Published on February 5th, 2014 | by Sharp-O2
S.H.I.E.L.D. Exposed – “T.R.A.C.K.S”
Mysteries on a vanishing train? Did I accidentally tune into Poirot?
SPOILERS for UK Viewers!
This is by far the best episode of Agents of SHIELD so far, hands down. It’s not hyperbole, it’s fact. T.R.A.C.K.S shakes up the formula by presenting us a mystery and gradually shows us the chain of events from each characters’ perspective. The episode builds momentum and tension perfectly but still allows for comedic character bits and ends on a cliffhanger will keep the fans rabid ’til the show returns in March.
That’s something I’d like to point out. What the hell is wrong with your broadcast schedules, America? Seriously, it’s an absolute pain in the arse. If you remember my Young Justice article, you’ll recall that it took Cartoon Network 18 months to air 24 episodes and I can’t help but feel the same frustration now as we get yet another hiatus after a fantastic episode.
The episode opens on the team planning an undercover operation on a train that is transporting cargo to Ian Quinn. The company providing the cargo is CyberTek and if I didn’t already know who was going to show up, I’d immediately mark out for an obscure company associated with a named character. Because I’m a sucker for continuity details. The team gets made and are seperated, and this is where the mystery starts playing in. The various sequences of events that occur are slowly revealed to us and all play into the plot perfectly. Coulson and Ward are victim to a toxin that makes them believe the train simply vanished, May is captured by the double-crossing Italian authorities and Skye, Fitz and Simmons are left to contend with the CyberTek guards on the train.
There’s lots of fun to be had in this episode too, as STAN LEE makes his long-awaited and nails it. Seeing ol’ Stan chew Clark Gregg a new one while Clark just sits there smiling that smile of his was great. I did like Iain De Caestecker flawlessy switch from Scottish to an American accent on the fly. The guy’s got acting chops! And a later scene of Ward and Coulson trying to work the holo-table in FitzSimmons’ lab was hilarious.
Now we come to the actual highlight of the episode, the return of Mike Peterson and his new persona. Skye infiltrates the meeting point between CyberTek and Ian Quinn and after she discovers Mike in a cryotube (I think), Quinn appears and wakes him up and it is clear that his Clairvoyant master is pulling the strings as he can barely look at Skye. The shame of his current predicament, as well as his injuries, visibly weigh heavily on Mike as he’s given a (admittedly kick-ass) crazy robot leg and is taunted by Quinn. His mission is clear and goes upstairs to kill the CyberTek members, accompanied with a cold, detached voice that shows how broken and powerless he truly is against the machinations of the Clairvoyant. And then Quinn shoots Skye in the gut. TWICE. Because he’s a vindictive bastard and when the team storms the mansion, every one of them is chomping at the bit to tear him to pieces. The team put Skye in the cryotube to stabilize her and are all visibly shaken as they rush to get medical attention while Quinn sits in the interrogation room.
The stinger shows Mike watching a children’s playground and asking if he can see his son, to which the Clairvoyant replies “Not yet” on his HUD. The camera pans down to his new crazy robot leg and it’s revealed to the audience what Mike has become. DEATHLOK. HUGE mark out moment for me there, despite various news sites spoiling it for me in advance.
So that’s T.R.A.C.K.S, and while I get the train theme, I don’t know why the title is acronymic but regardless, it’s an absolutely fantastic episode. It’s full of mystery, links to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe (Emil Blonsky name drop!) and more world-building to cement the show’s place in the grand scheme of things. I hope people see reviews like this and decide to give the show another chance because while it stumbled early on, the show found its stride and is now sprinting full pelt into great storylines. I’ll see you guys next month for the next episode!