Agents of SHIELD
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Review - Episode 13: T.R.A.C.K.S.

Bob Chipman | 5 Feb 2014 11:35
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Imagine this: You're a kid. You get into your mom's car after school on Friday. She turns around, beaming, pops a pair of Mickey Mouse ears onto her head and gleefully teases: "We're going somewhere speeeeeeeeecial!"

...and then proceeds to drive you to Six Flags.

Now, there's nothing wrong with Six Flags. Six Flags is great. In fact, in certain specific ways it's actually superior to that... "other park." The lines aren't as interminable. There are more fast and intense rides. There's not nearly as much walking to get where you want to go - you don't need to trek all the way to a separate "land" for the waterslides. Available foodstuffs trend more toward classic American midway/fair cuisine, which goes well with the park atmosphere. All good things...

...but, damn it... she did put on those damn ears.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is, still, kind of like that. Objectively, this show is just fine; occasionally pretty awesome. It's goofy high-concept TV-budgeted scifi/fantasy nonsense ala Knight Rider married to eclectic-team mystery shows like NCIS. It has aliens and magic and high-tech science-guns. It has sexy girls. It has kung-fu fights. This is good television - it's just not the weekly dose of Marvel Universe worldbuilding awesome-sauce that it keeps acting like it's just about to be.


T.R.A.C.K.S. hits the ground running and finds very little time to slow down, so let's get get caught up since we've been without a new episode for two weeks now: Agent Coulson? Not a robot or a zombie, but resurrected against his will and brainwashed to forget that he'd ever resisted - now increasingly distrustful of S.H.I.E.L.D. as a result. Skye? Surprise! You weren't a terminally-unloved orphan, after all! In fact the long succession of people you thought kept abandoning you were actually a network of allies to a pair of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who gave their lives sheltering you because you are apparently some kind of superhuman being! As a result, she's now much more trusting of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Agents May & Ward? Still putting the N.S.A. in No Strings Attached relationships, but now Coulson knows about it and Ward is maybe starting to feel, well... feelings. Fitz/Simmons? Adorkable and science - some things don't change. Mike Petersen? Alive, but badly-burned, missing a leg and under the control of the mysterious C.E.N.T.I.P.E.D.E. organization; which we now know includes douchey tech-billionaire Ian Quinn.

As the episode opens, Team Coulson has benignly bullied its way into taking over an Italian (because Southern California doubles nicely for rural Italy, I'm assuming) police outfit's undercover sting on a train whose passengers are believed to include agents of Cybertek en-route to deliver a mystery package to the still-missing Quinn. So undercover action is the name of the game for Act I: Coulson and Simmons playing a father/daughter pair, Skye and Fitz as a vapid young couple, Ward as part of the train staff and May... walking on the roof with X-Ray goggles in case any asses need kicking.

This sort of thing tends to be filler, a way for casts (and writers) to have fun playing out of type while marking time for the plot to start, but it's a good bit of fun: Skye and Fitz debate whether to pretend they're an American or British couple, settling for American because Fitz can adopt a surprisingly flawless accent. Simmons is much too enthusiastic about a comically elaborate backstory she's prepared for her character. May... looks great in her Black Widow-esque vinyl body-stocking.

Things head south right around the time the conductor's voice comes over the loudspeakers alerting passengers to a passing landmark: Coulson and Ward notice their radios have gone out, move to investigate and find themselves overwhelmed by Cybertek goons and tossed right off the train - which appears to vanish before their eyes when said goons detonate a grenade that leaves a peculiar blue vapor-cloud. Hm. They're briefly reassured that May is still on the train to protect the others... until they find her X-ray specs discarded nearby. Uh-oh. We then cut to...

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