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TV Review: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Season 4 Episode 12 "Hot Potato Soup"

02.01.2017

EPISODE 12: "Hot Potato Soup"

SYNOPSIS: Agents Sam and Billy Koenig are hunted down to get at the Darkhold book, and only Phil Coulson and the team can save them before the clock ticks out.

REVIEW: Patton Oswalt fans, rejoice! The comedian makes his return to the role(s) of Agent Koenig on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in an episode that serves as a turning point for the series for multiple reasons. Not only does tonight's episode offer Coulson-May shippers some payoff for the budding romance between the long-standing friends but we also finally meet the leader of the Watchdogs and learn what his master plan is and, surprisingly, it does not center on the Inhumans. If anything, this episode of S.H.I.E.L.D. finally brings the show full circle and delivers on a story element that many MCU fans have been pondering since Agent Coulson debuted in Phase One. It also begins the building blocks towards what the big season finale will reveal for the future of this series and how it will figure into Marvel's long term plans.

After weeks, we finally learn that Coulson entrusted the Darkhold to Agent Koenig. The question is, which one? With Patton Oswalt in the triple role as the Koenig siblings (the original template for LMDs, just not roboti ones), you had to know this would be an hour with a lot more humor that usual. In fact, tonight's episode felt like the better Darin Morgan-penned episodes of The X-Files which managed to blend comedy with excellent storylines. The episode's title derives from the Koenig siblings moving the Darkhold amongst themselves to keep it hidden and also introduces us to The Labyrinth, a hidden S.H.I.E.L.D. base where the Darkhold is being kept. All of this comes on the heels of finally meeting Anton Ivanov, the leader of the Watchdogs who was also called The Superior prior to tonight's hour.

Ivanov is possibly the most underwhelming bad guy in any MCU property. A generic Russian villain straight out of a bad episode of Arrow, Ivanov has a submarine where he drinks test tubes of vodka and sniffs onions (seriously) while allowing Radcliffe to extract secrets from the mind of Billy Koening. All the while, S.H.I.E.L.D. tries to track down the other Koenigs and their sister, L.T., who was the original version of the duplicate agents. While searching, Fitz and Simmons dissect LMD Radcliffe and find his brain is an incredible invention well beyond human technology. LMD Radcliffe reveals it was learned from the Darkhold which is what sent Radcliffe in pursuit of the book, but it also reveals that the technology to perfectly map the human brain also allowed Radcliffe to copy May. The team tries to notify Daisy and Coulson, but it is too late.

And by too late, I mean Coulson and May have already kissed. Moments later, she gets her hands on the Darkhold and Coulson realizes she is an LMD. LMD May insists her emotins are true but Coulson doesn't believe it. A fight ensues in which LMD May is crippled but eventually gets her hands on the Darkhold. Radcliffe shows up and takes it, leaving his invention to be taken by S.H.I.E.L.D. The torturous existence of LMD May will haunt Coulson and the team but now they know about Ivanov and have a lead to stop the Watchdogs once and for all. It does beg the question as to why Coulson is so calm in letting go of the Darkhold which was such a destructive force during the Ghost Rider arc. We can assume it is because of his anger over being duped by the LMD May, but it feels a bit undersold that the team is not more disturbed by losing the evil tome that could bring about the end of humanity as we know it.

Radcliffe still is portrayed as a flawed character this week. In one moment he seems like a coward who wants power and in another he seems like a truly maniacal villain, but overall I still cannot get a read on his motivations. Radcliffe was a secondary bad guy last season and this year is being sold as secondary to Ivanov, but I still find him to be one of the most compelling bad guys in any MCU property. But, Ivanov's theory as to the cause of all alien activity on Earth was an interesting twist: he blames Coulson. Citing photographic proof of Coulson being there when Thor arrived or Earth, at the events of THE AVENGERS, and in other S.H.I.E.L.D. operations comes off as being a nice callback to the origins of this series but it also seems like flimsy logic for a man to fund an international group of mercenaries. But hey, this is network television, right?

S.H.I.E.L.D. continues to do better as it has less to do with the MCU itself. Playing in this world without being beholden to the events of the feature films has given the characters more depth. We now know Radcliffe shares a connection with Fitz's father which will obviously be dealt with in a later episode, but even the payoff for May and Coulson finally kissing was handled in such a way that it felt organic and not forced into the story. I honestly have no clue where this show will go post-LMD, but for now I am definitely bought in to seeing this story all of the way through. It is also a testament to how well this season has been executed that the Ghost Rider arc, which just concluded a month ago, feels like a wholly distinct and standalone season of the show. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is finally getting it right.

MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE REFERENCES: The various events of Phase One are teased during Ivanov's reveal of his theory on Coulson. Koenig mentions online fan fiction about Daisy in a romantic relationship with Black Widow.

NEXT ON MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.: "BOOM" airs February 7th - Daisy, Mace and the S.H.I.E.L.D. team must find a way to contain an explosive Inhuman. Meanwhile, Coulson and Mack come face-to-face with Radcliffe’s inspiration for Aida.

Source: JoBlo.com

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