Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Easter Eggs and Marvel Comics References in "Ragtag"

Strangely, this week's episode of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. -- titled 'Ragtag,' an [...]

Strangely, this week's episode of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. -- titled "Ragtag," an acknowledgment of the thrown-together nature of the team since the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. in Captain America: The Winter Soldier -- is the first time since that fall that the team...didn't really seem like a ragtag group of passionate people. They no longer seem to be on the run from law enforcement; Triplett's family provided them with enough spy gear to be competitive with HYDRA throughout the episode; they've got a second plane to chase their first plane with and the question of just who the hell is paying for the jet fuel still doesn't seem to be an issue at this point (is that where Felicity Smoak transferred all that guy's money on Arrow while pretending it was going to charity?). Though they don't technically have jurisdiction, for most of this episode they seemed as put-together as they've been since the Winter Soldier came a-knocking. Title inappropriateness aside, the episode dealt primarily with Grant Ward, and how he came to be in the employ of both S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA while working under John Garrett.  Because there was a lot of story to tell in just 42 minutes and change, there wasn't a ton of room for Easter eggs, but they did sneak a few of them in...


Grant Ward When Skye erased the identities of Coulson and his team a few weeks ago, she called Ward to let him know that she was about to do it and his response was very blase. The phrasing (I don't remember it exactly) led some fans to believe that he might turn out to be secretly somebody else -- maybe even a Marvel Comics villain. Well, Garrett repeatedly calls him "Grant Ward" in flashback. So much for that theory. Bogota The drug lord killed by Deathlok on behalf of HYDRA and Cybertek may be a wink-and-a-nod to El Caiman, a Colombian drug lord who worked with The Punisher against The Eliminators in a one-shot story in 1988. That's the only reference to Bogota found in the Marvel Wiki. It could, however, be a coincidence; American media generally doesn't talk about Colombia at all except in the context of the drug war. The Hypno-Beam Remember that hair dryer-looking gun that the pulled out of Triplett's case? You would think that this would have been a real-life Silver Age comics device, wouldn't you? As far as we can tell, it isn't...although there is a character called Hypno-Hustler, an African-American Spider-Man villain from the '70s who plays in a rock band and once used the rapt attention of the audience to hypnotize them and take their valuables. His first name, though, is Antoine -- the same as Triplett's. Coincidence?! ...Well, yeah. Probably.


Triplett's grandfather the Howling Commando They still haven't named which of the Howling Commandos was Triplett's grandfather. It's hardly significant, and it's probably safe to assume that it's Gabe Jones since he's the lone black member of the squadron, but given his continued prevalence in the comics for years after the Howling Commandos experience, we've heard some fans speculate that it could turn out to be Dum-Dum Dugan, who is documented to have joined Tony Stark and Sharon Carter in the foundation of S.H.I.E.L.D.


Victory Cigarettes I didn't get a great look at the pack of smokes, but it looked for all the world like Victory cigarettes -- a real brand, and a brand name that continues to today, as a manufacturer of electronic cigarettes. "Back of a comic book" Yeah, pretty much everybody remembers those old ads for weird junk that they used to sell out of comics -- mostly in the Silver Age but all the way up to the '90s. Those pages of mail-order junk have become such a part of the public consciousness that plenty of people who don't care about comics and have never read them regularly would likely have understood that reference. Plus, you know. Comics.


Deathlok 1990 The files on Deathlok go all the way back to 1990, you say? Well, the character made his first appearance much earlier than that (in a 1974 issue of Astonishing Tales) but the first series he headlined was a four-issue miniseries that debuted in 1990 and, after solid sales, led to an ongoing in 1991. The fact that it's been close to 25 years now since he became Deathlok and we only know of Garrett and Mike Peterson begs the question: might we see Luther Manning, Michael Collins or other former Deathloks from the comics?

agents of shield ragtag episode

Garrett was the first Deathlok Oh, yeah -- as noted above, Garrett was the first Deathlok in this continuity. In the comics, he does have cyborg parts and has a connection to the Deathlok program but hasn't ever been referred to (as far as we know) as a Deathlok himself. "Something inside her" Raina, who exposits quite a lot for Skye in this episode, apparently has some shared element of history or something. She says that she sees "something inside her" that Raina shares. Could Raina be her mother? It seems unlikely because of the story she later tells about Skye's parents, but perhaps there's another possibility we're not thinking of. That said, the story she tells about the "monsters" in the Hunan Province is an interesting one, considering that Coulson's team has a member of Chinese descent whose mother is a spy. They've said (or at least strongly suggested) that May wasn't the agent who found Skye, but what if it was her mother? Fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. makes Quinn a free man? That seems...convenient. There was still a ton of evidence against Quinn. That said, this is one of a few things said in this episode that seems to suggest the timing of the "coming-out party" for HYDRA in Captain America: The Winter Soldier may have been at least in part precipitated by the plans HYDRA has for Cybertek and the Deathlok program. One of the questions raised by that film was why it was happening now -- and while it's easy enough to just dismiss that question as "Well, it had to happen sometime and when it did, Cap would be there," maybe Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is helping to shed some light on the timeline and the method to HYDRA's madness. Why Garett hates S.H.I.E.L.D. Garrett's first betrayal by S.H.I.E.L.D. happened when he was injured and nobody was willing to come back into the field to extract him. He survived, but came out of it a changed man in more ways than one. It strikes me that not a lot has changed since then, as in the earlier episode "The Hub," when Ward and Fitz were sent into the field with a plan to basically sacrifice them and offer no extraction. Will it change Ward's mindset at all that Coulson and team actually DID come back, contrvening orders, to save him? Seems not, so far, but again, this episode seemed to lay a ton of groundwork for the finale. Shot from a mile Ward (in the flashback) shot the deer from more than a mile away for some reason - 1800 meters, whereas 1 mile is 1609. So...why? Well, earlier in the episode he boasted that he could have taken out the drug dealer from a mile away and been less "messy" about it than Deathlok was. Reiterating that particular skill not once but twice seems like something that might come into play next week on the season finale.

Pepper Potts

Extremis meltdown The effects used in Garrett's almost-death scene looked like one of the Extremis soldiers' meltdown from Iron Man 3 and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot. Jettisoning the scientists Okay, so obviously Fitz and Simmons are in no real danger here. That said, it's interesting to note that the compartment he jettisoned them in was not entirely dissimilar to the cell in which the Hulk was dropped out of the Helicarrier in The Avengers. "Better, stronger, faster" Ian Quinn's description of the Deathlok soldiers is, of course, a riff on The Six Million Dollar Man, in which the title character was described as being "better, stronger, faster."