It feels odd to take heart, but this is an energetic offering that ducks around in time without being annoying or gimmicky about it. Couple things with which to lead off: Ward notices that both Coulson and Skye have been different since the events of last episode, and brings same up to May, wondering if their judgment is being impaired by personal considerations. Skye asks Fitz about 0-8-4s, and he tells her they're always dangerous and that he's never heard of one being a person. Finally, May lets Ward know she confessed to Coulson, and Ward confronts Coulson about it, who tells him he'd better be able to deal with what and who he's doing, essentially. So!
After last episode's ending, Coulson wants to nab Quinn at all costs in order to track down the Clairvoyant, and the S.H.I.E.L.D. team learns that he recently made a $10 million purchase from "Cybertek Inc.," a firm that deals in "advanced technology and research." On top of that, the company is transporting the purchase by train through rural European areas – with lots of ex-military security – in order to try to, well, "fly" under the radar, so Coulson's entire team is going to go in undercover in pairs: May/Ward, Fitz/Skye, Coulson/Simmons. They target a "Carlo Mancini," the head of the company's security, and use American accents and spilled fake cremated ashes, but they don't prevent Coulson and Ward from getting made early – apparently Cybertek knew they were coming -- and chased off the train. And there's more bad news, as Ward realizes May got tossed as well (although not without doing a classic superhero three-point landing), so it's only the kids left, who don't even know they're alone.
So the double-reverse-twist is that the Italian authority they've been working with is in financial league with Cybertek, and he captured May – but she proved too much for him and his goons to handle. She kills the guy right as he's about to attack Coulson and Ward, and S.H.I.E.L.D. end up intercepting the train – only to find Simmons asking them where Fitz and Skye are. Fitz realizes that the Cybertek guys are using some variant of a dendrotoxin weapon; he and Skye also witness the package being transferred and decide to follow – to some big fancy estate. They see Quinn and activate a tracker they planted, but Skye also decides to invade the compound – but just as she discovers a statis pod housing one Mike Peterson, she's captured and shown what kind of terrible shape Peterson is in. Quinn then fits Peterson with cyber-implants that make him, I understand, Deathlok – these were the purchases S.H.I.E.L.D. was so interested in – but when Quinn asks Peterson if the implant will allow him to be ordered to kill Skye, Peterson replies that Skye is not the person he's supposed to kill. That doesn't stop Quinn from plugging Skye in the gut, though – twice. She survives the massive wounds in time to be rescued from death's door, though, and S.H.I.E.L.D. also captures Quinn, although Peterson gets away. With Skye in stasis and her life hanging in the balance, various team members punish themselves – while elsewhere, Peterson asks if he can see his son and is denied. I know she's not that popular, but I still think Skye possibly croaking might be the greater issue?
As I mentioned in the recaplet, I enjoyed this episode. It was paced well and at least moved along both the Peterson and the Clairvoyant arcs. Still, two things: If you're not going to make "T.R.A.C.K.S." an acronym for something, don't make it an acronym. Also, my moment-to-moment coverage of the show is by definition going to produce a difference critical process than that of someone watching on a more macro level, but if you want an independent (and pretty comprehensive) analysis of the show's problems thus far, this compilation by the TWoP staff pretty much covers it. (In fairness, I do think some of the issues are starting to be addressed, but until they fix the "not enough Joss" one I fear the show will never come close to its promise.)
So! After an establishing shot of the plane and a close-up on digital images of Quinn (and I do appreciate the terrible-yet-believable "In Like Quinn" headline on a fake magazine cover), Coulson tells the team he now knows how they can find Quinn. Skye's hacking has revealed that he -- through a shell corporation -- made a recent purchase to the tune of $10 million, paid to a "Cybertek Inc., a small firm that deals in advanced technology and research." I hope she's not just reciting the company's marketing jargon, because I think you'd be hard pressed to find a firm that describes itself as dealing in facile or obsolete tech. Interspersed throughout this conversation are cutaway shots of a luxury train, and Coulson goes on that Cybertek has hired a private security firm comprised of former military to transfer the purchase. Well, that play doesn't always work out, if Amador was any indication. With Big S.H.I.E.L.D. on the hunt for Quinn, Cybertek is transporting the package, as Skye puts it, "old-school," via a train going from Verona across the rural and isolated Italian countryside to Zagreb. May asks if Coulson thinks Quinn's on the train, and the answer's no, but according to the Italian authorities he spoke with, the belief is that the delivery is going to Quinn personally. The motives here seem pretty murky, given what we later learn. It's hard to believe Russo would give up information to Coulson, but maybe Coulson learned enough from Skye's hacking that he concluded this is his best play. May asks if the Italians don't mind them taking over, and Coulson's like, "I asked very nicely."