Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: T.R.A.C.K.S.

“Prostitutes? Plural?”

Thanks to those pesky Winter Olympics, this is going to be the last episode we’ll see until March. I know! We just got back from a two week break and we're back on hiatus already. Are you serious, ABC? The last thing a struggling series like this needs is month off the air. Especially when it looks like it has finally found its groove.

From the onset it looked like this was going to be a fun little undercover caper episode. I expected a Die Hard situation to eventually develop, with the bad guys hijacking the train and Coulson and Co forced to share the role of John McClane. But that would make this episode Under Siege 2: Dark Territory. Happily, ‘T.R.A.C.K.S.’ turned out not to be the lousy sequel to an okay-ish Steven Seagal movie, but rather the best episode of the series so far.

The multi-perspective back and forth could've become tedious very quickly and sunk the episode. Instead, it actually worked to the episode's advantage since it allowed each member of the team to have their own moment in the spotlight. So we got Ward (and Coulson) failing to master the holotable; May demonstrating once again what an ultimate badass she is (don't call her sweetheart if you want to live to old age); and Simmons proved that she can be good at lying as long as she is given time to prepare her lies. How typical of Simmons to give her character a detailed backstory. One that doesn't show her "father" in a flattering light. Is that a mixed metaphor? Those scenes were hilarious, made better by an appearance by Stan the Man.

All the fun and games quickly came to an end once the action relocated to Quinn’s Italian villa/obvious California mansion. I do wish they’d kept Super Gunn’s appearance secret. It would've been so much nicer if it was a complete surprise. I do hate it when recaps and credits give away plot twists. Supernatural is the worst for this. That's not to say the third act was lacking in surprises, because it sure as hell wasn't. Quinn shooting Skye was a big shock, mostly because of how casually it was done. There was no build up, no big signs to tell us Quinn was going to shoot Skye, it just happened before Skye could even finish her sentence.

And then he went and shot her again. I know Skye isn't my favourite character, but that was just cruel. If he was ordered to kill her he could've just shot her in the head and been done with it. Shooting her in the stomach (twice) and leaving her there was an act of cruelty, likely a way of sticking it to Coulson. Will Skye die? Probably not. The writers clearly have a long term plan for her, so unless dying is part of that plan I expect Skye to make a full recovery in an episode or two. If, however, she was currently in a loving relationship then she'd be a goner for sure. This is a Mutant Enemy Production after all (where gentle flirting can qualify as a death sentence).

As painful as it was to watch, the team needed this. They needed to know that they weren't invincible, that they can be hurt and hurt badly. Plus, as much as we want characters to live nice, peaceful lives where nothing horrible ever happens, secretly we actually want to see them struggle and suffer. We want to see them go through hell because it makes for better television. That’s why we’re obsessed with shows like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, shows where happiness is an endangered species, if not extinct altogether. I'm not saying that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. needs to be as dark and depressing as those shows, but it would be nice if we could have a few more instances where this team faces genuine peril.

Intel and Assets

--Coulson threatens to reassign Ward to guard Blonsky’s cryo-cell in Alaska. Emil Blonsky is the real name of the Abomination, who was the main villain in The Incredible Hulk.

--Coulson made it clear to Ward that he is not happy about two members of his team having sex with each other. He was more stern with Ward than he was with May in the previous episode. Probably because Coulson isn’t foolish enough to try and tell Melinda May off.

--Will Coulson use the ‘procedures’ that were used on him to try and save Skye? Will they trigger her dormant superpowers?

--Fitz's American accent is impressive. Skye's Scottish accent should never be spoken of again. Ditto whatever it was that Carlo Rota (Russo) was trying to do.

--The label on Super Gunn's artificial leg said Project: Deathlok. Deathlok is a cyborg from the comics. There have been three Deathloks to date, none of them were named Mike Peterson but a few were S.H.I.E.L.D. agents.


Simmons: "All mum ever wanted was your love. To be with you at our two-story Victorian home in the Cotswolds. But could you even give her a moment? What with your banking job requiring you to travel from the states from Tuesday to Saturday every other week, no!"

May: "Yeah, I saw you guys frozen on the field. You looked ridiculous."

Fitz: "You are the least supportive pretend girlfriend I've ever had!"

Four out of four Stan Lee cameos.

6 comments:

sunbunny said...

Skye getting shot twice reminded me of (Firefly spoiler) "Serenity" where Dobson knocked out Book and then proceeded to hit the unconscious man AGAIN.

drnanamom said...

Yeah good episode - boo long break! I really enjoyed this. It was the first episode that I thought I might like to watch again. I hope the momentum keeps building because there are bits of this show that I really like and I would be very sad to see it cancelled.

Billie Doux said...

Best Agents episode yet, no doubt about it. The overlapping timelines were done very well, and I very much enjoyed the story. The holotable scene was Whedonism at its best -- I absolutely loved it. Was *not* expecting what happened to Skye. The reveal of Super Gunn, as you said, was given away, but yay for J. August Richards in a big continuing role! Me and my little crush on him were both very happy to see him show up, and bummed to see how maimed his character is, poor baby.

Jess Lynde said...

Mark, I had to chuckle at you pointing out that my two "unhealthy obsession" shows are the most depressing shows on television. I may need to look into some counseling. :)

I'm not overly concerned that Skye is going to die --- or stay dead, at least --- given what they've just revealed about her, but I still got fairly upset when she was bleeding out in the basement and weakly calling for help. I'm apparently much more attached to her than I thought. And Coulson being so devastated when he found her just made it all the worse. I really like the relationship those two have built, and hated Quinn referring to Skye as Coulson's "pet project." I'm sure he's very invested in protecting her after learning about all the other agents that sacrificed themselves for her, but she's more to him than an 0-8-4 to be protected.

Watching May not even flinch when Carlo Rota stabbed her, and then thanking him for giving her just what she needed took her badassery to a whole other level. She rocks!

migmit said...

Good episode, but please, PLEASE, not Mike Peterson again! I freaking HATE Richards. He is the main reason I never finished watching Angel, he is a major annoyance here.

Does anybody else thinks Quinn might have an evel eye of doom as well? And maybe — maybe — him shooting Skye in the stomach was his way of giving her a chance, while still fulfilling his orders? Come to think of it, we didn't actually see where the second shot went — and, judging by the position of their bodies, neither did Quinn himself; which might be the point. I wonder what Skye herself would say when — if — she wakes up.

Actually, this eye controlling things doesn't strike me as something solid enough. Suppose I have one of these. The moment they allow me to go to sleep, I can just close my eyes — or rather just one of them — and do whatever I want. Even assuming that the eye has GPS tracker in it — which would kinda defeat the purpose, since S.H.I.E.L.D. can find a way to track it as well — and a microfone, nothing would stop me from emailing Coulson or somebody in the S.H.I.E.L.D. from a smartphone, explaining my predicament. Then all I have to do is to wait for cavalry (or The Cavalry) to arrive. Even if I don't have a smartphone, I'm pretty sure I'll be able to just snatch it from somebody, without even looking (given proper motivation).

Scott Riggan said...

Okay. Yes. This is what I was hoping for. Clever, funny, surprising (mostly) and (as you point out, Mark) "genuine peril." This show has been hit and miss for me but now I'm in. And since I've taken so long to get on board, I get to binge until I'm caught up...