Episode 13 of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., aptly titled T.R.A.C.K.S., was a nice change in pace with its Stan Lee cameo and even some tears by the show’s end. Unfortunately, however entertaining it was to see good old Stan “the man” Lee and the resurgence of the show’s “big bad” the Clairvoyant, aka the mysterious head of Centipede; the show still hasn’t picked up much in the way of pace.
Granted, the entire premise of the show is focussed on this unlikely band of heroes that Agent Phil Coulson is gently, but firmly, whipping into shape as a cohesive team. Sadly, the entire exercise is taking too long and the habit of allowing each new episode to grudgingly let the audience in on just what is really going on with each character is getting annoying.
As is the frustrating little nudges and winks to the show’s bigger brother. Asgard gets a mention, but, sadly there is no Thor appearance nor does Loki show up. After the Nick Fury cameo at the beginning of the series it seems that the show’s producers are hedging their bets by keeping the big screen Marvel heroes cameos to an absolute minimum. Annoying, but understandable.
Still, lack of cameos aside, one thing that S.H.I.E.L.D. does very well is the typical Whedon trick of having the character’s interact well. Unfortunately not one character apart from Skye who is an 0-8-4, which is shield-speak for “unknown origin, is interesting enough to take this sort of leisurely approach. Of course the possible love triangle between May, Coulson and Ward could escalate and provide more awkward moments in future episodes. This may be the sort of conflict the show needs after the character’s have all, more or less, bonded as a team.
The new team has another chance in this episode to show how they’ve grown. The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. T.R.A.C.K.S. takes place on a train, for a good portion of the show, and it does have Stan Lee – in the first few minutes on the train, although the team leave the train somewhat violently, but, that is not where the tears come from.
This week, or month since the series has only been sparingly released in 2014 with February having one episode and the next not due till March, in their search for a secret weapon and Quinn the team start out on a train. Again and again and again. There show mechanization of a sort of Prince of Persia rewind plot where the audience could see just what happened prior to Coulson and Ward having to jump off the train.
Realizing that Quinn’s organization Cybertech have learned that the team are following their expensive $10,000 package on the train, the agents all go through repeated stages of attack, self defense and escape. Only three have the “time virus” grenade used on them, but, this allows the rewind to show how each of the team fared during the train attack. After a series of “repeats” that overlap each other all of the action on the train is revealed, albeit, very slowly.
While Ward and Coulson talk about the May situation, the deadly lady in question shows up, kills a traitor and the three fly out to rescue 0-8-4 Skye and Fitz. Skye head down to the basement, alone and unarmed to check on the expensive package. Once there she discover’s former Centipede super soldier Mike in a tube and the $10,000 package.
Quinn shows up, with a gun, and lets Mike out of the tube. The package is replacement leg for the Mike, who lost his own when Centipede blew him up while taking Coulson hostage previously in the episode A Magical Place. With his new leg in place the now evil Agent Peterson heads upstairs to perform the mission that the Clairvoyant has given him.
Quinn goes on to show why he is in the running for big bad with the Centipede head, presumably the Clairvoyant, by shooting Skye. When the team converge on Quinn’s hideout, Coulson discovers Skye and loses his usual calm, cool composure. Meanwhile, Peterson completes his homicidal task and makes his way out of the house and heads back to see his son.
Sadly, this damaged former superhero trainee is told that he cannot see his son just yet. The final shot of Mike shows him crumpling up paper in his hand, which contained the question about seeing his son. The camera zooms into his fist and beyond to focus on Peterson’s new leg. Going in for an extreme close up, the logo “Deathlok” is seen quite clearly in the limb’s knee joint. The extreme close up is meant to be foreboding and it is.
The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. T.R.A.C.K.S. does leave the audience with tears trickling at the sight of a badly wounded Skye and then seeing Phil Coulson get broken up when he finds her. The Stan Lee cameo at the beginning of the episode was light hearted and amusing, but, Whedon’s touch or influence on the show seems to indicate that Skye may not live very long, Joss has never treated his characters as “above death” so 0-8-4 girl may bow out. Whether she lives or dies, will not be revealed until March 4.
By Michael Smith