Things just keep getting stranger for the Agents of SHIELD in “Hot Potato Soup.” Then again, things always get strange when the Agents Koenig are involved. Patton Oswalt does a great job as usual, while the rest of the team has to try and keep up with the problems of far too many people being interested in the Darkhold.
The episode opens with two of the Koenigs in an arcade, riding hoverboards and exchanging movie quotes. It’s a very geeky boys’ night out that looks like a lot of fun to me. The fun gets interrupted when some Russians show up with guns and bad attitudes. Even the Russians get confused with the multiple Koenigs running around, and a very strange fight ensues, ending in a capture and a desperate phone call to Coulson.
Aboard the Zephyr, Coulson briefs the team about their new situation. Everyone is impressed that the bad guys managed to find the Koenigs at all, since Coulson claims that, “Even we can’t find them half the time.” Sam Koenig is the one that has joined Coulson and company, while Billy is the one that’s been captured, for those trying to keep them straight. The team thinks Radcliffe is behind this, and Fitz tries to patch up the recently-captured LMD and get any useful information out of it.
The Watchdogs drag Billy into a room where Radcliffe (the real one, presumably) is tied to a chair. Billy is defiant until the Watchdogs leave, and then on the verge of panic, which makes for an amusing scene, since Radcliffe isn’t noted for his physical courage, either. Radcliffe tells Billy all this is about the Darkhold, and Billy claims to not even know what that is.
Their captor proves to be a submarine captain/Russian billionaire Anton Ivanov, who comes in with a strange combination of threats and tips on how to enjoy vodka. His ramblings devolve into creative threats, which leads to another surprise, at least for Billy. Radcliffe proves to not be a prisoner, and schemes with the Captain about how to get information out of the captured Koenig.
There’s a very entertaining scene of Fitz and Simmons trying to get the Radcliffe LMD running and cooperating. After some really odd voice effects, Mac quips that, “The only thing worse than a robot is a possessed one.” Even LMD Radcliffe seems to agree with this. After this, investigations continue on both sides, as Sam Koenig goes all fangirl about working with Quake. This is Oswalt at some of his comedic best. On the sub, Radcliffe comes up with a way to find out what he wants to know, and Ivanov isn’t pleased to learn that Aida is more than she seems. While I sort of vaguely understand the Watchdogs bizarre bias against Inhumans, they still haven’t really shown what Radcliffe’s motivation is for working against them.
On the Zephyr, the LMD Radcliffe goes into a strange sidetrack when he starts babbling about Fitz’s father. Apparently, Fitz has a lot of unresolved issues with his father. It’s painful to see, which means it’s a good acting job. What we gradually learn is that the title is very apt, in that the Koenigs were passing the Darkhold off amongst them to keep it safe. We also learn of yet another Koenig, LT, which surprises Daisy. I really do wonder how many of them there are running around out there.
Eventually, the team ends up in a club where yet another Koenig is on stage. We eventually find out who LT actually is, and learn of another Koenig, Thurston. Let’s just say there’s a lot of diversity in the Koenig family, despite what most of them look like. Radcliffe makes progress getting inside Billy’s head, and all roads are leading to a special hidden vault that only the Koenig’s know about. I guess this is why Coulson kept saying he’d given the Darkhold to someone who could make it disappear.
Fitz manages a major breakthrough in how to deal with the Radcliffe LMD, and starts finding out some very interesting things. When the team moves out, Daisy ends up with LT Koenig, and I think they let something slip here. LT has been quick to correct Daisy every time she’s been wrong, and Daisy asks about the four Koenig brothers. So we may actually finally have a number as to how many of them there are.
There’s a lot of fighting and a major showdown, as Coulson learns about L-May-D. That’s a very sad scene for everyone involved. We also learn that while the LMD’s can take an impressive amount of damage, they aren’t Quake-proof. There’s a hostage exchange, bad guys getting too much of what they want, and SHIELD ending up with at least a clue as to what’s been going on. We also get some hints about the original LMD program, which both plays with fan theories about the Koenigs, and closes the loophole about how LMDs can be new this season of SHIELD when they were mentioned back in the first Avengers movie. That was a clever bit of writing. They also show us what crazy Russian Ivanov is really after, and it’s a surprise.
What I liked: Patton Oswalt is always entertaining, and his portrayal of the Koenigs is a great addition to SHIELD canon. Fitz and Simmons worked well, as they usually do. Mac had a much reduced role, but he’s consistent in his views on robots.
What I didn’t: I’m not sure we need yet another new bad guy, in this case Ivanov. They tied it in to earlier stories nicely (I miss Bobbi and Hunter) but the Hydra/Russia connection is seeming a bit odd. I get not everyone can be around all the time, but it was weird how Yo Yo and Mace just dropped off the radar completely for this episode.
Hot Potato Soup was fun, largely due to the return of the Koenigs. I enjoyed it. I’ll give it a 4 out of 5.