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Recap / Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S1 E13 "T.R.A.C.K.S."

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"Stark makes this look so easy."

Coulson learns that Ian Quinn has ordered a very expensive item from a cybernetics company that will be shipped via train. The Team gets on the same train in the hopes of tracking the package to Quinn and from there getting a chance to learn something about The Clairvoyant.


  • Agonizing Stomach Wound: Quinn shoots Skye in the stomach, not so that she will bleed out slowly and die, but so that Coulson and his team will have the incentive to find a cure for her using the same means that brought Coulson back to life.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Quinn after he shoots Skye, he apologies and shoots her again.
  • Anachronic Order: The middle three acts each focus on a particular character during the same timeframe.
  • Artificial Limbs: The package is a prosthetic leg for Mike Peterson.
  • Bad Liar: Simmons, of course.
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  • Big Damn Heroes: May kills Russo before he can kill Coulson and Ward.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: This episodes is noticeably more violent than most previous episodes. Specific examples include May getting captured and tortured by corrupt Italian policemen, her method of escaping (and killing the leader, Russo), and Skye bleeding profusely after being shot. Mike Peterson isn't the prettiest sight either after what happened to him in "The Bridge".
  • Bloodless Carnage: Ward mows down a roomful of mooks...with a pair of Night-Night guns.
  • Body Horror: Mike's new leg isn't a prosthetic that slots onto his stump. It's a cybernetic package that appears to graft itself onto Mike's body, including a piece that drills into his hip, very painfully without any anesthetic.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Skye briefly tries a Scottish accent. It sounds more like a drunkard's (bad) attempt at an Australian accent, and Fitz quickly decides he'll simply do an American one.
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  • British Teeth: Inverted with Fitz's American accent.
    Skye: Hey, that was really good!
    Fitz: I used to watch a lot of American TV growing up. Some of it's quite good, lots of nice teeth.
  • Call-Back:
    • S.H.I.E.L.D. has Emil Blonsky on ice in Barrow, Alaska.
    • Once again, Ian Quinn points a gun at Skye. Only this time, he pulls the trigger.
    • At the end of the episode, Coulson's body language demonstrates he's morally conflicted about whether or not to try and revive Skye, given what he himself went through.
    • When Quinn implies that he hurt Skye, Coulson knocks him out without hesitation. This is similar to "The Magical Place", when Skye punched Raina's lights out after seeing the horror she was putting Coulson through.
    • May distracts Russo in the same manner that Romanov did with the Russian mobsters in The Avengers when she calls attention to him calling her "sweetheart" in the middle of the torture.
    • The Deathlok leg engages similar to Iron Man's armor, calling back to where Tony Stark called the armor "a high tech prosthesis."
  • Clark Kenting: The team makes virtually no effort to disguise themselves on the train, aside from wearing glasses and Ward impersonating a conductor.
  • Continuity Nod: When Ward gets the holotable working, it's covered with projections from the investigation in "Repairs".
  • Corrupt Cop: Cybertek pays off Luca Russo and the Italian Police to ensure smooth delivery of their products.
  • Cradling Your Kill: Quinn does this to Skye after shooting her. Then he shoots her again, point blank, before gently setting her down and leaving her to bleed out.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Simmons learned her lesson from her previous attempt at improvising, and constructs an elaborate backstory for her undercover persona in case she has to answer any questions. Unfortunately, she gets a bit too into character.
  • Creator Cameo: Stan Lee falls for Simmons's act and berates Coulson for being a terrible father.
  • Cry into Chest: Fitz finds Simmons in tears in a supply room after she temporarily stabilized Skye. He promptly pulls her close for a comforting hug, giving her a shoulder to cry on.
  • Deliberate Injury Gambit: May goads her captors into stabbing her so that she can then grab the knife and cut herself free.
  • Dies Wide Open: A nonlethal variant; everyone who gets affected by the dendrotoxin grenade falls unconscious with their eyes wide open, making it appear at first glance that they're dead and the trope is being played straight. When it happens to Simmons, Fitz takes a moment to close her eyes, because he can't bear to leave her looking that way, knowing she'd be embarrassed.
  • Downer Ending: Even though the team successfully captures Quinn, Skye is shot during the mission and ends the episode in critical condition and near death. Also, Mike Peterson gets away, ready to perform missions for the Clairvoyant as the cyborg Deathlok.
  • Foreshadowing: The Kelly/Collins Deathloknote  was built by Cybertek (a division of Roxxon Energy).
  • Gilligan Cut: Regarding how Coulson "asked very nicely" to take over the episode's op from Italian intelligence.
  • Guns Akimbo: Ward dual-wields Night-Night pistols during the raid on Quinn's villa.
  • Hassle-Free Hotwire: Played with; Coulson and Ward are evading Quinn's guards in a vineyard when they find a small truck. They prepare to hotwire it, only to find that the ignition wires are already exposed, so they only need to reconnect two wires to get going. It is later revealed in flashback that their partner May had previously hotwired it to facilitate their escape. The trope is still played straight given how it's a hassle-free "connect two wires and go" setup.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • The Clairvoyant has somehow managed to obtain the team's dendrotoxin formula, aerosolizing it and putting it into a grenade.
    • During an interrogation, when The Mole stabs May with a knife and leaves the knife in her arm, she smiles and says it's exactly what she needed. The instant he turns his back, she pulls the knife out, cuts herself loose and unloads on her captors.
  • Hopeless with Tech: Ward and Coulson have no idea how to use the holographic imaging tool that Fitz-Simmons use so casually. Coulson couldn't even find the on button.
  • Human Popsicle:
    • Emil Blonsky is being kept in a cryo-cell in Alaska.
    • Mike Peterson is delivered in a hyperbaric chamber.
    • Later, Skye is put inside the same chamber to keep her stable until she can be properly treated, though it's noted that this will only be good for a few hours or she'll suffer permanent brain damage.
  • Jumping on a Grenade: Simmons stops a mook from using a grenade by clinging to him with the grenade between them. Fortunately, it's a dendrotoxin grenade and merely knocks them both unconscious.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Russo is killed by May in the middle of trying to tell Coulson where the train is. It would have been a lie, of course, but Coulson was more than a little miffed by the lack of context.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Skye insists on trying to capture Quinn alone because she's unwilling to let him escape again. She gets shot by Quinn for it.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: May's day has seen her being forced to jump off a train, getting pistol-whipped, then being stabbed in the shoulder. How does she choose to address this? "I need a shower."
  • Meta Casting: The glasses Coulson and Simmons wear for their disguises appear to be Clark Gregg and Elizabeth Henstridge's actual glasses, or at least similar looking pairs.
  • The Mole: Russo, the Italian policeman, provides information to Cybertek to make sure the other police don't bother them. In exchange, he's "well taken care of."
  • Mythology Gag: Deathlok is a cyborg in the Marvel comic, usually a dead human brought back to life with technology. Adding to this, Mike's implant is tagged as "Deathlok Version 5.0", making him the fifth Deathlok. There have been four Deathloks in Marvel Comics: Luther Manning, John Kelly, Michael Collins and Jack Truman.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: The episode skips back to the viewpoints of different characters, each time clearing up some oddity.
  • One-Word Title
  • OOC Is Serious Business: The normally unflappable, perennially unruffled Coulson is reduced to screaming for help and then just begging Skye to hold on when he discovers that she's been shot twice in the abdomen. Half the words out of his mouth are, "Oh, God. Oh, God." From Coulson, that may as well be a full-on breakdown.
  • Painful Transformation: Mike is screaming throughout his new leg attaching itself.
  • Pet the Dog: Though Mike isn't in a position to save Skye, he refuses to kill her, justifying it as outside his orders.
  • Pistol-Whipping: May gets one courtesy of Russo, while Coulson brutally smacks Quinn upon realizing that he's hurt Skye.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The team successfully captures Quinn, but Skye is shot during the mission and ends the episode in critical condition. The package turns out to be a cybernetic leg for Mike, allowing him to perform missions for the Clairvoyant as the cyborg Deathlok.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Coulson tells Ward that if he allows his affair with May to interfere with his work and endanger The Team, he will spend the rest of his career guarding Blonsky's cryo-cell in Alaska, and on the midnight shift.
  • Reforged into a Minion: Mike, who was previously blown up and crippled by Centipede in "The Bridge", now has an electronic eye, a mechanical leg, and works for the Clairvoyant as his/her latest enforcer.
  • Ship Tease: Coulson and May, when Coulson cleans up her stab wound. Ward, May's then-lover, is noticeably taken aback at the tenderness of their interaction.
  • Stage Whisper: The crew discusses their plan on the train in public without noticeably lowering their voices.
  • Thriller on the Express: The bulk of the episode takes place on a train carrying a pricey package for Ian Quinn. The Team goes undercover to find it, plant a tracker, and use it to find Ian Quinn. There's a number of scuffles while they're there.
  • Traintop Battle: Averted. When May is crawling across the top of the train, Cybertek's goons open fire on her. Rather than fight where she has no cover, she simply bails.
  • Undercover as Lovers: Ward and May (the fact that they're already lovers made it easier) and Skye and Fitz. Fitz is totally bummed that all he got out of it was a peck on the cheek.
    Fitz: You're the least supportive pretend girlfriend I've ever had.
  • Unpaused: The dendrotoxin grenade causes instant paralysis and unconsciousness, followed by instant recovery. To the victim, no time seems to have passed.
  • Wham Shot: The last shot of the episode shows a close-up of Mike's new cybernetic leg, which has the words "Project: Deathlok". However, this had earlier been revealed in promotional material leading up to the episode.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: An indirect one. Ward seems to blame Coulson for getting Skye hurt, on account of what he said to her motivating her to help.
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?: Simmons' backstory for her and Coulson casts Coulson as her cold and distant workaholic father.
  • You Have Failed Me: Peterson (under orders from the Clairvoyant) kills Cybertek's goons for allowing S.H.I.E.L.D. to track them.


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