot of things being brought back; episode nine was called “Closure,” you saw his younger brother, there was a lot of loose ends that were tied up, a lot of vulnerabilities that we saw, a lot of different colors.
There’s this whole really big push before episode 10; there was a lot of Ward on screen, and we saw a lot of different aspects of him before this thing happened. It was kind of bittersweet. Right when we got to “Aw, man, we’re really getting to know this character!” and then that character ends! It was a little bittersweet. So I was thinking the whole time about how this is one of the last scenes I’m going to do as human Grant Ward.
For all appearances, Grant Ward is dead — but the Beast seems to be able to retain the memories of its hosts. Can you maybe give us a little tease of what this hybrid entity’s personality is like?
It’s convincing enough that Fitz, who is quite smart, was unable to detect that it was not Will. Obviously, he had no frame of reference with before-Will and after-Will; he just had that version of him. I think [the Beast] is as convincing as he needs to be to get the job done, and in some ways mirrors a lot of Ward’s own skillset. He’ll get the job done, so he’ll be as charming as he needs. For example, when [Ward] was trying to get into Baron von Strucker’s vault, he was as charming as he needed to be in order to get into the cabin and to get the whole bottles drank so he could keep himself warm on the way out. [The Beast] will be able to adapt, and in that way they have a similar skillset. He’ll get it done.
The Beast has been seen possessing people and controlling the weather, among other things. Are you looking forward to having superpowers?
I can understand why I would get that question and people would think that… I’m excited for this new version of Ward and the opportunities that it gives me as an actor and also as a character on a show, getting to affect another storyline that’s really cool. It’s a very exciting position to be in.
“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” will return in March 2016 to ABC.
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