It’s a Whedon train episode! Appropriately named “T.R.A.C.K.S.” (although I kept calling it “The Train Job” in my head), this is a promising, positive move away from what didn’t work for the show in earlier episodes to what made the last episode work so well. “T.R.A.C.K.S.” does an excellent job with unexpected pairs, intense emotional moments, and a surprise plot twist.
There were some little things that made me really happy with “T.R.A.C.K.S.” The teams of agents on the train were brilliant. Simmons as Coulson’s estranged daughter (Elizabeth Henstridge can do so much more than the writers were giving her earlier in the season, I’m so happy she’s finally getting to show how talented she is!), Skye as Fitz’s girlfriend, and May and Ward as…May and Ward. The dialogue shared by the team members was hysterical and the chemistry felt natural and organic.
I also loved that when Skye and Fitz ended up at the villain’s house, Fitz handed Skye his gun. That may not be a big deal to anyone, but to see a male handing a female a symbol of power so that she can take out the bad guys…well, I was thrilled. I was most thrilled because it made sense. Skye is the fighter, not Fitz. He knew what he could do best and he knew Skye would do what she did best. I think this small moment might have been my favorite because it carried a lot of meaning behind it (for me, at least).
“T.R.A.C.K.S.” also did a clever little storytelling trick by starting from one point and going backwards to see where different team members were when the trouble broke out. It was an exercise in putting all the puzzle pieces together, but it was such fun seeing the action from all different sides.
The plot twist in “T.R.A.C.K.S.” gives us the first look at a Marvel character that has never been portrayed on television or film. It’s a tragic beginning for this character, and since I don’t know much about it, I’m going to have to go catch up on some comic-reading. We were also treated to a Stan Lee cameo which, of course, was fantastic.
One of the greatest things about “T.R.A.C.K.S.”, however, is that I finally started to care about these characters. This is dangerous when watching a Whedon show, and I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when the rug was pulled out from under me. We finally see Coulson and his team deal with grief, doubt, hope, and guilt. The acting was tenfold above what it has been (which leads me to believe the talented cast need more challenging scripts) and I almost cried.
Tender moments between Fitz and Simmons, a confrontation between May and Ward, and a breakdown from Coulson left me in agony. Which is when “T.R.A.C.K.S.” ended, with no promo for the next episode. I have to wait until the Olympics are over. I cannot begin to describe my feelings about this. There may or may not have been swearing, stomping, and a stunned facial expression. I also had to begrudgingly admire the writing staff. They have guts.
However, I’m ecstatic that I’m finally seeing the potential of this show. I was so worried as week after week I kept getting more frustrated at the lack of chemistry, the tired plots, the emphasis on technology and the secrets that were nowhere close to being revealed. We’ve dealt with a lot of that over the last two episodes, which were phenomenal, so I’m excited to see how the back half of the season continues.