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TV Review: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1 Episode 13

Feb. 5, 2014by: Alex Maidy

NOTE: Join us every WEDNESDAY as we review the latest episode...

EPISODE 13: "T.R.A.C.K.S."

SYNOPSIS:  Hot on the trail of the Clairvoyant, Coulson and his team board a mystery train that seems to be headed for certain death

BREAKDOWN: (The following column contains MAJOR SPOILERS, so I don't recommend reading this if you haven't watched this episode).

When we last left AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D., there were two major reveals: Coulson had undergone hellish surgeries to bring him back from death and that Skye was rescued by the agency and has some sort of latent superpowers.  We also learned that bad guy Ian Quinn is involved with the mysterious villain called The Clairivoyant who seems to have a stake in S.H.I.E.L.D. operations, specifically Coulson's team.  Using intel regarding a mysterious train, it is everyone's favorite spy/cop episode cliche: everyone goes undercover!

The team members are paired up: Ward and May with tactical, Skye and Fitz posing as an American couple to gain access to a room for operations, and Coulson and Simmons pretending to be a father and daughter.  Simmons over the top character illicits a comment from none other than Stan Lee himself as some sort of a Hugh Hefner-esque passenger who scolds Coulson's undercover character.  It is an okay cameo, but nothing more than what Lee usually does for Marvel films.  Ward and Coulson end up jumping from the train as their cover is blown and the villainous Italian they are tracking throws some sort of device that makes the entire train disappear.

Ward and Coulson are left solo and return to The Bus to try and track the missing train.  A regional S.H.I.E.L.D. agent calls them, letting them know his team was killed, leaving the duo to work on finding the train on their own.  I realized during this sequence that Ward and Coulson have had little screen time on their own which is a shame as they are very similar characters at different phases in their careers.  I would like to see how the events coming in CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER will play into the Ward-Coulson dynamic.  As they ready to meet the local agent, he is killed by a bloodied May who readies the plan for take-off.

The next scene flashes back to the events from the episode start but from May's perspective.  After the first break, when the opening replayed from Ward's point of view, I figured it was a quick refresher, but now I realized that the writers of this episode actually concocted something creative and are giving us angles on the same event.  After a dozen episodes, AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. is finally doing something a little innovative.  This time, we see May escape via parachute from the train before stumbling upon Ward and Coulson frozen in time.  As she tries to find help, the same Italian S.H.I.E.L.D. agent takes May and reveals he is working for the bad guys.  After busting out and kicking ass, May reunites with Ward and Coulson.

S.H.I.E.L.D. locates the train, abandoned in the Italian countryside.  Ward, May, and Coulson arrive to find no trace of Fitz, Simmons, or Skye.  Boarding the train, they discover Simmons hiding in a closet with no idea where the rest of the team is.  The next sequence gives us Skye and Fitz's perspective as the op goes south.  The trio are attached and Simmons takes the same toxin that took out Ward and Coulson in the gut, knocking her out.  Fitz deduces the toxin is the same compound in the Nite-Nite gun he built, except airborne.  Skye and Fitz decide to follow the target on their own, stumbling onto a mansion owned by, you guessed it, Ian Quinn.

Now here is where things get really interesting.  As Skye enters Quinn's house, she goes into the basement and finds a cryogenic pod.  As she looks into it, she sees...Mike Peterson.  That's right, Mike survived as we saw briefly a few episodes back and is in some sort of statis.  Quinn apprehends Skye and pulls Mike out of the tube.  The item the team had been tracking on the train turns out to be a high tech prosthesis for Mike that replaces his amputated leg.  Quinn cites orders that Mike has been given which originate from The Clairivoyant.  Mike refuses to kill Skye when Quinn asks and leaves, saying his orders are to kill someone else.  After walking out, Quinn shoots Skye right in the stomach, twice, saying they were his orders.

At this point, I am expecting Skye's recently discovered superpowers to kick in.  Instead, she is still bleeding out as Mike begins to take everyone at Quinn's compound out.  Ward arrives with the team and captures Quinn.  Mike is given orders not to engage S.H.I.E.L.D.. Coulson finds Skye and is noticeably affected by her injury.  Despite not finding a pulse, the team puts Skye into Mike's vacant hyperbaric chamber, barely saving her life.  The team is all broken down at this point as they contend with what is happening to their friend and teammate.  I am a bit surprised that they seem to be more affected by Skye getting shot than Coulson being kidnapped.  The episode looks to be leaving us hanging here with Skye's fate uncertain and likely to be resolved next week.

The final scene of the episode shows the scarred Mike Peterson visiting the playground his son frequented in previous episodes.  He writes a note, asking if he can see his son, to which The Clairvoyant says "not yet".  The episode ends with a zoom onto Mike's prosthetic leg that shows the name Project: Deathlok.

MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE REFERENCES:

A reference to Asgard and, of course, the introduction of another well known comic character in Deathlok.

BEST LINE:

"If it really is just sex, Ward, you should get more comfortable using the word." - Coulson, in reference to May and Ward's relationship

COOLEST SCENE:

The best scene was actually Ward and Coulson struggling to turn on the holo-table, showing that while they can definitely kick ass in the field, they really are not good with technology.

DO WE (REALLY) KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO COULSON YET?  OR WHAT SKYE'S POWER IS?  OR WHO THE CLAIRVOYANT IS?

Coulson and Skye's stories are not mentioned, but we did learn that The Clairvoyant is the source of the eyeball messages seen at times through the season.

EPISODE CLEARANCE LEVEL: 9/10

This was a hell of a step up from previous episodes and one of the best of the season.  Maybe it was because the joking, Whedon-esque tone was almost gone this week and replaced by an actually unique storytelling format, an intriguing selection of plot twists, and some good character interaction from the team.  It was nice to see characters working together that haven't had much one on one time this season (Ward and Coulson, Fitz and Skye) plus the further development of Mike Peterson into Deathlok, something that appears to have been planned from the very beginning.  AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. may have lost a lot of fans over the last few months, but this was the type of episode everyone has been waiting for.

NEXT ON MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.:

February 11, 2014 - Skye is clinging to life after having been shot. Agent Coulson searches for any type of treatment that may be able to save her. When the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. go on a mission to find a cure, an even deadlier mystery is revealed. Bill Paxton begins his arc as Agent John Garrett.

TELL US WHAT YOU THOUGHT OF THIS EPISODE BELOW!

Source: JoBlo.com

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9:58PM on 02/05/2014

They keep dropping hints

that Skye is Coulson's daughter. "You don't look old enough to have a daughter my age." "Your little pet project. She means so much to you." Then there's the scene where Ward walks in on Coulson and May and he suspects there might be something between them but. of course, that would be "against regulations". So May would be Skye's mother. In previous episodes, we learned that Skye's mother is a SHIELD agent, that Skye was found in China after she had been rescued by a group that had held
that Skye is Coulson's daughter. "You don't look old enough to have a daughter my age." "Your little pet project. She means so much to you." Then there's the scene where Ward walks in on Coulson and May and he suspects there might be something between them but. of course, that would be "against regulations". So May would be Skye's mother. In previous episodes, we learned that Skye's mother is a SHIELD agent, that Skye was found in China after she had been rescued by a group that had held her captive and that May had once gone in a rescued a young girl from a group that he'd her captive and Coulson told her to "Let the girl go." If they have no plans to reveal the truth any time soon then they should stop dropping hints. My guess is that when the series is going to be cancelled that they will reveal the truth and Skye will have already figured it out but decided to play along.
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9:47PM on 02/05/2014
A runaway/ hostage train
A runaway/ hostage train
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-5
11:30AM on 02/05/2014

Please, please, please...

Please review Arrow on here! THAT'S the way a comic book show should be done. I've recently caught up on it on Netflix and can't believe I've been missing it. Don't write it off if you haven't seen it. It's great!
Please review Arrow on here! THAT'S the way a comic book show should be done. I've recently caught up on it on Netflix and can't believe I've been missing it. Don't write it off if you haven't seen it. It's great!
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10:15AM on 02/05/2014
I really don't think Mike Petersen becoming Deathlok was ever part of the overall story. If it was, then why have the whole Extremis angle in the first episode. Why not have him be a wounded soldier getting help from Centipede to repair damaged tissue or something. The implants gave him super strength and over the course of the show he becomes Deathlok.

Instead, he started out as another Extremis test-dummy. Got drafted into SHIELD, and they have a throwaway comment about how he was
I really don't think Mike Petersen becoming Deathlok was ever part of the overall story. If it was, then why have the whole Extremis angle in the first episode. Why not have him be a wounded soldier getting help from Centipede to repair damaged tissue or something. The implants gave him super strength and over the course of the show he becomes Deathlok.

Instead, he started out as another Extremis test-dummy. Got drafted into SHIELD, and they have a throwaway comment about how he was cured of the Extremis effects, but still had his super strength and agility. And then they launch into a whole storyline about how he's becoming Deathlok.

It sounds more like they had an idea for the pilot on their hands. Didn't really think far enough than three weeks out to flesh out stories for the season. Once they saw all the fan complaints and the drop in viewership since the pilot, they decided to retread some of their ideas and see where they could tinker with the plot. I'm sure one of the writers decided to bring back Mike Peterson and re-angle his story to introduce Deathlok into the series.
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10:29AM on 02/05/2014
I would bet every last cent in my bank account that you are completely right, I think it's very obvious that they're trying to do damage control by making many much more obvious Marvel references than they did in the first half of the season. Either Deathlok wasn't planned until midway through the season or the writers are even worse at telling a cohesive narrative than I realized (and I already thought they were pretty bad).
I would bet every last cent in my bank account that you are completely right, I think it's very obvious that they're trying to do damage control by making many much more obvious Marvel references than they did in the first half of the season. Either Deathlok wasn't planned until midway through the season or the writers are even worse at telling a cohesive narrative than I realized (and I already thought they were pretty bad).
4:37AM on 02/10/2014
While I doubt Peterson wasn't intended to be a recurring character (it seems like he was), the Deathlok thing has re-write written all over it. Er..so to speak. AoS was constantly talked about, prior to its debut, as though it would be a springboard for new characters, new heroes, and new villains to be created for the universe. Clearly, this plan started falling apart pretty much from the word go, and now they've accepted (rightly, I think) that the best course of action is to focus on
While I doubt Peterson wasn't intended to be a recurring character (it seems like he was), the Deathlok thing has re-write written all over it. Er..so to speak. AoS was constantly talked about, prior to its debut, as though it would be a springboard for new characters, new heroes, and new villains to be created for the universe. Clearly, this plan started falling apart pretty much from the word go, and now they've accepted (rightly, I think) that the best course of action is to focus on lesser known characters that already exist in the Marvel Universe.

I suspect that, from now on, every episode prior to "The Hub" - with the exception of the pilot - will be mostly ignored.
+10
9:32AM on 02/05/2014
Very excited to see the show turning itself around and the characters developing nicely. Loved the Blonsky reference! I was wondering if we were going to find out anything more about where he is. I'm pretty sure at the end it said the next episode isn't until march. If that's the case I'm really getting tired of the big gaps between episodes.
Very excited to see the show turning itself around and the characters developing nicely. Loved the Blonsky reference! I was wondering if we were going to find out anything more about where he is. I'm pretty sure at the end it said the next episode isn't until march. If that's the case I'm really getting tired of the big gaps between episodes.
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9:23AM on 02/05/2014

.

This show is probably one of the worst on tv.
This show is probably one of the worst on tv.
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9:32AM on 02/05/2014
Then why are you watching it?
Then why are you watching it?
9:51AM on 02/05/2014
Ive stopped
Ive stopped
10:25AM on 02/05/2014
Thanks for putting in your useless opinion. My opinion is you're the worst
Thanks for putting in your useless opinion. My opinion is you're the worst
10:32AM on 02/05/2014
I'm the worst show on tv?
I'm the worst show on tv?
10:32AM on 02/05/2014
I used to watch Smallville, even though it was one of the worst shows on TV, just in the hopes that it would get better, so I feel for ya Van-damage82. It'd always tossed out just enough decent episodes, and just enough promising cameos to keep me coming back even though I ended up being disappointed 95% of the time.
I used to watch Smallville, even though it was one of the worst shows on TV, just in the hopes that it would get better, so I feel for ya Van-damage82. It'd always tossed out just enough decent episodes, and just enough promising cameos to keep me coming back even though I ended up being disappointed 95% of the time.
10:41AM on 02/05/2014
Thanks man. I only watched season 8 of smallville to see what they done with doomsday! Shattered all over him is what they done lol.
Thanks man. I only watched season 8 of smallville to see what they done with doomsday! Shattered all over him is what they done lol.
4:42AM on 02/10/2014
It's not as good as it could be, but...trust me, there are some BAD shows on TV right now. Like, check out that one Robin Williams is in, "The Crazy Ones". I think it's supposed to be a watered down, 'comedy' version of Mad Men. But it ends up coming off as an unfunny, boring show about rich people who are mediocre, with a rare scene here and there where Robin Williams does a stand-up monologue to keep you from killing yourself out of boredom.
It's not as good as it could be, but...trust me, there are some BAD shows on TV right now. Like, check out that one Robin Williams is in, "The Crazy Ones". I think it's supposed to be a watered down, 'comedy' version of Mad Men. But it ends up coming off as an unfunny, boring show about rich people who are mediocre, with a rare scene here and there where Robin Williams does a stand-up monologue to keep you from killing yourself out of boredom.
8:51AM on 02/05/2014

Blonsky Reference...

Very surprised to not see any mention of Coulson's remark to Ward that if his relationship with May endangers the team in anyway, he'll send him off to Alaska to guard Blonksy's cell during the night shift. By far the best MCU reference of the episode, if not one of the better ones this season. How'd you miss that?

But yeah, this episode was great. Easily to me the strongest episode of the season. Hopefully SHIELD continues to bring it.
Very surprised to not see any mention of Coulson's remark to Ward that if his relationship with May endangers the team in anyway, he'll send him off to Alaska to guard Blonksy's cell during the night shift. By far the best MCU reference of the episode, if not one of the better ones this season. How'd you miss that?

But yeah, this episode was great. Easily to me the strongest episode of the season. Hopefully SHIELD continues to bring it.
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8:39AM on 02/05/2014
It was a good episode, the Rashomon-esque narrative device was used efficiently and there were still funny bits, like Coulson and Ward struggling to use the holo-table. And that Stan Lee cameo was a treat.
It was a good episode, the Rashomon-esque narrative device was used efficiently and there were still funny bits, like Coulson and Ward struggling to use the holo-table. And that Stan Lee cameo was a treat.
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7:49AM on 02/05/2014
It was great but I was upset over Skye. She better not die
It was great but I was upset over Skye. She better not die
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6:47AM on 02/05/2014
You forgot one Marvel Cinematic Universe reference. Blonsky. He's in Barrow, Alaska in a jail cell. of sorts.
You forgot one Marvel Cinematic Universe reference. Blonsky. He's in Barrow, Alaska in a jail cell. of sorts.
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+2
2:03AM on 02/05/2014

I absolutely hate this show, but I agree if all the episodes were of this caliber we'd actually have a decent series on our hands.

The problem is that they haven't all been of this quality, not even close, and I'm much more inclined to think that this is a fluke rather than the show actually turning over a new leaf.
The problem is that they haven't all been of this quality, not even close, and I'm much more inclined to think that this is a fluke rather than the show actually turning over a new leaf.
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2:02AM on 02/05/2014

On the right track

This was probably the best episode of the series. It still has a way to go to match arrow.
You did forget to mention another reference to the MCU and that was when Colson told Ward that if his relationship became a problem then he would be sent to Alaska to watch over the cryo-chamber holding Emil Blonsky who is the Abomination from the Incredible Hulk.
This was probably the best episode of the series. It still has a way to go to match arrow.
You did forget to mention another reference to the MCU and that was when Colson told Ward that if his relationship became a problem then he would be sent to Alaska to watch over the cryo-chamber holding Emil Blonsky who is the Abomination from the Incredible Hulk.
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