Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Hot Potato Soup Review
ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., season 4, episode 12, ‘Hot Potato Soup,’ took the time to get a number of characters to/ past certain relationship points/ pitfalls. This sort of thing is usually regulated to filler episodes; but ‘Hot Potato Soup’ had a much heartier ingredient: more Koenigs.
To date, we got Daisy (Chloe Bennet) settling back into her official Agent Quake role; Dr. Radcliffe (John Hannah) defecting; Fitz-Simmons (Iain De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge) starting to butt heads over Aida I (Mallory Jansen); May (Ming-Na Wen) being stuck in the Matrix; and Mecha-May tossing heart-shaped life preservers at Coulson (Clark Gregg), for a little shipping fulfillment. Anybody else felt like it was time for a combo-breaker combo? At the very least, something to take our minds off this season’s seeming lack of focus.
Since the season has veered from Ghost Rider arc to full LMD, I guess it was only fitting that the original LMD theory (other than the TAHITI one) be revisited. The Koenig brothers (Patton Oswalt) brought their usual brand of goofy professionalism, to otherwise life-or-death scenarios; but this episode brought some extra dimension to the Koenig dynamic, and shed more light on both their personal & professional lives.
The (insert weight at own risk) gorilla in the room wasn’t just the reveal of two new Koenigs, but the distinctive nature of Koenig cream-o-the-crop, LT (Artemis Pebdani). At a stroke, this ultimate Koenig resolved just how the brothers had managed to thread being so hard & soft, all at once, this whole time.
The smaller gorilla in the room was all the Star Wars references; but beyond Koenig Bros geek cred, I think there was a specific reason for those, that I’ll get to later on.
Compared to LT, the other (now) three were in various states of marshmallow, sure; but it was the revelation of the Superior Man (Zach McGowan) that allowed the episode to keep its hard edge.
The ins-and-outs of my task, prepping for shows like this, often calls for quick stops to sites like IMDB. That said, I’ll just take a moment to address a running grievance I’ve had with the site: Screw you, IMDB – you ruined the Superior & LT Koenig reveals!
Not that I wouldn’t have guessed who LT was, anyway (I’ve come to expect clever things, where the Koenig Kids are concerned); but that first sound & glimpse of McGowan could’ve been eventful. As I imagine a lot of viewers didn’t catch the IMDB spoiler, or were just thrilled to see him, anyway (a few season ‘at sea’ did wonders for the sap from Shameless), lets talk about The Superior Man.
I’ll admit, when I first heard the title, I flashed back to The Clairvoyant, and the slight-of-hand job that turned out to be. McGowan did sell the character title pretty well, for his introductory spiel, however. I’m not sure the show should be trying to sell us on a new big bad (that lack of focus thing), just yet; but Radcliffe’s roaming still makes for intriguing possibilities. At the very least, it was nice to see him turn The Superior’s own pitch back on him, gaining some respect in the process.
The (never air a lady’s weight) gorilla in this room remained the LMDs, however. Cliched or not, Aida has been more fun as Terminatrix, than Pinocchia; overstated or not, May remains at her best when kept busy (i.e. having a Boss to fight – shame on Radcliffe for missing the Utopian fail backstory to The Matrix); and the May-Coulson ship still seems forced (despite it being a programmed imperative for one of them).
So about all those Star Wars references. Patton Oswalt being allowed to geek-out is as good an excuse as any; but I really think it came down to Fitz & Radcliffe. No doubt fans were expected to pick up on some “Luke, I am your father” vibes, coming from Robo-Radcliffe’s reveal to Fitz; so I figured the showrunners just… well, ran with it. With that – and the Koenig LMD theory – out of the way, however, the second LMD reveal (along with the Mecha-May climax) may be shedding some light at the end of the Radcliffe defection tunnel.
Since Radcliffe was introduced as an almost stereotypically amoral scientist, I never bought into his flash-forward White Hat status. This, of course, would make for a great deep-cover plot twist; but more likely, we may be looking at a substitute save, for the character (“no, there is another”). Resolving the Multi-May issue, on the other hand, remains a sticky wicket.
One multi-verse at a time, then; and the Koenig Kids’ Hot Potato hi-jinx made a series of otherwise distracting details into a generally expansive character building exercise. A lot of turned corners, with none of that filler feeling. Not always easy to do, in (what turned out to be) a set-up episode.
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