Thirteen is often associated with bad luck. Some buildings don’t even label their 13th floor “13.” But for Marvel’s and ABC’s “Agents of SHIELD,” it seems to be their lucky number. This week’s episode “T.R.A.C.K.S.” marked what could arguably be called a turning point for the show. Many have clamored for more integration of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and to use the show to debut new characters, something, they argue, Marvel has not been taking advantage of. It seems this was Marvel’s plan from the very beginning, with a major reveal getting a big fan reaction and the overarching storyline finally moving forward with this week’s episode.
Now that Centipede is on the run, the crew is after Ian Quinn (David Conrad) in their efforts to track down the mysterious Clairvoyant. Following a tip from Italian Police Inspector Luca Russo (Carlo Rota) that a Cybertek Security Group working for Quinn will be delivering a package to him personally, the team goes undercover on a train. After a fun cameo by Stan Lee, things quickly go off rails and the team is compromised, with Ward and Coulson forced to abandon the train. In a similar fashion to a previous episode, the show rewinds to a specific moment from earlier in the timeline after each commercial break to show what each character was doing at the moment when things went wrong.
The train has seemingly disappeared, with Coulson and Ward slowly picking up the pieces. May had to abandon the train as well, and the trio regroup at the Bus after it’s revealed that Russo was working for Quinn all along. In a seriously badass interrogation scene, a captive May dispatches her captors before following Russo back to the Bus and killing him, then informing Ward and Coulson of what happened. They track the train down and find Simmons knocked out. Meanwhile, Fitz and Skye have tracked Cybertek operative Carlo Mancini (TJ Ramini) to Quinn’s location, where Skye decides they shouldn’t lose sight of either Quinn or the package, and follows them inside a mansion, while Fitz sets off a tracking beacon for the Crew.
Skye is discovered and Quinn reveals to her that Mike Peterson (J. August Richards) is still alive, but unfortunately working for the Clairvoyant now. Mancini presents the package and attaches its content to Mike’s amputated leg, where it morphs into a replacement cybernetic leg. Mike is then sent off to dispatch the Cybertek people because they lead SHIELD to their location, but is ordered not to engage SHIELD itself. Meanwhile, Quinn shoots Skye twice in the stomach, and tries to escape only to run into Coulson and crew. Coulson finds Skye and everyone arrives to see her at death’s door. Simmons has them put her in the same hyperbaric chamber Mike was in to stabilize her. At the end of the episode, Mike is seen watching children on a playground and writing a note to the Clairvoyant asking if he can see his son, to which the reply is “Not yet.” A close up of his new leg reveals it’s part of the Deathlok project.
Coulson and Crew:
This was a good week for team building and team breaking. After Skye finally got her bracelet removed, you’d think things would be going well for the team internally; no more trust issues, etc. Not so fast. Ward has noticed the change in both Coulson and Skye after the revelation of Skye’s background. Secrets are what SHIELD does, but these secrets are creating some issues. When Ward brings up his relationship with May to Coulson, he is shocked by Coulson’s straightforward response. It’s funny, but also kinda scary when Coulson gets serious. Fitz and Skye also get close, and everyone shows their new family bond when Skye’s found shot and dying. But the thing that really stands out was Ward’s anger over the situation with Skye. He’s always wanted to protect her, and he blames not himself, but Quinn and the Clairvoyant, and possibly even Coulson for putting her in harm’s way. Of course, this could also be the result of some jealousy over May and Coulson’s close relationship.
This was a very good episode, not just for the Deathlok reveal, which my friend Virg called at the mid-season finale, but for how this episode moved things forward. It took some time to get going, but the show is really picking up steam. The stakes have been raised, and the stage has been set.
Let the final act begin!