Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1, Episode 13: “T.R.A.C.K.S.” Review


In “T.R.A.C.K.S. ” the Agents board a train in Italy to track a mysterious package to be delivered to Ian Quinn, a businessman who’s connected to The Clairvoyant. Also, one of the agents is on the brink of death.

Continue reading for a spoiler filled review of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1, Episode 13.

Let’s Discuss What Happened!

• Train Travel: Every adventure show has an episode aboard a high speed train. SHIELD’s take on a tried and true setting works because each agent’s scenes are fun, highlights an aspect of their character and adds a piece to the bigger story.  To keep the train mission from being something that could be done on any other adventure show, the impulse grenades throw a sci-fi wrinkle to the story.

The agents in undercover hasn’t been an overplayed hand on the show so far; it’s mostly played for light comedy in this episode. The “American or British” bit with Skye and Fitz is slightly amusing compared to Simmon’s embittered daughter act.  While Simmons recognizes she excels at preparation and not improv, she took it too far with her elaborate back story.

• That’s Just What I Needed:  The overlapping time lines are intriguing as to how the pieces would fit together. The best example is cutting to commercial on a close up shot of May’s battered face right after she throws a knife into the back of Italian agent Russo.

May is a scene stealer and she’s fast becoming a living highlight reel. The way May responds after getting stabbed below the shoulder and then proceeds to obliterate her torturers is simply amazing. I love that snarly expression of hers when she’s pissed off.

Bullet The Blue Skye: Although the show has it’s share of suspenseful moments, Skye’s bullet wounds bring to mind how there’s been a lack of gut wrenching, life or death danger on the show. Chloe Bennett (Skye) did a solid job selling the gravity of the situation and Elizabeth Henstridge’s (Simmons) teary-eyed breakdown at the end are heavy emotional moments I’d like to see more of on the show.

As Skye lay bleeding out, I wondered whether the writers have the conviction to kill her off. In the back of my mind, the story line of Skye as an 0-8-4 has not been explored yet, so I imagine she’ll be returning sooner or later. I didn’t really think she’d die, it would have been a huge shocker if she did. The use of the hyperbaric chamber to sustain Skye’s life requires some suspension of disbelief. I’ll have to assume the chamber uses some sort of advanced sci-fi technology or there’s more to Skye than we know.


Deathlok:  Mike Peterson is a tragic figure. Physically he’s burnt, lost an eye and a leg, but the sympathy I feel for him is because of his good nature. His heart is in the right place, whether looking out for his son or trying to rescue Coulson when the bridge exploded but these decisions have backfired on him.  Adding to the tragedy is the loss of his free will; his strings pulled by master puppeteer the Clairvoyant. I like that a comic book character has been in the works right under our noses from the pilot episode.  Is there another character on the show who’s primed for super powered greatness or villainy?

The Wrap Up

The promos for this episode promised a game changing final act and a Stan Lee cameo. While it’s always great to see Stan Lee, especially as a Hugh Hefner type character with a young lady on his arms, his brief scene could have been more memorable like his funny appearance on Big Bang Theory.

“T.R.A.C.K.S.” is a fun, enjoyable ride especially in the first couple of acts with Agent May as the stand out. While the promos built up my expectations too much about the potential game changer and didn’t deliver on it’s promise, Skye’s life hanging in the balance gave the actors an opportunity to play a heavy emotional scene. I wouldn’t go as far as to say this is the best episode of the season but it’s definitely a very solid follow up to “Seeds”.

What do you think about Skye’s near death? What are your favourite parts of the episode? Are you looking forward to Bill Paxton next episode?

More Posts You Might Like:

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1, Episode 12 “Seeds” Review

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1, Episode 11 “The Magical Place” Review

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Posted on February 5, 2014, in Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., Television and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. I thought they were going to use one of those stasis grenades on Skye when they found her bleeding out. It would have been a lot better than suddenly discovered a brand new piece of technology. But I did enjoy that scene. It was unexpected, especially after a fairly comedic episode.

    • I was thinking the same thing too about using those grenades on Skye to keep her from bleeding out. It would have been a good pay off after introducing the technology earlier in the episode. Her scenes were a turn towards a dark tone after quite a few laughs earlier in the episode. I liked that scene too.

  2. This was arguably one of the best episodes yet! I loved the overlapping timelines, the Blonsky reference, Ward & Coulson using the holo-table, May being kick-ass, and practically any scene involving Deathlok. It was the right mix of comedy and seriousness. Hopefully there’s more episodes like this in store for us.

    • Hi Gotham Rogue, I also really enjoyed the episode’s POV / overlapping timeline format. I missed the Blonsky reference haha but I got a good chuckle from the holo-table scene which brings to mind the odd pairings worked well in this episode. Earlier episodes that spent time developing Mike Peterson are beginning to pay off now. I’m looking forward to what happens next with Deathlok. I’ve read some reviews that Stan Lee’s line about ‘here’s your chance to do better’ might be aimed at the show itself. A lot of elements of the show including the humour and dramatic scenes are working better for me, let’s hope upcoming episodes can keep this up.

  3. Hey man 🙂 I know I’m late on swinging by to talk about this episode but I didn’t get around to watching it until last night. I thought that this episode was awesome and probably the best material that its put out. The non-linear storytelling, the funny pairings on the team on the train, May wasting all those dudes and Quinn shooting Skye, frigging cool-ass stuff. Stan Lee’s cameo while it was definitely shorter than I expected I thought it was perfect, it was frigging funny as hell and vibed really well off of the situation with Simmons and Coulson. I feel like this was the episode where the show grew some balls and started presenting us with some very real danger making some great connections to previous episodes and setting up some nice foreshadowing for the future.

    I finally put my review up recently, hopefully you can take a look at some point. 🙂

    • Hey there! Always great to hear from you whenever you get the time. I really liked this episode too, though I still have a fondest for F.Z.Z.T. because it made me feel for Simmons and Fitz for the first time. All those elements from the non-linear format to May beating up those guys was great. The way Stan Lee’s cameo was promoted I felt it would have been longer, instead of just one line. Maybe they should have kept it as a surprise then I’d be all over it. I read somewhere that Clark Gregg describes the first half of the season as the healthy part of the meal and we’re now getting to the dessert. Well I love dessert! Here’s hoping the show can pay off everything that was set up earlier in the season, including Deathlok and the Clairvoyant. Great chatting with you, I’ll check out your review shortly. 🙂

  4. In what reality was this a game-changing episode?
    Seriously, I’m tired of being mentally violated by Joss Whedon and Marvel. At least buy me dinner first, you jerks.
    And lest I forget… WORST. STAN LEE. CAMEO. EVER!

    • It’s a really good episode but ‘s not a game-changer. The real show runners are Joss Whedon’s brother and sister-in-law so I’d lay the blame on them for any violations. 🙂 I was hoping for more from the Stan Lee cameo, glad I’m not the only one that feels that way.

  5. I’m so glad things are starting to pick up on this show. Seems like it was kind of blah for a while, and I was considering giving up on it. I’m glad I didn’t! Plus, I actually LIKE Skye now, which helps. Haha.

    • Hi Cara, it’s good to see the show is finding it’s groove. I’m also glad I’ve stuck with the show through the growing pains. Oh wow, so you like Skye now eh, I’m looking forward to what happens next with her.

      • Yeah it took awhile, but I’ve definitely warmed up to Skye. She just needed to get past that stage when she argued with everyone about everything and was not entirely loyal to the group. Now we’re cool. Haha. Also, very excited to see how Lady Sif will be incorporated! 🙂

        • I’ll admit I did feel for Skye when she got shot multiple times in the stomach and was left to die out bleeding in agony :). It’s helping that she no longer has dodgy, ulterior motives and she’s gelling better with the team. Oh yeah, it’s going to be so awesome to see Lady Sif in action and teaming up with the agents!

  6. Great recap! I agree this was a solid episode. Am I a heartless person if I didn’t really care that Skye got shot? For me her getting shot wasn’t too sad, which most likely means I’m not really that invested in her as a character. I did think the teams reaction was excellent – great job by the team all around, and very moving scene with Simmons’ breakdown.
    May was my one of my favorite this episode. She’s such a badass. Although I don’t love Ward and May together, I don’t want to see May and Coulson together. I think the friend dynamic works better for them.

    • This episode hit the mark. The dramatic ending depended on how much one cares about Skye and likelihood of her biting the bullet. Haha, I don’t think your heartless for not caring about Skye. She doesn’t connect with a lot of fans and that’s the writer’s problem not the fans. I did feel for her though especially when she was grabbing at the door knob with bloody hands.

      I’m not the biggest Simmon’s fan but I do like when she’s not perky all the time like when she ordered everyone to move Skye to the hyperbaric chamber and crying her eyes out. May is my standout agent, she’s a beast. I do like May & Ward together mainly because it’s not a “romantic” relationship but I also don’t love it, that would be too strong of a word. Yeah, the chemistry between May and Coulson is working right now as friends which is what I prefer. Anyways, I’d hate for Coulson to get sloppy seconds haha and it was mentioned in a previous episode about his former lover who’d I’d be interested in finding out about.

  7. I just can’t bring myself to watch this show.

  8. Finally getting caught up on Agents of SHIELD. 😉 I liked this episode, quite a bit actually. The international train setting was fun, and like you mentioned, the sci-fi twist made it stand out from similar train scenes in action movies. The banter and interactions between the characters are definitely seeming more natural. I was surprised by Skye getting shot. I don’t think she’ll actually die, but this episode does up the stakes for the show. The show continues to improve, but hopefully it won’t be too little too late. 😦

    • Very cool, glad to hear you’re getting caught up on SHIELD, especially on this episode which got a lot of positive feedback even from weary fans. I liked how the episode started off on a light, funny tone then it got progressively darker. That’s a good point about the banter and interactions feeling more natural, I hope to see more of this moving forward and continuing to build on the character dynamics. Shooting Skye is surprisingly brutal; it’s high stakes danger that was emotional for the agents even though it’s unlikely she’ll die. The show is on a good run of episodes, I hope the ratings don’t drop any further. One more episode to go and then you’ll be up-to-date! 🙂

  9. Skye being shot was a stunning surprise, and it was also a good way to demonstrate how cold Ian Quinn can be, because to me he’s not really the kind of villain I’d expect in a show like this. I would expect someone way more sinister in mannerism, not necessarily with a cartoony evil cackle, but not someone who’s like only a suave corporate jerk. But he also showed how heartless he can be in the previous episode when he persuaded the students Donnie and Seth to set off the dangerous gadget even when he had no intention to witness it, and that was deliciously evil of him so I hate him suitably enough, haha.

    I like the overlapping scenes too, it added a lot of fun to the pace. May is definitely the star of the episode. That their Italian collaborator turned out to be traitor was an entertaining surprise, but how this was indicated when he was ended with a furious May was even more fun

  10. This is a fan favorite episode, I wonder if Skye getting shot and left for dead has anything to do with it. 😉 Quinn makes for a cool villain. He’s icy sauve, the kind of bad guy that usually gets others to do his dirty work so it’s quite significant for him to shoot Skye himself. What he did was heartless and very cruel like you said

    May’s scene is the highlight of episode, it even tops Skye getting shot. The overlapping scenes added mystery as to how everything would connect. A lot of fun this episode plus a lot real danger. I’d be curious to hear what you think of the next few episodes that are part of an over arching story.

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