This story contains spoilers for season 3 of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Actress Elizabeth Henstridge (Agent Simmons) revealed at Wizard World Portland this weekend that Ward is now the Marvel creature known as the Hive, who “takes on the memories of people he’s killed.”
Ward died on the planet Maveth last year, putting the kibosh on the fan theory that he was on track to become the Inhuman character Hellfire. Instead, he became the new host of the alien creature that had lived on Maveth for centuries, worshipped by HYDRA from afar. In the trailer for the next episode, you can see him—or rather, the Hive—looking distinctly corpse-y.
As is often the case with Marvel adaptations, the MCU version of the Hive is different from the one in the comics. In Secret Warriors (which provided part of the inspiration for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s third season), the Hive appears as a kind of living embodiment of the HYDRA logo: a looming, vaguely humanoid mass of tentacles. He’s part of a HYDRA super-team, and rather than being a single character, he’s actually a collective organism of parasites attached to a human host.
The Hive was the result of a HYDRA experiment, with Baron Strucker implanting a hapless HYDRA recruit with parasites that achieved collective sentience in human form. It has the ability to spread these parasites to other humans as a kind of mind-control attack, making it sound at least somewhat similar to the creature that terrorized Jemma Simmons when she was trapped on Maveth.
While the comics version of the Hive is basically a S.H.I.E.L.D. loyalist, the TV version is more like a Lovecraftian god—and almost certainly not human in origin. The monster of Maveth is one of the few legitimately scary villains on the show, and when you combine that with the memories and lingering personality of Grant Ward, you get a very interesting new villain for the rest of season 3. That’s just as well, because Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn’t always know what to do with its HYDRA subplots.
It’s hard to get invested in yet another conspiracy of old HYDRA dudes and their faceless minions, but a memory-stealing alien inhabiting the undead corpse of Grant Ward? Now we’re talking—although Skyeward shippers probably won’t be happy about it.
Screengrab via Television Promos/YouTube