ABC‘s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. T.R.A.C.K.S. TV Show Review. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 1, Episode 13: ‘T.R.A.C.K.S.’ was a veritable check list of fix-its and done-rights. With Ian Quinn (David Conrad) now linked to the Clairvoyant, and their principal target, the team set out to intercept a Cybertek package, meant for Quinn, being transported by train. The item was a key component to Mike Peterson’s (J. August Richards) recovery (after his presumptive death, at the end of ‘The Bridge’), only now as an operative for the Clairvoyant. What followed was a series of parallel set-piece segments, as the plan went into effect – and then to pot – for Coulson (Clark Gregg), Ward (Brett Dalton), May (Ming-Na Wen), Skye (Chloe Bennet), and Fitz-Simmons (Iain De Caestecker & Elizabeth Henstridge), separately and in various groupings.
The plot and pacing was kinetic; reminiscent of a big screen heist flick. It suits the show very well. ‘T.R.A.C.K.S.’ played to each character’s strength, but more importantly, made good use of their weaknesses, when left out of their comfort zones. Not only did the tech-support element carry their weight, their individual peculiarities actually seemed to fit (or at least not annoy). Watching Coulson and Ward struggle with Fitz-Simmons’ station was a nice touch, and I appreciated the subtlety of Blonsky’s (aka Abomination) mention. I also appreciated Coulson taking a break, from being a father figure to Skye, to dress down Ward on his office romance. May never seems to be out of her comfort zone, of course, so it’s always a pleasure to see the team being the sort more deserving of her.
It was also nice to see the team getting a real challenge, and the show taking itself more seriously. The fight sequences were better choreographed, and the combatants much more ruthless in executing them. Ward didn’t hesitate (too much) in taking down a female opponent, May was merciless, after an interrogation breakaway worthy of Black Widow, and Peterson’s proto-Deathlok went Terminator. A nice start; but Ian Quinn took the cake by unceremoniously executing a captive team member. With yet another Empire Strikes Back downer ending, it almost seems like these ongoing cliff-hangers are an answer to long calls for major shake-ups to the cast and story lines.
There has been a lot of push-back, coming from the creative team, claiming a long-term strategy, and that the first season’s second half would pay off for loyal viewers. Well, whether that was actually the case (which would constitute a gamble that had begun to backfire), or just a cover to some last minute corrections that they won’t admit to, at least ‘T.R.A.C.K.S.’ gave me a reason to believe they have something going.
Stan Lee put it best, for his cameo comeback to live-action Marvel TV (bit of trivia, he did appear on the old Hulk series), “Now is your chance to do better. Why don’t you see that you take it.” Call it projection, on my part, but I say: you tell ’em, Stan! Speak up for your creation; speak out for us fans; earn them cameos.
Stan Lee Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. T.R.A.C.K.S.
‘T.R.A.C.K.S.’ was an example of what Agents is capable of, when living up to its most basic potential. By basic, I mean just sticking to the core cast; no tie-ins to the larger Marvel cinematic universe. The problem this presents for the series is that it now has to live up to actual expectations, rather than projected ones. For any fans, or casual viewers, that have stuck around, waiting for a clear sign that the show has turned a corner, this episode might have been it. They’re going to be wanting more. ‘T.R.A.C.K.S.’ has raised the bar, and now Agents has to maintain this new standard – if not improve further. Its early viewership earned the series a second season; here’s to hoping that a late season rally justifies second season viewership.