Agents of SHIELD S1E13 – T.R.A.C.K.S. – Recap

agents of shield tracks deathlok

Agents of SHIELD Episode 13, T.R.A.C.K.S., has Coulson’s entire team going undercover on a train travelling through the Italian countryside in order to intercept a package on its way to Ian Quinn.

This episode  uses a fun storytelling device. The episode goes along linearly until a certain point, then it divides into four non-linear stories before becoming linear at the end. The four stories are set around the four teams of SHIELD agents on the train: 1. Coulson & Simmons, 2. May, 3.  Fitz & Skye, and 4. Ward. Each story starts at the same place, just as the train is passing through a scenic mountain range, which coincides with the moment when Coulson’s plan goes to crap.


Stan Lee makes a great cameo. He’s flanked by two hot women and calls Coulson out for being a terrible “father” after hearing his “daughter” Simmons go on a long and detailed rant as part of her getting into her undercover character. Like many of Stan’s scenes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this scene provides the episode with a bit of lighthearted fun.

agents of shield tracks stan lee

Coulson’s team gets made, forcing Coulson and Ward to exit the train promptly while it’s still in motion. An enemy agent hurls a grenade that lets out a blue gas that seems to do nothing to Coulson and Ward, but the train immediately disappears at the same time. As we find out in May’s scene, the grenade paralyzed Coulson and Ward, and they weren’t even aware that any time had passed when they came to. This time-lapse grenade is what necessitated the non-linear story-telling in the episode, as it kept the nature of the blue smoke a mystery from not only the characters, but  the viewers too.

agents of shield tracks

The McGuffin that Coulson and company are after turns out to be a machine that when attached to Michael Peterson’s leg-stump transforms into a  fully functional robotic leg. Ladies and gentlemen…say hello to Deathlok.

For those of you unfamiliar with the character, Deathlok is a cybernetic soldier that is half man-half machine. The original Deathlok came from a dystopian future, but in the 1990s, Marvel introduced a present day Deathlok. This Deathlok was a man that had his brain put into the body of prototype Deathlok soldier, which was half-machine, half-reanimated corpse. Think Cyborg from Teen Titans: Go meet Warm Bodies.  The machine and human parts of Deathlok’s brain often came into conflict with each other, the machine lacking the soul and emotion of the human part.  Deathlok was recently reintroduced to Marvel Comics in Rick Remender’s excellent Uncanny X-Force.

The original Deathlok.

The original Deathlok.

This episode does not go well for Skye. She is the only member of Coulson’s team who manages to infiltrate Quinn’s mansion. She’s rewarded with a bullet to the gut for her effort. By the time the rest of the team finds her, she’s bled out a lot. The team places her in a stasis chamber to keep her alive, so Skye is basically in a coma right now. This is the most danger a member of Coulson’s team has faced since Simmons almost died in F.Z.Z.T. I wasn’t a fan of Skye during the first couple of episodes, but she has definitely grown on me. I don’t expect her to die, and it would be a real bummer if she did.

agents of shield tracks skye shot

At the very end of the episode, we get Ward’s reaction to Skye’s near-death experience. Ward is pissed, and not at himself. He blames someone else. He doesn’t say who, but he doesn’t have to. It’s fairly clear that Coulson is the target of his rage. Expect things to come to a head between Ward and Coulson soon.