So how about that black matter from the previous episode? Let’s find out about it, as well as look at some racism, sexism, and fights with birds. This is “A View in the Dark.”
The episode begins with Peggy spotting Jarvis lifting weights. I’m as surprised as she is. Ever since New York, Jarvis has begun a regimented physical fitness routine. Fencing is his hobby, but he’s also good at boxing and judo. He goads Peggy into taking him down, first mistake, and she eventually does in no time with a move she learned from brother.
But then Jarvis takes her down and mounts her. Just in time for Ana to join. Not join in, but notice, and she’s not upset at all. In fact, she shares with Peggy that Jarvis is never more lethal than when he’s flat on his back. I’m not even gonna try to dissect that, given how Ana has been his sparring partner for 12 months. Anyway, to get things started, Peggy needs a ride to the office.
On the way to the office, Rose asks Sousa why he hasn’t told Peggy yet. What that is, we don’t know yet, but Rose figures that the longer Daniel waits, the more awkward it will be when they meet.
And at the office, they find Peggy making small talk with a nurse who dropped off cookies before her shift. This is Violet, played by Sarah Bolger. She wants to eventually show Peggy around eventually, but for now, she invites Peggy to join her and Daniel for dinner tonight.
The reservation is for two, but you can pull up a chair for that just in case. Restaurants are flexible like that. Peggy learns that two SSR agents have been sent to pick up Jane Scott’s body from the morgue- it’s set to arrive by midday. The scientists will identify the mysterious substance that killed her if SSR plans to progress on the case.
We then cut to two agents picking up said body, but as Jane Scott is being wheeled out, a man shoots the two handlers and loads them into the back of his van.
Elsewhere, Calvin Chadwick heads to a hidden room in a bar, where he meets the very secret, very guarded Council of Nine. I suppose it’d be too out of place at this point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe if we referred to them as the Secret Empire.
Anyway, among this council is Roxxon CEO Hugh Jones, Ray Wise reprising his role. One member, Tom, played by Casey Snyder, informs Chadwick that, in light of recent events, the Council has determined that the best course of action is to shut down the Isodyne program. After all, the experiments have yielded no results, but have attracted federal investigations. And accidents will happen.
Failure is a key component to progress. Hugh himself is still living off of the dividends from the 1929 stock market crash- a crash that Tom had the vision to orchestrate. Oh, these guys are dicks. The Isodyne program has put everyone’s interests in jeopardy. Calvin counters that the group is in possession of what could be the greatest discovery of all time, but right now, he hasn’t illustrated that to them.
Calvin maintains that this substance is potentially priceless. Atomic energy isn’t even regulated yet and Isodyne is set to make it a thing of the past. As the men put out their candles, Tom tells Chadwick that the decision has been made and Jane Scott’s body is already being taken care of as they speak. Tonight, the council’s men will clear out the lab and following that, all connections to the program will be terminated. Calvin is told to focus his priorities on the Senate Race, as a considerable amount of money has been funneled to his campaign.
At the river, Peggy and Sousa investigate the aftermath of the assassination. No sign of Jane Scott’s body. Clearly the two have kicked a formidable hornet’s nest in a very large case, but there’s good news from New York: Thompson managed to get the Isodyne search warrant.
The two return to Isodyne Energy and quickly inform the receptionist that they have a warrant to search the premises. They won’t get very far because a small containment leak has put the lab under isolation. Wilkes enters and confirms this new information, and while it seems like he’s not cooperating, he gives Peggy an address and meet time for tonight. Well, they may get some answers after all.
In the lab, Wilkes sneaks into an authorized room, picks a lock in seconds- we don’t see it actually work- and pulls out an Isodyne Energy file on the Isodyne Atomic Program. He retrieves the folder and goes about his business, but doesn’t realize that he was spotted.
Over at SSR West, Sousa matches the address Wilkes gave Peggy to The Dunbar Hotel downtown. Sousa has been before- he and Violet watched Ella Fitzgerald sing there- and it’s a real hot spot for the Colored crowd. He intends to back Peggy up, but Peggy reminds Sousa that the note said to come alone and she intends to do just that. He suggests that Peggy get dolled up, but she insists that she already is.
In a moment that feels very TV, Sousa tosses his jacket onto the chair, but it falls onto the floor. When Peggy goes to pick it up, she finds an engagement ring that Sousa intends for Violet tonight. A visibly crushed Peggy wants Sousa to tell Violet that she’s sorry about missing dinner and she’s very happy for him. Come on, Agent Carter, don’t give me this easy drama.
Later, Ana goes over potential outfits with Peggy. When Peggy mentions that she’s going solo, Ana asks if there are other agents. That’s a very good question and would be a good way to flesh out another SSR agent, but I’m not a writer. Peggy says that no other agents matter that would be useful besides Sousa anyway.
Ana, picking out a nice purple dress, has also been to The Dunbar Hotel and asks if Peggy dances, as Ana prefers the East Coast swing, but Edwin is adept at the collegiate shag. Again, I don’t want to look too deep into that. Peggy is just glad to be interacting with someone outside the SSR.
Edwin still doesn’t get to drive Peggy, as much as he thirsts for adventure, but he does show some of the hidden compartments in Howard’s leisure car: such as a button that reveals a bottle of wine, a button that adjusts the tints of the windows for extra privacy, a tracking device that Howard uses when he’s abandoned the car for the evening due to companionship, and finally, a button that pushes down the driver’s seat. Howard would have a car like this.
Peggy meets Dr. Wilkes at The Dunbar Hotel, though he’s more preoccupied on getting two Gin Rickeys and swapping stories. Peggy isn’t interested in small talk and tells Wilkes that his reluctance to explain himself- despite having nothing to do with Jane Scott’s death- makes him look complicit.
Wilkes mentions that when he arrived in the office this morning, he was escorted into a conference room and reminded of the classified nature of his work. Words like “treason,” “prison,” and “hanging” were thrown around. I have to wonder if that last word was modified for Wilkes in particular. Wilkes won’t talk to the SSR, but before he talks to Peggy, he’d at least like to know more about the woman he’s trusting. Fair enough. Peggy starts talking and decides that she’ll need a Whiskey neat.
She talks about the time that Headmaster Portley found her in the middle of his bedroom, wearing a bandit mask and holding both his wife’s knickers and his most expensive bottle of Brandy. And her friends just abandoned her to get a few switches.
In between this, we cut to Whitney Frost on the set of a film production. The asshole director wants someone to remove the lines around Whitney’s eyes and suggests she skip lunch in order to tighten into her dress.
Back at Dunbar, Wilkes beckons Peggy for a dance when he hears his song. Just for a few bars at least. On the dance floor, Peggy asks Wilkes if Calvin killed Jane Scott. Wilkes says no, but he does believe that Calvin would kill in order to cover up the research conducted. This is bigger than even Chadwick thinks it is, and the best way for Wilkes to explain it to Peggy is to show it to her. As the two leave, the man who killed the SSR agents- Rufus, played by Chris Browning, follows from behind.
Whitney returns to the dressing room and learns from Calvin that the project has been scrapped- Zero Matter, the experiments, everything. As of tomorrow, Zero matter will be gone. Calvin isn’t pleased- they have a means to change the world, but it’s being thrown away.
While Whitney is upset, she blames Calvin’s infidelity for their troubles. More than that, she berates him for not standing up to the council. Besides, Calvin says, isn’t the Senate run better for the two in the long run? Victoria nods, but she doesn’t seem to believe that.
Jason takes Peggy atop the Griffith Observatory and points to a spot where the light tapers out into nothing- that’s where he grew up, working in the orange groves with his family. People would say over and over that he couldn’t get out and didn’t deserve more- that sort of stuff makes you feel insignificant.
So then, how does one go from the orange grove to the observatory? Jason explains that he took a second job scrubbing floors at night saved enough to get a degree. However, it was the war gave him a real opportunity as a navy engineer, followed by actual scientific work in the weapons propulsion lab. When Jason returned home, he applied to 16 companies, but Isodyne was the only one willing to put one of his kind in a lab.
And this is why he’s hesitant about torpedoing his relationship with Isodyne. Peggy counters that if Jason protects them, he’ll betray everything he’s fought to achieve. Now hopefully Jason didn’t just bring Peggy up here to tell her that, or she’ll be cross. Luckily, this view isn’t the only thing Jason wants to show Peggy.
Inside, he runs and shows Peggy the film that he stole earlier. During the war, Isodyne, along with every other legitimate company in their field, worked towards a successful atomic reaction. It was a scientific gold rush, to put it another way. Isodyne’s research got far enough to conduct atomic testing after the war ended. Now Peggy knows what happens during an atomic test: a blinding light, mushroom cloud, and total devastation.
This one, though, didn’t go as planned. The film shows that an explosion created a black anomaly that seemed to tear a hole in space and sucked any and everything nearby into itself. No sign of the men after that. Only one thing was left behind- Isodyne calls it Zero Matter since there’s no room for it on the Periodic Table, and Jason thinks that it’s more dangerous than anything he’s known.
While three men deflate the car tires and head inside the observatory, Jason tells Peggy his hypothesis around perfect fluids. See, real fluids conduct heat and have viscosity. Perfect fluids, though, have no sheer stresses or heat conduction. Zero Matter, though, is always drawing matter into itself. More than that, it will always be the coldest object in the room because it’s devouring any nearby energy.
So it’s possible that Jane Scott was in physical contact with the specimen. Jason’s job was to build and maintain the magnetic containment chamber, as Zero Matter does not like to stay in one place. It could be extraterrestrial or extradimensional, but whatever it is, Peggy plans to go to Isodyne tonight to steal it.
But then they hear and spot the three men entering. The two manage to escape, but find the tires deflated, so Peggy activates the tracker on Howard’s car.
Back at House Jarvis, Edwin chases Bernard Stark when Ana tells him that there’s a sock on the doorknob. Well, Bernard will have to wait.
Jason covers Peggy until he’s out of ammunition, but this gives Peggy enough time to hotwire another car and hightail it out of there. The men hop into the other vehicle and give chase. They managed to sabotage the car’s engine, so when it looks like Peggy won’t get very far, Jason gives Peggy directions to pull into an alley and kill the lights.
Their pursuers pass them, but inside the car, Peggy finds a lapel pin with the same insignia as the lapel pin that Dottie tried to steal.
Before Violet and Sousa can leave for their date, Rose receives a call from Jarvis, who informs them about the SOS signal from Peggy. Sousa will meet up with Jarvis.
Because neither Jason nor Peggy have change, they can’t currently use the phone. They enter a nearby bakery, where the owner, played by Nick Hoffa, doesn’t take kindly to a White woman with a Colored man and asks if Peggy is okay. He only wants to hear from her, not the boy. Plus, if the two want change for the phone, they’ll have to buy something. Now Peggy is downright insulted by this.
In a moment I can’t help but love, we then cut to Jason chomping down on an éclair that he enjoys very much, despite being slighted. Peggy also takes a bite, but then she just throws the éclair away. How ride. The phone doesn’t even work anyway. Peggy would much prefer punching the man’s right eye. After all, Peggy needs a hobby and punching all of Los Angeles could be a good start. Jason figures that the shooters were sent on Isodyne’s behalf to scrub the project. A car pulls up, so the two don’t move.
And then Peggy and Wilkes break several anti-miscegenation laws with this. Peggy has an idea- stealing the car. Not what Jason had in mind.
Back at the SSR office, Sousa blows off some steam upon hearing that Peggy wasn’t found, but instead, an unsettling amount of bullet casings and her car with the tires slashed. He demands that surveillance be pulled from the observatory and puts out an APB put out for Jason. Jarvis will be coming with Sousa to Isodyne.
At the same time, Wilkes and Peggy arrive at Isodyne. They aren’t alone, though, so while Peggy takes out some of the men, Jason retrieves the Zero Matter.
But then there’s Whitney Frost, who surprises Jason and demands that he put the Zero Matter in its case and give it to her. Jason doesn’t think that Whitney will shoot him while he’s in possession of the matter. The two struggle and eventually drop the container. The Zero Matter pulls in everything nearby. Peggy, hearing a noise, heads in and finds a gaping hole in the wall.
Later, Peggy quickly informs Sousa of what happened, but he just wants to make sure that she’s okay. There’s so much to process, but right now, Sousa wants Peggy to go home. As for Jason, no one apparently could have survived that. Right?
The next day, Sousa meets Violet and fills her in on his night. He apologizes for last night, but Violet is just glad that he’s fine. He promises to make it up to her. Violet got Sousa a bear claw, but it’s only half of one now because she got hungry. You suck, Violet.
Peggy laments Jason’s apparent death, but Ana talks of how soon Edwin saved her life, despite only knowing him for a short amount of time. Peggy just wishes that she got more time to know Jason.
Calvin, meanwhile, knocks on Whitney’s door to talk to her, but she’s cowering behind a mirror with a black crack and visible veins on her forehead.
“A View in the Dark” builds upon the mystery established in the premiere, but as Peggy says, this case may be bigger than the SSR imagined. With the introduction of the Council of Nine, the backstory for Zero Matter, Peggy finding the lapel pin that ties this back to Dottie, and Whitney Frost’s face at episode’s end, this season is much more than Peggy and Daniel investigating the death of a woman encased in ice.
While I enjoyed the action set pieces and car chase, I had more fun with the character moments and developing both the returning and new characters. And I’m glad that we aren’t having Peggy face sexism all around her, that doesn’t mean that the women and others around her don’t have issues.
Just as the lab tech from the premiere believed that field agents looked down on technicians, there are still clear divides. Whitney faces direct sexism in her career as an actress. She’s held up to this standard to the point that she’s encouraged to fast just to fit into her costume and have the lines under her eyes removed- as if the director wanted to make her as perfect as an ice sculpture.
And now her image has been tainted permanently due to being exposed to the Zero Matter. I like how the show isn’t overplaying this.
Same applies to the issues that Wilkes faces as a Black man working in the 1940s. He’s in a great position at Isodyne, despite his adversity and the daily racism he must face, as seen in the bakery. So even though he’s a useful resource for the SSR, he’s not going to leap at the first opportunity to turn against the company that employed him.
His scenes with Peggy are fun, informative, and allow their friendship to grow at a good pace. Though I wish Wilkes wasn’t as forward with Peggy as he was both here and in the premiere, he doesn’t come off as someone just trying to get into Peggy’s pants. He’s an ally that just wants to know as much as he can about Peggy, and their cultural differences allow them to learn about one another.
At the bakery, for example, Peggy is aghast that the employee would have such an attitude, but Wilkes doesn’t seem taken aback that much at all, as he’s probably been through this many times before. But for Peggy, it’s getting caught by the headmaster that presented an obstacle and not racism.
Peggy and Wilkes come from two different worlds. While Peggy struggled gaining acceptance in New York, Wilkes lives in a time where he won’t even get full acceptance from society for at least another decade or two- maybe more. It’s a nice way for Agent Carter to discuss racism without being overt about it.
Plus, like Colleen, Wilkes is someone whom Peggy had a bond with that was taken too soon. I mean, not really- I’m beyond positive that Wilkes will pop up again, but for the purpose of this episode, I enjoyed Atwell’s performance in those final scenes as she lamented Wilkes’ loss and how she hoped to know him more.
Here’s what I didn’t like about some of Peggy’s material: the potential conflict with Sousa. There were subtleties in Atwell’s performance that I liked, such as her reaction to the engagement ring or when Sousa mentions that he and Violet went to the Dunbar Hotel, but what I do not want is for this show to devolve into some sort of petty love triangle between Peggy, Daniel, and some other man or woman.
I’d like to think Agent Carter is a smart enough show that it can have these two friends maintain a professional relationship. Would it be nice for Peggy to eventually have a romantic interest? I guess.
But it’s not a must for her character in the same way that we don’t have to see Jessica Jones and Luke Cage become an item when they work well as friends. And I don’t know why I keep bringing up Jessica Jones while talking about Agent Carter.
But going back to this show, what I like about Agent Carter is that Peggy is about as far away from being feminine as possible. She assembles rifles in her spare time, has no trouble with taking up punching out all of Los Angeles as a hobby, and is damn good at hotwiring a car. Her strength come from her being a great character, not a great female character. And I hope Peggy doesn’t go down the road of becoming jealous of Violet.
That and I hope Violet doesn’t have some lingering secret or characteristic that will make her appear untrustworthy or evil. It’d be easy to make the main character’s competition look bad by comparison, but I just want Violet to be the object of Sousa’s affection without having it lead to some tension between him and Peggy.
“A View in the Dark” added to the growing mystery with the introduction of the council, showed us the power of the Zero Matter, and helped flesh out our new characters. Of course, Whitney Frost will never be the same and Wilkes appears to be gone…for now. He’ll be back. And while the action was great, I enjoyed the character bits much more. Plus, we now know about the heated rivalry between Jarvis and Bernard. Well, at least Edwin has a rival.