A Look at Agent Carter- Season 2 Finale: “Hollywood Ending”

And so it’s come to this: the second season finale of Agent Carter.  What could end up being both a season and series finale didn’t deliver on everything, but as is always the case, it was a fun ride. Let’s jump into the Season Two finale: “Hollywood Ending.”

Hollywood Ending- Peggy threatens to shoot Jack

The episode begins one minute ago with Thompson ordering Samberly to activate the remote so he can detonate the bomb.  Jack thinks that Peggy doesn’t have it in her to shoot him, but she still will if he doesn’t lower the detonator.  However, before he can push it, there’s an explosion.

Hollywood Ending- Exploring the wrecked facility

They check inside and find the gamma cannon still in good shape and Zero Matter on the floor.  Peggy finds Jason, who finds the Zero Matter is now expelled from his body.  However, the Zero Matter on the ground worms its way back towards Whitney Frost, who absorbs it back into her body.  Now everything is where it belongs.

Hollywood Ending- Jarvis hits Whitney with Howard Stark's car

Bullets won’t stop Whitney, so Peggy orders everyone to fall back.  Whitney knows where they’re going and it’s a matter of time before she finds them.  Her evil speech is interrupted when Jarvis hits her with Howard’s car.  On purpose, probably.  Howard’s not too pleased with that.  Samberly got turned around, as he shows up late.  Ah, well.  Time to go.

Hollywood Ending- Jason tells Peggy, Edwin, and Howard about Zero Matter's effects

At SSR West, Jason tells Peggy and Howard about the effects of Zero Matter.  The crack in the sky will move to their world if Whitney Frost isn’t stopped.  Jason describes Zero Matter as a disease, with he and Whitney as the carriers, that needs a new place to infect.  Howard declares Jason free of Zero Matter.

However, Jason doesn’t feel he’ll ever be back to his old self because of his actions.  Howard isn’t worried, since Peggy’s life has been threatened before.  Just saying.

Hollywood Ending- Joseph looks at Whitney's designs

Whitney goes over designs and tells Manfredi that she’ll need more paper.  She’s too busy to eat and wants to open a new door that will remain open.  Oh, and don’t touch Whitney when she’s working.  Noted.

Hollywood Ending- Joseph talks with Nonna about Whitney's state of mind

Manfredi tells Nonna that he’s not as happy to be with Whitney anymore.  What started off as sunshine is now garbage.  Nonna is a bit more violent.  She’d take Whitney’s tongue, but Joseph believes that something has a hold of Whitney.  He loves her with all his heart and soul, so Nonna tells him that he must make a deal with the devil.

Hollywood Ending- Joseph visits the Stark household and holds Jarvis hostage

Jason dines with Peggy and Howard.  Stark will need help making a new gamma cannon to separate Whitney from the Zero Matter.  Problem is that the Zero Matter is still in the world.  Howard wants a new containment chamber built so he can study the Zero Matter in Stark Labs, though Peggy believes that he’ll use Zero Matter to turn a profit for himself.

Jarvis comes out with Manfredi at his side and gun at the ready, but Jarvis is at least allowed to deliver the mustard.  No problem here, though, as it turns out that Howard and Joseph are old pals.  Joseph believes they all have something in common: they’re worried about Whitney.

Indeed, Manfredi notes that Whitney isn’t herself anymore and hopes that everyone can save her.  Zero Matter changes people, but Jason feels that Whitney is a willing accomplice to it.  Joseph brings up the formulas that Whitney is writing about opening up a rift, which she could do figure out how to do without an atomic explosion.  Peggy wants to beat Whitney to the punch by knocking the Zero Matter out of Whitney and knocking it into the rift.

That involves understanding how the rift works, but Howard sees the answer in front of him: get a smarter person to do research and then steal it, so he elects to steal Whitney’s work.  Problem is that she never leaves that room, so Joseph will have to give her a reason.

Hollywood Ending- Joseph needs Whitney's help with a henchman

Later that evening, Whitney is still hard at work when Joseph enters, saying he wouldn’t bother her if it wasn’t important.  He needs her to help him get some information from one of his men that isn’t afraid of him, but might fear Whitney.  She offers to help, but only after she finishes this last equation.  Manfred thanks her and leaves.

Hollywood Ending- Joseph and Whitney speak to Hank, played by Chris Coppola

So Manfredi brings in the unlucky henchman, Hank, played by Chris Coppola, when Whitney enters.  The faux interrogation begins as Joseph questions how long the man has been working for Little Tommy Fontana.  Hank denies working for him, so Joseph slugs him for that.  This can be done the easy or hard way.

Hank swears on his mother’s soul, even though he hates her.  Whitney walks off, but Joseph wants her to scare him a bit.  Before Whitney can show her moves, Hank admits that the Feds came to him and made him cooperate.  Well, that’s a revelation.

Hollywood Ending- Daniel and Peggy take photos of Whitney's plans

Sousa and Peggy take photos of the formulas for Howard to later decipher.  Sousa takes a photo of Peggy as a memento of her trip to California, as he’s glad to have worked with her.  Peggy has no response.  She just keeps snapping pictures.  After Sousa makes one minor change to an equation, he and Peggy leave conveniently as Whitney enters.

Hollywood Ending- Howard, Samberly, and Jason work on Whitney's plans

Back at SSR, the team goes over Whitney’s work: a machine that cuts a fissure between our world and the Zero Matter dimension.  It’s complex, but could work.  Issues include bringing more Zero Matter into the world and losing control of the machine which, in turn, would only help Whitney’s agenda.

Peggy hopes the men can overcome their differences to find a solution.  They come up with a plan, but can’t risk opening the rift in a public location, so they elect to use the studio lot at Stark Pictures.

Hollywood Ending- Sousa asks why Jason didn't point the gun at him

Rose is brought in to help as well, as Howard makes sweet on her.  Such is the Stark charm.  Sousa and Jason work on the regulator, with Sousa asking Jason why he had the gun on Peggy instead of him.  The answer?  Deductive reasoning, as Jason knew that Daniel would fold.  Peggy learns that Ana is doing well and can come home in a day or two.  Ana and Edwin had a good cry over what can never be, but Ana remains optimistic.

Hollywood Ending- Jack discovers the lapel pin is also a key

Thompson enters to help, so Peggy instructs him to get dinner orders.  He does just that, but he then looks through the classified file in Vernon Masters’ bag. He also finds the lapel pin that, when you twist it, also becomes a key.

Hollywood Ending- Jason goes over the plan

The plan is set to go into action on the Stark lot.  Jason goes over safety precautions, saying that moments before the rift closes, anything within a certain radius will levitate and instantly be drawn into it.  The no-go zone is 20 feet from the generator.  Howard turns on the juice and the rift appears once more.

At the same time, Whitney feels the Zero Matter calling her.  Howard actually tries to golf a ball into the rift and misses.  Jarvis reminds Howard that they’re standing before an incomprehensible rift in the fabric of their world, so Howard should use the 7-iron.  Okay, that was funny.

Hollywood Ending- Jack and Peggy talk

Thompson asks Peggy if she’ll turn him in for siding with Vernon and basically riding her ass all season.  My words, not his.  But she won’t.  For one, she threatened to shoot him, but Peggy knows that, despite his ego and boundless ambition, Jack is a good man.  Jack gives her the lapel pin and shows how it’s also a key.  To what?  No one knows.

Hollywood Ending- Whitney loses the Zero Matter

Samberly doesn’t notice Whitney right behind him and no one has eyes on him, but Sousa spots Whitney heading for the rift with wonder and amazement in her eyes.  She’s so mesmerized that she apparently doesn’t notice the others a few feet away.  Howard and Jarvis fire the gamma cannon and the Zero Matter is expelled from Whitney’s body.  The agents place Whitney under arrest as she pleads for the Zero Matter to return to her.

Hollywood Ending- Sousa tries to activate the manual override

As the gamma cannon recharges, the radio controller stops responding and the rift becomes unstable, leaving one option: the manual override.  It’s on the right hand side of the crank, meaning whoever makes the move will be under the danger zone and in risk of being sucked into the rift.  Everyone volunteers to be a hero and until Howard sees Sousa doing the job himself.

As he gets closer to the control panel, he’s able to pull the lever and activate the manual override.  There’s not enough energy to fire the gamma cannon yet, though.  Sousa’s rope loosens as he’s lifted into the air.  Everyone holds for dear life onto the rope until Jarvis arrives with Samberly.  They can still blow up the rift with the help of Stark’s hover car, so they remove the gamma cannon’s core and send it right into the rift.

The core detonates and the rift vanishes.  Sousa is still in the world of the living.

Hollywood Ending- Howard, Jason, and Peggy have breakfast

Later, Howard and Peggy talk.  Zero Matter, he feels, would be of great use in the right hands.  Jason will be working at Howard’s new facility in Malibu.  He has a new project that he started in Peru that could be big.

When Howard goes off for a swim, Peggy tells Jason that she’s headed back to New York.  He wonders how things would have been, had they met under different circumstances, but Peggy has learned that dwelling on what might have been is no way to live.  She’s glad to have known Jason, even though the two never did get their dinner and full dance.  Half a dance is better than nothing, though.

Hollywood Ending- Edwin happily gets Peggy's bags as he prepares to drive her

Jarvis arrives with Ana in tow to pick up Peggy.  Though Carter apologizes, Ana gives her a hug, happy that she’s home and that the man she loves in one piece.  Peggy has already rung for a taxi, but Edwin doesn’t like that, so Peggy changes her mind and suddenly, happy Jarvis.

Hollywood Ending- Whitney and ghost Calvin talk

Whitney laments the loss of her Zero Matter.  She asks Calvin what she should do, but he assures her that she’ll find it.  They both will, together, like they always do.

Hollywood Ending- Whitney institutionalized

Of course, it’s just a dream, as Whitney Frost is locked up in a mental institution and speaking to herself.  Joseph Manfredi comes to visit, but can’t deliver her flowers because she might use them on herself.

Hollywood Ending- Peggy and Jarvis about to bid farewell

So Jarvis drops off Peggy.  He warns her about the weather, but summer is around the bend.  Edwin tries to convince Carter to stay, but her whole life is in New York.  Plus, she’s already booked her plane ticket.  But maybe she has one compelling reason to stay.

Hollywood Ending- Daniel tells Peggy that she was reckless

We cut to Sousa, who officially closes the book on the Isodyne case before telling Peggy that she messed up due to her ill-advised and reckless actions.  By her rules, she should have allowed him to be sucked into the rift.  She talks a big game when it’s her life on the line, but when it’s someone else?  Peggy is a big hypocrite.  For that, Peggy has no comeback.

Hollywood Ending- Peggy and Daniel kiss

Just a kiss.  Good point.

Hollywood Ending- Thompson shot

Meanwhile, in another sting, Jack Thompson learns that Peggy is taking more vacation, so he’ll be returning alone.  He receives a knock at the door and is shot by a mystery man who takes Peggy’s classified file.

So here we are at the end of Agent Carter’s second season.  While “Hollywood Ending” doesn’t answer everything and leaves a few unresolved threads, I wouldn’t call it unsatisfying.  There’s a lot to enjoy in this episode, but it remains to be seen how, if at all, the story will progress from here, given Agent Carter’s ratings.

But we’ll get to that later.  Let’s start with the tone.  While the first season’s feel continued the grounded nature of Captain America: The First Avenger, it still had some elements of magic and mysticism, as seen with Ivchenko’s hypnotism.

Hollywood Ending- Looking at the rift

This season, by comparison, embraces some of the more interdimensional and fantastical that we’ve seen in Marvel Cinematic Universe films like Thor and soon to see later in 2016 with Doctor Strange.  Exploring Zero Matter was a fun way to bring elements of the mysterious into a show that’s mostly grounded in realism.

Hollywood Ending- Whitney walks toward the Zero Matter rift

Season Two gave us a somewhat relatable villain in the sense that she faces some form of opposition from people more powerful than her, but went down the path of becoming a crazed villain.

Hollywood Ending- Whitney senses Zero Matter calling her

While I’ve liked Wynn Everett in the role as Whitney Frost, one of my issues with Frost in the finale is that, like Dottie last year, the final confrontation with Peggy was underwhelming.  Now granted, Whitney could have killed them all had she not become obsessed with Zero Matter, but that’s part of my problem.  The stakes didn’t feel as big as they could have been, given how she was on the verge of bringing more Zero Matter into the world.

And even then, what was her master plan?  World domination?  Take in as much Zero Matter as her body could take?  She already had the Council in her pocket, so she has all the influence she needs and people already fear her powers.  But, like Jason pointed out, Whitney gave into Zero Matter’s influence.  I doubt she put a lot of thought into her end game or what she would do after she opened the rift.

Plus, for as much buildup we’ve had on Zero Matter and setting up Whitney Frost as the central protagonist, she felt like an afterthought in this finale.

Hollywood Ending- Joseph goes to Howard and the others for help

Instead, we switch gears and spend more time with Joseph Manfredi in his desperate attempt to save Frost.  His association with Stark came out of nowhere, but it didn’t feel irritating to me.  I buy that Joseph would go to Peggy and company for help.  Since his introduction, we’ve seen that Manfredi still has feelings for Whitney.  She’s consumed with power and seeming less and less like herself.

Hollywood Ending- Whitney talks to herself

But Frost was too far gone and Manfredi could only watch as his beloved now spends her days locked in an insane asylum.  I’ll admit, it is a bit of a tragic ending for both of them.  All Whitney wanted was for people to take her seriously and not deride her based on gender and appearance.  She came in possession of great power, but instead of learning to tame it, she allowed it consume her as her quest for power became her very downfall.

So while we again didn’t have any showoff between Whitney and Peggy, the finale still managed to be enjoyable and funny.  The second season as a whole has expanded this from being more than just Peggy’s quest to make it in a post-World War II environment.  She’s not pining over Steve anymore- though an appearance in the dance sequence would have been nice- and she no longer acts as if she can solve all of the world’s problems on her own.

Hollywood Ending- Peggy tells Jack that he's a good man

While Peggy is confident and smart, this season helped expose her flaws and show how much she benefits from the help of people around her.  She can still kick ass and take names, but she’s not a scientist or expert on Zero Matter.  Like Dooley and the other SSR agents from Season One, Agent Carter took care to define Peggy’s support team to make them feel three-dimensional and not just backup for Carter.

Hollywood Ending- Jack reacts to Peggy calling him a good man

Starting with the ones we know, Thompson’s character arc didn’t take him far except reaffirm what we knew about him by the end of the first season.  Despite his behavior, his willingness to challenge Peggy, and allowing Vernon Masters to manipulate his ego, he is still, at the end of the day, a good man.  Just when it felt like he could still hold onto something so he could hog the glory, Thompson turned over the lapel pin key.

Hollywood Ending- Thompson prepares to take orders

It shows that he’s still willing to be Peggy’s ally and friend.  And Thompson even admits that he’d been crappy to her, so at least he acknowledges his own faults.  I’d still blame that on questionable writing, particularly when we don’t learn much new about him.  Like last year, he learned to trust Peggy’s instincts and believe her when she had a hunch.  It took him awhile to remember that this year, but I’m glad he didn’t turn on his partners.

Hollywood Ending- Thompson gets shot

And then he gets shot.  I assume this was part of the show’s effort at a cliffhanger to tease us for a potential third season, but let’s step back for a second.  If the file is forged, as Peggy believes, why would Thompson hold onto it?  I doubt he’d still try to double-cross Peggy.  Now it’s possible that the “M” on the folder means Michael Carter, but what good would that serve our mystery assailant?

If it’s not about Michael and still is a forged document about Peggy, why would this person want it?  The shot went towards Thompson’s shoulder blade, so I doubt it was a fatal blow.

It’s just one of the loose threads left hanging at the end of the season, the second one being Dottie’s disappearance.  Now that Peggy decided to free her, she’s out and on the run yet again.  Where to?  Will we ever see her again in some capacity?  Who knows?

Hollywood Ending- Howard has a collection of art work of himself

Again, while an underwhelming showdown plagued this finale, we had some good character moments throughout.  Dominic Cooper is always great as Howard Stark and this time was no exception.  He’s fun to watch with his one-liners and womanizing, but Stark is still a talented scientist who takes great value in his friends.  He might throw Peggy a jab here or there, but he respects her abilities.

Hollywood Ending- Howard expects to see Jason ready for work

Unlike many people of the time, including many members of the Arena Club, Howard looks beneath the surface and admires people for their capabilities, not their appearance.  He could have left Jason to his own devices, but that’s not who Howard is.

Hollywood Ending- Peggy tells Jason that dwelling on what might have been is no way to live

Now let’s talk about our leading lady.  At one point, Peggy told Jason that dwelling on what might have been is no way to live.  I feel this is her coming to terms with the fact that Steve Rogers is no longer in her life.  You know, until Captain America: The Winter Soldier, anyway, but for right now, she’s moved past him and onto the next chapter.  That means coming to terms with her new environment in Los Angeles, new challenges, and new relationships.

Hollywood Ending- Peggy makes a good point

Though Agent Carter didn’t handle the love triangle stuff all that well, at least Peggy made a definitive choice by kissing Sousa, even if this relationship came at Violet’s expense.  A year ago, I’d say that Peggy Carter isn’t the type of woman who would be interested in a romantic relationship because of how independent she is, but having learned how Sousa feels and how the two left things last season, this feels like a natural progression of her character arc.

It’s not where I personally would have taken Peggy, but from a narrative perspective, this is something the show has been building toward since the pilot, as Sousa was that one man in the SSR who admired Peggy for who she is and didn’t look down on her based on gender.  We still don’t know everything that happened to him right after arriving in Los Angeles, but I guess that’s up to interpretation.  For now, Peggy and Sousa get that easy fairy-tale ending.

Hollywood Ending- Jarvis tells Peggy about Ana's condition

While Ana and Edwin, though dealt a tragic blow, make the most of what they have.  I liked when Peggy told Jarvis that he might be the strongest of them all.  During their argument, Peggy told Jarvis that he knew nothing of loss, only to learn that he did.  It’s unfortunate, because Ana was just caught in the middle of a messy situation.

Hollywood Ending- Peggy calls Jarvis brave

But she refused to let that get the better of her and still encouraged Peggy and Jarvis to have one final moment together, which was nice.  Again, very familiar beats from the last season, but the chemistry between James D’Arcy and Hayley Atwell is still so strong that it’s not a major issue.

Like last year, the fate of Agent Carter and Peggy Carter’s adventures in the Marvel Cinematic Universe remain unseen.  Quality-wise, I think the season is a solid follow-up to Season One, but a bit more routine.  But then, the show was in a transition.  We didn’t even know we’d get a second season, so a different feel isn’t too out of left field.

But while I might have loved the show, that’s not always the determining factor in whether it remains on the air.  And the unfortunate news is that this season of Agent Carter, from the start, has had dreadful ratings.  Not even like it started on a high note and got lower.  But there was a drop-off in viewership since the premiere and the future does not look bright.

I could be wrong since, hey, we got a second season, but will Peggy Carter and company appear again in the Marvel Cinematic Universe going forward?  I’m pessimistic, but we shall see.

A Look at Agent Carter- Season 2, Episode 9: “A Little Song and Dance”

Oh hey, Angie’s back, so it’s time for a song and dance number.  Does it add anything of value?  Well, no, but luckily, it’s not for long as we have more pressing matters on the penultimate episode of Agent Carter’s second season.

A Little Song and Dance- Peggy in a black and white world

The episode begins with no color budget as Peggy awakens in the now black and white world.  At first, she finds Michael in the chief’s office and berates him for getting her in this whole mess by putting her up for the SOE position and then getting himself killed so she would take up his flag.  True as that may be, Michael counters that Peggy is only doing what she wanted.

A Little Song and Dance- Angie appears in Peggy's dream sequence

We then see the lights of the familiar L&L Automat as the show retrieves its color budget.  And it’s here that Peggy runs into a very familiar Angie, with Lyndsy Fonseca briefly reprising her role.  Peggy doesn’t know what she wants, so Jason suggests himself.  Indeed, the two begin to dance when Sousa arrives.

And then we get a song and dance number.  Well, it’s the 1940s, so I suppose this is appropriate.  Even Dottie pops in for a bit, as she’ll never be out of Peggy’s head, and Peggy takes center stage, realizing that this is all up to her.  She’s gotta make her mind about who she’ll choose.  Also, Jarvis has a top hat.  It’s time for Peggy to wake up already, so Rose tells her that she’s not right for the Auerbach Theatrical Agency before punching out her lights.

A Little Song and Dance- Peggy awakens in the back of the truck

Well, that was a dream sequence.  Peggy awakens in the truck next to Jarvis.  But this is Peggy, so she’ll be out of her binds in no time.

A Little Song and Dance- Thompson, Samberly, and Sousa still in the desert

Still in the desert, Samberly, Thompson, and Sousa wonder when the others will return.  Strolling through a cloud of radiation isn’t ideal and the nearest town is a day’s walk, but then they spot Vega and Blackwell approaching in an SSR vehicle.  Thompson has a plan.

Back in the truck, Jarvis maintains that Whitney deserves to die, but Peggy will hear none of it since this mess is apparently his fault.

A Little Song and Dance- Blackwell and Vega come to apprehend Thompson, Samberly, and Sousa

Sousa orders Blackwell and Vega to apprehend Thompson, but they instead turn their guns on him and Samberly.  Apparently, the SSR agents were ordered to kill whoever pulled the trigger.  They point their guns at Jack, but his defense is that he followed Peggy Carter all the way out in the desert to stop her.  The men haul in Samberly and Sousa.

A Little Song and Dance- Peggy and Jarvis escape the truck

Still in the truck, Peggy uses the hotwire on her belt to melt the lock on the door.  They jump out of the truck and keep quiet long enough for the vehicles to not notice anything.  And yet, they’re in the middle of a wasteland, so it’s time to walk.  Even as Jarvis rants, Peggy keeps walking, so he may as well get to walking, too.

A Little Song and Dance- Whitney's crew takes a break, finds out that Peggy and Jarvis escaped

In the Convoy of Evil, Jason awakens and feels something wrong.  Well, for starters, his eyes look like two eight balls, according to Manfredi.  Jason tells Whitney that he only saw blackness in the rift.  Given the Isodyne footage, there’s no explaining why he’s the only one to come back from the rift.

He doesn’t want to be taken to a populated area, as he’s not safe around normal people, so Whitney takes him out of the car for a breather.  They then notice the truck doors ajar and Manfredi executes the driver for poor management.

Now, the following scene that takes place could be my favorite moment in all of Agent Carter, and obviously my favorite moment of this episode: Peggy and Jarvis’ argument.

A Little Song and Dance- Peggy and Jarvis argue

An hour into the walk and still no sign of others, but Peggy doesn’t want or need Jarvis’ opinion on how they proceed.  She trusted him to behave, so she won’t make the mistake of bringing him on a mission again.  Jarvis, though, doesn’t apologize for trying to kill Whitney.  Yes, he risked everyone’s lives for on a personal vendetta, but Jarvis counters that Peggy also put lives at risk by freeing Dottie Underwood.  And Ana paid the price.

Peggy’s defense is that leaving Dottie to Whitney Frost would be tantamount to murder, and she’s not a murderer.  And yet, as Jarvis counters, everyone around Peggy dies.  Valid, but harsh.

Carter uses this opportunity to rail on Jarvis, reminding him that he begged her to let him join on adventures, since that’s all they are to him.  When they’re all over, though, he goes to Howard’s mansion and indulges in his self-imposed ignorance.  When something goes wrong, he blames her for choices he made.  Yes, there is a cost, one that Peggy has paid many times over, but Ana will at least live.  Jarvis will live on, knowing nothing about loss.

Peggy elects to keep moving, saying that once this is done, the two of them can escape each other forever.

And that’s when Jarvis reveals to Peggy that, due to Ana’s injuries, she’s no longer able to bear children.  Peggy then apologizes for her words, as she didn’t know, but as Jarvis points out, no one knows.  Not even Ana because she’s married to a coward.  He admits that what he did was inexcusable and apologizes for his actions.  They then spot a truck coming their way.

A Little Song and Dance- Two men stop to confront Peggy and Jarvis

The men pull over and one takes Jarvis to the back.  Peggy springs into action and knocks out one man while soon confronting the other.  The two commandeer the vehicle, though Peggy tells Jarvis that he needs to be with his wife.

A Little Song and Dance- Vernon wants to know what Thompson has planned for Sousa and Samberly

At SSR, Vernon demands to know why Sousa and Samberly aren’t dead, but Vega says that he was acting on Thompson’s orders.  Thompson explains that the gamma cannon can be repaired, but Vernon knows that Whitney can fix it herself.  True, but then Vernon won’t be able to use it on her.  Vernon is all ears.  Thompson offers to bring the cannon to Whitney and use it to blow her away.

Vernon is concerned about whether Sousa will come after him, but Sousa agrees to keep quiet and help if they can all take down Whitney.  Samberly also agrees to help as well because he didn’t get to say anything.  Thompson will take care of Sousa and Samberly while Vernon goes to make a deal with Frost.  When Vernon leaves, Thompson frees the two, glad that their plan has gone as well as it did.

A Little Song and Dance- Whitney speaks with a restrained Jason

Manfredi and Frost arrive at a waste management facility that Manfredi’s men fixed up as well as they could, even bringing in equipment from Isodyne.  It even comes with a complementary, restrained Jason Wilkes.  Jason wants to be taken out to an isolated location, but Whitney plans to take the Zero Matter from him with a huge-ass needle that she sticks right into him.

A Little Song and Dance- Peggy does not want to work with Vernon

Peggy arrives at SSR, storms into the chief’s office, and proceeds to beat the hell out of Vernon, demanding to know about Sousa and Thompson.  Luckily, aren’t far.  They can’t kill Vernon because he’s integral to the operation.  Peggy considers this plan ludicrous.

If this works and Vernon stops Whitney, Peggy figures that he’ll still come after them, but he won’t kill her because he won’t have to.  If someone tries to take down Vernon, he’ll take them with him.  This is a stalemate, and the only way out of a stalemate is together.

Sousa is on board with teaming up alongside Vernon if it keeps people safe.  Peggy and Sousa will be back-up at the extraction.  Samberly needs another hour, but Whitney wanted it an hour ago.  This sort of news is best delivered in person, so Thompson volunteers.

A Little Song and Dance- Thompson speaks with Whitney

Manfredi worries for Jason’s health, so Whitney stops the extraction.  She’s been unsuccessful at extracting Zero Matter anyway.  Thompson soon arrives and turns on the charm, much to Joseph’s anger.  He heads out, leaving Whitney to deal with Thompson herself.

Whitney demands to know about the cannon.  Thompson explains that he’s here to buy time before delivering said device, but then he spills about Vernon’s plan to use the cannon on her.  He offers to turn over the cannon and Vernon Masters to Whitney, but he doesn’t want Vernon’s job.  He wants a seat on the Council of Nine.

A Little Song and Dance- Samberly gives Thompson the gamma core

But, as we later learn, this was all a ruse so Whitney would trust Jack, who Vernon didn’t think would make it out alive.  Samberly delivers the gamma core to Thompson, telling him to handle it with extreme care.  Peggy, meanwhile, knows that too many things can go wrong.  Sousa figures that Peggy is more focused on getting rid of Whitney Frost.  Before Sousa can head off, he and Peggy realize that the fuel line from their vehicle has been cut.

A Little Song and Dance- Samberly explains that Thompson plans to turn the core into a bomb

So they realize that Vernon is setting up Thompson, but Samberly reveals that Thompson’s plan is to turn the core into a bomb.  The remote trigger is on a radio frequency, so Samberly can block it by building to send out an EM wave.  This, he can do in two minutes.

A Little Song and Dance- Ana and Edwin in the hospital

At the hospital, Edwin cares for Ana, who asks if Peggy has located Whitney Frost and of Jason Wilkes’ whereabouts.  When Jarvis elects to go on holiday, which he detests, Ana realizes that something is amiss.  Jarvis tells her about the situation and Ana tells him to go out and help Peggy.  Not like Ana won’t have help from doctors.  Peggy just has Jarvis.  She tells him that he must render any assistance to Peggy that he can and then asks what else Edwin isn’t telling.

A Little Song and Dance- Samberly only had two minutes

At the warehouse, Samberly’s two minutes to build the jammer weren’t enough and yelling won’t help, so Peggy heads in to retrieve Jason.

Inside, Thompson explains how to use the cannon, while Whitney tells Vernon that she plans to use the cannon on Wilkes to retrieve the Zero Matter.

A Little Song and Dance- Peggy finds Jason

Peggy finds Jason, who is unable to control or hold back the Zero Matter.  He tells her that he doesn’t deserve her help, saying that his actions were of his own accord, not Zero Matter’s influence.  Even still, Peggy refuses to just leave him.  She’s stubborn like that.  As Peggy heads out, Jason seals the door behind her.  His body begins to show dark cracks, just as Whitney’s did.

Outside, Samberly manages to block the bomb.

A Little Song and Dance- Thompson tells Vernon that plans have changed

Vernon tries to reason with Thompson, claiming that he can’t trust Whitney.  Thompson appreciates what Vernon did for him, but the biggest lesson learned is to not let a good opportunity to pass by him.  He leaves Whitney to take care of Vernon herself as he heads out and activates the detonator, but nothing happens.

A Little Song and Dance- Thompson wants to activate the bomb

Thompson still wants to need to do what should be done, but Peggy prefers that Vernon be brought to justice.  Thompson orders Samberly to unblock the bomb, and he does, but before Thompson can activate the bomb, Peggy points her gun at Thompson, ordering him to drop the trigger.

Whitney begins to absorb Vernon, who smiles when he realizes that the bomb may still go off.  Indeed, it is active, but before she can stop it, Jason Wilkes comes into the room as black energy surges all around his body.  So…Black Power?

A Little Song and Dance- Peggy in black and white

So let’s start with that opening dream sequence.  It was a fun departure from the more serious moments of Agent Carter, but at the end of the day, didn’t add much, if anything, to the story, other than reinforcing that Peggy has to make a big decision.  Which we’ve already known.  If I sound like a sourpuss, then so be it, but I just wish the sequence lasted long enough to actually be of value instead of filling time.  But I now have a strong desire to see Hayley Atwell in black and white films.

A Little Song and Dance- Angie returns

I’ll admit, it was nice to see Lyndsy Fonseca briefly return.  When the plot for Season Two first surfaced, one of the items mentioned was a Wizard of Oz dreamlike sequence where Angie would appear.  Well, we finally got it and short as it was, it was nice to see her again.  Though, in hindsight, I wonder- Angie wants to be an actress.  Howard Stark is a sort-of director this season.  Maybe Peggy could have put in a good word for Angie?

Steve's dream sequence from Age of Ultron

Also, I do have one small complaint about the dream sequence: where the hell was Steve Rogers?  I mean, it was a dance number and Peggy never did get her dance with Cap.  I get that Chris Evans is a busy man, but two minutes would have been nice.  Or, hell, splice in Steve’s dream sequence from Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Claire Temple in Jessica Jones

This is a slight issue I have with some of these Marvel shows outside of Agents of SHIELD, where they name drop bigger MCU players all the time, by not some characters appear on shows where it would make sense.  Obviously I’m not asking for any Avenger to pop up on Agents of SHIELD, but Agent Carter, within the context of the dream sequence, would be a great spot for Steve to pop in for a minute.

That’s more wishful thinking on my behalf since part of me would like to have seen  Steve Rogers or Scott Lang appear in Jessica Jones, but that’s just based off of the interaction the two each had with Jessica in Alias, less so how it would serve the show’s plot.  Plus, hey, schedules are different.  And now I’ve mentioned Jessica Jones again.

A Little Song and Dance- Whitney stands over Jason

But back onto the episode, it continued the themes of desperation and personal sacrifice in order to get the job done.  Whitney Frost is closer than she’s ever been to attaining more Zero Matter and she’s already survived one attempt on her life.

A Little Song and Dance- Thompson orders Samberly to make the bomb active

So what’s the best solution?  It’s not just black and white like the opening of the dream sequence and there isn’t an ‘All of the Above’ option to try and accommodate every possible angle.  While the characters try to take more time to craft out the best option, they understand that each decision comes with a huge negative attached.

It can be easy to slap a quick Band-Aid on a problem and call it fixed, but it’s after the dust has settled that you realize the consequences of your actions instead of just considering them.  What may seem like adventures or classic tales of good versus evil carry real weight and have had devastating impacts on our characters.

A Little Song and Dance- Jarvis tells Peggy that everyone around her dies

And that’s the heart of Peggy and Jarvis’ argument.  It’s not just because of the strong acting between James D’Arcy and Hayley Atwell or the emotional weight behind their arguments.  It’s because both of them had a real point.

A Little Song and Dance- Peggy tells Jarvis that he chose to join her on adventures

Peggy was right.  Since she arrived in Los Angeles, Jarvis has asked to accompany her on as many missions as possible, but they’re more of a game to him.  When the fun ends, Jarvis has a wife he can come home to and pretend that all is right with the world.  Carter, meanwhile, still has to contend with problems on the job and dealing with Whitney Frost.

Now is Not the End- Peggy grieves over Colleen's death

What’s more, despite Peggy’s tough exterior, she has lost a lot.  Hell, she lost Colleen because someone was looking for her.  She’s vowed to keep people out of danger, but there have still been casualties.  Even though Peggy wouldn’t leave Dottie to Whitney, and while she acknowledged early on that it was a bad idea, it’s still a decision that she made.

A Little Song and Dance- Peggy still doesn't want to work with Vernon

Peggy is prideful, but she has a hard problem admitting when she’s wrong.  She bears the weight of the world on her shoulders and though she accepts help from others, more often than not she has to have the last word.  These missions aren’t a joke.  They’re serious times where she can be and has been injured, but she keeps going because it’s what she does best.

A Little Song and Dance- Jarvis won't apologize for shooting Whitney

Even still, that doesn’t mean others can’t and won’t call out her lack of professionalism or rational thinking.  Jarvis isn’t one to challenge Peggy with as much force as he did in this episode.  In fact, the one person who tends to challenge Peggy is Thompson.  Jarvis is just along for the ride, but with Ana’s injuries, it became personal.  When he said that everyone around Peggy dies, it felt like it came right from the gut.

A Little Song and Dance- Jarvis joins Ana in the hospital

Jarvis and Ana won’t know what it’s like to have children because Ana was a casualty in the war against Whitney Frost.  He blames Peggy for her decisions that led to this, but he then accepts his failure to protect Ana and his own cowardice through keeping secrets and trying to kill Frost.  I don’t think that Jarvis went too far with his remarks.

In fact, I wish he hadn’t walked back his apology because he was resolute in his decision to try and kill Whitney.

A Little Song and Dance- Jarvis apologizes to Peggy

But like Peggy freeing Dottie, it’s not until after he goes through the act that he realizes the consequences of his bad decision.  It does show his commitment to put everything on the line for Ana, as he left his will to Rose and was prepared to die in an attempt to keep her safe.  So even if Jarvis sees these missions more as adventure, even he’s capable of making hard choices when the time comes.

A Little Song and Dance- Peggy and Jarvis notice a truck approaching

It’s a testament to the bond between Peggy and Jarvis that their friendship remains intact, despite the heat of their argument.  And even though Peggy thought she had Jarvis figured out, she realized that he felt and understood the pain of loss just as much as she does.

A Little Song and Dance- Ana talks with Jarvis

Brief-aside, given what happened to Ana, I think the show could show how she reacts to this news since it affects her just as much, if not more, than Jarvis.

A Little Song and Dance- Jason apologizes to Peggy for his decisions

Like Jarvis, Jason also accepts blame for actions of his own accord because he’s slowly losing his sense of self due to the Zero Matter.  Like Jarvis, Jason appears to be prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to save himself and prevent someone like Frost from acquiring Zero Matter.  And similar to Ana, Jason never asked to be brought into this entire situation, but having seen its capabilities and been exposed to it, he wants it eliminated.

A Little Song and Dance- Thompson is ready to detonate the bomb

Thompson wants to go one step further by getting rid of all problems at once: Zero Matter, Vernon Masters, and Whitney Frost.  And like Peggy freeing Dottie, he understands that there can and will be dangers of his decision, primarily Jason Wilkes being caught in the crossfires.

As with the previous episode, Thompson’s loyalties were still all over the place.  It looked he was willing to double cross everyone to further himself, but it was all to gain Whitney’s trust.

A Little Song and Dance- Thompson tells Peggy that Frost bought his ruse

Once more, Thompson was more willing than Sousa to challenge Peggy.  They all know the dangers of Zero Matter and how people will be hurt in their line of work.  He’s taking the ultimate extreme to eliminate every issue and put out one large fire instead of slowly getting rid of smaller ones.  Plus, given how Jason has survived previous incidents where he should have died, Thompson probably figured that he could live through another one.

“A Little Song and Dance” was a very strong episode of Agent Carter and the series in general as it had some of the strongest performances yet from Hayley Atwell and James D’Arcy.  It ramped up the action and light hearted moments very well, even if I wasn’t a fan of the dance number.

With Jason appearing to giving it all he has to take out Whitney, it remains to be seen what happens next and how our team will handle Frost once and for all as we head into the season finale.

A Look at Agent Carter- Season 2, Episode 8: “The Edge of Mystery”

Agent Carter keeps things serious as Peggy and friends continue their quest to save Jason Wilkes and stop Whitney Frost.  We ended on a darker turn last time with Ana’s fate up in the air, so let’s see how she and the others have progressed since then.  This is “The Edge of Mystery.”

The Edge of Mystery- Ana and Edwin in a flashback

The episode begins in New York, 1946, in the middle of the Season One’s “Now is Not the End,” with Ana arriving home.  She overhears Jarvis speaking to Peggy Carter on the phone about the volatility of the orb she found.  Ana learns that Peggy is different from Howard Stark’s other associates in that he respects her.  Jarvis assures Ana that Peggy won’t interfere with their lives.  She, in turn, tells him to not make promises he can’t keep.

The Edge of Mystery- Peggy consoles a worried Edwin while Ana rests

In the present, Ana rests while a bloodshot Edwin tries to get the radio working.  He ends up hitting it because he hates radios.  Peggy comes in and consoles Edwin, telling him that Ana needs him at her side right now.  Peggy’s going to go home, pick up one of Howard’s radios, and bring Jarvis some things so when Ana wakes up, Jarvis will look like himself again.

The Edge of Mystery- Whitney studies Jason

Jason awakens cuffed to a tractor while Whitney studies him to learn what happens when he vanishes.  He offers to write down the formula for the containment unit, but Whitney figures that he’s stalling.  She also doesn’t think that Jason truly wants to vanish from this world after he’s spent so much time trying to stay alive.  Her option is that the two work together.  She then asks if he can hear the voice, as if it’s coming from his thoughts, but somewhere else deep.  He does indeed hear it, so Whitney isn’t going crazy.

The Edge of Mystery- Sousa learns about what happened to Ana and Jason

Peggy meets Sousa at Howard’s mansion and the two swap tales of their less than great nights.  Sousa shares that his beatdown was Vernon’s attempt to find the uranium rods for Whitney Frost.  Peggy suggests giving them to her.  Or at least let Whitney think they will.  Sousa believes that getting in touch with Joseph Manfredi is a good place to start.

The Edge of Mystery- Peggy and Daniel visit an Italian restaurant

We then cut to a restaurant where Peggy and Sousa deliver a beatdown message to Manfredi’s men while Manfredi himself argues in the kitchen.  When he finally hears the commotion, he realizes that there are two customers for lunch.

The Edge of Mystery- Thompson gets drunk in London

Over in London, England, Thompson gets sloshed with a British agent who doesn’t believe that Jack got his hand injury from fighting a Russian assassin.  The agent hands Thompson a confidential file containing information about a massacre and the name of one Agent M. Carter.

The Edge of Mystery- Peggy and Daniel want Joseph Manfredi to deliver a message to Whitney

Peggy and Sousa speak with Manfredi about Whitney and her associates, as his relationship with her isn’t exactly secret.  They want Manfredi to get a message to her and Sousa threatens say that Manfredi turned state’s evidence against Tommy Fontana, who is being released next week.  Now it’s not true, but as Sousa says, Tommy don’t know that.  Indeed, Tommy don’t know that.  Who the hell is Tommy?

The Edge of Mystery- Whitney and Jason discuss Zero Matter

Jason and Whitney continue to bicker on Zero Matter, with her wanting to control this gift and him, well, not.  If he accepts it, Whitney says, he can control it.  She again asks if he hears the voices.  If Jason listens, the voice will guide him.  Manfredi suddenly arrives- that was fast- with Peggy’s message: hand over Jason Wilkes unharmed and she will deliver the uranium rods.  Whitney agrees to the terms.

The Edge of Mystery- Ana awakens

At the hospital, Edwin goes lengthy list of promises to a still sleeping Ana.  Above all, he promises to always protect her if she’ll awakens.  She soon does and again tells him to not make promises he can’t keep.  An elated Jarvis goes off to get the physician.  While Edwin delivers the good news to Peggy, he then receives some bad news from the doctor.

The Edge of Mystery- Edwin learns that Ana can't have children

You see, the surgery was difficult and Ana was almost lost several times.  Though it was successful, there were complications and irreparable internal damage.  More to the point, Ana will no longer be able to have children.  She doesn’t know this yet, so Edwin plans to deliver the news himself.  When Edwin returns to the room, he instead gives Ana news about prescriptions and nothing more.

The Edge of Mystery- Samberly presents the fake uranium rods

Dr. Samberly presents some fake uranium rods to Peggy and Sousa.  He’ll be driving the truck, Sousa will provide cover, and Peggy will make the transaction.  To everyone’s surprise, Jarvis suddenly enters and wants to know how Peggy plans to save Jason.  When Peggy refuses to say he can accompany them, Jarvis presses for an answer, as Whitney Frost must pay for what she’s done.

The Edge of Mystery- Reviewing a telegram about the gamma cannon

Then they receive a telegram with design specifications for building a gamma radiation cannon that fires a pulse of high-energy photons.  Such photons could eliminate Zero Matter, cure Jason Wilkes, or, as Jarvis suggests, kill Whitney Frost.  Because Samberly needs time to prepare, Jarvis will be the new driver.

The Edge of Mystery- Thompson presents a file to Peggy

But then there’s Thompson, who wants to speak with Peggy about the file.  He again wants Peggy to return to New York, saying that her apparent war crimes were a lot worse than his.  Now this is Peggy we’re talking about, and she knows that not only did Vernon put Jack up to this, but he found discrediting and forged information about her in no time.  Despite Jack’s actions, Peggy reminds him that he’s better than someone who tries to cut corners to get ahead.

Whitney doesn’t like Manfredi calling her gorgeous, but he means it.  While she’s still embarrassed about her appearance, he doesn’t care about the mark on her face, as it’s power.  That’s what makes her beautiful in his eyes and, to him, she should never have to hide it from the rest of the world.  With that, he removes her scarf.  Before the two can smooch, they spot a truck arriving.

The Edge of Mystery- Exchanging Jason for rods

Jason is brought out for the exchange while Peggy and Whitney realize that two powerful women shouldn’t be standing on opposite sides.  Peggy hands over a briefcase and Manfredi scans the rods.  They pass muster, so Whitney hands over Jason.  In cartoony fashion, one of the henchmen drops the briefcase and the rods spill out, yet don’t explode.  Realizing that the rods are fake, Whitney’s men open fire while Peggy and the others escape.

You know, Thompson referred to Sousa, Peggy, and Jarvis as The Three Stooges in the previous scene, but that would have been more applicable here.

The Edge of Mystery- Jason demands to know where the real uranium rods are located

So a slow car chase ensues.  Peggy tells Jason the gamma cannon will help them beat Whitney.  Jason, though, feels the rods should be destroyed.  Everyone soon realizes that Whitney isn’t making much of an effort to pursue them.  In his desperation, Jason readies a shotgun and demands that Peggy and Sousa tell him the real location of the rods.

Realizing that he won’t kill Carter and seeing Sousa’s feelings for her, Jason points the gun at her, saying that he’d pick his own life over hers.  Sousa eventually admits they’re held at the SSR, so Jason hops out of the truck and into one of the following cars.

The Edge of Mystery- Thompson doubts that Peggy is a criminal

While Vernon looks over the file, Thompson questions the validity of it.  Vernon maintains that what happened and what’s true are different.  It’s an official document, so it’s true regardless of what others think.  That part, Thompson gets, but his gut tells him something else.

Per television show convenience, this conversation is stopped by a telephone call by someone who knew the access code.  While Vernon takes the call, Thompson picks up a phone in the office and overhears his Vernon telling Whitney that he’ll hand over the rods.

The Edge of Mystery- Peggy asks Thompson what he remembers before he was brainwashed

So Jack confronts Vernon as he tries to open the safe, which is hidden behind a chart of the Periodic Table.  With his gun at the ready, Thompson is prepared to make his move.  Not long after, Peggy and Sousa enter and find him in the lab with the memory inhibitor on the ground.  Peggy asks Thompson about the last thing he remembers, which is the phone call.  Peggy then finds a note with coordinates that should lead them to Whitney Frost.

The two don’t completely trust Thompson right now to accompany them, as he did try to frame Peggy, but right now, he’s here with them.  In the name of honesty, though, Sousa wants to make sure he and Peggy are squared on the mission.   Right now, Jason is a hostile instead of a hostage.

Sousa knows desperation, as he’d give anything to walk again.  The two need to be dispassionate, given Peggy’s apparent feelings for Wilkes.  This prompts Peggy to call out Sousa for being dispassionate since he gave away the location of the rods instead of letting Jason shoot her.  Though she’s unable to answer when Sousa asks if she’d do the same if the roles were reversed.  If it makes any difference, Thompson would have let him kill them both.  I can agree.

The Edge of Mystery- Jarvis asks Rose to look after Ana

Rose asks Samberly if the gamma cannon will kill Whitney Frost.  Just because he invented it doesn’t mean this mission won’t be dangerous.  Jarvis soon enters and asks Rose to look over Ana, giving her some of Ana’s favorite possessions and a letter.  Jack, Peggy, and Daniel soon come downstairs, ready to take another shot at Frost.

The Edge of Mystery- Zero Matter rift

The two groups meet in an open field, with Whitney telling Jason that the two will absorb Zero Matter when the rift opens.  She’s confident because the whisper in her head says this plan will work.  The explosion goes off as the rift does indeed begin to materialize.  Everyone is in awe, though now only Jason is able to hear the voice.  He finds himself suddenly lifted into the air, but not Whitney.  I guess the rift was For Coloreds Only.

The Edge of Mystery- Samberly reveals the gamma cannon

Samberly and the agents unveil the gamma cannon, which Samberly isn’t too sure about whether it could close the rift.  It’s not unreasonable.  He is being asked to determine the usefulness of a device he’s never used.  Jarvis, meanwhile, is more concerned with Whitney Frost.  As the cannon has only has enough for one batter charge, Jarvis speeds off and Peggy goes after him.  When Samberly asks what he should do, Sousa and Thompson order Samberly to do what Peggy says.  Good words.

The three charge the Gamma Cannon and fire it at the rift.  It hits its target and the rift vanishes, leaving Wilkes on the ground.

The Edge of Mystery- Rose visits Ana in the hospital

Over at the hospital, Ana awakens to find Rose at her side.  Rose tells Ana that Edwin will be back shortly and she’s to keep her company until he returns.  The two bond over a game of hangman.  Inside, we see the letter is Edwin’s Last Will and Testament.

The Edge of Mystery- Jarvis shoots Whitney Frost

Jarvis goes right for the killing blow and fires a bullet into Whitney’s chest.  However, the Zero Matter in her body absorbs the bullet.  Before Manfredi and the others retaliate, Whitney tells them that Jason has what she wants.  And the key to controlling Jason is controlling those he loves, so the men instead knock out Peggy and Jarvis.

If there’s a constant I noticed in “The Edge of Mystery,” it’s desperation.  Not just the race against the clock to keep Whitney Frost from attaining more Zero Matter, but individuals having little time to make split second decisions.

When the odds are against us, people can be forced to make reckless choices in order to save themselves or the people around them.  How’s the saying go?  Desperate times call for desperate measures?  That’s the case here with Peggy and company because they aren’t making the best of choices, just the ones they hope will produce quick results, but little thought goes into whether they’re making wise decisions.

The Edge of Mystery- Samberly is unsure about the gamma cannon

And Samberly ended up being the one to point all of this out.  Samberly isn’t a field agent, he’s a technician.  Only he points out the futility of being asked to come up with a concrete plan of action in little time.  And it doesn’t help that he never had time to test the gamma cannon, but now he needs to create a working weapon with no guaranteed of success.  It’s a reckless series of events that led to plans going awry for Peggy.

The Edge of Mystery- Jason points a gun at Peggy and Sousa

It doesn’t help that Jason turned on her.  As he said, he’d protect himself over anyone else.  He’s motivated by self-preservation, but also allowing Whitney’s words about Zero Matter get to him.  He never wanted to be in this situation or have this strange ability, and he sure as hell doesn’t want Whitney to grow more powerful.

So he’s willing to put everything on the line to stop her, even if it means betraying Peggy.  But again, Jason is jumping to the extreme conclusion because Peggy won’t.  He chastised her for keeping Dottie alive instead of killing her, so if she won’t do what needs to be done, he will.

The Edge of Mystery- Jarvis gives Rose his Last Will and Testament

The same applies to Edwin.  I’ll get more into this in the next episode, but for here, Jarvis’ decision to make a risky move is out of both desperation and tragedy.  He wasn’t able to keep his word to Ana about keeping Peggy’s life from interfering with theirs.  He wanted to be back in the field with Peggy and he finally got that chance, but it came with the grave cost of Ana being injured and now unable to bear children.

The Edge of Mystery- Jarvis promises to protect Ana

Once again, James D’Arcy shows that he’s plenty capable of delivering good, dramatic performances and can do more than be comic relief.  The bloodshot eyes, the list of promises he would keep if Ana lived, and taking out his anger on the radio show that his is a broken Jarvis unlike anything we’ve seen yet on Agent Carter.

The Edge of Mystery- Jarvis stops Whitney for now

He’s a man in love, but also a man who doesn’t want to take the proper, diplomatic route.  That he walked right up to Whitney Frost and shot her at point blank range was cold for him, but from his perspective, he’s doing what Peggy won’t: put Whitney down before she can cause any more harm.  However deep Edwin’s bond is with Ana, it’s still an irrational move motivated by revenge because he still attempted murder.

If Frost didn’t possess Zero Matter, Jarvis would have killed her and there’d be blood on his hands.  He wouldn’t have done the right thing, but what he felt was necessary, because Peggy won’t cross that line now, and that’s why she won’t just kill Dottie.

The Edge of Mystery- Jason tells Whitney that the rods should be destroyed

Even Peggy is susceptible to making bad decisions in the heat of the moment.  She maintains this tough exterior and acts as if nothing bothers her, but we’ve seen that she can be harmed and slowed down in the line of duty.  It’s not unrealistic that her emotions may get the better of her at times.  Not to the extent that someone like Thompson would deride her for, but Peggy knows that she puts the people close to her at peril.

The Edge of Mystery- Peggy doesn't answer when Sousa asks if she'd let him get shot

Which is why she calls out Sousa for telling Jason about the uranium rods, even though she had no response when he questioned whether she would have done the same if the roles were reversed.  When you get down to it, Peggy’s a bit of a hypocrite.  She refuses to let her emotions cloud her judgment- refusing to see Jason as a hostile- and takes issue with those who do, but at the end of the day, she knows that she isn’t heartless.  She is prone to making bad decisions, though.

The Edge of Mystery- Thompson tries to blackmail Peggy

As is Thompson, and while I’m ever conflicted on his allegiances, it looks like he’s at least turning around and siding with Peggy.  She was right when he said that he would do what it took to get a promotion, but she also knows that Thompson isn’t the same man from last season.  He’s not one to cut corners or shame Peggy for his own ego, and I’m glad he’s still one of the good guys.

“The Edge of Mystery” kept up the more serious tone these last few episodes have brought in as Peggy and pals make one desperate move after another to stay ahead of Whitney Frost.  Jarvis shooting Frost was a dark turn for him, but didn’t feel out of character.  With the seriousness of the situation, these people are willing to anything it takes to protect those close to them.  Noble people, they are.  Foolish and desperate at times, but noble.

A Look at Agent Carter- Season 2, Episode 7: “Monsters”

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.

Monsters- Whitney addresses the press about her husband's sudden death

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.

Monsters- Dottie isn't deterred by Vernon

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.

Monsters- Jarvis fixes the transponder

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.

Monsters- Vernon attempts to interrogate Dottie

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.

Monsters- Whitney tells Vernon to find the uranium rods

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.

Monsters- Whitney and Dottie face off

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.

Monsters- Jason enters the containment chamber

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.

Monsters- Vernon in Sousa's office

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.

Monsters- Jarvis shows Peggy the Jitterbug

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.

Monsters- Ana and Edwin bond before the mission

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.

Monsters- Vernon speaks with Sousa

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.

Monsters- Jarvis and Peggy talk about the love triangle

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.

Monsters- Peggy and Jarvis caught

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.

Monsters- Ana and Jason have dinner

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.

Monsters- Peggy, Dottie, and Jarvis bound in the basement

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.

Monsters- Jason and Ana talk

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.

Monsters- Peggy, Dottie, and Jarvis escape

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.

Monsters- Whitney tempts Jason

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.

Monsters- Sousa ambushed

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.

Monsters- Whitney about to shoot Ana

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.

Monsters- Peggy finds that Dottie has escaped

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.

Monsters- Vernon asks if Sousa made any progress on the Roxxon investigation

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.

Monsters- Peggy and Jarvis at the hospital

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.

Monsters- Talk about love triangles

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.

Monsters- Peggy realizes that Dottie is loose

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.

Monsters- Peggy during Jason's rant

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.

Monsters- Jason proposes killing Dottie

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.

Monsters- Jason and Peggy kiss

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.

Monsters- Ana and Edwin hug

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.

Monsters- Edwin learns that Ana is in danger

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.

Monsters- Ana wants Edwin to still occasionally be there with her

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.

Monsters- A fearful Dottie

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.

Monsters- Whitney threatens Dottie

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.

Monsters- Whitney wants Jason to join her

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.

A Look at Agent Carter- Season 2, Episode 6: “Life of the Party”

With Whitney Frost growing stronger, an injured Peggy needs to keep her from acquiring more power.  So how do you do that after having a life-threatening injury?  Hello, Bridget Regan.  This is “Life of the Party.”

Life of the Party- Jason and Peggy talk containment

The episode begins with Jason still in Peggy’s room, but seeing things differently, as if the world is coming apart around him.  He can still hear Peggy’s voice when he suddenly spots her.  He tells her that he was somewhere else- he’s losing control and is at the whim of some dark force.

Peggy tells him that his work in containment can be used on himself, but Jason has no mass.  There’s still Jane Scott’s tissue matter.  If he could replicate that, could he build a containment chamber for himself?  It’s possible, but he’d need more Zero Matter.  There’s only one place in the world to find it.

Life of the Party- Whitney tells Calvin that she wants to talk to the Council

Calvin finds Whitney muttering to herself- she’s not okay because of the catastrophe and Peggy Carter’s constant interference.  Calvin tells Whitney that he’s arranged for the Council to meet her.  He hasn’t been giving her proper support and this is his way of fixing the mistake.  Even though the Council doesn’t meet with outsiders, Calvin tells her that she’s worth it.

She’s better than him, so she should speak about the potential of Zero Matter.  Everyone will be in attendance for tonight’s fundraiser.  When the Council sees what Whitney can do, Calvin believes that they’ll give her whatever she wants.

Life of the Party- Ana watches Edwin stitch up Peggy

The next morning, Ana watches Edwin stitch up Peggy, who is still in pain.  She’s still planning to go to the lab, as there’s no rest for the weary and wounded until the job is done.

Life of the Party- Peggy speaks with Sousa in the lab about Whitney

Peggy enters the lab and finds a weary looking Sousa.  She explains that they need a solution to anchor Wilkes to this world- as he’s the centerpiece for the case against Isodyne.  So yes, they need him.  Peggy intends to get the Zero Matter sample from Whitney Frost, and to do so, she’ll need to infiltrate one of Calvin Chadwick’s campaign events.  Jarvis has two tickets secured- courtesy of Howard Stark- and the two can use a gadget to get a sample of Zero Matter.

Sousa doubts that Peggy can handle this due to her injury and that Whitney will anticipate another attack.  Rose isn’t around, Sousa won’t go as Jarvis’ date, and there’s no telling who to trust at the SSR.  What the two need is a highly skilled, unknown face that won’t mind getting in the thick of it.  Peggy has a terrible idea.

Life of the Party- Peggy in disguise to speak with Dottie

As if on cue, we cut to Miss Dorothy Dottie Underwood, who is set to receive a psych evaluation from Dr. Peggy Carter.  Yes, Peggy is now a doctor.  She tells Dottie that there’s no contact from the Soviet government or anyone affiliated with Leviathan calling for Dottie’s release.

It takes more than six walls to hold Dottie, though- they’re in a cube.  Dottie is glad to see her- after all, Peggy came in disguise, so she doesn’t want this visit on the record.  This means that Peggy is going behind someone’s back.  So if this isn’t about interrogation, Dottie figures that Peggy needs her help.

Life of the Party- Ana and Jason work on the containment chamber

Back at the lab, Jason and Ana work on the containment chamber.  Wilkes is concerned, but Ana believes that there will be reinforcements.  Jarvis swings by and asks about his cufflinks, as he needs to look his best when in the thick of action.  Upon hearing this, Ana grows concerned and rushes out of the room.

Peggy shows Dottie the lapel pin and asks why she wanted it.  There are many reasons: maybe she was hired to steal it, maybe the pin unlocks every decision made in America.  Or it matched her blouse.  Peggy offers to break Dottie out and negotiate terms later.  Peggy is aware that Dottie will try to run, but Dottie knows that Peggy’s deportation offer is bullshit.  Well, at least they’re agreed.

So Peggy hands Dottie a device and tells her to go right when she’s gone.  When she leaves, Dottie opens the device, which actually works to unlock her cell.  She escapes and grabs the guard’s keys, but Peggy, unsurprisingly, snagged his gun.

Life of the Party- Dottie runs into Sousa's net

Outside, Dottie goes not right, but left and right into Sousa’s net, which also has an electric shock.  Peggy gives her a second shock.  You can never be too careful.  See, Dottie, this is why you go right.

Life of the Party- Jarvis and Peggy go over the plan with Dottie

Dottie awakens and finds herself strapped to a chair and with a blow dryer on top of her hair.  Peggy explains the situation and shows Dottie a diamond necklace that not just complete her ensemble, but it’s equipped with a tracking device so Peggy can monitor her location.  If Dottie attempts to break it, she’ll be injected with a neurotoxin that will kill her in less than a minute.

Jarvis asks what kind of her firearm he’ll be taking, but Peggy figures Dottie would just take it from him.  Just to prove her point, Dottie even managed to snag his wristwatch.  Peggy turns on the fan so she and Jarvis can pantomime argue.  It’s actually quite funny, as he requests a cane with a sword inside of it.

Life of the Party- Whitney does not want to face the Council with her appearance

Whitney asks Calvin to reschedule the meeting, as she doesn’t want to be seen in public, but the Council does not reschedule.  Calvin gives her a purple bow and frock to put in her hair.  It works and covers up the black cracks on her face.  Whitney promises to properly thank Calvin later.

Life of the Party- Jason and Peggy speak with Dottie about the plan to swipe Whitney Frost's blood

Peggy fills Dottie about her target- Whitney Frost.  Dottie is unfamiliar.  She’s more interested in Jason Wilkes, but Dottie is to receive a blood sample from Whitney and not make physical contact with her.  Jason explains how to use the device to draw blood from Whitney.  To finish the set, Peggy also gives Dottie a bow.  Whitney asks Jason to explain how the device works, but she’s surprised when he walks right through her hand.

Life of the Party- Dottie and Jarvis spot Jack at the party

So it’s time for Peggy and Sousa to do surveillance while Jarvis and Dottie dance.  The two spot not just Calvin and Whitney in attendance, but Jack Thompson as well, who speaks with the couple and Vernon Masters.

Life of the Party- Vernon and Hugh speak with Jack

Calvin sees a future for men like Thompson in the growing war against Communism, while Whitney would love to star with a face like Thompson’s in her next picture.  Dottie offers to kill Thompson, while Sousa thinks the mission should be aborted.  Peggy maintains that the two complete their objective without being spotted by Thompson.  Jarvis can do it, but Dottie is already gone.

Vernon tells Thompson that this room is filled with powerful men who have great influence in the country.  These are the men who keep the world spinning and they’re starting to learn Thompson’s name.  There’s one stain on his record.  That’s when Hugh Jones enters the frame and remembers that SSR ruffled his feathers.  Thompson learns about the raid and stolen Zero Matter- Peggy Carter is the suspect named.

But Thompson claims to know nothing about it.  Vernon tells Thompson that Carter is disobeying his orders.  He can’t let a female subordinate make an ass out of him as he climbs the ladder of influence.

New plan: Jarvis is to keep Thompson distracted.  Jarvis demands that Dottie fall in line and obey orders- in the best way that Jarvis can, anyway.

Life of the Party- Jarvis distracts Thompson

At the bar, Thompson talks with a woman, but he’s interrupted by Jarvis.  He’s in attendance because Howard Stark is a contributor, but that doesn’t explain why Jarvis is suddenly wearing glasses.

Thompson doesn’t think that Carter isn’t present and wants to secure the perimeter, but Jarvis accuses Thompson of doing Chadwick’s bidding.  Thompson believes he’s working to protect the country, but Jarvis gives him a word of advice: he’s out of his depth and these waters are full of sharks.

Life of the Party- Dottie crosses paths with Whitney Frost

In the powder room, Dottie sort of runs into Whitney but still managed to get a sample.  When Sousa and Peggy call in, they get no response.  Dottie has removed her rose and left the sink running.  You don’t leave the sink running.

Life of the Party- Whitney demonstrates her abilities to the Council

Dottie slips into a room and hides in a cupboard just as the Council enter, along with Calvin and Whitney, to begin their meeting.  Whitney talks of being an advocate for Zero Matter, but she was wrong.  The mistake she made was in thinking that the discovery was about energy.  It’s not- it’s about the kind of power that can bring the world to its knees.  But why just tell when she can show.

And that’s when Whitney removes her bow and reveals the crack on her face.  She opens her gift box, removes a lab rat, and absorbs it into her body.  The Council and Dottie both are equally shocked.  The Council thanks Calvin for bringing this to their attention and know how to proceed.  Then two men enter and put ropes around Whitney’s neck, but she makes quick work of them.

Life of the Party- Whitney kills Calvin

You wouldn’t like Whitney when she’s angry, as she demonstrates by absorbing a few Council members.  The cracks on her face expand as she faces her husband.  Upset as his betrayal, Whitney then disposes of Calvin while Dottie continues to watch.  Whitney calls the meeting to order.  She tells Jones that she needs unrestricted access to Roxxon resources and he should bring Vernon Masters up to date on this administration change.

The papers will run a story on the sudden disappearance of the now dead Council members.  Whitney has chosen the remaining men to contribute to her Council and as long as they remain loyal and of use to her.  In return, she will bring them unlimited power unlike anything this world this has seen.  Hugh is excited about this collaboration and seeing where Whitney will lead them.

Life of the Party- Peggy wants to go help Jarvis

While Jarvis searches for Dottie, Peggy wants to go in, despite her injury, but she ends up popping her stitch trying to open the door to the truck.  For Sousa, it helps to learn to put your faith in others to get the job done.

Life of the Party- Dottie runs into Jack and Vernon

When the new Council adjourns, Dottie slips out of her hiding spot and smiles at the blood sample.  She then comes face to face with Vernon Masters and Thompson, who give chase.

Life of the Party- Peggy learns why Violet broke off the engagement with Sousa

Peggy would like a follow-up with Violet, and Sousa isn’t subtle at showing that there’s a problem.  Violet broke off the engagement.  He admits that he messed up and how she broke it off because she thinks that Sousa is in love with her.  Peggy doesn’t think this is fine- as she came and mucked up his life.  She apologizes for that.  Before the two can have that cliché kiss, an agent falls on their truck.

Upstairs, Dottie takes out agent after agent before Thompson manages to subdue her.  Dottie ends up losing the blood sample in the process.

Life of the Party- Jarvis joins Peggy and Sousa outside

Downstairs, Jarvis joins Peggy and Sousa.  He managed to snag the blood sample.  The receiver was crushed with the gear, so there’s no chance of getting in touch with Dottie.  The party is already over and Sousa doesn’t want to blow their cover, so retreat is their best solution.  The three decide to fall back.

Life of the Party- Hugh and Vernon talk while Thompson listens nearby

Hugh explains the new situation to Vernon, with Thompson nearby.  Vernon figures that this situation is Peggy Carter’s fault- who else would be reckless to spring Dottie Underwood loose?  After all, Jack did see Jarvis, but Thompson wants to see the bigger picture.  Vernon orders Jack to take out Peggy.  Killing would make her a martyr.  Vernon more wants Jack to discredit her so this work becomes invalid.

That presents a new side of problems.  Vernon believes that Carter must have something on Thompson.  He says that the best way to fight leverage is with leverage since everybody has secrets.  Vernon says that if Thompson won’t do this, he’ll have to question whether he’s suited for this position in high government.  Thompson says that there is no question.

Life of the Party- Jason thanks Sousa and Peggy

Jason, meanwhile, thanks Sousa and Carter for retrieving the sample that could save his life.  They’re more preoccupied with finding Dottie Underwood.

Life of the Party- Thompson pleads with Peggy to stop this fight before she loses

Then they receive a visit from Jack Thompson.  He knows all about her fake cover to spring Dottie free and wants her to return to New York.  There’s no place in his office for agents who can’t follow orders.  He tells her that she’s chasing boogeymen and that it’s okay to be wrong.  Peggy counters that she’s not wrong.  Thompson tells her that she’ll not only lose, she won’t see it coming.  He bids her farewell.

Dottie, now chained and boxed, has a brief face to face with Whitney Frost.

“Life of the Party” had a lot going on and the episode managed to juggle a lot of elements very well, given the urgency of stopping Whitney Frost from gaining more power and influence.

Life of the Party- Peggy meets with Dottie in her cell

While it’s far from Peggy’s smartest idea, bringing Dottie into the fold serves as a good curveball since Whitney has never met her before and Dottie sees this all as one big game.

Life of the Party- Dottie knows that Peggy needs her help

I’ll take any reason to have Bridget Regan back, and Dottie’s wry smiles, the constant sarcastic barbs, and need to stay one step ahead of everyone, you could tell she was not taking this seriously.

Life of the Party- Dottie toys with Jason and Peggy

Dottie is as unpredictable as she’s ever been.  Imprisonment hasn’t deterred her and Peggy knows that she could betray the mission at any moment.  Credit to the show, Peggy acknowledges beforehand that enlisting Dottie’s help is a bad idea, but with Whitney Frost growing stronger and the Council’s widespread influence, Peggy doesn’t have many options.

Life of the Party- Sousa helps a still injured Peggy

Another credit to Agent Carter, Peggy isn’t in any condition to be in the field.  In many television shows- Chuck being the first one that comes to mind- the protagonists may receive a grave injury while on the job, but they’ll miraculously be fine by the next episode or, hell, even after the commercial break.

Here, Peggy’s injury from her fight with Whitney Frost is turned into a plot point.  She wants to stop Whitney at any cost, but she can’t do it herself.  And though Peggy is always prone to push herself, she realizes upon popping her stitch that she’s only going to make the pain worse.  It’s refreshing that Peggy isn’t back up and ready to fight within one episode.  She’s forced to take a backseat this time.

Life of the Party- Peggy and Sousa almost kiss

This gave her time to talk with Sousa over the broken engagement with Violet and the two sort of discussing their feelings.  The show has taken its time in telling us what happened in-between seasons, but here, Peggy admits that her being involved with the mission has jeopardized Sousa’s relationship, even though she still has feelings for him.  It was no accident that Dottie interrupted their kiss when she did.

This episode ramped up both the action and plot as characters raced to stay one step ahead of each other.  Dottie tries to get the slip on Peggy and Sousa multiple times, Whitney is trying to keep Peggy from making another attack, and Thompson is trying to keep himself from getting sucked into Vernon’s web.

Life of the Party- Thompson asks Peggy to come back to New York

Again, Thompson’s priorities perplex me.  He still wants the glory of a coveted position within the agency and is willing to follow orders to get it.  He’s still pompous, no doubt, but he also wants to see the bigger picture and isn’t willing to just throw Peggy under the bus because she’s a woman and supposedly undermining his authority.

If I’m wrong, I’ll accept it, but I buy Thompson’s plea to Peggy towards the end to give up this chase because she doesn’t fully grasp who she’s going up against in this battle.  He may not like Peggy, but he seems to at least respect her abilities as an agent.  So he’d want to protect her not to be her savior, but out of necessity.  Peggy, naturally, maintains that she’s right, but even her plans aren’t foolproof, given that she’s trusting Dottie of all people.

Life of the Party- Whitney takes control of the Council

Whitney has continued her growth in acquiring power and taking reins of the Council by showing her true power.  She’s done with letting a group of men call the shots and now she’s demonstrated she has the authority and power to take control away from them.  I wager that being betrayed by Calvin was the final straw in her asserting herself atop the Council.  And a foolish mistake for Calvin to even think he could try and tame Whitney.

Unlike “The Atomic Job,” I think this episode did a better job of blending humor and action with things like Dottie toying with Peggy or Jarvis’ frantic search for her while trying to maintain his cover.  The comedy didn’t feel forced or overdone.  Rather, it fit into the scenes much more than Peggy zapping Hugh Jones over and over again.

“Life of the Party” is a pretty entertaining episode that had both parts drama and fun.  Bridget Regan’s return to the series is a welcome one and throwing Dottie into the mix is a nice wild card for Peggy’s mission.  There’s some stuff with Ana and Jason as well, but as this episode aired coupled with the following one, we’ll touch upon that next time.

A Look at Agent Carter- Season 2, Episode 5: “The Atomic Job”

“The Atomic Job” is a good episode.  Not my favorite of the series and probably the weakest of the season due to some cliche circumstances and less than stellar blend of humor and action, but still pretty good.

The Atomic Job- Jason shows Peggy how the Zero Matter reacts to his body

The episode begins with Jason waking Peggy up in the middle of the night- prompting her to grab her gun in the process- to show her something in the lab.  It turns out that the tissue sample from Jane Scott’s autopsy is drawn to Jason whenever he reaches his hand out to it.  The Matter manages to slip through and enter Jason, which blackens the whites of his eyes and, for a moment, turns him corporeal.  He tells Peggy that he knows where Jane Scott’s body is.

The Atomic Job- Jason, Jarvis, and Peggy learn the location of Jane Scott's body

Jason explains to Peggy and Jarvis that she’s being held at a county cold storage building owned by Thomas Clawster, the friend of Calvin that Hunt mentioned last time.  With this information, Jason figures that he could cure his condition with the Zero Matter in Jane Scott’s body.  So, looks like the gang is gonna steal a body.  Luckily, Howard has not a hearse, but a four watt woody.

The Atomic Job- Violet finds Sousa asleep on the sofa

Elsewhere, Violet arrives home and finds the door unlocked.  She grabs a baseball bat, even though I thought people in the 1940s and such were fine leaving their homes unlocked.  Anyway, Violet finds that Sousa, having set the table for dinner.  When he awakens, he explains that he just wanted to surprise her, but Violet had to cover an extra shift at work.

While Violet goes on about work, Sousa searches the couch for something that he lost.  When Violet comes to help, Sousa grabs her hand and tells her that he wanted a fresh start when he came out West.  She’s the reason he got through physical therapy and he loves how Violet is uncompromising.  Damn it, he had a whole speech prepared, but now he can’t find the engagement ring.  Well, now Violet is on the hunt.  Also, she says yes.  Good for them.

The Atomic Job- Whitney needs Calvin's help

At Chadwick household, Calvin tries to slip out while Whitney talks in her sleep.  Before he gets far, Whitney awakens and asks Calvin for his help.

The Atomic Job- Whitney prepares to touch Jane Scott's body

Jarvis and Peggy break and enter the facility.  Jarvis gets to join in because he’s got his recreation tie.  The two crawl through the shafts and find the storage room housing Jane Scott’s body.  Before the two can drop down, Calvin and Whitney conveniently enter, Whitney claiming that the body called her.  How convenient.  Whitney places her hand on Jane Scott’s arm and absorbs the Zero Matter into her body.  Now she needs an atomic bomb.  Hopefully she goes for the retro 40s charm.

The Atomic Job- Jason believes that Whitney is trying to replicate the atomic test

Back at Howard’s place, Jason figures that Frost is trying to replicate the original atomic test that unleashed the Zero Matter.  For this to work, though, Whitney would have to set off the bomb in the same location to open the rift.  There are two remaining Roxxon warheads that were put into storage after the initial test.  Now, there are several Roxxon locations, making it impossible to know which one houses the bomb, but Jarvis reveals that Howard has kept tabs on Roxxon.

There’s one secure facility just a few hours outside of Los Angeles.  To access to the elevator, you need a key card that’s impossible to replicate.  Peggy rattles through a series of possible scenarios to force her way in- all of which would result with setting off the bomb.  Key it is.

The Atomic Job- Whitney needs more Zero Matter

Whitney needs more Zero Matter, as she figures this will put the Council of Nine in their hands.  Calvin objects to this, but Whitney maintains that she has such great power.  If the two of them could force the world to bend to their will, Calvin would get the recognition that he deserves.  Since Calvin is dumb enough to have his ego stroked like this, he asks how Whitney plans to accomplish this.  Luckily, she has connections.

The Atomic Job- Peggy tells Sousa that she needs a disguise

At SSR West, Peggy learns that Sousa proposed to Violet.  She speaks to him privately to talk about sneaking into Hugh Jones’ office at Roxxon.  As per usual, she’ll need a disguise.  Sousa figures that Jones would remember Peggy’s face from their last encounter.

The Atomic Job- Dr. Samberly demonstrates the memory inhibitor

So they give Dr. Samberly some pie in exchange to let him borrow the memory inhibitor.  He demonstrates that you put it to the subject’s temples and they forget the last two minutes.  It’s already worked wonders on Jerry, but there’s a slight risk of brain damage.  Slight.

The Atomic Job- Hugh Jones spots Peggy in his office

Over at Roxxon, Peggy calls away Jones’ secretary, played by Alexandra Vino, and enters Jones’ office to start looking for the key.  Jones soon enters and Peggy claims to be looking for a file.  While Hugh goes off to lunch, he tells Peggy that he wants to crunch numbers with her later.  Ha.  But as Jones gets on the elevator, he recognizes the agent.

He returns, claiming that if the SSR wants to search the office, they’ll need a warrant.  As Hugh calls security, Peggy puts the memory inhibitor to his temple.  It works and Jones, none the wiser, leaves.

But the effects don’t last long.  As Hugh enters the office again, Peggy uses the inhibitor again, this time causing Jones to faint.  She searches Jones’ person for the key, using the inhibitor each time he awakens, and ends up finding the key in his belt buckle.  Not the smartest location, but it works.  For good measure, Peggy uses the inhibitor again.  When Jones awakens, his secretary asks if he had a nice lunch.  Given that his pants are undone, he must have.

The Atomic Job- Calvin and Whitney speak with Joseph Manfredi, played by Ken Marino

At a restaurant, Calvin and Whitney meet Whitney’s former boyfriend: Joseph Manfredi, played by Ken Marino.  Whitney brings up the proposed freeway system and offers Joseph a major construction contract in exchange for some men that can help move some equipment and be discrete.  No guns necessary.  Sounds like a deal, but Joseph will need more than money- he needs to be sure that he and his associates’ names don’t appear in the newspaper.

When Calvin hesitates, Joseph brings over one of his men proceeds to beat the living hell out of him just to make a point about undressing Whitney with his eyes.  And you thought Bruce Banner had anger issues.  At the very least, Calvin and Whitney agree to the deal.

The Atomic Job- Going over the plans to infiltrate Roxxon

Jason, Jarvis, and Peggy go over the plan to infiltrate Roxxon.  They’ll need to get to the freight elevator to find Roxxon’s classified items.  Sousa, who is defusing a fake bomb nearby, will disarm the bomb with his gentle hands.  Jason cautions him, as one misstep and the bomb could destroy all of Los Angeles.  Howard’s men have never gone in, so Peggy, Jarvis, and Sousa will be going in blind.  And since the Council of Nine has their hands in everything, Sousa doesn’t know who in the SSR can be trusted to help.

The Atomic Job- Peggy tells Sousa that Rose should join them on the mission

Peggy disagrees, and we cut to Rose with another auditioning act.  Sousa isn’t on board with Rose joining, not because she’s a woman, but because she has no field experience.  Valid, but then, neither does Jarvis, so make of that what you will.  Sousa is worried that Rose will get hurt, but just to counter that claim, we see Rose beat up the audition act.  For what reason, I don’t know.

The Atomic Job- Sousa, Peggy, and Rose in the SSR lab when Samberly returns

Back at SSR, Peggy returns the memory inhibitor to Dr. Samberly, who is irritated that the agents are messing around with his things.  Rose sweet talks Samberly and he agrees to let them use his equipment.  Because there’s no time for a crash course, Samberly offers to go with them, as Daniel did once say that Samberly could use his expertise in field operations.  Peggy is concerned that Samberly could be a spy, but Sousa assures her that everyone hates Samberly.

The Atomic Job- Squad walk in slow motion

In a scene straight out of Reservoir Dogs, we see Peggy, Rose, Sousa, Samberly, and Jarvis stroll out in slow motion to the tune of Bing Crosby’s “Pistol Packin’ Mama.” and head for the car.  Unfortunately, Jarvis parked the car around the corner due to street cleaning.  Well, at least the Guardians of the Galaxy aren’t the only ones in the MCU with less than graceful slow-motion walks.

The Atomic Job- Group arrives at Roxxon

That evening, the five arrive at Roxxon.  Rose and Samberly, acting as a couple, claim to need directions, but the guards are not screwing around and tell them to leave.  Samberly tosses a device over the fence- it shocks the guards and knocks them unconscious.

The Atomic Job- Locating the security panel

With the service key, the five enter the elevator and, upon arriving, find a guard knocked out.  So Whitney Frost is already a few steps ahead of them.  Samberly leads the four to the utility closet, where he accesses the security system panel.  He unlocks all of the doors, but that means they’re open for Whitney Frost as well.

Samberly finds movement in the next room.  Rose heads on and takes out one of Joseph’s men.  The others manage to find the room with the warheads.  As Samberly works to rewire the door, he ends up locking it with Jarvis inside with the warheads.  Peggy instructs Sousa to talk Jarvis through the process while she deals with Calvin and Whitney.

The Atomic Job- Sousa talks Jarvis through handling the bomb

While Peggy deals with guards, Sousa tells Jarvis to remove the bomb from the crate and start unscrewing it.  Jarvis removes a panel and finds the warhead inside.  Samberly is still messing with the door when Rose returns and encourages him to keep working hard.  Jarvis gingerly removes the warheads and places them in the case.  Nothing like making soufflé.

The Atomic Job- Whitney grabs Peggy's arm

Peggy finds Calvin and Whitney mid-argument.  She tells Whitney that the SSR can help, but Frost does not want to be fixed.  She’s never felt more powerful.  In fact, she’s so strong, she actually takes one of Peggy’s punches no problem.  Damn.  Sousa then radios in that the group has the rods.  An enraged Whitney grabs Peggy’s arm, but Peggy breaks free.  The effort knocks her back and over a nearby railing.

As Peggy hangs for her life, she eventually lets go and and falls upon a set of rebars, one going through stomach.  Well, we know that Peggy pulls through, so this hardly creates tension.

The Atomic Job- Sousa and Jarvis bring an injured Peggy to Violet's home

Sousa and Jarvis bring Peggy into Violet’s home, as they don’t want to go to a hospital.  Well, good thing that Violet is a nurse.

The Atomic Job- Whitney wants Calvin to talk with Hugh Jones, Calvin refuses

Whitney tells Calvin to explain this situation to Hugh Jones, but Calvin won’t ask for another favor or put himself in a situation where he may die.  Whitney thinks that he’s overreacting, but Calvin maintains that he’s at the mercy of the Council because of Whitney.  He refuses to help her anymore.  Ballsy, but Whitney grabs Calvin by the throat and cautions him to watch his tone.  Why she doesn’t just absorb him now and do this all herself is beyond me.

The Atomic Job- Sousa comforts Peggy, Violet overhears

Sousa speaks with Peggy about tonight, saying that he was scared about her getting hurt.  And in television fashion, Violet overhears this tender moment.  Violet offers to let Peggy stay for a few days, but Peggy declines.  Jarvis helps her to the car.  Violet is upset that Sousa lied- he didn’t move because he wanted a fresh start.  He was running away because of his feelings for Peggy.  Come on, Agent Carter, don’t do this.

The Atomic Job- Calvin calls for an emergency Council meeting

That night, Calvin makes a call to have an emergency Council meeting.  They’ll want to hear this. It’s against protocol, but he believes that they’ll want to hear what he has to say.

The Atomic Job- Jason speaks with Peggy

Jarvis tucks Peggy into bed, telling her that these adventures are only enjoyable if you return from them.  Agreed.  Jason tells Peggy that Zero Matter comes from a dark place you don’t want to be.  How does Jason know this?  That’s a conversation for another day.  For now, time to listen to some music- the same song that Jason and Peggy danced to at The Dunbar Hotel.  However, Jason’s body flickers in and out until he vanishes.

I’m not a writer, so this is all speculation.  When you’ve got a supervillain on the verge of nabbing an atomic weapon, there ought to be a sense of dread and urgency, particularly when the protagonist’s life is put into jeopardy, right?  Now, we knew that Peggy would make it out of this alive because her name is in the title and we see her later on in the MCU, both with Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Ant-Man.

The Atomic Job- Peggy gets injured

So while there was no doubt Peggy would survive her encounter with a rod deep in her body, I never got the sense that this was a sort of race to get the weapons.  With Peggy and Jason stealing the Zero Matter from Isodyne, there was a bit more urgency, more so because they weren’t aware that someone followed them.

The Atomic Job- Exiting the service elevator

Here, the team is aware that Whitney has Zero Matter coursing through her body and she’s seeking to acquire an atomic weapon.  But in between the urgency, we have Samberly fumbling with the door and Rose talking about how she’s seen bigger.

The Atomic Job- Peggy finds the key

I say this not as a negative to Agent Carter because it does manage to blend humor and action very well, but the stakes here didn’t seem as high as they could have been, given that this weapon could obliterate the city.  It’s a minor critique, but to take another example: when Peggy realizes she has to reach into Hugh Jones’ belt buckle for the key, she reminds herself aloud that she’s saving the world.

It was funny to see Hugh Jones remember over and over that he already met Peggy, though the memory joke wore off after the first few attempts. At that point, the show just ran the joke into the ground.  I just don’t think the tone was properly balanced, given the situation.  At least the slow motion walk wasn’t overplayed.

The Atomic Job- Whitney warns Calvin to watch his tone

When it comes to the villains, I appreciate that Whitney is slowly coming more and more into her own.  Unlike Jason, who wants to be cured, she’s fully embracing the Zero Matter and recognizes that she’s in a powerful position right now.  She’s pushing back when Calvin objects not to be bossy, but because she’s able to call the shots.  I like that we’re seeing the evolution of her plan to acquire more power.  She’s toyed around with her abilities and now that she’s able to tame them, she needs to have more.

The Atomic Job- Joseph Manfredi beats one of his men

Side-note, Ken Marino made a pretty good impression, in my opinion, as Joseph Manfredi.  He’s calm and collective, but can explode at any moment.  It’s interesting, by the way, to even have Manfredi in this universe at all, considering his father, Silvio, AKA Silvermane, is mostly associated with Spider-Man.  Then again, this is in a pre-Avengers world and Marvel does now share the film rights to the Spider-Man series, so it’s possible.

The Atomic Job- Rose has seen bigger

If there’s one thing I grabbed from this episode, it’s that, when it comes to Peggy and the rest of the cast, help can easily come from the most unlikely of sources.  Rose hasn’t had much to do since coming to Los Angeles, and I’m glad that Peggy made a strong case to Sousa about including her.  They both had a point: Rose had been through the same training as the men, but she hadn’t been field tested yet.

The Atomic Job- Rose asks Samberly if he liked the pie

But Rose proved her worth to the point that I’d like to see her more active with the team.  The flirting with Samberly was a bit overt, but nothing cringeworthy.  And speaking of, it was also nice not just to have Samberly involved, but follow up on his previous statement about the divide between field agents and lab techs.

The Atomic Job- Samberly asks Sousa if he remembers complimenting him

Samberly resents the fact that agents look down upon technicians, so it was a huge praise when Sousa said his skills would be handy in field operations.  However, that ended up just being a routine complement and nothing special.  So now, knowing that he isn’t seen as valuable as he believed, Samberly has more of a reason to prove his worth.

The Atomic Job- Jarvis carefully moves the bomb

Jarvis has been in dangerous situations before and he’s been itching to get back into the fold since Peggy arrived.  He finally got it with this situation and, once again, showed that he’s more than just a butler.  Though given the lack of urgency and how Peggy could have held off Whitney for some time, couldn’t Samberly just have enough time to unlock the doors so Sousa could remove the weapons himself?

The Atomic Job- Violet calls out Sousa for still having feelings for Peggy

Speaking of, I find it all too convenient that Peggy refused to go to a hospital, and Sousa’s fiancé just happened to be a nurse.  Violet hasn’t had much to do, but she’s made warm and understanding as opposed to jealous and bitter when she realizes that Sousa still has feelings for Peggy- a conversation that she conveniently happened to overhear.  It’s a believable reaction, but still teeters on the edge of being a love triangle.

The Atomic Job- Sousa thanks Violet for helping save Peggy's life

I do wish we’d gotten to see more scenes with Sousa and Violet interacting so I could get a better sense of their bond.  As is, we’re told everything about their relationship and don’t get to see much of it play out.  This would have been a good chance to flesh out Sousa and let us see what he’s been up to since arriving in Los Angeles.

The Atomic Job- Sousa proposes to Violet

But in this instance, Agent Carter does more telling instead of showing.  The moment when Violet called Sousa out was nice and what little screen time Enver Gjokaj and Sarah Bolger have together is well spent, but I just want more of that, more so with Sousa still adjusting to life out West.

With all that said, “The Atomic Job” is by no means a bad episode.  It’s probably the weakest episode of the season so far, but I by no means disliked it.  There’s plenty to enjoy here: Rose and Jarvis having more active roles in the field as unlikely heroes, Peggy’s first fight with Whitney, seeing Zero Matter’s different effects on both Whitney and Jason, and the rag-tag team made for an interesting dynamic compared to just Peggy, Jarvis, and Sousa.

Where the episode suffered was the unbalanced tone, lack of urgency given the circumstance, and somewhat cliché territory regarding Sousa’s relationship with Violet.  A good, but uneven episode.

A Look at Agent Carter- Season 2, Episode 4: “Smoke and Mirrors”

Time for some backstory.  While Agent Carter and Captain America: The First Avenger have informed us about Peggy’s character, we don’t know much about her upbringing.  Well, while now isn’t the most ideal time to dig into her history, “Smoke and Mirrors” goes back to an earlier time to show how Peggy and Whitney Frost became the people they are today.  All the while, our agents continue to uncover the mystery and conspiracy behind the shadowy Council of Nine.  With a few snags in the process.  This is “Smoke and Mirrors.”

Smoke and Mirrors- Young Peggy Carter, played by Gabriella Graves, and Michael Carter, played by Webb Hayes, scolded by Mom

The episode begins with a young Peggy Carter, played by Gabriella Graves, dressed as a prince that has just saved the princess after slaying the dragon.  Her brother, Michael, played by Webb Hayes, steals her wooden sword, but she pushes him over and the two start roughhousing.  Mum comes out and tells Peggy to start behaving like a lady.  Yeah, right.

Smoke and Mirrors- Jason shows Peggy his plans for a neutron reactor

As if on cue, we cut to Peggy chomping on a sandwich as Jason goes over some work.  He still has no sense of his body at all and can’t even eat yet, but he still enjoys spending time with Peggy.  As the two get close, they realize this was about to be a moment, so Jason goes over a design for a fast neutron reactor.

At full power, it could generate 25 kilowatts.  Three years prior, Agnes Cully patented a reactor that can generate a 1000 times more power.  Wilkes may be a genius, but Frost defies categorization.

Smoke and Mirrors- Whitney Frost receives a cage of mice

We then cut to Categorization Frost, who receives a giant package, courtesy of Isodyne Energy, with a cage of mice inside.  Huh.

Smoke and Mirrors- Jarvis and Peggy discuss Whitney Frost

As Jarvis leaves a Calvin Chadwick campaign setup, he tells Peggy that Calvin is inside, but no Whitney.  He also gives Peggy a campaign button that she promptly gets rid of, even if it could have helped her blend in.  Peggy figures that exposing Whitney is the key to exposing everything else.  As some men leave, Peggy notices one of them has a wound on his hand in the same spot as the man who attacked Peggy.

Smoke and Mirrors- Jarvis shows off his tranquilizer gun

Thanks to some intel from Rose, Peggy learns that the car is registered to a Rufus Hunt, who is head of security at the Arena Social Club, meaning he has access to secrets.  Given how Hunt almost bested them both, they’ll need a good strategy.  That’s why Jarvis presents a tranquilizer gun.  Not previously used for the flamingo, surprisingly, but the koala.  Jarvis is a dick to koalas.

Smoke and Mirrors- Young Agnes Cully, played by Ivy George, does not like Uncle Bud, played by Chris Mulkey

We cut back to Broxton, Oklahoma, 1920, as a young Agnes Cully, played by Ivy George, puts a radio back together.  As her mother, Wilma, played by Samaire Armstrong, speaks with her, in enters Uncle Bud, played by Chris Mulkey, who takes away Agnes’ pencil.  He asks her to put on a smile, but she’s too busy thinking.  She doesn’t like Uncle Bud.

Smoke and Mirrors- Whitney tries to absorb a mouse

In the present, Frost- who has masks in her room, by the way- examines the deepening crack on her forehead and then takes out one of the rats.  She waits a long moment and…nothing happens.  A knock on the door gets her attention.

Smoke and Mirrors- Calvin has good news for Whitney, from LIFE Magazine

Calvin enters, wondering about the missing director, but Frost could care less about him.  The photographer asked if Whitney could wear the white dress with the neckline tonight, as LIFE Magazine wants to put her on the cover.  They’re gonna hit it big, I tell ya.

Once Calvin leaves, Whitney returns to her rats.  She pulls one out and holds it in her palms.  After waiting another long moment, nothing happens, but soon enough, the rodent is absorbed into her palms.  Whitney Frost is a dick to rats.  Also, the crack continues to expand.  After examining the crack, she makes a note.

Smoke and Mirrors- Jarvis fakes an American accent and pretends to call out Hunt

Jarvis, putting on his best cop impersonation and American accent, calls out for Hunt and tells a nearby neighbor to go back inside and shut the door.  Hunt, escapes out the back and runs right into one of Peggy’s tranquilizer dart, but it’s not enough to put him down.  He strangles Peggy, who desperately reaches out to grab the tranquilizer dart and eventually manages to put it in his arm.

But once she and Jarvis stuff Hunt into the trunk, Hunt actually opens the trunk and tries to give it one last fight!  He fails and is knocked out by the butt of the tranquilizer gun, but not before sticking the dart into Jarvis’ arm.  How Jarvelous.  He goes down.  Okay, that was funny.  Hunt is a fighter- that much is certain.

Smoke and Mirrors- Peggy is surprised to find Sousa waiting for her

Peggy heads home and is surprised to find Sousa waiting for her.  He did some more digging into Frost, but Peggy, in a hurry, whisks the files from Sousa.  But this is Sousa, and he knows when someone is trying to brush him off.  It’s not a big problem when he notices Jarvis knocked out of his mind, when Peggy could blame that on drinks, but then Sousa hears a man knocking and yelling from the trunk.

Yeah, Sousa is pissed, as he wishes that Carter would have kept him in the loop.  Peggy’s excuse is that Sousa has faced enough blowback from the SSR due to her actions, but Sousa still wants to help. And he will, so long as Peggy doesn’t keep pushing him away.  So what’s Peggy’s plan?  Kill Hunt?

Smoke and Mirrors- Peggy and Daniel interrogate Hunt for information

No.  Interrogation time.  Sousa demands that Hunt start naming names and explain Whitney Frost’s involvement, but Hunt doesn’t buckle.  He’s not afraid of being knocked around.  Hell, the Japanese already put his fingers through hell, but even they got nothing.  When it’s Peggy’s turn, Hunt isn’t afraid of her, either.  He tells Peggy that people like her have a line, but she won’t torture him because there’s no time.

Smoke and Mirrors- Mr. Edwards, played by Christopher Grove, offers Peggy a chance to join the Special Operations Executive

Back in the past, Peggy shows off her engagement ring to the ladies at her job.  Her boss, Mr. Edwards, played by Christopher Grove, calls her into his office.  He congratulates her, but also has a proposal: Special Operations Executive- they’ve been tasked to train field agents in warfare.  No, women aren’t sent in, but resistance networks need women and Peggy is being recruited because she’s already an exceptional codebreaker.

Peggy tells Mr. Edwards that she doesn’t believe she’s meant to be in the field, but Edwards tells her that this is a massive chance to strike a blow for king and country.  Peggy promises to discuss this with her fiancé.  She’s just not cut out for war.

Smoke and Mirrors- Peggy gives Hunt a cold

In the present, Peggy removes the syringe from Hunt’s neck.  She tells him that sometimes, people need to blur the line to get things done.  Peggy knows all about Hunt, who apparently should be familiar with the effects of malaria.  There’s an antidote to Hunt’s right and the toxin’s effects become fatal in 20 minutes.  She’ll be back in 10.  The compound, turns out, is a failed cure for the common cold that will just give Hunt a serious cold.  Peggy is cold as ice.

Smoke and Mirrors- Uncle Bud wants Wilma gone

We cut back to Broxton, Oklahoma, 1928, as an older Agnes Cully, now played by Olivia Welch, overhears her mother arguing with Bud.  H heads out, leaving a wad of cash, demanding that Wilma leave the house tomorrow.  Wilma tells Cully that she could have been nicer to Bud.

Smoke and Mirrors- Wilma tells Agnes that her smile will get her far

Oh, but Wilma’s not done yet.  She holds up Agnes’ rejection letter from the University of Oklahoma and chastises her, saying that the college would never accept a woman.  No one cares what’s in her head.  If she was smart, she’d focus on her face- as that’s the only thing that would get her anywhere in this world.  I’m sure people in the 1920s talked like this.

Smoke and Mirrors- Whitney receives a call from Calvin

In the present, Frost receives a call from Calvin, who is upset that she’s an hour late.  LIFE will cancel the story if she’s not there.  Frost hangs up the phone.

Smoke and Mirrors- Hunt gives some names to Peggy and Daniel

Sousa and Carter continue interrogating Hunt.  He eventually names Thomas Gloucester and Hugh Jones, but he knows that he’ll never be free after this.  There’s no running or protection from the Council because these men aren’t just ordinary criminals.  They’re in everything, and what they can’t buy, they destroy.

President McKinley, Black Tuesday- those things didn’t just happen by accident.  As Peggy prepares to crush the antidote, Hunt admits that there’s a storage room where the Council of Nine records their meetings.  Everything Peggy and Daniel will want to know is on their tapes.

Smoke and Mirrors- Jason and Jarvis work on a theory

Jason and a now sober Jarvis work on a theory.  Jason’s atoms lost cohesion at the quantum level, but it seems like he’s reached a dead end.  As Jason then notices a deepening crack in the chalkboard, Jarvis snaps him back to reality.

Smoke and Mirrors- Vernon Masters interrupts a potential SSR raid

Sousa and Carter have a plan to raid The Arena Club.  As they go over the strategy with SSR agents, Vernon Masters and federal agents enter.  The War Department has decided to audit the SSR- with an executive order, no less.  While Sousa shows the men around, Masters tells Peggy that he’s been dying to talk with her.

Smoke and Mirrors- Vernon speaks privately with Peggy

She tells him about the conspiracy and how there’s no legitimate reason to hold up this raid, but Masters doesn’t think that Carter is a team player or likes to play it safe.  Peggy rattles off some of the Council of Nine’s influence, but refuses to name her source.  She and Sousa signed up an affidavit, which is sufficient for a warrant, but Vernon still wants a name.

He tells her that the Hollywood 10 also thought they were independent thinker, which is relevant since Peggy could be seen as a spy by some.  It doesn’t help that she isn’t even American.  Peggy will have to work hard to stay afloat, but she’ll manage.  Even still, Vernon warns that her friends could still drown.

Smoke and Mirrors- Peggy and her fiancé, Fred, played by Kevin Changaris

We then flash back to Hampstead, England, 1940, Peggy toasts with two men: an older Michael, now played by Max Brown, and Peggy’s fiancé, Fred, played by Kevin Changaris.  Michael talks about life on the front and Fred offers some assistance, while Peggy talks about her offer to join the S.O.E.  Fred says that Peggy isn’t one to risk life and limb to go behind enemy lines.  In addition, he says that a boring life is a privilege.  Fred is boring.

As Fred leaves, Peggy asks Michael his opinion of Fred.  In response, Michael asks why Peggy turned down the S.O.E. position, as he’s the one who recommended her.  He knows that Peggy wants the same thing she’s wanted since she was young- a life of adventure.  She claims that her dreams changed, but Michael counters that she can still change her mind.   She shouldn’t worry what other people think- she’s a fighter.

Smoke and Mirrors- Peggy and Daniel plot their next move, Daniel reveals that he has a tissue sample from Jane Scott

Back in the present, Sousa and Peggy figure that the Arena Club must have removed anything incriminating for now.  Peggy tells Sousa to stay at SSR and save his hide, but he says that he’s in this until the end, as he got the same speech from Vernon that Peggy did.  Plus, not all of the evidence has been taken- as Sousa managed to hold onto a tissue sample from Jane Scott’s autopsy.  Time to revisit the broom closet.

Smoke and Mirrors- Daniel tells Hunt to walk

Sousa releases Hunt from his bonds and orders him to his feet.  Hunt tells Sousa to shoot him now because he’s done marching.  Sousa pull the trigger and the gun doesn’t go off, so Hunt knocks him out and escapes.  Well, Peggy already got throttled twice, so it’s only fair for him to take a punch.

Hunt heads to the Chadwick household and speaks with Whitney Frost, completely unaware of the listening device planted on his back.

Smoke and Mirrors- Peggy in her wedding dress

Back in England, 1940, Peggy’s mum helps her into her wedding dress.  Mum, naturally, is emotional because of the big day, but Peggy appears at ease.  When Mum goes to answer the door, Peggy looks out the window and sees two soldiers.

If movies and television shows before this show are any indication, when soldiers show up at your home, it’s usually bad news.  That happens to be the case here as well, as Mum faints and Peggy fears the worst for Michael.  Sometime later, Peggy grabs her suitcase and heads out, S.O.R. envelope in hand.

Smoke and Mirrors- Peggy notices that Jason looks a bit distracted

In the present, Hunt and Frost continue to talk while the others listen.  Peggy asks Jason if he’s fine, as he’s transfixed with the chalkboard.  It’s more than being unable to sleep- it’s as if something is pulling him away.  It would be easy to let go, he says.  Peggy says that her brother talked about her being a fighter- and Jason is the same.  Ah, so that’s why we learned about Peggy’s brother.  So we could talk about him now.

Smoke and Mirrors- Hunt tells Calvin and Whitney about his encounter with Peggy Carter

Calvin Chadwick arrives at home.  Hunt tells her about Peggy Carter and admits to Whitney that Carter wanted names.  As Whitney draws back the curtains, Calvin tells Hunt that he has to answer to the Council.  Hunt disagrees- he can always tell the Council what Calvin and Whitney are up to right now.

Smoke and Mirrors- Whitney kills Hunt

Whitney has something important to show Calvin.  Hunt only made a mistake, and mistakes can be fixed.  Frost grabs Hunt’s throat and begins to absorb Hunt.  The signal disappears.

Smoke and Mirrors- Whitney meets talent agent Ned Silver, played by Andrew Carter

We then cut back to Hollywood, California, 1934.  A doll faced Agnes Cully, now played by Wynn Everett, heads to the picture show, but she has no money.  The woman at the ticket booth tells her that the picture hasn’t changed.  She slides Cully a ticket, but only just this once.  As she heads in, a talent agent named Ned Silver, played by Andrew Carter, says that Cully looks pretty when she smiles.  If Cully smiles like that, he can make a career future for her.

Cully thinks this all sounds real interesting.  She introduces herself to Silver as Agnes Cully, but he says that name will have to change for one as pretty as her.  That’s the beauty of Hollywood: you can be whatever you want.

Smoke and Mirrors- Whitney fixes another of Calvin's messes

In the present, Frost’s crack deepens.  She tells Calvin that getting rid of Hunt was her fixing another one of Calvin’s problems.  As Whitney heads over to Calvin, he asks what she is.  Her response?  Whatever she wants.

In a period piece where your protagonist is an unabashed, independent thinker, and a woman to boot in the 1940s, chances are it won’t take long before you get to discussions about identity.  While Agent Carter has dealt with how Peggy sees herself and under what lens the world views her, we haven’t spent a lot of time dealing with her past prior to Captain America: The First Avenger.

And rather than shoehorn in references to that film, “Smoke and Mirrors” takes us through Peggy’s upbringing, but also adds some depth to Whitney Frost as we examine both of their backstories within one episode.

Smoke and Mirrors- Young Peggy

Identity was the central focus of their respective stories.  Even as a young girl, Peggy was a fighter who refused to conform to society’s standards of what was deemed acceptable for a lady.  As evidenced when we learn that she’s an expert codebreaker, she already exceeded society’s expectations not because she had something to prove, but because of her natural abilities.

Smoke and Mirrors- Peggy shows off her engagement ring

At the same time, she seemed to still want some semblance of a domestic life.  I’m unsure whether this is because she was forced or she chose marriage of her own volition, but for a moment, Peggy chose, as Fred put it, a boring life that’s still a privilege.  She second guessed herself at times, but she wanted the simple life.

But if this show and Captain America: The First Avenger are any indication, that boring lifestyle isn’t who Peggy really is or what she truly desired.  She longs to be useful outside of a normal life.  Hell, it wasn’t until Russia last year that Peggy truly felt at home in her element.

Smoke and Mirrors- Bad news

It’s a tragedy that it took the death of her brother to make that push to join the war effort, but it was necessary to set Peggy Carter down the road she’s on today.  Michael saw greatness in Peggy and sought to make sure she lived a life worth her time instead of getting married and settling down.  And he didn’t try to force Peggy to prove a point- he saw from childhood her desire to be more than what was expected of her.

Smoke and Mirrors- Peggy faces off with Vernon

That same drive is what led her to clash with the SSR, but also Vernon with the real threat of blackmail.  The drive to be an independent thinker is looked down upon by those who want everyone to fall in line.  Peggy isn’t a follower, but she’s also not trying to step over her colleagues to make herself look good, the way she feels Thompson does.  Given what we know of Peggy, I don’t think she needed someone else to give her that push.

Steve and Peggy

She’s driven to both better herself and protect those around her, particularly those who may not be able to fend for themselves, but still fight anyway.  That’s one of the things that drew her to Steve Rogers in the first place.  I wish her decision to join the S.O.R. had been more of a personal decision.

Smoke and Mirrors- Peggy and Michael talk

It also seems like including Michael was just a way for Peggy to mention him to Jason, who talked about how easy it would be to let go.  Had he not said that and just maintained confidence throughout, there’d be no reason for Peggy to draw comparisons between Jason and Michael.  It also seems odd that, given what Michael saw in combat, that he’d recommend Peggy go as well, when they’re both liable to lose their lives.

Smoke and Mirrors- Young Agnes Cully

On the other side, you’ve got Whitney who, from her childhood, also stood out above expectations due to her intelligence, but while Peggy received encouragement from Michael, Whitney was told to stay in her place and smile like a good girl.  It’s the same mentality that plagues her in Hollywood and has some real world implications as well, going back to the director who got too hands-on with her.

Smoke and Mirrors- Young Agnes is told her look, not her brain, is what matters

It didn’t matter how much Whitney knew.  To her mother, the world would never accept a woman who’s got a brain and speaks her mind.  But like Peggy, Whitney didn’t show off her smarts to receive validation.  She was already confident in her abilities.

Smoke and Mirrors- Whitney Frost smiles

Not until Whitney arrives in Hollywood and comes upon the opportunistic talent agent that she realizes the truth of her mother’s words: if you’re a woman, the most important thing you can offer is your body instead of your brain.  Like her mother before her, Whitney used her body to sell her image and make a name for herself to satisfy the men making the decisions.  Like Peggy, Whitney wouldn’t just buckle and let men tell her what to do.

Kilgrave and Trish

She smiled because she knew that’s what people like the talent agent craved to see, as if smiling would negate all of her other problems.  If I wanted to stretch, it’s similar to how Kilgrave exerted control over Jessica Jones- among many others- because it made him happy that she loved him of her own free will, even if it was through mind control.  And there I go again referencing Jessica Jones.

While I’m not convinced that people in the 1920s, in the midst of the crash, would talk about how much women need to smile in order to get by, I like how the show is fleshing out Whitney’s character by giving us her backstory so soon.  Like the SSR last season, Whitney could have been two-dimensional, but she’s given depth and is no longer bending to anyone’s beck and call.  Now that she’s shown off her abilities to Calvin, she’s demonstrating to him that she’s in control now.

With all that said, I’ve spent more time on the past because that’s where we fleshed out the characters.  Most of the stuff in the present either revolved around Whitney testing her powers or Peggy, Daniel and, to some extent, Jarvis, racing against the clock to uncover the Arena Club’s secrets before they’re stonewalled by Vernon Masters.

Smoke and Mirrors- Easy as pie

It’s always fun to see Peggy and Jarvis work together, and this episode is no exception.  But credit where it’s due, Hunt is one hell of an opponent and as much fun as it is seeing Peggy kick ass, you want your character to feel grounded.  So it’s a refreshing change of pace to see her go up against an opponent she can’t just overpower with a few punches.

Smoke and Mirrors- Sousa is not pleased with Peggy kidnapping Hunt

And at least Sousa got to get in on the action.  As we saw last time, he does trust Peggy’s instincts, but if she keeps going rogue, he won’t always be there to have her back.  Not that Peggy ever needs protection, but Sousa is one of her biggest backers.

I’m glad he’s not letting their friendship cloud his judgment as chief, as she did still kidnap someone.  If this were a simpler show, Sousa would turn a blind eye, but because Agent Carter is better than that, Sousa still trusts her, but won’t just let her walk outside of the law, even to get information.

“Smoke and Mirrors” helped flesh out not just Peggy Carter before she went to war, but Whitney Frost as well in her ongoing journey to discover who and what she is.  While some elements of the backstory weren’t as strong as they could have been, it was a change of pace in an otherwise good episode.  The more dramatic flashbacks were balanced out by the faster-paced and comedic moments in the present.  But as Peggy and company don’t know what Whitney Frost is capable of yet, they’re in for a big surprise.