[SPOILERS for those not caught up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ahead.]
For fans feeling as bleak and dejected as the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. stifled by that awkward pile of bureaucratic red tape, never fear -a silver lining is on the way, in the shape of a favorite recurring character.
In a new promo for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D season 4, episode 12, "Hot Potato Soup", a key ingredient is featured in the form of comedian Patton Oswalt; returning to his Marvel Cinematic Universe role(s) as agents Sam and Billy Koenig.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D explores a facet of the MCU involving the agency that investigates and protects the world against the threat of alien technology, fights dangerous superpowered groups and individuals and more recently, protects the rights of Inhumans within a growing climate of fear and hatred. Patton Oswalt has appeared in several episodes of the show to date, playing a range of doppelganger agents of yet to be discovered origin that share a last name and visual identity. Oswalt is also a recurring member of the Whedonverse, who appeared in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. co-creator Joss Whedon's Dollhouse TV series and is the author of a Firefly comic book story, "Serenity: Float Out".
S.H.I.E.L.D is currently airing the second half of its fourth season and exploring a range of storylines, some of which stem directly from the events in last year's Captain America: Civil War. The first half of the season introduced the existence of supernatural forces via Ghost Rider (Gabriel Luna) and a dangerous mystical artifact; the Darkhold book. The possession of the Darkhold serves as a source of plot conflict in the "Hot Potato Soup" promo, as Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) enlists the aid of the Koenigs to keep the book hidden from those who would use it for catastrophic purpose.
Of course, the main threat to S.H.I.E.L.D at present is the artificially-intelligent LMDs that have infiltrated the agency, as part of a larger villainous scheme devised by the shifty Dr Radcliffe (John Hannah) with Senator Nadeer (Parminder Nagra). LMDs have long been an element of the Marvel comic book universe and some Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans have speculated that the 13 Koenig agents are LMDs themselves. This reveal would be a neat way to further draw these two plot threads together and ensure that the LMDs remain part of the show in the future - with more Oswalt appearances to come, hopefully.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is becoming known for its secretive long-game plots that can keep theory loving fans speculating for seasons. As such, it is likely any reveal involving the Koenig agents' origin will also come with more unanswered questions to be explored at a later date. The opportunity to see the quirky and mysterious agents played by the talented Oswalt is welcome nonetheless, so let's hope that Sam and Billy survive the strife of "Hot Potato Soup" and are not sacrificed to the plot like poor Eric!
Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D season 4 continues with "Hot Potato Soup" on Tuesday, January 31st on ABC.