A while back I was ready to drop this show. There was a bare modicum of character development and seemingly no direction. Since the show came back in January, every episode is a winner. "T.R.A.C.K.S." wasn't the best one yet, but I have to say I was riveted.
The team researches Ian Quinn's purchase of something worth $10 mil from Cybertek. A private security firm is transporting it through the rural Italian countryside. Our heroes are infiltrating the train to tag the package and follow it back to Quinn. Skye and Fitz sneak into the back and set up communications, while Simmons and Coulson pose as daughter and father; May gets on top of the train and Ward disguises as a conductor.
This episode features splits each team's POV into its own segment, starting with Simmons and Coulson. They make a huge scene involving a fake urn full of dirt, bumping into the security team. May is alerted and follows them down the train. Communications are suddenly cut, and when Coulson goes to check out what's up, Ward runs behind him, with a few guards in tow. They jump off to avoid a grenade, which is tossed to make a plume of blue smoke that apparently makes the train vanish.
The second POV shows up Ward undercover. The comms go out as a blonde woman begs to helped with her bag. He carries it into her cab to maintain character and the trap is sprung. Ward fights off the woman and another guard, taking a knife wound to his shoulder. He makes it to Simmons and tells her to meet with Skye and Fitz, running for Coulson and getting made again. We catch back up to the jump-off, and Ward notices May's goggles landed about where they did too; she's not on the train either. The two run off as guards pull up, finding a hotwired truck nearby and taking off for the Bus. Back on the Bus, they get in touch with Russo, their Italian contact, who's lost most of his men. Ward tries to analyze the "invisibility grenade" by himself, to no avail. He also tries to breach the topic of "sleeping with May" and is told he's breaking protocol. If it becomes a problem he'll be guarding the Abomination in Alaska. Russo shows up in time to get nailed in the back by May, who's beat up and ready to roll.
Rewinding again, we see May going after the package, getting shot at, and using a parachute to make a quick exit off the train. She finds Coulson and Ward, with some blue vein action happening in their eyes; they're frozen, catatonic. It wasn't an invisibility grenade, they're just stunned. May hotwires the truck, and the guards arrive for the first time, complete with Russo. She's knocked out and taken to a barn for interrogation. Russo sticks a knife in her shoudler, and she manages to lift herself up, take it out and dispatch everyone but Russo, like a boss. We catch back up as she knifes Russo in the back before he can pop Coulson and Ward. Ward offers to stitch her up and she insists they get the plane going. The plane in the air, Coulson helps May get patched up. They find the train, which stopped suddenly, and an investigation finds handprints on a window. They inspect further and find Simmons, shooting off rounds, apparently unaware she's been frozen in the luggage compartment for hours.
REWIND! Skye asks Fitz about 0-8-4's, and he says they're always "dangerous." He's never heard of one being a person, but they're stopped by communications going down. A guard breaks in and starts shooting, getting out a "Freeze Grenade," but Simmons runs in, grappling and setting it off on them. Fitz finds out it's based on the same principle as their stun guns, and they leave one behind for when she wakes up. They also give the guard a few extra pops before putting him in a box. The train stops, they wipe away some dirt on a window, and watch the package taken off. They follow behind to a quaint mansion, Quinn arriving. A tracker is activated, and Skye determines they need to keep him from getting away. Fitz goes to disable their cars, she gets a stun gun and heads in.
Skye sneaks in, finding the case, and a large hyperbaric chamber. Inside is Mike Peterson. Quinn busts in just then, right when the Clairvoyant said she'd be there. He opens the case, pulling out Mike. He wakes up, acknowledging he has his orders; he's fitted with a bionic prosthetic that painfully grows a new robot leg. Mike walks off, and Skye goes to confront Quinn, but he shoots Skye in the gut, twice, as per his orders.
Later, Skye partially regains consciousness, bleeding profusely. Mike meets the room of Cybertek guards, noting that the Clairvoyant wants them killed for leading SHIELD to the house. A body lands just by Fitz outside, and he runs in as the team arrives. Skye makes it to the door, gasping out pleas for help. Mike is told to not engage SHIELD, which is arresting Quinn. Coulson finds Skye, pale and covered in blood, no pulse. Simmons has them put her in the hyperbaric chamber Mike was in, stabilizing her blood pressure, slowly getting her breathing again.
Back on the Bus, Skye needs to get to a medical facility before the freezing gives her brain damage. Ward is angry she went in alone, blaming either Fitz or Coulson (we aren't told). They're beelining to a hosptial, Quinn in custody.
Last shot; Mike walks through a park, observing someone. He asks to see his son, and is told not yet. The last shot zooms in on the serial info on the leg, reading "Deathlok v5.01."
No messing around this episode, it just goes right to it. More episodes should do this, they're always the most enjoyable. We seem to have finally left behind spending an hour on weird science magic and reducing character to types in lieu of development.
They've also developed another trait; no character really dies on this show, but they don't exactly survive either. Coulson found out why he's alive again, and it involved open-brain surgery. Fan-favorite Mike is back, but horribly burned, and a few of his body parts have been replaced with robotic implants he doesn't totally control. I have no doubt Skye will make it through the next episode alive, but it probably won't end with smiling happy times. Plus, Ward is now going to be gunning for multiple people, off the Bus and on. Can't wait to see where that goes.
I'm surprised they went with the Deathlok angle on Mike. I'm a huge comic nerd (obv) but even I'm not familiar with Deathlok. This is partially because the franchise as it were has had multiple iterations, and when I was a young lad during one of the last few Deathlok ongoings, my parents saw a cover with said cyborg blasting a giant gun and said "why do you always want violent ones? Here, yes, you can have 'WildC.A.T.S.'" Here's the thing; I know some people will be glad there's "more Marvel" in the show, but I like Marvel for their compelling, flawed characters. Robot parts or no, it's good to see Mike back. Who knew a bionic leg could improve so much?
So next week we see how things work out for Skye and the team, and Bill Paxton guest stars. Seeing as Mr. Paxton is the only actor to be killed by an Alien and a Predator, I'm somewhat hoping Mike shows up and offs him so Deathlok can join that august club. No offense, Mr. Paxton. "Twister" was dope.