Welcome to VOCIFERY, my attempt to re-watch every piece of media in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – every movie, every television series, every one-shot, every web series, and every tie-in comic book, using the Wikipedia entry on the MCU as a guide, before the release of Avengers 4 in May 2019. Join me as I write my thoughts about what I’m seeing, as I see it!
Also, spoilers follow – if you’re worried about that kind of thing, view before reading.
Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD: Season 1 Episode 13 (2014)
The team continue their pursuit of The Clairvoyant in “T.R.A.C.K.S.”, the thirteenth episode of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., in which Coulson and company try to track the villainous Quinn by following a device being transported by train to his Italian villa.
The ep also doubles as quite an effective heist episode: the team go undercover to achieve their mission, meaning that some of the spotlight falls on the younger members of the team – Simmons, Fitz and Skye all get a chance to shine as the story bounces back and forth in time to reveal the different parts of the story.
A good heist episode is a trick to pull off because it throws characters into an unfamiliar situation, applying pressure and presenting challenges that they wouldn’t usually encounter. But when it is done well – and I think “T.R.A.C.K.S.” is done pretty well – they can be an energising spark that adds something new and exciting to a series.
There are plenty of great heist episodes of television. Doctor Who’s “Time Heist”, Firefly’s “The Train Job”, The Magicians’ “Plan B” and Breaking Bad’s “Dead Freight” are all great examples of shows that handed over an hour of their time to a relatively self-contained story.
The episode also re-introduces Mike Petersen, who is seen here in his new cyborg form as the super-villain Deathlok; the reveal scene – which is capped by Quinn shooting Skye twice, giving the episode a strong cliffhanger since the idea of killing off Skye wasn’t too out there at this early stage in the shows run – was intense and action-packed, befitting the first appearance of a deadly bad guy for the team to fight.
Add in a couple of other highlight moments – Ward trying to activate FitzSimmons’ workspace by waving his hands and saying “holo-table on”; Coulson revealing that Emil Blonsky (from The Incredible Hulk) is alive in an Alaskan cryo-cell; the inevitable Stan Lee cameo – and you’ve got a pretty great hour of television.
“T.R.A.C.K.S.” may not be on the level of the best heist episodes ever made, but it is certainly one of the best episodes of this young series – and the first that had me excited to move on to the next.
Next: All Hail The King!