Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season4, episode 12: Hot Potato Soup
Directed by: Nina Lopez-Corrado
Written by: Craig Titley
Starring: Clark Gregg, Jason O’Mara, Mallory Jansen, Henry Simmons, Elizabeth Henstridge, Adrian Pasdar
The Koenig agents are brilliant. That statement is the defining message of this week’s Agents of SHIELD for sure, as the brilliant Patton Oswalt returned to the show to turn what might have been a slower bit of storytelling, into something sparky and fun. The opening of the episode was a well-placed, light-hearted introduction of the twins to the LMD storyline, faking out the audience into thinking that they are LMDs. Considering the almost comical fact that we really don’t have much of an idea just what the brothers are and, in fact, how many of them there are, it wouldn’t have been a surprise if it was true (and am I the only one imagining a disgruntled SHIELD intern trying to sift through mountains of mission reports, all written by a Koenig?). It turns out however, that the twins are just playing a video game (under a sharp quick-fire of Star Wars banter) and it’s a brilliant way to re-introduce Oswalt back to the series. As a genuine sci-fi geek and a brilliant comic actor (bringing great performances to shows like Parks & Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine), it’s so good to see him back.
He’s something of a saving grace this episode too, as much of the episode falls into more cerebral, slower storytelling. That’s not a bad thing, and in fact it shows that the show really has developed since it first began. It’s good to see AoS tackle some interesting themes, of course, and it is a sign of the show’s maturity that it has begun to figure out when to use just the right amount of light-hearted comedy. Interestingly, it’s also the Koenigs that provide a lot of the action this episode.
Our usual team, on the other hand, are deep in their more serious problems. The focus of the show, as well as the LMDs, has snapped intensely back to the problem of the Darkhold and this episode proved disastrous for the team. Radcliffe was never someone to be underestimated to begin with, and his ability to get what he wants has proven firm enough, but with the LMD May this episode, he’s more dangerous than ever. Now in possession of the Darkhold, it’s likely to spell trouble for Coulson and the gang.
However, interestingly enough, as much as LMD May is so far an asset to Radcliffe in his villainous doings, it’s evident that she isn’t all bad. Her growing relationship with Coulson could prove troublesome to her current “bad guy” status, and the discussion of souls between LMD Radcliffe and Mack brings the question of conscience to the forefront. LMD May seems to be a time bomb, but just who is going to be in radius when she goes off is yet unclear. Given that the LMD May is now in SHIELD hands, this could really be a game changer, both for her and the team.
On the subject of LMD Radcliffe, one of the best aspects of this episode besides the re-appearance of the Koenigs, is the brilliant battle of mind and memory between Fitz and LMD Radcliffe. The LMD uses Radcliffe’s previously unrevealed relationship with Fitz’s father to leverage Fitz’s emotions. It’s perhaps too much of a coincidence and a bit of a forced surprise, but it leads to some genuine moments of emotion from Fitz that, as always, were very touching. Iain De Caestecker has great range as an actor and manages to knock all of his performances out of the park, thus saving here what could have been an awkwardly placed segue.
The episode might be bookended with action, but there were a few thoughtful conversations to be had in “Hot Potato Soup” and the balance was, overall, relatively watchable viewing. For a filler, it was serviceable and, though it might have mostly been saved by the ever brilliant Patton Oswalt, the balancing act exhibited this episode is a good representation of the more mature writing we’ve been given this season.
I give this episode 3 out of the possible thousands of Koenigs