It was one of those "Did that really just happen?" moments.
Skye takes bullets to the stomach as she is trying to rescue Mike (the "original" superhero from the first episode; more on him later). Now, with no one around, she drags herself along the floor trying to call for aid with blood spilling behind her. Actress Chloe Bennet does a great job of selling Skye slipping away from the world. And when Agent Coulson, the one who's been trying to protect her this whole time, discovers her physical state, his sense of loss is felt heavily (though actor Clark Gregg could've done a slightly better job delivering some of his lines in this scene).
The latest episode of "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." entitled "T.R.A.C.K.S." (a lot of acronyms, I know) was a whirlwind of action, a great advancement of ongoing plots and had a solid mixture of comedy, as the show always has. But the final act of the episode brought some urgency, weight and costliness that was mediocre to this point in the series.
Perhaps it was fitting, too, that Skye was the character chosen. Skye had been the questionable, sketchy member of the group so far. She started out as a hacker, and when she got recruited by S.H.I.E.L.D., no one trusted her or really wanted to befriend her. As she found her niche, the others warmed up to her, especially Coulson, who saw enough in her to give her that second chance to prove her character. Skye, of course, breaks her trust and goes on probation.
But in the last few episodes, she had started earning her salt once again. Now, she's on the verge of death. When Simmons arrives to the scene, she manages to turn the device in the room that Mike was using as a place to keep Skye alive. Barely. Will she survive? We'll find out in the next episode, but it looks pretty grim. Either way, the fear of loss has given the show much-needed complexity.
The rest of the episode was quite the adventure. The agents are trying to track down information about the Clairvoyant (the finally-determined main villain of the show), which leads them on board a strange train. The bad guys the agents are following catch on to them. They use a cool device that's fitting for a show about agents who work with superheroes. In the middle of their pursuit, an explosion goes off, but this one creates a time-travel lapse of sorts. Remember that movie "Vantage Point"? Same thing. The agents split up into groups, and one by one, we see what happens simultaneously (but somehow now, because of the time travel) from different perspectives. It's a difficult method of storytelling, but one that is fulfilling when executed properly, which it was in this episode.
A cool bi-product of this is the meshing of different characters. Coulson and Simmons have fun exchanges of dialogue as they map out their role in the group's plan (Simmons, of course, creates entire backstories and tendencies for her character she's making up, to which Coulson gave a priceless blank stare to show his piqued interest). Skye and Fitz have a somewhat deep conversation. Overall, the bond between the agents continues to flourish.
Probably the best comedic scene of the episode, though, had nothing to do with the agents. At one point, a cranky old man starts complaining, and lo and behold, it's Stan Lee making a wonderful cameo!
Mike, meanwhile, apparently has made his choice as to which side he'll be on. When we discover him, he is attaching a prosthetic leg with Cybertek written on it. Indeed, Mike is becoming the Cyborg Deathlok, a classic Marvel villain rich with history and intrigue (It's a breath of fresh air when Marvel brings in the source material somewhat intact). His involvement with the rest of the season will be perplexing as the group grew attached to Mike, the father, not Mike, the villain.
An episode that needed a two-week delay proved to be well worth the wait. The show is starting to hit a peak, and there is just enough of a glimpse of the finish line to start giving the show reason to kick into high gear.