Warning: This post contains spoilers for the “Maveth” episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Ward’s death on the midseason finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was shocking — made more so by the sickening crunch that accompanied Coulson snapping the bones of his ribcage — but we learned, minutes later, that his death didn’t actually mean actor Brett Dalton is done with the show.
The “beast” that Hydra has been trying to bring back from the alien world all season (well, technically, for thousands of years) now possesses Ward’s body, and he will definitely be back when the show returns in March. We spoke to Dalton about the change, what he and his body’s new occupant have in common, and what we can look forward to from him the rest of the season.
So you actually died this time around. Are you ever worried that they’ll kill you permanently? Or is Ward so inextricably linked with the S.H.I.E.L.D. team that he’ll never leave completely?
I’m constantly in fear — [Laughs.] — that they will, all of a sudden, change their mind, forget about the contract, and just completely off me on the show.
Because that particular character changes so often, I’ve got to play a different character every season. There have been a couple of weird close calls in there too. In the midseason finale of Season 2, Skye shoots me in the chest, and if it weren’t for Agent 33 picking me up, there was the suggestion that maybe he was going to bleed out there. So there have been a couple of really close calls, but thankfully, you turn a couple more pages and find out he’s still alive.
So to answer your question: constantly. But that’s more of a Brett thing than it is anything else. I think the character has gotten the response that he’s gotten because he started off as good guy. It’s not just some bad guy of the week or whatever. He started off as a good guy; he was literally part of the team. And it wasn’t just that he double-crossed them. Now he’s doing a hell of a lot more than just double-crossing: Now he is the opposing force to the team that he was originally a part of.
We kind of got to know and love the character — I hope that the audience did? So he carries with him all the history of the entire first season. I think it’s kind of cool that we get that for free every time he’s on screen; we get all the cool stuff he’s done in the past. It’s fun. I’m blessed. Hashtag blessed. [Laughs.] Don’t print that! Don’t print that!
So this is an entirely new guy? Do you have an idea of how much Ward is left in there, or is it all this Hydra god?
Well, I wouldn’t say a total reset. Will was also playing this particular character in Episode 10; he was being occupied by this thing as well. I wouldn’t say he’s the most outgoing, affable, [or] got a great sense of humor, but enough to convince somebody like Fitz to get him to where he needs to be.
In a way, they have a similar skill set. It’s convincing enough for that being to get the job done. Ward has a lot of these things, too. He’s just charming enough to get access to this thing, and then he’ll punch you out, and that’s it. I just needed to be charming enough to do that, to get the job done.
So yeah, it gets exciting. It’s really exciting; we’re all figuring this out together. As I said, Malick is now asking the same questions that the audience did along the way. It is Ward, but it’s not Ward. It’s Ward and all of the iterations of every other host that have happened before. It’s this very intriguing combination. We’re not going to see — I don’t think we’re going to see — him winking and jumping out of planes and having quite the delight; it’s a different version of Ward. It’s very exciting. I know a lot more, and I’m trying to not say stuff. I wouldn’t say it’s Ward Lite, I would say it’s Ward 2.0.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns Tuesday, March 8 on ABC.