Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Hot Potato Soup

It's been a long time since we last saw Patton Oswalt on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but last night gave us a heaping helping of Koenigs to make up for it. The result was a lighter, fun episode that nevertheless included serious developments in the continuing LMD story line.

Among the main cast, things focused on just a few characters this week. Fitz tried to hack his way into the Radcliffe LMD, and was forced to face daddy issues along the way. This felt a little bit out of left field to me; I wanted to convince myself that we'd heard about this bit of his back story before, yet I couldn't specifically remember when. The script smartly used the Fitz-Simmons relationship to sell us on this always having been a thing, but it nevertheless didn't quite click for me. Actually, that may have been because I never really took Fitz's relationship with Radcliffe to have much of a father-son dynamic to it.

Still, if the gravitas was a bit lacking we did at least get a fun performance from John Hannah. Radcliffe's recent mustache twirling evil antics were tweaked a bit into Hannibal Lecter territory when he was playing the L.M.D. You could see the gears turning (pun not intended) as Radcliffe tested gambits for distracting the group.

But the best performance of the episode was Ming-Na Wen as the May duplicate. (The genuine article was nowhere to be seen this week.) There's some tremendous nuance in what she was given to play -- not planning to betray the group, not wanting to when the moment came, but being forced to do it anyway. All of that showed as she got closer than ever to Coulson... and then turned on him.

The plot served up good moments for the other characters too. Coulson's cleverness was kept intact by having him figure out right at the end that May had been replaced. Daisy got the hilarious "so May's a frickin' robot," one of many solid one-liners this week. Everyone got to have fun with the running gag of not exactly explaining the Koenigs while flirting with possible explanations (clones, robots, etc.).

This was an episode that made me smile throughout, thanks in large part to the "here to have a good time" presence of Patton Oswalt. I'd call it a B+.

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