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If you haven't seen Episode 17, turn back now.


When

Agent Ward

reveals himself to be Hydra in Episode 17 Turn, Turn, Turn. He had given every indication of being a genuinely committed member of Coulson's team. The plot seems to make as much sense with anyone else on that team.

I have been trying to think of any hints or connections about his allegiance happened in the sixteen preceding episodes.


(1) Is there a wink, a misplaced word, a funny look, anything that might have hinted at this turn of events?

(2) Likewise, are there any past events that don't quite add up in light of this twist?

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    The one that sticks out to me is that two episodes earlier, in Yes Men, Grant was completely bewitched by Lorelei for several days, during which time they had intimate conversations while Grant was basically in "screw SHIELD" mode. It seems likely that he would have shared information about his allegiance with Lorelei during that time. Too bad they had to silence Lorelei to stop her, otherwise she might have been able to warn them. I might have to go back and rewatch to see if there are any odd looks or moments at the end after she is captured. – Kevin Oct 5 '17 at 16:50
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Agent Ward is working as an undercover agent of HYDRA. So, you shouldn't be surprised if he was acting fully loyal to Coulson and the team. Hiding one's original identity is very critical to any undercover agent.

Is there a wink, a misplaced word, a funny look, anything that might have hinted at this turn of events?

Yes. Agent Ward killed the fake Clairvoyant in one of the previous episodes. At that time, it was concluded that Agent Ward was under the influence of emotion. But, in reality, he was under the command of the real Clairvoyant.

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    There is also the foreshadowing when he turns hostile in an earlier episode due to the effects of the Asguard women's voice. – Nick Jun 30 '14 at 10:02
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    @Nick That wouldn't be counted as he was under influence of others. Fits became puppet too. – user931 Jun 30 '14 at 10:45
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    I didn't mean it was a hint, I meant it was foreshadowing in the literary sense. :) It prepares the viewer for what is to come. Fitz was a pretty ineffective puppet compared to Ward! – Nick Jun 30 '14 at 10:49
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    @Nick Adding to this, in the episode where Lorelei takes Ward over, he continues trying to kill Agent May AFTER the collar has been placed on Lorelei, blocking her ability to control people. Seems that Ward actively tried to kill his biggest threat in the confusion. – Dr R Dizzle Oct 14 '14 at 11:08
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SS's answer is correct, in that being able to hide your loyalty is important for any secret agent, but there's another important element at play here:

Hydra was SHIELD

People talk a lot about Hydra "infiltrating" SHIELD, or Hydra agents "pretending" to be SHIELD agents. But that's really a false premise: Hydra agents were SHIELD agents. Fully authorized, without any deception or false pretense. Hell, SHIELD was run by a Hydra agent, as we see in Cap2.

Hydra had been a part of SHIELD ever since Zola was brought over after World War 2, which means that it's been almost since the very beginning. The history of SHIELD includes Hydra, SHIELD missions routinely served Hydra's aims, for decades. For all intents and purposes, SHIELD missions were Hydra missions: they were the same organization. Think of it like the American Civil War: just because a Union officer joined the Confederates in 1861 doesn't mean he wasn't a Union officer in 1860. His loyalties were with one side, but before the split the two sides were one. Being loyal to his home state and being loyal to his home country meant the same thing, until they didn't anymore.

Agent Ward seemed loyal to Coulson's team because he was loyal. He was a SHIELD agent. It was only when Hydra split from SHIELD that people had to pick sides, and he went with Hydra. But before the split, Ward was a loyal SHIELD agent, and Coulson was (albeit unknowingly) a very productive and valuable asset of Hydra's.

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    I'd generally agree with you - but I wouldn't say that they were fully authorized without any deception or false pretense. As was evident in Cap 2 and Agents of SHIELD, there were plenty of SHIELD agents who had no idea that their friends/co-workers were HYDRA. There was plenty of deception and false pretense there. – phantom42 Apr 30 '15 at 19:19
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    @phantom42 I didn't mean they kept no secrets, I meant that their SHIELD status was fully legitimate. They didn't lie on their applications, or fake their test scores. They didn't forge documents or steal ID badges, they met all the qualifications and went through all the training. It's true that they held secret fascist political beliefs, but they were fully-authorized SHIELD agents, official and legitimate. They weren't "pretending" to be anything, other than nice people. – Nerrolken Apr 30 '15 at 19:36
  • @Nerrolken, each member of the U.S. armed forces swears to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic". I suspect SHIELD agents swore to something similar; if so, the Hydra agents lied. – Paul Draper Sep 17 '15 at 18:08
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    @PaulDraper I think my Civil War analogy still applies: a Union soldier who joined the Confederates was renouncing his oath to the USA, but he wasn't lying when he made it. A Hydra agent who broke from SHIELD would be betraying his team, but he was probably sincerely loyal to SHIELD before the split. He simply had other loyalties as well, just like the hypothetical Union soldier who loved America, but loved Virginia more. It was only when forced to decide that the two came into conflict. – Nerrolken Sep 22 '15 at 13:30
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I just watched season 1 episode 14. The first episode where John Garrett appears. Tripp is talking to Coulson about committing to stuff and convincing others to do stuff when Garrett and Ward walk in - Garret says to them "you wouldn't believe the stuff I was able to get him to do" about Ward and nods to him and they share a confirming glance. This was the only foreshadow I noticed saw when I was binging recently.

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One thing I noticed was in Season 1 Episode 15 when Ward and May were fighting, the fight ends with Ward pulling the trigger of the gun pointed at May's face and it clicks. That's because May removed the mag. Right after that he comes out of the trance he was in but if you look at everything he should have come out before he ever pulled the trigger. This was a small indication that Ward was Hydra but you would only realize that after it was revealed.

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  • It's been a while since I've seen the episode, but it's the one where Ward, among others, is under the sway of Lorelei. Why should he have come out of the trance before pulling the trigger? Had everyone else under her control been released before that point, or could he have still been under her control? – RDFozz Jun 27 '18 at 20:01
  • Lady Sif had already placed the Asgardian device upon Lorelei's mouth that she later explains stops the power from working. From the way she was talking she made it sound like it would immediately cancel the effects. But there's a good 2 minutes + between when she puts the device on her and when Ward finally says he's normal Ward. And the creators said there were things Ward did that would look suspicious after you knew he was Hydra. – LankySmurph Jun 28 '18 at 4:45
  • Excellent clarification - thanks!. – RDFozz Jun 28 '18 at 15:37

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