Whine

Character apologism and redemption arcs

I have been simmering quietly on a post about Grant Ward apologism in Agents of SHIELD/Marvel fandom for some time now, but I think I finally nailed what it is about it that is really ticking me off.

People wanting a bad guy to get a second chance is an old familiar friend and I do in fact like that trope. I mean, in one of my past fandoms my favorite character was a violent, morally bankrupt killing machine who occasionally backslid and tried to kill everyone all over again.* I have sometimes gotten terribly frustrated with badly done "redemption" arcs and I have no particular investment in Ward getting one, but if he does manage to get to the point of experiencing regret/remorse/penance, I may feel differently. (Once Upon a Time has done a good job this season of selling me on redemption arcs for not one but TWO characters I never thought I'd want to see redeemed, so it's always possible.)

*Dragonball Z is the fandom, if anyone is wondering.

It also seems that a fairly large chunk of the Ward fandom has latched onto Ward-as-abuse-victim and identify with him on that level, and see his journey back to the light as a hopeful thing for them personally (this post, for example). Which, fair enough; it's not my business to tell people what characters they should identify with or why. I think that a big part of the reason why I like redemption story arcs is because of the hopeful, "no one is beyond saving" element to them.

I keep seeing people saying that Ward DESERVES a second chance, because he's a human being and everyone should have a chance to change -- and yeah, that is probably fair. People deserve not to be tarred by their past sins if they manage to move past them and make amends.

But you know who NO ONE AT ALL deserves a second chance from? THEIR VICTIMS.

And that is where this fandom is squicking me right the hell out.

So, here's the issue. I keep seeing posts all over tumblr that take the other characters to task for not being nicer to Ward/giving Ward more chances/etc, and basically make the success or failure of Ward's "redemption" everyone else's responsibility. Specifically, the responsibility of the people he betrayed.

"He'll never learn to be a good guy if they don't treat him like one." Why should they? He betrayed them all and tried to kill most of them, and in their final confrontation with him, he's STILL taunting them and trying to kill them; that's basically the last interaction they had with him. Maybe he needs a mentor in Good Guy 101, it would sure be nice if he found one, but no one on the team owes him that in any way.

"Melinda May was being cruel/mean/abusive when she punched him in the neck." He pretended to be sexually interested in her and slept with her to remove her as a threat, then tried to kill her, and at the time she punched him he'd been taunting her and actively attacking her, including trying to shove her face into a buzz saw. What should she have done, lie there and let him kill her? Very gently try to disable him without hurting him when he was trying to slice her face off?

"Coulson should have given him a second chance rather than putting him in prison." He tried to kill a bunch of Coulson's friends, has been working for a group of neo-Nazis dedicated to wiping out millions of people, and thus far has expressed no indication that he's changed his beliefs. Why would in the world would Coulson do anything other than gleefully throw him in prison at this point?

Fortunately, to be fair, I haven't actually seen a lot of people making the argument that Skye "owes" him a second chance in the same way Coulson and May apparently do (which is good, because that is probably the point where I would experience a rage meltdown all over Tumblr). If people actually ARE arguing that she needs to go back to a boyfriend who tried to kill her friends and threatened to rape her**, please don't point me to it; my blood pressure can't take it.

**I've seen people argue that it's not a rape threat when he tells Skye that he's going to "come over there and take what you won't give me" after she breaks up with him. I guess there's no way to know what was going through the writers' heads when they wrote that line, but if they didn't mean it to be taken in a rapey way, then that is a terribly written line and they really missed the boat. I've also seen people -- ACTUAL FANS OF THE CHARACTER -- "defending" him here by saying that he doesn't actually mean to come over there and assault her, he's just saying that to intimidate her ... to which I can only say, if that's supposed to be a defense (he's not an actual rapist! he's just making rape threats to scare his ex-girlfriend!) you're not making your case very well.

ANYWAY. I guess the thing that's really getting to me about it is that whether Ward ends up realizing he did wrong and coming around to the light side, or not, is all on him and is no one else's responsibility, and either implying or flat-out stating that people he betrayed and tried to kill have some kind of obligation to give him a second chance .... no dammit that is not how redemption works. I mean, if someone he's betrayed does extend an olive branch to him at this point, that's an act of incredible grace on their part, but barring further developments in canon it's also kind of a dumb move given that his entire character history up to this point (from the team's perspective, anyhow) basically consists of stabbing people in the back.

... on top of that, I pretty much will bet anything that if Ward doesn't get a redemption arc and stays evil, there will be people saying that he WOULD have come around if only the team had treated him better, and, just, A WHOLE WORLD OF NO.


This entry is also posted at http://sholio.dreamwidth.org/953197.html with comment count unavailable comments.
Ahhhh, I'm glad I'm not spending much time on Tumblr/MCU fandom atm, while this is going on! I've seen a couple people on either side of the Ward issue hinting at stuff going around but haven't seen it much myself.

I think an in-canon redemption arc is possible mainly because it's a Whedon show, and I'm curious about it because I love a good (or even a mediocre) redemption story. And this one is going to be challenging to tell because Ward didn't only betray the team but betrayed the audience - it's easier to redeem someone like Zuko or Regina, who we know from the start are bad guys, and so have nowhere to go but up. So yes, if it happens I'll be interested; but I'm not invested enough in the show or the character to care one way or another.

But a bit of the reactions I have seen have made me cock my head. Like, before I saw the finale I saw someone decrying Coulson for cruelly taunting an abused prisoner (Ward)...which I didn't get much sense from the ep at all. (especially since unless I missed something, the team never heard any of Ward's sob-story, so they don't actually know his issues anyway...?) And I cheered May on because yeah, seriously, he deserved it - if Ward wasn't a fighter himself, if she'd been beating up a helpless guy for screwing her over, that would be one thing; but she knows how strong and dangerous he is, taking him down was a priority, and if she's going to enjoy it a bit as she does it - she's only human! (and she's Melinda May! Who is my favorite part of the show so I may be a little biased, but :P)

I'm also a bit head-cocking because at least a couple of the people I've seen defending Ward I've also seen critical of Loki-redemption stories, writing him off as a psychopathic supervillain, which is...well, I'm not sure what the double standard is there (is it because we got to know Ward as a good guy? Or the nature of his motivation? or what?) but it intrigues me!

(actually, from what you're saying a lot of the Ward-redemption arguments is sounding a lot like many of the more frustrating Loki-redemption stories, which are all about placing the blame on others. Making motivations into excuses, trying to argue the terrible things they did are not only explicable but justified. It frustrates me because one of the things I most love about redemption stories is the honest acknowledgement of what one's done, the guilt and shame and regret, watching someone struggling to come to terms with their own unforgivable actions and moving beyond. I do like redemption stories when someone is given a second chance they don't deserve by someone who loves them enough or is generous enough to take that risk - but part of what makes that beautiful is because it's not deserved...)
if someone he's betrayed does extend an olive branch to him at this point, that's an act of incredible grace on their part

Completely agree with your post, sholio. I have to say from my experience in fandom, once part of the fandom latches on to someone they can pretty much do no wrong, especially if they can be "woobiefied" by the whole "their mother/friends/partner just didn't LOVE them enough"

many of the more frustrating Loki-redemption stories, which are all about placing the blame on others

This. I haven't watched beyond episode 7 of SHIELD but I instantly recognized this rant from the perspective of someone who experienced similar emotions with Loki. Now I like Loki a lot, he's like the focus point of my interest in the Avengers universe and the only thing I want to read in that fandom is Loki-redemption stories. But it sometimes gets frustrating when the character is "redeemed" by ...well everyone else recognizing what they could have done differently and by them starting to treat Loki nicer. That might be some kind of therapy/rehabilitation story but it is not a redemption story. Meanwhile Loki gets to continue expressing zero remorse for what he's done and further it is implied that in the future he may choose to do it again (i.e. kill people) and that it would be justified if the people around him failed to love him enough.......... argh.

I like the idea of exploring characters who do seemingly nonredeemable things and then find ways to still make it back to the "good guys" list, I really do. But I almost prefer stories where this redemption occurs slowly, and almost despite the rest of the world. It makes the payoff sweeter.

I do like redemption stories when someone is given a second chance they don't deserve by someone who loves them enough or is generous enough to take that risk - but part of what makes that beautiful is because it's not deserved...

This too. And further it needs to be apparent to the character being "redeemed" that it is not deserved... And that the people they've hurt don't owe it to them to forgive them.

ETA: Similar emotions w.r.t. McKay/Sheppard in SGA after that whole debacle with blowing up a solar system. Watching the fandom freak out over how Elizabeth is just not treating Rodney nicely enough...Yeah.

Edited at 2014-05-23 01:11 am (UTC)
Yup, Loki is my favorite part of the MCU, but while I love redemption stories with him, so many of the fic are frustrating - he's a supervillain, he's done terrible, unforgivable things; just because he was misunderstood as a child doesn't make them forgivable, nor make it all the fault of those around him! (I especially roll my eyes when people try to make it Thor's fault - Odin's parenting skills are one thing, but you cannot argue that Thor occasionally making fun of his little brother possibly justifies Loki trying to murder him! Repeatedly!)

One of my favorite things about kid!Loki in the comics was that kid!Loki was pretty much reviled by most of Asgard, who understandably didn't trust him or believe that he'd actually changed. And Loki, for the most part, didn't dwell on it, or spend much time resenting them for it - because really he hated his old self more than any of them ever could; instead he dedicates himself to trying to help, to doing good this time around (in his own special Loki way of doing good, of course...)

And oh, SGA...Rodney was my favorite but the lemon chicken phenomenon was hilarious to me. Rodney could be a total asshole, he was never treated as badly as he could treat other people!
Yes, so with you on blaming Thor for Loki's problems. C'mon fandom!

Similarly, I'm with you on Rodney. There was always that aspect that Rodney could say the most awful thing to anyone who worked with him, but if any one said anything to Rodney it was because they didn't understand what a special snowflake he was *g*
I like the idea of exploring characters who do seemingly nonredeemable things and then find ways to still make it back to the "good guys" list, I really do. But I almost prefer stories where this redemption occurs slowly, and almost despite the rest of the world. It makes the payoff sweeter.
Yes!

And the key thing is that redemption has to be earned, not given. Steve comes to trust Natasha because of what she has done; she's still working on her redemption.

It isn't clear to me that Ward wants redemption. The first step would be realizing that he did something wrong, and I see no indication that he acknowledges doing anything wrong. He has acknowledged doing things that he found unpleasant or didn't like doing but chose to do anyway. He hasn't apologized. He didn't stop fighting May and say, "You're right; take me in." He has shown no contrition at all.
I'm also a bit head-cocking because at least a couple of the people I've seen defending Ward I've also seen critical of Loki-redemption stories, writing him off as a psychopathic supervillain

This is really interesting to me, because I've seen the same thing, sort of flipped. I came across a very Ward negative tumblr, and when I went back through the person's posts, I found an entry stating that Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer had never been a villain, rather he was always an anti-hero who liked to kill people and do other villainous things. I’m not exaggerating for effect, that was the argument. Also, Spike always lacked malevolence. It was probably the most ridiculous Spike apology I've ever come across, and that's saying something. It really baffled me that someone could see Ward as irredeemable and Spike as honest-to-god never a bad guy.
Haaah...this simultaneously baffles me and surprises me not at all - I was wondering if some of the anti-Warders are Loki fans as well. I wonder what the difference is? Because Ward's betrayal is more personal, as the audience experienced it as well? Because someone like Spike starts out as a villain who you're not supposed to like at all, so he has to win you over, while as Ward was presented as a good guy from the start, and so failed to win over those who like to woobify villains? I'm curious whether the people who hate Ward now are those who actually liked him before and feel betrayed, or those who never liked him much, and now feel extra justified in hating him? (from my limited experience I'm guessing the latter, but...For me, Ward was probably my least favorite of the cast, so this turn of events has made him a bit more interesting to me, as a villain-fan; I do wonder why that doesn't work for all villain fans (something to do with how we relate to villains, perhaps...ahh, fannish psychology is so fascinating to me!)
I think a lot of it probably has to do with the same way h/c fics work. What I mean is...if we spend the next half a season with Ward in a really unfortunate situation (any kind of torture, mental or physical, any kind of "bullying", etc) then the audience that currently finds him irredeemable will quickly switch tracks. It's like there's a mental tally that people keep of how much pain a character needs to have gone through before anything that they dish out at the world becomes "justifiable" in their eyes.
Yeah, I love a well-done redemption arc myself (or, in some cases, even a poorly done one XD). I think you're right, though, about Ward betraying the audience as well as the characters -- that's going to be a hard uphill road. (I do kinda feel like Marvel might've shot themselves in the foot with both Ward and Sitwell's left-field betrayals; I get that they're going for an "anyone could be the enemy" vibe with Hydra, but past a certain point, if you can't trust anybody, what's the point of caring at all ...?)

I'm also a bit head-cocking because at least a couple of the people I've seen defending Ward I've also seen critical of Loki-redemption stories, writing him off as a psychopathic supervillain, which is...well, I'm not sure what the double standard is there (is it because we got to know Ward as a good guy? Or the nature of his motivation? or what?) but it intrigues me!

ahahaha, okay, that's just WEIRD. Especially since, if you're going to be picky/critical of other redemption stories, the one that actually works for you is .... Ward? The guy who's shown no signs of wanting redemption yet? HUH. :P

And yeah, your last paragraph -- YES. I think the reason why some redemption arcs are so very satisfying (Zuko!) is because they take into full account the damage the person did, and all the reasons other people have to not forgive them ... and then when forgiveness slowly dawns anyway, it's such a delight. Taking that away, twisting it around, making the hurt parties the bad guys -- it removes most of what satisfies me about the trope.
Heh, I thought Marvel picked pretty good choices - I only know who Sitwell was at all because he was mentioned in a few fics, I don't even know what of the movie canon he appeared in, so his betrayal didn't hit me personally. And Ward was one of the less popular characters in AOS. So for me at least, they managed a good balance of making Hydra a credibly invasive threat, while not actually ruining the character dynamics I care about...

Mmmm yes Zuko's redemption is one of my favorites ever, because it's so much about him realizing what he is, and wanting to be something else - he did have a terrible childhood, but his story is not about how he should be pitied or given a pass for the choices he makes because of that past, but rather him making restitution for what he did, and working to be a better person. And there is something so lovely and hopeful in how he can change, and how the others slowly come to acknowledge that change.

Also, for me, one of the draws of redemption stories is seeing people who are loved but have denied it and spurned it, coming to realize that love and what it means to them, and fight to get it back. So, with Loki redemption stories, I love to see Loki realize that Thor may not be perfect but genuinely loves him, and to have Loki value that. Or in YGO, Kaiba returning Mokuba's devotion made me go from detesting to loving the char in one fell swoop. So for me, Ward's redemption story, if it happens, would be much more appealing if rather than being about the team apologizing to Ward and being nice to him to win him back or whatever, it was about Ward trying his best to make it up to them, because he wants back what they had before, even if they don't want him anymore.
Heh, I thought Marvel picked pretty good choices - I only know who Sitwell was at all because he was mentioned in a few fics, I don't even know what of the movie canon he appeared in, so his betrayal didn't hit me personally. And Ward was one of the less popular characters in AOS. So for me at least, they managed a good balance of making Hydra a credibly invasive threat, while not actually ruining the character dynamics I care about...

*nods* Yeah, I didn't have any personal investment in either character either, so it wasn't an emotional blow -- I think I explained myself poorly, though: what I meant was that there wasn't really any hint beforehand that either character was Hydra. I know they didn't tell Ward's actor until midway through the season, and with Sitwell, it actively doesn't make sense based on his behavior in past movies. I think the problem is that it's so obviously being thrown out of left field, especially in Sitwell's case -- it's obvious that they just picked a random background character who'd been in enough of the movies that viewers "know" him and made him a traitor simply because it COULD BE ANYBODY, without laying a bread crumb trail for viewers to follow.

And if LITERALLY ANYONE could turn out to be evil without foreshadowing, then what's the point of getting attached to anybody?

.... Now luckily, I don't actually think this franchise is going to do it more than once or twice. Definitely not to the iconic characters; I can't even imagine that we might find out that, say, Tony is a Hydra agent in the next Avengers movie. The established characters have main character immunity, and it's probably a one-shot deal in general, for the sudden!surprise!reveal surrounding the general reveal of Hydra inside SHIELD. But I think it blows a little viewer trust if they're willing to do it without laying the groundwork, you know?

Anyway, I agree with the rest of what you say, too. :) One of my big redemption-arc happy buttons is for a character to be all LOVE, I NEED NO LOVE >:| .... right up until their Important Person is in danger and then turning into a self-sacrificing mushball. So, yeah. :D
Ahhh, yes, I take your point...

I've been wondering if there were a few clues about Ward that were just really subtle (I was thinking about how specifically, one of his first scenes with Skye in the pilot, he pretends to be truth-serum'ed, and then it's later revealed he was faking it; it established him as a talented liar early on, despite his general lack of social skills, which in retrospect makes sense?) ...I don't care enough about the show to rewatch it to check, but I was wondering if there was anything else. Sitwell I literally have no memory of before CATWS, so I can't judge its left-field-ess-ness...

But yeah, it's definitely somewhat damaging to viewer trust, something of a risk, and I'd probably be more concerned about it if it weren't for the main-character immunity of pretty much anyone I care about...

One of my big redemption-arc happy buttons is for a character to be all LOVE, I NEED NO LOVE >:| .... right up until their Important Person is in danger and then turning into a self-sacrificing mushball.

Ahahah you pretty much described my 150K Loki-fic in a couple dozen words XDXD (but yes such a good button!)
I FORGOT YOU HAD A GIANT LOKI-FIC .... and damn, I'm all into this franchise now ... I wonder if I have a few hours of my life I'm never planning on getting back. XD
--as fair warning, it is very much a Thor & Loki story; the other Avengers have a role but don't even turn up until 100K words in. Also it's a redemption story, but it's super-self-indulgent on the emotional h/c side, and may not work with your own reading of Loki - it doesn't quite mesh with his characterization in Thor TDW, and some people have complained that it doesn't make him culpable enough. ...And then I've had other reviewers annoyed that the Avengers aren't more forgiving, since after all he only destroyed one city (that was seriously a comment I got! XD)
THANK YOU! I had a rant on this topic in the direction of Brilliant Husband the other day. It was my own fault; there was a warning that the story was not for people who hated Ward. I thought, "I have to see what the writer does here." And what the writer did was to have Sam explain to Coulson, and Steve to Skye, just how exactly like the Winter Soldier poor Grant Ward is.

Here's what I learned from the story: Grant Ward was abused by his family, betrayed by SHIELD, and abused by Garrett. He didn't even know who he was, just like Bucky. Betraying the people at whose sides he has been working very recently, and killing loyal members of SHIELD who are trying to imprison a criminal, and threatening to rape a young woman who cared about him until she found out who he really was—the story tells me plainly that that's all directly comparable to a man who has been experimented on, tortured, had his memories wiped, and been cryogenically frozen so much over decades that he doesn't know his own name and has great difficulty recognizing his target as someone he knew for most of his life outside of cryo.

I like redemption arcs too; they've started one with the Winter Soldier, and I'm excited to see where that goes. I'm reading loads of fic while waiting for the next movie (and trying to get the comic book, which I paid for 2 1/2 weeks ago!).

I am not seeing Ward's as a redemption arc, and anyone who tells me that Coulson and Skye need to forgive Grant, I don't need to hear. That's the thing about Steve forgiving Bucky and not fighting him: it's extraordinary. If Steve fought back, I wouldn't blame him. If Steve didn't want to see Bucky any more, I would hurt for them both. If Steve killed the Winter Soldier to avoid being killed, I'd cry my eyes out and feel terrible for both of them! But if Steve did it to save his life, I couldn't say that he's wrong. I think Sam is also extraordinary for committing to go with Steve to find the man who broke his wing and pushed him out of an airship to almost certain death that he fortunately managed to avoid. If Sam had said, "You nuts? I don't want anything to do with this!" I would have a higher opinion of his sanity than I do now. (I'd love him less, but I wouldn't hate him!) In fact, Sam is more extraordinary because he has no past with Bucky except as the man who tried to kill him.

Coulson and Skye don't need to be nicer to Ward. They were nice. They gave him their full trust, and he abused it knowingly over a long period of time. Ward wasn't brainwashed, and they didn't abuse him. Garrett did, but that doesn't make everything Ward did after okay. He had a choice not to shoot the dog—two choices, actually. He had a choice not to send FitzSimmons to their deaths. He chose wrong and he chose death over and over. Yes, he needs therapy. But Coulson and Skye owe him nothing. I too took Ward as threatening to rape her—whether he means to do it or just to threaten, it's a very bad thing to do. The team didn't make Ward do bad things. The team didn't even fail to appreciate Ward; they didn't all like him at first, but they came to care about him a great deal, and Fitz was idolizing him (and don't tell me it's Fitz's fault).

I had to stop reading that link pretty early on; the poster has clearly been through far more than anyone should as a child, but I felt that was being projected onto Ward.

If people want to right Ward fic, that's fine. I will just be more careful in avoiding it. But I'm really glad you posted this because I was just GREEN RAGE MONSTER after making the mistake of reading that story.

tldr: a resounding yes, the victims do not owe Ward a second chance.
Wow. Grant Ward of his own free will makes a series of really horrible choices that land him in a really bad situation which he eventually survives intact; and some how his damage is on the level as James Barnes and his decades of torture? Yeah, NO.
The correlations between the two stories are superficial at best and my raging fangirl is incensed at the very idea of equating him with Bucky of all people. I am so far beyond glad that I avoided that story when I saw it.

I am not so not here for anyone comparing Ward to Bucky. The whole point of "the Winter Soldier" was that he had no free will. Or at the very least, so little free will as to make no difference. He was brainwashed, mind-wiped, and kept frozen until he was useful. He couldn't make choices. He was denied any sense of self, and if any of that started to break through (as it did in the "I knew him" scene), then it was ruthlessly quashed. Ward was impacted by his past and events around him, but he had free will.
There is not a single thing here I can disagree with :)
The fact that there are so many instances of 'poor Ward needs forgiveness' that i have pretty much been hiding under my rock to get away from it. I was and am frankly a little horrified.
No one on his team owes him anything except maybe another punch in the neck IMO. He was and is a cunning betrayer and they do not need to treat his as if he were still there friend. Everything their friendship was predicated on was a fabrication. There is no friendship only a deeply embedded betrayal. He got exactly what he deserved.

And for the record I think Ward would make a very entertaining villain.
It's also worth pointing out that Fitz explicitly and repeatedly tried to give him a second chance. Fitz believed in his goodness, refused to believe that his betrayal was voluntary, and gave him every opportunity to change his mind. Ward responded by undertaking an action that he believed killed him. So even beyond the repugnance of the argument being made, the facts of the show are against people arguing that. If what Ward needed was someone to believe in him and give him a second chance, he had that. And he very clearly didn't want it.

I hope they keep Ward around, because he's gotten complicated and interesting. But if they're going to give him a redemption arc, it's going to have to be very delicately done. I mean, he tried to and believed he succeeded at killing main cast members. He only didn't through circumstances beyond his control. But let's not forget that he killed several other people who were supporting cast members, and who were important to our main cast members.
Yeah, this is why I harbor so much wariness when it comes to fans of villain characters. And I'd love redemption fic more if most of it wasn't "it's everyone else's fault that the villain is the villain." (There was even this one person who basically said that writing this one female villain - the big canon villain - as the villain is misogynist. It boggled me greatly. Especially since this character is always written pretty respectfully compared to most villains).

I think what I really hate is the dismissal of the villain's actions. The author will acknowledge it, but then wave it aside as either insignificant or no different than what the hero has done. I'll read angst fic in which the hero is beating himself up for all these decisions made and the consequences that followed. Then I'll come across some "redemption" fic that's all about how everyone else sucks and poor widdle villain needs to be coddled because nothing they did was their fault. The heroes are written off as jerks, idiots or less than important and the villains are super special awesome and it just... gah! *mimes strangling*

(And I have to talk about this one fic that blamed the villain's behavior on a mind altering spell, totally exempting the villain from their actions. I actually found the story rather amusing, mostly in the way it turned the villain into a text book Mary Sue. Villainous actions were completely forgiven and all ire was turned on the hero, for various reasons but also in part for making the villain's life a misery. It was just so ridiculous how far the writer was going in order to put the villain on a pedestal that I actually couldn't stay annoyed with the story).
I am not at all familiar with what you're talking about, but it does remind me of how some fans of the movie Tangled like to portray Rapunzel's kidnapper as a poor, misunderstood woman, when in reality she's a manipulative abuser. Fandom is full of unique ideas, isn't it? It's fun, right? :D
I think a lot of people felt sorry for Ward given his back story of abuse and the fact that he struggles before betraying those he cares about.
"There is not a single thing here I can disagree with"[2]

And I think there are two main points exterminating redemption arc for Ward:
1) He spent so much time with Coulson's team, he saw their relationships, but he fugured out nothing. And finally he betrayed them all. (I feel sorry especially about poor Fitz).
2) He is defenitely a weak person. He is coward. He could't see way out himself and there is obviously nobody who can show him. Noone will try to save him, nobody needs.