Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD: ‘Hot Potato Soup’ Review
Patton Oswald is to provide some laughs in the middle of all this L.M.D. drama.
Warning: Just like the Koenig’s, this review has spoilers everywhere.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. took a step in the more lighthearted range this week with the return of funny man Patton Oswald returning in his multiple roles as Agents Sam and Billy Koenig. The whole Koenig thing has always been a bit silly to me, but at least Patton Oswald is funny and likable in these multiple roles. The reason why the characters work is because they are not series regulars. They come in and appear at the right place, usually at the right time. You absolutely have to admire and give major props to Oswald for playing multiple characters who are very much alike, but also kind of different. It no doubt takes a lot of commitment and patience. With that, you also have to appreciate the editors’ and special effects team’s work on the Koenig’s as well. It all comes together very seamlessly, and the laughs are abundant. Adding to the two characters we already know about, Sam and Billy (R.I.P. Eric), we meet L.T, the Koenig sister (guest star Artemis Pebdani), a real in-your-face, bad ass kinda gal. I really enjoyed her. We also met Thurston, yet another brother, only this one is not an agent, but rather an anti-government conspiracy theorist. His “sheep” poetry session was funny, by the way. I love how they’ve never been clear on exactly what the deal is with the Koenigs. Twins, triplets, clones, aliens, what? I love how they spent the hour throwing words like clone, replica, and obsolete around to throw you off. By the end, it’s still not certain if they’re anything but human siblings. Either way, it was enjoyable to see all of them working together to keep the Darkhold secure… even though they eventually lost it.
One of the funniest aspects of Sam was seeing him geek out over hanging out with Quake. It’s funny because, as Daisy had mentioned, he already knew her, but he knew her as Skye. The conversation of a Quake/Black Widow romantic fan fiction was really funny. I’m sure such a story exists out on the internet already. If not, this episode surely spawned one.
Now onto the meat of the episode. On to the drama, suspense, and even romance. Well, it’s finally happening. Phil Coulson and Melinda May are becoming a thing. The Coulson-May ship has set sail. Well, sort of. First of all, I’d like to state that for the past few seasons, I was perfectly fine with these two simply being partners who take down the bad guys and share a little banter every now and then. They didn’t need to hook up. But after watching them for four seasons nearly getting killed together, getting beat up, knocked down, facing betrayals and politics, etc., it started making sense for them to become more affectionate towards each other. There’s always been a hint of romance between them anyway. So why not let it happen? Except, ugh, their first kiss was false. He kissed May’s decoy, a robot, her L.M.D. Yes, the image of the two smooching was nice, and I’m sure the kids on Tumblr are having a field day with that, but I immediately yelled out: “But it’s not her!”. And of course the quick tease of romance was crushed by May-Bot’s directive kicking in and pulling her gun out on Phil as soon as she had her hands on the Darkhold. The silver lining is knowing that Phil is truly invested in a possible relationship with May. It was made even more evident with him saying: “I’m looking for someone who means everything to me” in the preview to next week’s episode. Oh, my heart! Ming-Na Wen and Clark Gregg has always had great chemistry, making this development seem genuine and not at all forced. The point is, these two deserve some happiness, and they can find that with one another.
Now all the team has to do is find the real May. Seeing that the didn’t destroy the L.M.D. of May, they’re probably going to use it to get information on Radcliffe and May’s possible whereabouts. Fitz might even reprogram May-Bot, yes, that’s what I’m calling her, to be able to betray her creator and Aida. So we might get that Terminator-style fight between May-Bot and Aida after all. I’m mostly just glad the May L.M.D. was revealed now. That’s the beauty of the show. The never dragged out the conflicts. They always seem to last as long as they should. I loved the way the reveal was handled. More credit has to go to Ming-Na, playing it in a way where I actually felt a little bad for the L.M.D. May-Bot is the actual victim of the story, being programmed to feel like May then abandoned by all. Poor May-Bot.
Actually, Poor Fitz. We can now truly understand why he’s so glum after Radcliffe betrayed him and S.H.I.E.L.D. We got a depressing prospective that he grew up with an a-hole of a father who talked down to him, only to eventually walk out of his life at the age of 10. Then Grant Ward’s betrayal and attempts to kill him messed him up badly. So now he gets betrayed for a third time by the man who taught him nearly everything he knows. Fitz is going to need a serious group hug right about now. But of course our boy put his emotions in check, and used his brain to get the information out of the Radcliffe L.M.D. brain. Because of that, the team was able to discover they were working with an L.M.D. and not the real May. So in truth, Fitz was the real hero of the episode. Just goes to show you, Fitz will always prevail. It certainly helps when Simmons gives him encouragement. It also helps us because we know our Fitz-Simmons ship is still sailing along. Now we’re left with the mystery of Fitz’ father. Radcliffe kept in contact with him, and apparently, he has an important message for Fitz. Now it’s up to the real Radcliffe to deliver the message.
Last week, Mack was very relevant. We learned some tragic news that he once had a daughter. We also saw his relationship with Yo-Yo grow stronger. Unfortunately, he really had nothing to do except threaten Radcliffe’s L.M.D. with his custom ax shotgun. I get that Mack has a lot of anger, and his fondness for Fitz is touching, but threatening a malfunctioning machine because its programming is that of the man who betrayed Fitz and the team seemed like a stretch. The soul conversation was insightful though.
Well, we met The Superior, played by Zach McGowan. Not sure what I was expecting, but I felt a bit underwhelmed. He’s just a Russian bad guy who hates inhumans and wants to kill Coulson because of his affiliation with them. Kind of odd that a guy who’s so resourceful wasn’t certain Coulson was still alive. He’s quite muscular and loves sniffing onions after taking vodka shots. So there’s that. Besides that, I think it was intended to keep this new character a mystery until perhaps next week when there’s more time to focus on him.
Because of all the serious material the season has given us, and with the threat of L.M.D.’s being so dangerous to the team, I’m not entirely sure if the Koenig’s return was a right fit. I enjoyed having them show up during this conflict, adding some levity to the story. It’s just that, ever since the L.M.D. arc started, the tone has seemed consistently dramatic and dark. Yes, there have been laughs along the way, but there has been a sense of urgency throughout. The lighthearted tone of ‘Hot Potato Soup’ felt a little strange. In comics, that can often happen. One serious issue could have you captivated. The next gives us a funny feeling, but still has you invested. So, I suppose the shift in tone is not completely unwelcome. It just felt weird seeing these funny characters in the middle of a serious conflict.
There was a lot going on in this episode. Nearly every episode in this season has done beautifully balancing out every plot. This episode had just a little bit of trouble doing that. Giving us the humor the Koenig’s normally provide, along with the dramatic developments in the L.M.D. arc things were a bit off. Plus, there wasn’t enough given to us on why we should see The Superior as a major threat. I do want to stress though that this episode was in no way a fall from grace in what has turned out to be another strong season of S.H.I.E.L.D. It just had a couple of moments where its footing was lost. Overall, still a really good episode.