This review contains spoilers.
4.12 Hot Potato Soup
New viewers tuning into Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD this week might think that they are seeing double because some top notch acting talent was pulling some double and triple duty as the hunt for the Darkhold takes a startling turn.
Hot Potato Soup saw the return of the Agents Koenig this week as Patton Oswalt returns in multiple roles. Meanwhile, Doctor Radcliffe hires a group of some pretty badass inhuman hating Russian mercs to help abduct the Koenigs and find the location of the Darkhold. Coulson gives the Koenigs the Darkhold for safe keeping, but sadly, at the beginning of the episode, Radcliffe’s crew abducts Sam Koenig and the hunt is on.
Let’s talk about the Darkhold for the moment. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been built on McGuffins. From Tony Stark’s arc reactor, to the tesseract, to the infinity stones, many a Marvel tale has been driven by the need to find a plot powering object. The Darkhold is pretty cool McGuffin because it ties into classic Marvel continuity plus it opens the world of magic, something we all want after Doctor Strange. So on the surface, this season of Agents of SHIELD has been just another McGuffin hunt, but the repetitive nature of the hunt for the Darkhold is diluted by the fact that the ancient book of evil could potentially open up many story doors.
That being said, Hot Potato Soup really was just a McGuffin hunt jazzed up by the presence of multiple Patton Oswalts. We do get a look into the Koenig history as we meet two previously unrevealed Koenig brothers. First we have a hipster slam poet conspiracy theorist Koenig and second, we have the OG Koenig, a nice surprise- a woman named LT who Coulson refers to as the primary Koenig sibling. LT kicks all sorts of ass and seems like an insta-fan favorite. She’s like a cross between Bobbi Morse and Janice Soprano and is the brains and muscle of the Koenig family.
So Sam Koenig is kidnapped but SHIELD have a prisoner of their own in the LMD Radcliffe. So both Oswalt and John Hannah get to play double duty. Hannah pulls off a convincing robot as the LMD as Fitz, Simmons, and Mack try to interrogate the captive LMD. This all leads to the big reveal this week as Simmons discerns that AIDA created not one, but two LMDS. This leads to SHIELD finding out that May has been replaced and then all heck breaks loose.
The big news of the second half of this season is the sudden love interest between Coulson and May. LMD May plays up this star crossed romance to insure the loyalty of Coulson, but Coulson’s feelings are real. So it is pretty heartbreaking this week that after Coulson and May finally share a kiss, he must deal with the fact that she is a robot. This all leads to Radcliffe gaining control of the Darkhold from SHIELD and the Koenigs and abandoning LMD May. At episode’s end, LMD Radcliffe and AIDA 1.0 are both destroyed but robot May is still intact and in SHIELD hands. So I guess soon Ming-Na Wen will join the double character motif going on this season. Man, new viewers are going to be confused.
I am a little disappointed this week over some directions taken with Fitz. Since LMD Radcliffe is programmed to know everything that real Radcliffe knows, it is revealed that Radcliffe once knew Fitz’s father. The episode gives us some little nuggets about the senior Fitz but the thread kind of peters out. I guess Fitz could confront the real Radcliffe at some point, but that was a real tasty character worm for Fitz and I would have liked to see it followed up on a bit more. More effective is the use of the LMD tech. It is revealed this week that the LMD brain is a magical construct created by AIDA 1.0 I love that blending of magic and tech, it gives everything a unique flavor and makes the LMD arc seem a bit more than just an Ultron rehash.
All in all, Hot Potato Soup really is just a way to bring back and expand Patton Oswalt’s Koenig siblings. No new information is given about the nature of the multiple Koenigs but it’s always fun to see Oswalt play around in the Marvel Universe.
Hot Potato Soup is filler but fun filler that sadly doesn’t really follow up on some potentially great story directions. The big takeaways are that Radcliffe now has the Darkhold while SHIELD is well aware that May has been replaced by an LMD. We also get a potential new enemy for Coulson as it is revealed that those very scary Russians blame Coulson for the arrival of all the alien threats on Earth. That’s a cool idea because it takes us back to the introduction of Coulson in the early Marvel film as the shadowy agents on the frontlines of the early days of the Avengers. I’ll be interested to see where that goes.
Read Marc’s review of the previous episode, Wake Up, here.