Until now, Coulson's special branch of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been taking on crises on their own. But when they're faced with a Level 8 mission on Tuesday's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., they'll be taken straight into the belly of the beast, where they'll cross paths with Victoria Hand.
In the comics, Hand (Saffron Burrows) started her career off as a S.H.I.E.L.D. accountant who went on to become an ally of Steve Rogers. But on the ABC series, Hand is described as a ruthless woman who will do anything to get the job done. "She makes Agent May [Ming-Na Wen] look like a puppy," Brett Dalton tells TVGuide.com, teasing that we'll finally get a look inside the mysterious organization that polices supers. "S.H.I.E.L.D. is not only filled with a ton of cool gadgets, but also a ton of red tape."
Hand's merciless ways may be why Ward (Dalton) and Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) end up on the Level 8 mission, but it will be a good chance for Ward to show what he's made of, since Fitz is far from field tested. "It's an unlikely pairing, but sometimes those are the best," Dalton says. "By the end, I think we end up understanding each other in a different way. Maybe not exactly seeing eye-to-eye, but maybe eye-to-nose." Dalton remains coy as to the mission at hand, but did reiterate the logline: "That the mission may end in tragedy."
Even though Ward will take center stage on Tuesday's episode, expect his backstory to unfold next week, when the S.H.I.E.L.D. team is tasked with picking up the pieces after Thor: The Dark World. (Stay tuned for scoop on that in this week's Mega Buzz.) "You'll understand Ward so much more after that one," Dalton says. "You get to see a couple of layers peel back on the onion... the onion being me. But, like, better smelling."
Could this new side of Ward finally bring him and Skye (Chloe Bennet) closer? "Ward has trust issues in general," Dalton says. "But yeah, there's definitely something there. It'll be fun to see how it develops. I'm curious myself."
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on ABC.