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T.V.’s modern comic book series

Staff Writer

Published: Sunday, February 16, 2014

Updated: Sunday, February 16, 2014 20:02

When ABC first premiered “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” it’s safe to say that pretty much everyone expected the series to premiere to stellar ratings, especially with Marvel coming off of the massive blockbuster hits that were “Iron Man 3” and “The Avengers.” What nobody could have predicted was just how sophisticated and engaging the series would become.

Fittingly, the series’ 13th episode “T.R.A.C.K.S.” tells one of the show’s very best stories so far.

When the episode opens, the team is split up on a train. Fairly quickly, the team’s cover fails and Agent’s Coulson, Ward and May flee the train. Agent Simmons is quickly incapacitated, but retrieved by the others later. Meanwhile, Agent’s Fitz and Skye flee in an attempt to capture the villainous Ian Quinn at his mansion.

The episode ends on a highly dramatic note. Skye is shot by Quinn and left for dead. The team finds her at the last second and is able to sustain her, but her survival remains uncertain by the time the credits roll.

Chloe Bennett has some of her very best scenes yet as Skye in the episode. Most remarkable is the scene where she is shot. We don’t hear yells or screams, but simply watch as a look of pure shock covers Skye’s face.

While not the most memorable villain to hit the small screen, David Conrad’s performance as Ian Quinn is wonderfully sinister, a straight man’s bad-guy if you will.

Agent May’s scenes provide the height of the episode’s action. Actress Ming-Na Wen is provided with an opportunity to portray May as the hardcore black ops specialist we’re always told she once was, and seeing her go from chained up to taking out an entire room in a matter of seconds proved nothing less than astounding.

Despite the episode going to some darker places than we’ve become accustomed to, some genuine moments of humor provided much needed comic relief. It was especially enjoyable to watch Coulson and Simmons pose as father and daughter, particularly when Simmons threw a fake tantrum on the crowded train, culminating with the “accidental” spilling of an urn she was holding. Additionally, watching Coulson and Ward attempt to figure out how to use the plane’s holocomputer provided a few easy laughs while demonstrating just how much of a balance between brains and brawn is essential to the team’s effectiveness.

“T.R.A.C.K.S.” proves, if nothing else, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” remains one of the most exciting new series of this season. The show has been solid from the start and slowly but surely, many of the “camp” cliché’s of earlier episodes have been tossed aside as the show finds its own groove separate from the rest of the pack. The lead actors are finally given the range to be more dramatic when the scene calls for it, and the writing keeps getting better. This truly is an episodic television series that feels like a modern comic book. I, for one, can’t wait to see what they’ll do next.

 

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