Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Season 4, Episode 12, “Hot Potato”
Since Patton Oswalt first stepped on the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. set in Season 1 as Agent Eric Koenig, his appearances on the show, no matter how brief, have been a welcome sight. This week’s episode put everyone’s favorite family of lanyard-bearing agents in the thick of the Darkhold mess and on center stage, in what was one of the liveliest episodes of the season.
The hour really had some basic plot goals (out RoboMay, get the Darkhold back in Radcliffe’s hands, introduce the Superior), but like every great trip it’s more about how you get there than the place you arrive and there is no better tour guide than a handful of Koenigs.
In current S.H.I.E.L.D. fashion, the show wastes no time getting to the action as some goons try to kidnap either Billy or Sam while the pair screw around at what appears to be a Dave & Buster’s-ish arcade/restaurant.
Sam scrambles to safety behind the bar, while Billy fights his way out of the building, only to be ambushed and kidnapped in an alley.
The goons, who are working for Radcliffe and the Superior — revealed as a Russian industrialist who loves old military hardware and snorting onions but hates aliens and Inhumans — are after the Koenings because Coulson handed the Darkhold off to one of the brothers for secret storage and/or disposal. Of course, RoboMay fed that to Radcliffe and the adventure began.
This is where multiple Oswalts pay comical dividends. On the bad guys’ submarine Billy talks tough, but is actually scared of getting interrogated, as he admits in a little ruse set up by Radcliffe. Sam plays “Who’s on First” with Coulson about which Koenig sibling has the Darkhold. Sam also gets a little fanboy with Daisy, because he’s all too familiar with Quake’s Internet following, and is excited to share even the lurid Black Widow-Quake erotic fanfic (I want to see the outtakes from this scene because it has all the signs of Oswalt improvising to make Chloe Bennet break character).
The Darkhold was passed from brother to brother to … sister. Yes, in the ultimate Koenig twist, the real super-agent in the family is older sister L.T., who is one of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s top agents and got Billy, Sam and the departed Eric into S.H.I.E.L.D. service. The lone holdout is fourth brother Thurston, who is a paranoid slam poet. Billy, who after not breaking under torture gets his memories mapped by Radcliffe, took the Darkhold to a series of vaults called The Labrynth for storage/disappearing.
The good guys and bad guys converge on the Darkhold’s location at the same time. It’s about this time that the secondary story of FitzSimmons and Mack trying to get info out of RoboRadcliffe pays off, and they figure out that May is an LMD. Coulson discovers this moments after the pair share their first kiss, and RoboMay can’t break programming once the Darkhold is physically in her arms.
Another game of hot potato ensues with Radcliffe coming away with the prize, and RoboMay broken, both physically and spiritually.
In terms of pure entertainment value, this was one of the best episodes of the season. Oswalt brings a unique energy to the show that would probably not work on a week-to-week basis, but is just perfect to add comic balance to the tense action over the battle for the Darkhold.