Oh Grant Ward, you've been a bad, bad boy. Seriously. A vengeful, homicidal bad boy.
After the Hydra henchman murdered Rosalind Price (Constance Zimmer) in last week's episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., he spurred a grief-stricken Coulson (Clark Gregg) into revenge-mode, setting the two on a path towards one another that's due for a collision on Hydra's mysterious alien planet in tonight's midseason finale. And according to the man himself, Brett Dalton, Ward's villainous actions aren't going to be so easy to rebound from.
"That was a really bad thing that he did," he tells E! News with a laugh. "It's hard to recover from that, for sure."
You can say that again.
And while he doesn't see a chance for any redemption in the traditional sense, Dalton says he doesn't view Ward as a complete lost cause. "I think what makes that character so interesting in the first place is that the writers have done a really good job of giving enough moments of humanity that you see this guy is very much human, who doesn't suffer from a lack of feeling, but too much feeling, who actually does have…empathy," he says.
"There's a lost kid in there looking for a greater sense of longing and purpose, and we see all that stuff in a quote-unquote villain, and so I think there has to be that in there. I still believe there is, but I'm totally biased. I believe that's in there and I think that's what makes him interesting in the first place. I would like to say there's always a chance at redemption, but it probably will not be the kind of redemption where, you know, he joins the team, everything is zipped up nice and tight and he's indespensible now and has proven himself and everybody sits down with milk and cookies. Probably not, no."
That lost kid looking for purpose may have finally found some (however misguided it may be) thanks to Hydra leader Gideon Malick (Powers Boothe) and his quest to bring the original Inhuman back to Earth from the alien planet. In last week's episode, Malick urged Ward to look beyond his simple drive for revenge and accept a role in Hydra's larger plan.
"It's kind of fun and interesting to see Ward, who's so hyper-focused on his goals to suddenly look up and see that it's not just one tree. He's actually in a forest. There's a million different things and there's a larger picture out there," Dalton adds. "He sees himself, I think, as the hero of his own story, and we saw glimpses, in [last week's episode,] when Coulson was interrogating his former band mates, they were telling about how he sees himself as this protector. And there's this whole inner story going on in his own head. So, in a way, he sees himself not just the hero of his own story, but the hero of Hydra's story, which is a centuries-long story. So, it's a pretty cool thing to see him go from the narrow into this macro view of things. And that's what allows him to jump through the portal, too, seeing things differently."
As for how the reality of tonight's finale, which Dalton describes as "epic, but also explosive and unexpected," matches up with the story in Ward's head? Well, you're just going to have to watch and find out. And for Dalton's take on the major reveals, be sure to check back with us after the episode airs!
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on ABC.