For an episode that ended with a lot of hugging and overall good cheer, the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. winter finale sure was dark. In fact, we kind of lost one of the characters who has been around since the very beginning. Is Grant Ward dead on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ? We haven't seen the last of actor Brett Dalton on the ABC series but guys... I think Ward's really dead.
After Ward's fatigue-clad (for some reason) crew arrived on the planet Maveth, Fitz recruited Astronaut Will to Team Hydra, with the intent of rescuing him. During a sandstorm, the two of them allied up, took out some of the Hydra guys, and escaped — which left Ward alone when Coulson finally caught up to them. However, in the No Fly Zone, Fitz discovered an ancient city that Jemma hadn't told him about. Odd. Will told Fitz about the planet's original inhabitants; there were nine cities on the planet who feared change and destroyed each other in a series of civil wars. How did he know this. Because he wasn't Will Daniels at all. Sorry, Jemma, but Will died almost as soon as she left the planet, and the being masquerading as him is the very Inhuman that Hydra wanted to bring home. Which makes sense, if you think about it.
On the other side of Maveth, Ward tried to win Coulson over with Hydra philosophy... which was definitely the wrong tactic for a man who grew up collecting Captain America trading cards. Ultimately, Coulson crushed Ward's heart with his fake hand. He straight up killed him! I am so proud of Coulson, honestly. Ward has needed to die for a long time.
Meanwhile Daisy, Mack, Hunter, and Bobbi were literally storming the castle where Simmons was being held by Hydra. With the help of Lash, who Simmons released as a last ditch effort, they were able to gain control of the portal. Fortunately, they were able to bring the survivors back from Maveth. Unfortunately, Lash killed all of the Inhumans that the ATCU had been unknowingly gathering for Hydra. We'll deal with those consequences later.
I know that we saw someone who looked like Ward and holding Coulson's hand at the end of the episode, but I'm pretty confident that that is not Ward. Just like "It" was taking the form of Will Daniels, it is now traversing Earth as Grant Ward. The smarmy antagonist with serious need for a father figure and creepy feelings about Daisy is gone forever, only to be replaced by a real Big Bad. Perhaps this was Grant's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. destiny all along...
Image: Greg Gayne/ABC