SHIELD is back with one of its most shocking and creative episodes yet! After last episode’s journey to the Academy, where we uncovered some big revelations about Skye’s background and saw Ian Quinn take a bigger role with Centipede and the Clairvoyant, tonight’s episode gave us a direct followup to that while delivering some big punches, some clever storytelling, a juicy tease for Marvel comic fans and a cliffhanger that will have to tide us over until after the Olympics. So without further ado let’s jump into “T.R.A.C.K.S.”, written by Lauren LeFranc and Rafe Judkins and directed by Paul Edwards.
The episode opens with a quick bit of exposition from Coulson. The crew has been attempting to track down Ian Quinn, billionaire and servant of the Clairvoyant. They haven’t been able to find him, but they’ve tracked a ten million dollar purchase he’s made from a company named Cybertech Inc. His purchase, whatever it is, is going to be shipped across the Italian countryside by train surrounded by top-notch security. Coulson learns all of this from a local agency and an agent named Russo, from whom he steals the mission. This means they’ll have to be going undercover, earning a moan of “I hate undercover” from Melinda May.
Onboard the train, May and Ward are in charge of locating and tagging the mysterious package, Fitz and Skye will track the package to its destination, while Simmons and Coulson have a somewhat different assignment. May and Ward, undercover as an Italian couple, find their first class cabin with some help from a steward who questions Ward’s attachment to the seemingly snobbish May. Inside their cabin, they suit up for their mission, with May revealing a more appropriate outfit under her fancy dress. Ward comments that things seemed to be getting a bit personal, and when she gives him some raised eyebrows he clarifies that he meant with Skye and Coulson. Recent events seem to have set Skye on the warpath, and she seems to be taking things personally. Ward comments that getting personally involved can only cause problems and he wonders what Coulson would say if he knew about him and May. “He took it okay when I told him,” she says, and hops out the window before he can respond.
Fitz asks Skye whether they’re playing an American or an English couple, because he thinks they should be of the same nationality. Skye demonstrates her horrible Scottish accent, leading Fitz to decide that they’ll be American, and he busts out a solid accent to back it up. She’s impressed, but he says he learned it from watching American TV and admiring how the quality of everyone’s teeth. Skye jumps up and talks to the steward, concocting a story about how she and Fitz are celebrating their 6 month anniversary and are looking for a restaurant in which to celebrate. Fitz asks for something that’s “affordable with big portions” (he definitely knows Americans) and while they’re talking Skye steals a set of keys from the steward.
Simmons is sitting with Coulson and going over the elaborate backstory she created for her character. She says that the last time she tried to lie made her realize that she’s not good at improv, but what she is good at is preparation. She pulls out an urn and starts to loudly admonish Coulson for leaving her and her mother, when who should start to back her up but Stan Lee! He lectures Coulson on shirking his parental responsibilities before walking off with his arms around two lovely ladies. Just when Simmons gets to the part about how Coulson only cared about his work and the prostitutes, she stands up to leave and bumps into the head guard for Cybertech, spilling the urn’s ashes all over the floor. The guard steps in the ashes, leaving a trail that May can see with her special goggles from on the roof of the train, while Simmons returns to her seat and continues rambling the details she invented for her character as the train announcer tells them that there’s a great view out the left side of the train.
May follows the glowing footprints of the guard to a car further back in the train and spots the mysterious $10 million package. Coulson radios May to check on their progress when the coms go out. He leaves Simmons to go investigate and ends up in the last car of the train. Suddenly Ward bursts in, saying that their cover has been blown, and is followed by a group of guards. They pull out a grenade and Ward and Coulson jump from the train to escape as the grenade is lobbed at them. It explodes in a flash and as it does the train magically disappears from the tracks.