Television Review: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Episode 113 - T.R.A.C.K.S.)

I think one of the things I want to do is also do some television reviews.  I can't review everything, but I do want to review, at least, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Once Upon A Time.  So, here we go...

Last night's episode of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was INTENSE.  And, apparently, everybody thought this as it was the most used word to describe the episode of Twitter (which I avoided all evening long for fear of having the episode being spoiled).  After a bit of a break, the good folks at ABC and Marvel spent a lot of time trying to build up this episode promising an appearance by Stan "The Man" Lee and the transformation of J. August Richards' character Mike Peterson into Deathlok.  With all that expectation, I feared I might actually dislike this episode.  But, I am going to go out on a limb and say that I think this was the best Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode yet.

Before I go any further, please note that there are spoilers in this review.  So, if you don't want to know what happens, do not read any further until you've viewed the episode.

Okay...again SPOILER ALERT.  Consider yourself warned.

The episode revolves around the team going on a covert operation to find Ian Quinn (David Conrad) who we learned is working, if not for, than with the mysterious "Clairvoyant."  It turns out that a man named Mancini who works for a company named Cybertek is transporting an unknown "package" by train in Italy to Quinn.  So, the team each takes part of the train to surveil Cybertek.  Unfortunately, they are found out and, at this point, the episode shows everybody's point of view through a series of flashbacks.  Little by little, the team comes back together.  But, it is Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Skye (Chloe Bennet) end up at Quinn's villa.  Skye ends up getting captured and finds out what the package is.  It turns out it is Mike Peterson (J. August Richards) who is outfitted with a cybernetic leg by Mancini.  As we learned at the end of "The Magical Place," we found that Peterson is now under the control of "The Clairvoyant."  Although, instead of taking instruction from Quinn, Peterson does what "The Clairvoyant" instructs him to do which is to take out the Cybertek people and not engage S.H.I.E.L.D.  Quinn, however, says he also has his orders and shoots Skye twice.  By the time S.H.I.E.L.D. arrives, they do manage to capture Quinn, but Skye is in critical condition and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) tries to keep her stable.  The episode ends with Skye's life hanging in the balance, Quinn in the interrogation room, and Peterson asking "The Clairvoyant" to see his son.  The final moment shows a close up of Peterson's new cybernetic leg which says "Project Deathlok."

What I loved about this episode was that the flashback sequences really gave each of the characters a chance to shine and we got to see how each character would respond to various situations.  And, I think it also showed that, while there might be moments of awkwardness, the team has gelled.  When Skye's life lie in the balance, the reaction of each team member is palpable.  For me, it was very powerful.

To me, though, while I thought all of them were fantastic, the true stars of this episode were Elizabeth Henstridge as Simmons and Ming-Na Wen as Melinda May.  Simmons, at the beginning of the episode, showed some great humor by coming up with this fantastic back story for the character she played on the train.  She explains to Coulson (Clark Gregg) that she is not very good at improvisation, but she's great in preparation.  So convincing is she that she not only manages to capture Stan Lee's sympathy, but also manages to do her job.  But, at the end of the episode, when she must try to stabilize Skye, she also has the most visceral reaction.  I just wanted to give her a big hug.

With Melinda May, we see more kick assery, but in a way we haven't seen her before.  In fact, I would even say that Natasha Romanov should watch out because there is a new bad ass in town.  I would love to see Melinda May make an appearance in one of the new Marvel movies.

My only complaint about the episode wasn't really about the episode itself, but the hype.  I understand that ABC and Marvel is under pressure to try to make this show more palatable not just to the fanboys, but to those who became fans of Marvel through the Cinematic Universe.  So, I get that they wanted to hype the appearance of a Marvel character to show that they're moving in that direction.  But, I think that the episode would have been even more awesome if we didn't know Mike Peterson was going to become Deathlok.  I found myself thinking, "I know what's going to happen...Cybertek is going to make Peterson into a cyborg and they'll call him Deathlok."  Maybe it didn't happen exactly like that, but, it was close enough.  I just wish there had been a level of mystery.

Other than that, I hope Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues the pacing that it has over the last few episodes.  I can see the show is getting progressively better and I hope the fans do not give up on the show.  It's frustrating, though, that the show just had a bit of a break and now the next episode won't be for another month.  I'm assuming that Marvel is continuing to re-jigger the show so that it fits ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee's mandate of more Marvel Universe and more Marvel mythos.  If this is the case, then I will wait with great anticipation and excitement!


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