Saturday, 5 April 2014

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: T.R.A.C.K.S

"Prostitutes, plural?"

Wow. This episode was very good, in fact brilliant. I'm not used to this. We even got some clever games with structure, with an intricate plot examining the same event from multiple viewpoints. It may not quite be Rashomon, but it's the sort of thing that you expect to see in a Joss Whedon show. Plus we get a magnificent Stan Lee cameo. And Mike Peterson is Deathlok!!! Could Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D be turning a corner?

We begin, following Skye's legwork last episode, with the gang searching for Quinn on a train in Italy, as Ward once again gets to show off his impressive linguistic skills, Simmons steals the show with a hilarious piece of method acting and I'm reminded of the Firefly episode The Train Job. But it's all a trap: the Clairvoyant, as the name sort of implies, was expecting them, and it all goes horribly wrong in structurally interesting ways.

What's impressive about this episode isn't just that it's so damn good, but that it manages to be so good while also being an arc episode. We get snappier dialogue than before, and important dialogue is allowed to be snappy, as May casually tells Ward that she told Coulson about their relationship last episode, which sets up a chain of events which leads to Coulson mentioning "Blonsky's cryo-cell"- the Abomination...?

We get to see Mike Peterson again, deformed and rather cyborgier than when we last saw him. He is, of course, being controlled by that eye thing, but he seems rather pleased that he doesn't have to shoot Skye. Quinn has no such qualms, and shoots her.

This suddenly feels like an actual Joss Whedon show, so we feel a slight frisson of fear that Skye may actually die. As it happens, she very nearly does but for Simmons' sci-fi stopgap quick thinking, and the characters' reactions to her possible deaths are superb, especially Coulson's; he reacts as though he's losing a daughter.

Skye's fate is our cliffhanger, but we end with Peterson in a scene evoking Boris Karloff in Frankenstein.

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