Which Ward is Wicked on 'S.H.I.E.L.D.'?

Everything's relative on ABC's Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., and by that I mean every plot these days seems to be about family: Skye and her father, Ward and his brother... and at least one of each pair is definitely evil. Grant Ward, the traitorous former member of Coulson's team has a dark and secret past... and that's before he was recruited by the insane John Garrett to work for Hydra. The bad news is, Grant may not even be the "evil" one in his story — that honor may lie squarely with his older brother, Senator Christian Ward. Or at least that's what Grant wants us to think.

In Season 1, we learned that when Grant was a child, he was subject to the cruel whims of his abusive older brother, Christian, who would often force Grant to beat up their younger brother. On one occasion, Christian threw their younger brother down a well and refused to let Grant save him (although he eventually did). But with the revelation that Grant was actually a murderous Hydra spy, everything about him was thrown into question. Were the things he shared about his past true? Or were they merely fabrications to gain the sympathies of his team? It's hard to tell yet which of the Wards is actually evil, so let's break down the possibilities and see if we can solve this mystery:

Christian is evil

First, let's examine the possibility that Grant is telling the truth. A remote ppossibility I know, but let's give him the benefit of the doubt for a moment, just as an exercise. It is conceivable that the reason Grant ended up damaged enough to consider following a madman into a Nazi organization a good idea is because he was tortured by his brother for his entire childhood.

Grant is a popular character — arguably even more popular now that he's a dangerous, scruffy traitor — and it seems inconceivable that the writers wouldn't be setting up some sort of redemption arc for him. Explaining his evilness by making him a product of an abusive filial relationship would be step one on that road. If Christian turns out to be even worse than his brother, we could start to see Grant in a sympathetic light again.

Grant is evil

Of course, if a lying liarpants like Grant Ward says someone is evil, they're probably not. Grant lied to his teammates (and the show's viewers) for months; he killed Agent Victoria Hand; he almost killed Agents Fitz and Simmons; he betrayed everything and everyone he'd sworn to protect. Why should we believe anything he says now? If Grant claims he was the victim of Christian's abuse, then of course the twist will turn out to be that Christian really a good guy and Grant was the bully all along.

According to Christian, his only goal is to bring his evil little brother to justice. He even backed down from his fervent anti-S.H.I.E.L.D. stance if Coulson agreed to turn Grant over to him. Doesn't it stand to reason that Grant was just lying so that the team wouldn't trust the Senator enough to go through with the exchange? Perhaps the stories he was telling Skye were true, in the sense that they happened... but he reversed his position in the story so that he would seem like the victim rather than the abuser. They say the best lies have a kernel of truth in them.

Both of them are evil

Of course, if the twist is supposed to be that Grant is lying and Christian isn't evil, then wouldn't the real twist be that Grant was telling the truth all along, and Christian is the evil mastermind his younger brother always claimed he was? That kind of twist-within-a-twist seems more likely from Marvel's complicated mythology (not to mention today's viewer-savvy television climate).

The reason answer to this mystery likely lies somewhere between the first two options. I don't think the solution will be that one is the devil and one is the angel; I don't think either of the Ward brothers are trustworthy, and I think they both have ulterior motives they aren't sharing with anyone just yet.

Neither of them are evil

And now it's time for my crazy pet theory: neither Grant nor Christian is the truly evil Ward — that title belongs to their unnamed younger brother. They threw him down a well to try to rid the world of his malice, but the youngest Ward managed to survive and is still out there, wreacking havoc. Grant and Christian are actually allies in a long con aimed at bringing him to justice, and they're lying to everyone about each other so no one will suspect they're working together.

Do actually think there's a chance this theory is correct? Not really. But it's fun to think about, isn't it?

Images: ABC (5)