Danny Hale reviews the twelfth episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 4…
‘Hot Potato Soup’ saw the return of the Koenigs, Billy, Sam and Thurston and as a result we were graced with Patton Oswalt’s varying performances bringing his unique charm back to the show. In addition, we got to meet the original Agent Koenig, Lt, the tough-as-nails sister to Billy, Sam and Thurston played by Artemis Pebdani. The episode opens with Billy getting kidnapped and Sam barely escaping with his life. We then learn that Coulson entrusted the Darkhold to Agent Billy Koenig for safe keeping. Thus followed a great hour as all our players scrambled to locate and obtain the Darkhold before anyone else.
This week we finally discovered the identity of the oft mentioned ‘superior’, Anton Ivanov. I do feel the previous teases were somewhat unwarranted as Ivanov’s introduction was quickly overshadowed by the increasing surrounding drama. It wasn’t that I didn’t find him threatening, just that we saw Radcliffe (using Aida) outplay him pretty easily which minimises his sense of power slightly. Radcliffe and Aida still pose the biggest threat as of yet and I still feel the Darkhold in their hands will be all the more deadly. Ivanov’s intentions most likely match those of Senator Nadeer by wanting to eradicate the Inhuamn race. I can’t see this being a genuine concern of Radcliffe’s and therefore his promise of the Darkhold holding the means to wiping the Inhumans out is surely just a lie to gain Senator Nadeer’s assistance.
Throughout ‘Hot Potato Soup’ there was a constant underlying threat unknown to our team in the form of the May LMD. Every step closer she got to the Darkhold raised the tension, particularly because she was seeking it subliminally. In addition to this, her and Coulson were getting closer and closer to their first kiss. Thankfully it went no further than that before Simmons deduced the true nature of May. Seeing the May LMD refuse to hand the Darkhold over to Coulson was a great moment. It was in this instant that May became aware of her mission and suddenly realised she could hide it no longer. Although she is programmed to act just like the real May the writers and Ming-Na Wen have done an incredible job of making this machine sympathetic and separate from the real Melinda.
Fitz got a great amount of character work this week with the somewhat abrupt mention of his father on Radcliffe’s part. It is perfectly believable to think that they did in fact know each other as they’re both from Glasgow but also with access to S.H.I.E.L.D’s databases Radcliffe/Aida could easily have fabricated this entire story to distract Fitz. My main argument against this is that I do think Radcliffe genuinely cares about Fitz and to play on painful memories like these seems a little underhanded. Then again, aside from physical violence and murder I am not sure how far Radcliffe will go to obtain the Darkhold.
Our final act brings all our players together with the Darkhold ending up in Dr. Radcliffe’s hands; the May LMD finally fulfilled her mission. Damn, why do I feel so bad for her? Thankfully as the episode closes we see Coulson has kept the May LMD intact. I do not know if it would be possible for Fitz to affect her programming as she contains an Aida made brain which is beyond anything Fitz or Simmons have encountered so far but I am also unsure as to how the May LMD will behave now that her mission is complete. Will she be free to behave as she pleases? S.H.I.E.L.D. could potentially send the May LMD in to eliminate Aida or even to rescue the real May. This, of course, depends on how long she is built to last for.
At the closing of ‘Hot Potato Soup’ things are simpler; Radcliffe finally has the Darkhold in his possession although he is still accompanied by Ivanov and by extension, Senator Nadeer. Our team is now also aware that May is in fact missing so there is an increased anticipation to see her freed and reunited with our team. Our post credits scene shows Radcliffe toasting with Ivanov to wiping out the Inhumans and Coulson but not without an initial glance at the Darkhold lying nearby. I feel as soon as Radcliffe gets off the submarine with the Darkhold he’s going to turn on Ivanov and flee. He has always been in this for the book and will have no interest sharing its power until he can absorb it properly. The final reveal showed Ivanov unveiling his next target, a classic case of the mysterious ‘man in black,’ always present in the background any time there is an otherworldly occurrence. Once Anton realises this man is legally dead, it naturally raises red flags. Ivanov is hardly the worst or most threatening villain to ever hunt Coulson but I liked the mention that Coulson is still technically dead in the eyes of the public. With the Darkhold now in Radclifffe’s hands and the season still a ways off from the finale I cannot wait to see what the coming weeks have in store for us.