Saying goodbye to a beloved character is always hard but it’s also really cathartic. Loving Grant Ward has been a roller coaster of emotions over the course of two and a half seasons for me. I’ve loved him from the start, through the good times and bad, without ever wavering in that love.
Even though I’ll always wish he’d been given a different trajectory and that he’d been written with a little more care, I still love this character now as much as I did when I was first introduced to him. To be honest, I probably love him more today than I did back then.
These three moments are just a few of the many moments that Grant Ward continuously smuggled his way into my heart. And that’s a place where I will keep him forever.
Ward jumps out of The Bus to save Jemma Simmons (Episode 1×06: F.Z.Z.T.)
Although the show later tried to retcon Ward’s intentions for saving one half of Fitzsimmons, I still firmly believe that this was a genuine heroic moment for Grant Ward. The entire episode showed us that he felt helpless in regards to what was happening to his teammate, and he was angry about that feeling. We saw him telling Skye this, and we now know that Grant Ward never lied to Skye. Ward was always a man of action. He could jump in front of bullets to protect his team from certain death, but he couldn’t come up with a cure for a disease he did not understand. When the alarms blared to notify everyone on that plane that the cargo hold was opening, instinct took over and he did what he knew best, facing the kind of danger he did understand head on, jumping out of that plane.
Some want to believe that this was all an act and that Ward was simply trying to gain the team’s trust. In the moment, however, the show didn’t give the character a moment to think anything through. He reacted first and asked questions later. When Ward jumped out of the plane he didn’t even know if he was jumping with the actual cure in his hand, and his parachute wasn’t properly secured. Ward could have been jumping to his own death, or become infected himself if the cure didn’t work. I’ve always said he could have jumped and still let Simmons die. The effect would have still been the same. The team would have still seen an act of heroism and believed that he tried to save her. In the context of the risks to himself, it just never made any sense for Ward to actually save Simmons if it’s true that he was playing the team all along. Why not just let her die, ensuring one less person to worry about whilst keeping his cover? I believe that the idea of losing Simmons was unacceptable to Ward in that moment, and I still believe that is what drove him to jump out of that plane.
Ward grew fond of these people. He started to love them. All Grant Ward ever wanted was to be a good fit. He wanted a family. He wanted companionship. He just didn’t feel he deserved any of that. This is why it wasn’t very much of a surprise to later find out that he chose Garrett over the team. Garrett was the easy choice. Admitting that these strangers got under his skin was harder. To this day, this is still one of my favorite moments for the character and from the series as a whole.
Ward asks Coulson to take him off the case because the effects of the Berserker Staff are clouding his judgment (Episode 1×08: The Well)
This season 1 episode was our first glimpse into Grant Ward’s dark history. We watched the Berserker Staff uncover some traumatic memories, and we saw how much it affected him. The moment when Grant walked into Coulson’s office, almost begging to be taken off the case, was a heartbreaking one. To me, this felt like the first time he was opening up about his past to someone that he should have been able to trust. Instead of honoring his wishes, Coulson used Grant, exploiting the effects of the staff to get their Asgardian prisoner to talk. This was the first moment when we saw how expendable Grant was to Coulson. Over the course of the series, we’ve seen how disposable many of the team have become to Coulson. What if Coulson had listened to Ward? What if he’d paid attention to the red flags? What if Phil “Double Standards” Coulson had done what SHIELD was initially created to do? Coulson claimed he was ready to protect the world, but he never cared about protecting his own team. This moment highlights that perfectly.
I wish that this had been the turning point Grant Ward needed. Things could have been so different if Coulson had taken a closer look at the man standing in his office. If only Coulson had realized that Ward was still a scared little kid being haunted by the sins of his past. Skye recognized it and, on some level, so did May (mostly because she could relate). The one person that should have seen it never did. When Coulson did finally realize what was going on beneath the surface, he was too far gone to care. Sadly, unlike other fantasy shows, Coulson doesn’t get a do-over (unless you’re talking about the resurrection that has still never been fully explained within the series to this day). Looking back on it now, there are so many layers to this short conversation that I missed the first time around. An Agent on his team came to Coulson for help and, instead of granting that Agent’s wishes, he used that Agent’s weakness to his advantage. I should have known this was the beginning of the end. I was so naïve back then.
Fitz confronts Ward in the vault (Episode 2×03: How To Make Friends and Influence People)
The moment that Fitz found Grant Ward imprisoned in Vault D is definitely one that will stay with me forever. The two hadn’t seen each other since Ward pushed Fitzsimmons out of the plane in the previous season. While many fans understood that he was trying to save the science duo, a lot of viewers weren’t so sure. In the previous season, we got confirmation from Fitz that the medical pod that they’d been in was designed to float. It should have served as a lifeboat once it hit the ocean surface. But the seals failed, and the pod sank to the bottom of the ocean. The ensuing escape led to Fitz’s disability (one that the show quickly forgot about when it was no longer a necessary plot device to vilify Ward), and one of the show’s most heartbreaking scenes.
Fitz and Ward were more than just friends, or even good friends. They were like brothers. Their relationship was definitely loved by a large portion of the audience. Even though we understood why Fitz would suck the oxygen out of Ward’s cell, we were still relieved that he didn’t kill the man in cold blood. When Ward tried to explain his reasoning for pushing FitzSimmons out of the plane, we saw that on some level Fitz understood it too. Ward made a call. That’s what he was trained to do. Fitz could never forgive Ward for what he did, but he could finally get some closure about what happened.
Coulson later confronted Fitz about what he did to Ward. Fitz claims not to regret his actions because he wanted Ward to feel what he felt. But he also couldn’t kill Ward. Fitz isn’t like Ward. He’s not a trained killer. When Fitz later witnesses Coulson take Grant Ward’s life in cold blood, we’re instantly tossed back into that moment between the Director and his young Agent, because Fitz witnessed Coulson cross the line to become Ward. And the ramifications of that are going to stick with the young scientist forever. Even in death, Grant Ward is still going to haunt and torment his old team. I’m glad.