Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D S01E13: T.R.A.C.K.S (spoilers)

Directed by Paul Edwards
Written by Lauren LeFranc & Rafe Judkins

A high tech firm is delivering a 10 million dollar box of high tech goodies to Quinn, the super evil business man, by way of Agatha Christie’s favorite form of land transport, the train. Coulson puts a plan together to go undercover and retrieve this high priced technology. The plan goes awry, blood is lost and legs are attached.

I know I am endlessly positive about these episodes. But, this has been my favorite one of the season by far. It ends on a gut punching cliffhanger, the actions of the characters mostly made sense, there was some bad assery, and the time line shifting, where we saw what was happening to each group in layers, was a terrific stylistic choice. Oh, also, there was that quick Stan Lee cameo. Can’t ignore how that. Is he the Clairvoyant? maybe! (I kind of hope not. But, nothing that happened during his blink and you missed it time on the screen contradicts that theory.)

Skye tracked invoices that led to Quinn’s corporation to a huge purchase order from a company called Cybertek. Cybertek decides they are not going to mess about with hundreds of identical dressed couriers getting onto subway cars to deliver it, they decide travel by passenger train is the safest method. (Is it? It seems like a pleasant way to travel and see the sites. But, not horribly secure. Who am I to question? The plan worked. But, wouldn’t it been better to choose a mode of travel where they have more control?) Coulson fixes it with an Italian government official to make it ok to go SHIELDING in their country. The best way to get on the train is to go undercover. Coulson and Simmons are traveling as Widower and his bereaved daughter, Fitz and Skye are hiding out in the luggage compartment, and Ward and May are the fighttastic married couple in a sleeping car.

Before going into action May and Ward have a quick heart to heart about their relationship. Since the middle of a mission is the best time to have this sort of conversation. May surprises Ward and tells him she already told Coulson about it. She then puts on super action star goggle and jumps out of the window to the top of the train.

Meanwhile, Fitz and Skye decide on what their cover needs to be. They almost certainly would have been fine with their individual accents. They were in Italy, it wouldn’t have made much difference to anyone on the train. Who cares? It gave us a funny scene letting us hear an attempt at an accent not heard since Mary Poppins, and Fitz’s perfectly fine American accent. The conductor came and that set up an adorable scene about their 6 month, no 1 month love affair where Skye, unnecessarily, pick pockets the keys to the luggage compartment.

Simmons’ cover is less impromptu. She’s Coulson’s bitter attention starved daughter and they are traveling with her Mother’s ashes. At the height of her diatribe Stan Lee walks down the aisle and offers moral supports. At this point her disgust at prostitutes is too much, so she stands up, trips, and gets magical tracker ashes all over the Cybertek guy. (I might have missed something here. I was laughing a lot.)

The plot starts getting tricky and fun for a little while at this point. The left side of the train is passing a beautiful vista. Coulson uses his communicator to try to talk to the rest of the team, but it has fizzled out. He tells Simmons to stay put, rips off his undercover Clark Kent glasses and heads towards the empty dining car. Ward comes running in shouting that they have been made. They both jump off the train ahead of a grenade that causes the train to disappear.

Now, Ward is in his state room listening to the annoucement about the sights out the window. He steps out to hear a bad guy ask him to help put her heavy bag on a shelf in her room. She pulls a gun, he gets in an especially brutal fight with her, and her associate and after winning runs ahead to warn everyone. He sends Simmons back to the luggage car with Skye and Fitz and he runs back to find Coulson. They jump off the train, watch it disappear and wake up to discuss what to do next. They start walking towards their plane. On the way they find a running hot wired truck. They use that to get to the plane.

They contact the Italian government official and let him know that the plan didn’t work out. There is a pretty hilarious scene with Coulson and Ward trying to use the high tech table to see what the grenade is made of. But, they only find a way to distort it. Because, again, the best time to talk about relationships is when your friends are stuck on a train to DOOM and you have to figure out a way to save them. Coulson tells Ward that it is against protocol and there will be consequences if the relationship screws anything up. At this moment the Italian walks on the plane telling them that he knows what happens to the train. Before he can say blood starts coming out of his mouth and May says “Wheels up in 5”.

Going back to the train. Someone shoots at May while she is on the roof. She pulls a rip cord and gets thrown off the train to safety. She chases the train and sees that Coulson and Ward have been knocked out with blue stuff, but not killed. She goes to find a way to help them. She comes upon a truck and hot wires it. Right when she gets it started the Italian Government official puts a gun at the back of her head and she is surrounded. She’s taken back to a dark room to be tortured. As expected she is unflappable and tells nothing. The Italian Government official makes his second biggest mistake (the first is calling her sweetie) when she stabs May. He turns around, and when his back is turned she uses the knife to cut herself down. She then destroys the entire gang, while the Italian Government official runs. She chases him down and catches up to him as he walks on the plane with a gun behind his back. She uses his knife to end his life.

Ward prepares the plane to fly while Coulson tends to May’s wounds. During a tender moment between Coulson and May, Ward walks in to deliver the news that the train has been found. They go to the train to see the computers filled with bullet holes, and Simmons wakes up filling the car with night night shots.

Yet again, we hear the announcement over the train’s intercom. Fitz complains that he wishes he could see the sights. Skye asks him if a human being has ever been an Object of Unknown Origin. He says he doesn’t know, but he wouldn’t want to meet him. They figure out that communication has gone down when someone comes in guns blazing. Simmons runs into the room and the guy blows off a night night grenade putting both he and Simmons out. Fitz looks at the grenade for 10 seconds and realizes what it is. They stick Simmons under a blanket and arm her, putting the bad guy in a box and closing it up after shooting him a few more times. The train stops. They look out the window and see that the 10 million dollar device is being taken off the train. Skye decides that they should follow it, and see if it leads them to Quinn.

They follow it to an estate. Fitz turns on his locator device and goes to disable the cars, while Skye decides she needs to go into the house to find a way to stop Quinn. Somehow. She hears the Cybertek people say that they are going upstairs to tell Quinn that the merchandise is in the basement. She goes into the room they came from only to find Mike Peterson, under glass. Her surprise is only surpassed by the fact that Quinn and a Cybertek guy are quickly in the room. They open up the chamber holding Mike Peterson, and the Cybertek guy installs Mike’s new leg. Skye tries to talk to him, but he barely looks at her. Quinn asks him some questions, and figures out that he can only follow his orders. He leaves the room. Instead of running, Skye decides to turn around and question Quinn. He shoots her in the stomach. Hugs her. And, shoots her in the stomach again.

Mike Peterson, the 10 Million Dollar Man, (who we can call Deathlok now, but we won’t know that until the end of the episode when we get a closeup of his leg) is killing Cybertek employees for leading SHIELD to the house. Of course, the Clairvoyant knew this was going to happen, so I guess he never signed that 10 million dollar check. He’s given direct orders not to engage with SHIELD.

SHIELD shows up and saves the day. Well. Not really. They arrest Quinn, after he won’t tell them where Skye is. Only saying “If you like her so much, why do you keep sending her into danger?” Or words to that effect. And, Simmons does all she can for Skye (which is nothing.) They put her in Mike Peterson’s hyperbolic chamber, and take her frozen body back to the plane hopefully en route to more medical help. The entire team is beside themselve. Coulson is intently staring at her through the glass, hoping his life saving surgery can transfer through eye power, Simmons is sad with Fitz, and Ward is punching cars and agreeing with Quinn’s thoughts regarding Skye and danger.

The episode ends with Deathlok at the park asking to see his kid. And, us having no idea whether or not Skye was going to live. I guess it is better to binge watch TV. It removes the week of wondering.

Yeah. I really liked this episode. I am not sure what’s going to happen with Skye. I think shows work better when you actually do wonder if a character is going to live or die. I assume she is going to live, but I have no idea what form she will be. Will it be the old Skye, or some new form? I mean, she is an Object of Unknown Origin, perhaps she will come back in the form of an ancient demon. This episode was able to mix action, humor, and honest to god drama better than any of the previous episodes. I like where the show is going, so far. I hope it keeps going on that upward trajectory.

I really enjoyed how they went back and forth with time in this episode. I would love for them to play with that more often. Episodes from different characters perspectives, mixing up timelines. That kind of thing. This was a small start, but I am hoping it means they are moving towards experimenting with all sorts of interesting ways to tell stories.

Stuff I noticed.

The Simmons “You’re much too young to be my father.” bit was sweet.
“I used to watch a lot of American TV lots of nice teeth.”
Did you know Rafe Judkins, one of the writer’s on this episode was on Survivor and this team wrote a couple of good episodes of Chuck?
Stan Lee!!
“I can’t deal with Asgard now!”
“Holotable On!” … “Holotable action!” … CLICK
When the holotable was first turned on I think it would have been pretty funny if it had been cluttered with artifacts from the Marvel Universe that FitzSimmons had been studying.
They keep finding new and interesting ways for May to be badass. But, they also allowed her a couple of tender moments in this episode. That was nice.
“I saw you guys frozen. You looked ridiculous.”

Best episode yet, in my opinion.

It’s been established that Coulson and May have known each other for years. But has their past relationship ever been defined? I’m just thinking it would be funny if at some point, one of them mentioned they used to be married.

  • Skye will be fine. Wait–this is Joss? Skye will die.
  • I loved the rewinds to cover each set of events separately. Beats the hell out of a mishmash of intercut scenes.
  • Those glasses looked nice on Simmons. A little much, but they sorta balanced her face.

I think they’ve made too much of the whole “Skye is an Object of Unknown Origin” thing to just kill her off at this point. Of course that’s a pretty far cry from “Skye will be fine”.

I was expecting her to super-heal or something.

It’s actually going to be 3 weeks before the next episode - no new eps of anything during the Olympics. Joss timed that pretty well.

“Prostitutes? Plural?”

The non-linear storytelling was OK, but I hope they don’t make a habit of it.

Deathlok! Oh yeah! There could be more cyborg action to come, as I noted the Deathlok ID plate stated V.5.01 or something. Definitely version 5. Excited about this.

Now that Quinn has been captured, I wonder where his character’s story goes.

I also loved the reference Coulson made to Emil Blonksy, in threatening Ward with an Alaskan assignment.

Good episode.

Hyperbaric chamber, and I was glad to see that there was at least some slight degree of plausibility in using that, although I’m pretty sure they don’t normally freeze the patient as well.

Now, the writers may have spent some time in a hyperbolic chamber, coming up with this one. Once again the mechanics of the plot (at least until Skye took those bullets, which I personally found traumatic, what with my unrequited crush and all) were completely silly, but enjoyable for all that (May’s drogue 'chute escape from the train was particularly audacious). In particular, if I were a supervillain or minion, I’d scrap the ‘night-night’ grenades and just go with the regular explody kind.

Did I see that Bill Paxton will be in the next new episode? Game over, man, game over.

Agreed. She’ll be back, but…different. They way they are paying off initial mysteries makes me think that whatever gets done to her will help her towards discovering what she really is.

I also loved the reference Coulson made to [Emil Blonksy]
(, in threatening Ward with an Alaskan assignment.

Thanks for that explanation/link - I assumed if I were more of a Marvel fan I’d have known who that was, but figured that someone here would explain it. And I didn’t even have to ask.

I thought they said before that Stan Lee was going to be an actual story character, and not just a cameo? Though it was a great cameo. I wonder if he specifically requests that he be escorted by models - that’s like the third time that’s happened.

So crazy theory - at the end of Avengers, the head Chitauri tells Thanos “To fight the humans is to court Death”, and Thanos smiles, because he is in love with the personification of Death. Last episode, the agent told Coulson and May to stay away from the 084, because “wherever she goes, Death follows.” So Skye is Death’s daughter, and the Clairvoyant wanted her shot to activate her Death powers.

Crazy theory 2 - the conversation between Skye & Fitz about 084s and whether one had ever been a person reminded me of the conversation between Starbuck and Anders after he found out he was a Cylon. So Skye is a Cylon.

I’m no trauma surgeon, but I’m betting that stopping the bleeding before putting her in the chamber would have been even more effective.

Maybe we’ll get lucky and he’ll get killed. Messily & painfully.

I vaguely remember Skye’s backstory including her being in some (doomed) village in SE Asia, being held there as an 084 with some latent powers. Maybe that will figure into her story - maybe she’s got some healing factor. I doubt it. I really hope she survives.

This was the best episode yet, IMHO. I’m interested again in the backstories and future stories. I’m also glad to see another Marvel character show up in the form of Deathlok. His comic was one of the more adult ones.

The only survivor of the mission to retrieve infant Skye/084 said “If she had any powers, we never saw them.”

Was Coulson being flirty with May while tending her wounds?

He asked if she had any wounds he couldn’t see (or something to that effect), and the look she gave back to him made me think they have a past (as speculated above, and previously). Ward noticed that, too.

Just when the show is getting better they start jacking it around. This was what, the first episode in two or three weeks? Then we’re not getting another one until March 4th? What a pain in the ass. I miss the old tv schedules. :frowning:

Isn’t February sweeps month? Or do they still do that?

They still do that, but ABC is also the network that is airing the Sochi Debacle, so no new SHIELD until after that.

No NBC has the Olympics, but it looks like CBS & ABC aren’t putting on new shows against them.

No, NBC has the Olympics - but very few networks air new episodes against them, thinking that no one will watch.