You think you know torture? Try enduring what Dottie Underwood has taken and treats like child’s play. The second of Agent Carter’s two episodes this week kept the story moving with Peggy having to deal with not just Whitney Frost, but Dottie in the wings as well.
The episode begins at a studio lot as Whitney Frost addresses the press and thanks the studio for supporting her in this terrible time. Apparently, Calvin Chadwick and several of his colleagues perished at sea last night when their boat sank off of Catalina Island. There is one thing that Whitney knows: she will come through this stronger than ever. Sousa and Peggy, standing nearby, figure that Whitney must have killed them.
As far as their favorite Russian assassin is concerned, Peggy believes that Dottie is worth more to Whitney alive than dead. While Jarvis tries to fix the transponder, Sousa figures the two need to talk later about stuff and things.
Dottie, meanwhile, isn’t afraid of any torture Vernon can throw at her. He talks about interrogating The Witch of Buchenwald and gaining information in just 24 hours. All with one little tool. Dottie, meanwhile, has pulled out her own nails, teeth, hair, and has burned parts of her flesh with a blowtorch. As far as Dottie figures, Vernon is wasting her time since he’s more terrified than terrifying. So Vernon tries a truth serum instead.
Back in the laboratory, Ana helps Wilkes with the containment chamber, but he’s still slipping in and out of reality. More frequent, too. Peggy enters and asks on Jason’s condition. His answer? He’s doing great. Jarvis, meanwhile, has fixed the transponder. After all, one doesn’t spend time with Howard Stark without learning about electrical engineering. At least he didn’t catch the Clap. Peggy wants to expand the signal to find Dottie.
But Jason wants to know why Peggy won’t just arrest Dottie for what she’s done. She is a Russian spy, after all. Peggy answers that Dottie acted on her orders, so she won’t abandon her, even though the kill switch on her necklace can be activated. Jason snaps, saying this is about something much worse than his potential death. He apologizes for losing his temper and goes back to work.
Dottie proves a formidable opponent for Vernon, who brings up Dr. Fennhoff and how he tricked her into helping him get back at Howard Stark. Stalin isn’t exactly the forgiving type. Dottie is as good as dead to Russia, as she’s an assassin without a target. Vernon almost feels sorry for Dottie for thinking that she has a friend in Peggy Carter- a woman who would see her hanged.
Vernon is then called away by Whitney Frost, who has another task for him: focus on finding the uranium rods. She tells him that Joseph will be working security, as Whitney trusts him. Vernon doesn’t think it’s necessary to find the rods since Isodyne can make new ones, but Whitney needs the original. This is his priority and he can use any means necessary. As for Dottie Underwood, Whitney offers to speak with her to offer a woman’s touch.
Downstairs, Whitney and Dottie chat about what makes them similar. Dottie thinks that they’re in the same boat, but Whitney says that they’re not even in the same ocean. And the ocean is a big place. Whitney says that she disabled the tracking device when she arrived, so she shouldn’t expect Peggy Carter to rescue her. She grabs Dottie’s throat as we cut to commercial, so I’m guessing that Dottie isn’t dead. Or there’d be no need to cut to black.
Indeed, Whitney just brings Dottie to the verge of death to learn what Peggy wants. Dottie spills that she wanted a sample and she managed to retrieve it for her new ghost boyfriend, Jason Wilkes. Whitney finds this revelation fascinating and tells a now spooked Dottie that she’s still useful to her.
In the laboratory, Jason enters the containment chamber. He’s not ready, but no time like the present. Jarvis activates the machine just as Peggy slips the Zero Matter into Jason’s skin. He convulses and falls to the ground, now fully corporeal. On instinct, Jason kisses Piggy. At least Sousa didn’t enter. Ana offers to make Jason a feast.
Then the three receive a signal. They call Sousa with news of Dottie Underwood’s location, but he’s a bit preoccupied with Vernon Masters in his office. Vernon asks Sousa how he’s liking the new post, but then mentions that there’s been a theft of radioactive material from Roxxon. And Sousa needs to find it.
Jarvis wonders whether the appearance of this signal is convenient, and Peggy knows that it is. After all, they are walking right into a trap.
Sousa presents the Jitterbug: not a dance, but a nonlethal concussive device. When the two walk into this trap, when they’re outnumbered, Peggy will want to stand behind Jarvis while he enters the sequence that blows away anything in its path.
Ana suggests that Jarvis wear a darker jacket. She gives him a long and deep hug, saying that everything is indeed fine, but she’s worried. Not about Peggy, but Jarvis. She still wants him to go on the mission, but also wants him to wring her hands from time to time.
Back at SSR, Vernon believes that Sousa is a smart man with a great war story. Sousa still can’t make any promises, but Vernon informs him that this might be a difficult mess. Hell, Sousa may lose friends, but the rewards will be great. Right now, Sousa isn’t interested in being a hero. He’ll do his best, so Vernon will keep his expectations realistic.
On the road, Peggy and Jarvis’ silence soon turns into girl talk when the two discuss the kiss. Jarvis knows that Peggy blushed, and that creates a sticky situation with Peggy and Sousa. After all, his engagement has been called off, so it’s a bit convenient. But Jarvis likes the position she’s in. She never meant to encourage such a triangle. It just happened. Probably due to mediocre writing.
Right now, Peggy doesn’t know what to do. The two drive on. Well, that was a scene.
At night, Jarvis and Peggy head put their plan into action. While Jarvis is able to be the distraction for Peggy to knock out one guard, he doesn’t remember the combination to the Jitterbug, so they’re captured and brought to share confinement with Dottie Underwood. Well, this was a bad plan.
So Ana cooks up a hell of a dinner for Jason, who feels born again. Jason toasts to Agent Carter and Jarvis for their safe return.
Right. They’re bound alongside Dottie, who wasn’t deterred by Vernon’s interrogation. Peggy and Dottie slowly slip out of their binds like it’s some sort of damn contest.
Jason asks Ana if she’s alright, and she’s had enough wine that she may answer honestly. In that case, Ana brings her seat closer to Jason’s. She talks about Edwin’s previous dangers faced with Peggy Carter. Jason figures that we lie to protect the people close to us, and Ana gets that. Now, she figures that she missed the lie.
Today, though, is a day for celebration. Jason doesn’t have a next step, though. Before all of this happened, all of Isodyne’s focus was on Zero Matter and they were still ten years out of the way. Ana pours him more wine.
While Jarvis tries to remember the combination, Dottie figures that Peggy plans to send her to death. She knows what kind of men Peggy works for, and Vernon is only one of many. The rot goes deep in the SSR and Peggy’s idealism blinds her. Jarvis slips free and remembers the combination, which he got mixed up with measurements. That one is set for detonation.
It works. The three head up, though a weakened Dottie tells Peggy that while this was a trap, it wasn’t meant for her. Jarvis soon drives with more determination than we’ve seen thus far. Dottie notes that Peggy has never looked so scared before.
Meanwhile, Whitney Frost enters the Stark’s household and passes Jarvis’ silly vocal security system. She heads downstairs to confront Jason, but she’s marveled by the containment device. She’s more enthralled with Zero Matter’s abilities than he is, as it gives a different ability to each host. Rather than do something now, Whitney plans to use the time to ask Jason what happens if he steps outside of the chamber.
She didn’t come to talk. Peggy stole something from her and she’ll need it back. She sends the Zero Matter into his body, but it goes right back to her.
Jason soon steps out of the chamber. Whitney says that they can help each other control the Zero Matter, but Jason says that no one can. Whitney wants to control the world, but Jason says that the world is fine as is. Yeah, right. Whitney reminds him that people like them, a woman and a Colored man, weren’t hired for their abilities.
She asks if there’s been a day when he’s felt like a real man in this country. She wants to change the world for people like them. Joseph Manfredi enters just as Whitney explains that Jason will be accompanying them. She knocks him out just to make sure.
Sousa calls Ana and asks if Peggy and Jarvis have returned. They haven’t, but she then spots Whitney and Joseph leaving with Jarvis. Just as Sousa prepares to leave, he’s ambushed and beaten by two men.
Ana confronts Whitney, who tells her that this doesn’t concern her. She plans to get answers for Jason. Ana tells Whitney that Peggy won’t stop coming for her. True as that is, Whitney knows that she can at least slow her down. To make sure, she shoots Ana just as Peggy and Jarvis arrive.
Jarvis and Peggy speed to the nearest hospital. Ana is brought into operation just as Peggy learns that an officer has been shot. They head out to find the car trunk open, only containing Dottie’s necklace.
Next day at SSR West, a wounded Sousa comes into work. He tells Vernon that he surprised a couple of burglars. As for leads on the Roxxon crime, not a thing. Well, that’s a real shame for everyone involved. Vernon figures that Sousa needs a long rest. He’ll be taking over SSR operations in Los Angeles for the foreseeable future.
Peggy makes a call to the SSR and is surprised to hear Vernon Masters’ voice. She hangs up the phone. She then joins Jarvis, who tells her that Ana is still in surgery. No word yet if she’ll pull through.
Okay, so “Life of the Party” ended with Peggy and Sousa unfortunately having to retreat after losing Dottie, but the chase doesn’t stop one episode later. They aren’t given much room to breathe because they still have to stop Whitney, find Dottie, continue helping Jason, and deal with Vernon Masters’ interference.
Despite how busy things were, it allowed for some calmer moments that allowed the characters to bond. Most of Peggy and Jarvis’ scenes together have been related to the ongoing mission, but the scene between the two of them in the car about Peggy’s love triangle was both funny and enlightening, as it helped show just how much is out of Peggy’s control.
She didn’t intend to make two men fall for her and, as indicated in the previous episode, she didn’t want to muck up Sousa’s engagement. Granted, I’m still chalking this love triangle up to bad writing on the show’s part, but Atwell makes Peggy’s pain believable, as she’s torn between two men she never wanted to get between when she came out West.
I’ll get to Jarvis in a moment, but for Peggy, this felt like the moment where a lot of her cool confidence was rattled. Not by the injury with the rebar because she still wanted to help, but because of her decision to free Dottie. Peggy at least admitted it was a bad idea, but now not only has Dottie murdered a cop, she’s on the loose again. And the only one to blame for that is Peggy.
While I can’t prove this, consider: if Peggy hadn’t come to Dottie for help, Whitney wouldn’t have learned that Jason Wilkes was still in this world. From there, Whitney wouldn’t have gone to Howard’s residence to find Jason, and Ana might not have been injured in the process. Peggy didn’t pull the trigger, but springing Dottie set in motion a chain of events that all lead back to her bad decision.
Peggy is at least aware of this. She tells a frustrated Jason that Dottie is her responsibility. She won’t just kill her because she’s a killer and a fugitive. If Peggy wanted to keep Dottie in place, there’d be no need to free her, but she’s refusing to make that ultimate decision of killing Dottie because of something that she might do, and ends up doing.
I get Jason’s frustration. To him, Dottie is a monster. She’s not completely heartless, but she will kill to keep moving. To Jason, there’s no point in keeping her alive, particularly when Peggy is putting more time into finding her than helping Jason become corporeal again.
The kiss only would have felt cheesy if Peggy had given into it more than she did, but for Jason becoming solid again, it’s not unrealistic that his first instinct would be to kiss Peggy again.
Now let’s talk about Jarvis. James D’Arcy plays the comic relief well as the foil when Jarvis and Peggy go on missions. He has serious, tender moments, such as when he first told Peggy about Ana last year or when he hugged his wife earlier in the episode, but like Rose, you wouldn’t expect him to show any sudden burst of range or anger.
But when Edwin learns about Ana being in danger, he becomes a completely different person. This is a man who, despite having rivalries with flamingos and disdain for avocados, is a loving man who cares deeply for his wife. We know this, but we’ve never seen Jarvis act in such a manner that he’s willing to drop everything and speed to save his beloved. With Peggy, he knows that she’s more than capable of handling herself.
Ana is different. She doesn’t do the cliché thing of asking her husband to stop going on adventures. Rather, she’s fine with it, so long as he returns to wring her hands. Ana just happened to be an unexpected casualty.
It was a bit surprising, considering that Whitney didn’t have to shoot Ana. Hell, she could have just absorbed her or just left and let Peggy give chase, but Whitney is going mad with power and is making dangerous choices.
Yet, she still has all the power necessary to get others to do what she wants. I loved the face-off between Dottie and Whitney. Dottie is a product of the Red Room Academy. She’s been presented as having grace, power, and above all, no sort of natural fear. A man like Vernon wouldn’t be able to break her because she’s above those kind of manmade tortures.
Whitney, though, is a different class of villain, and it was a change of pace not to just see Dottie crack under pressure, but also look genuinely afraid as Whitney brought her to the brink of death. As Peggy predicted, Dottie is of more value to Whitney alive, but now Dottie knows that Frost could kill her at any moment and won’t hesitate.
Agent Carter has touched upon sexism and racism already in this season, but I did like Whitney trying to tempt Jason to join her. They’re not seen for their qualifications or intellect. They fill quotas and are expected to appear grateful for being given opportunities that would otherwise be denied to them.
Whitney exploits this in an attempt to get under Jason’s skin and convince him to fight her battle. She is right about how the world views people like them, but Jason still refuses to do harm to the world that, despite not seeing him as an equal, has given him an opportunity as a scientist.
As Thompson indicated in the previous episode, Peggy wouldn’t see her losses coming. She couldn’t account for Dottie going missing and killing someone in the process, she didn’t anticipate Jason being kidnapped or Ana being shot, and Sousa certainly didn’t expect to be assaulted for not falling in line. They’re at a low point right now as Agent Carter headed to a dark place this week.
Oh, but that’s not to say this was a bad episode. Far from it. I think “Monsters” is a pretty good follow-up to “Life of the Party” that blends the humor and comedy very well, particularly with the use of the Jitterbug and Jarvis remembering the combination. Things were tough enough with Vernon and Whitney, but now with Dottie being out there, so Peggy and company have another headache on their hands.