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REVIEW: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×12 “Hot Potato Soup”

As the promo led us to believe, “Hot Potato Soup,” was very much a Koenig episode. While an episode centered almost exclusively around the brothers might seem out-of-place considering the trajectory and major story arcs introduced thus far, the reintroduction of the Koenigs was done in a manner that made 4×12 an episode that remained cohesive with the rest of the season.

Spoilers ahead!

The majority of the episode focused on tracking and recovering Billy Koenig, who was kidnapped by the Watchdogs while enjoying some classic arcade games and promptly taken to the terrorist group’s secret submarine base.

The reasoning behind snatching Koenig is, naturally, the desire to track down the Darkhold… which one of the Koenigs most definitely hid.

Unfortunately for S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Watchdogs alike, nobody is quite sure which Koenig stashed the book, or where said book was hidden.

Including the brothers themselves.

Because, y’know, there are like a million of them.

So while team S.H.I.E.L.D. is busy tracking down all of the Koenigs not captured by the Watchdogs, Badcliffe and Aida are helping the anti-Inhuman terrorists by mapping poor Billy’s brain.

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Which, in and of itself, is a rather easy task for the scientist and his android.

What makes things difficult is the fact that the Koenigs actually played hot-potato with the Darkhold, passing it between them until it finally winded up in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s secret facility known as the Labyrinth.

Elsewhere Fitz, Simmons, and Mack are busy trying to use the LMD Radcliffe to figure out what his maker and archetype is up to. Despite having S.H.I.E.L.D.’s brightest minds working on reprogramming the android, FitzSimmons run into a roadblock when they stumble across code that neither are familiar with. Though… that’s not the biggest issue they’re faced with.

As it turns out, Radcliffe knows Fitz’s father, a man we learn abandoned the Scot when he was only ten, and his LMD-self uses this knowledge to his advantage. Knowing Fitz runs primarily on emotion, LMD Radcliffe twists the proverbial knife by bringing up the insecurities that Fitz dealt with as a boy with his runaway father. It’s a cruel power-play, particularly for a robot who shouldn’t have such skill at manipulating emotions, and would have likely worked at stopping Fitz from continuing his research were it not for Simmons. Jemma reminds Fitz that, despite what Radcliffe or anyone else may say or do, he is one of the most caring and intelligent people she knows, and that he’s beyond his programming.

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In addition to being a generally great pep-talk, Jemma’s words trigger something in Fitz and make him realize that LMD Radcliffe wasn’t programmed at all. He didn’t have to be because he has a brain.

A quantum brain to be specific.

As it turns out, the quantum organ we saw Aida building in the midseason finale was in fact stuffed inside the heads of the LMD models… plural.

Upon discovering that the quantum brains exist, Jemma and Fitz realize that the May they’ve spent the past few days with is most definitely a third LMD.

Something that Coulson and Daisy learn the hard way.

After realizing that Billy hid the Darkhold in the Labyrinth, which is basically just a cool name for what turns out to be a library, Coulson, Daisy, and Faux-May head to the facility in an attempt to beat the Russians to the tome. While they’re successful in doing so, all hell breaks loose when Life-May-Decoy’s programming kicks in and she pulls a gun on Coulson (after fully making out with him) in order to get the Darkhold for herself and, by proxy, Radcliffe.

aos412Philinda

Luckily Daisy “Quake” Johnson was given a heads-up to May’s real identity by FitzSimmons and is able to take out the decoy before it can harm Coulson.

Unfortunately, that’s where team S.H.I.E.L.D.’s luck ends. Because the Russian baddies and their Watchdog partners roll up to the Labyrinth and cause all hell to break loose. After a brief battle that both sides limp away from, the Darkhold is in the hands of Radcliffe and S.H.I.E.L.D. is left only with a name and an alias: Anton Ivanov, the Superior.

The episode closes with the gang incinerating the Radcliffe and Aida LMD’s (Coulson’s too emotional to get rid of the May decoy) as the mad scientist chugs on Vodka with his new Russian friends and realizes that what the group is really after isn’t a what at all. It’s a whom and that whom is Coulson.

“Hot Potato Soup,” was, simply put, fun.

The Koenigs are always a delight and the manner in which they were incorporated this week didn’t feel like a forced story existing only for the sake of bringing in a guest star. It made sense for Coulson to task the Koenigs with hiding the Darkhold because the family is comprised of some of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s most loyal agents.

Known for its darkness, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was able to bring back some of the campy humor that fans so enjoyed in the early years of the series. The dynamics between the Koenigs themselves and the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D. makes for consistently hilarious interactions and provide a nice respite from the angst and drama that so frequently plagues our favorite characters’ lives.

Speaking of…

Another major high this week was the fact that the humor was offset by some truly emotional scenes back at the Playground. Last week I lamented the fact that Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge weren’t being given enough to play with, making it that much more exciting to see them handle Fitz’s backstory this week. As a character whose intellect is often used as a facade to hide the underlying insecurities, Fitz vocalizing his doubts to Jemma this week was a major step for him as a character and FitzSimmons as a couple.

The duo have been slightly out of sync for much of the season due to their respective secrets, so, seeing them come together and prove once again that they’re strongest as a pair, lifting each other up when one falls down, was a great thing to see.

There was a perfect symbiosis of irrelevant filler and plot-moving developments that made the episode one that was simultaneously fun to watch and important not to miss.

Episode Grade: A-

Episode Highs:

  • FITZ BACKSTORY!!!! Four years is a long time to go without knowing anything about our favorite agents’ pasts so getting the little tease about Fitz’s family was an unexpected and pleasant surprise. I can only hope that this might be indicative of our other favorite agents getting some backstory of their own. The fact that the Fitz patriarch was brought up in this specific manner, and was confirmed as still being alive, makes me wonder if he might be playing a larger role in the remainder of the season.
  • I’ve said it before but Chloe Bennet’s comedic timing is always on point, making her delightful to watch in an episode filled with lighter moments. Patton Oswalt is a comedy legend but Bennet more than holds her own in her scenes with him, which is something that not many people can say. I audibly laughed at, “So… May’s a freakin’ robot,” and really hope that we’ll see a bit less of angsty-Daisy and a bit more of the sarcastic woman we were first introduced to.

Episode Lows:

  • Where the heck was YoYo?!

Additional Thoughts:

  • Are we thinking these numbers are totally random or actually mean something? All you cipher experts… get to it! 74638 812 94573 10168 99438 
  • Is Russian Baddie #1 the actual Superior or merely a red herring for the real one?
  • I feel like the Fitz patriarch is much like the gun rule in that, if a gun is shown on screen, you know it’s going to be used later down the road. It’d be strange to ring up Fitz’s father as a one-off, especially considering Heaney alive and knows Radcliffe, so I’d expect to see him further incorporated as the season progresses.
  • I felt kinda bad for LMD May but was simultaneously super creeped out by the “Philinda” make-out sesh. Robot/human pairings will never make me feel anything other than skeeved out.

What did you think about the latest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments below!

About the author

Silje Falck-Pedersen

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