AGENT CARTER 2×01 Debriefing: Silver spoons and perfect skin

Courtesy ABC

She’s back!

It’s been nearly a year since Peggy Carter last graced out screens, and boy, does she know how to make a comeback! With a transcontinental move and some old friends by her side, and foes at her neck, she proves that there’s nothing a little sunshine can’t make better.

Agent Carter is here to tell the world that women are just as powerful — and capable of evil — as their male counterparts, and it’s utterly fascinating to watch. If Season 1 was about Peggy clawing her way through the patriarchy, Season 2 seems to be setting up a whole new way of running the world, and it’s about time we all listened.

It’s now 1947, and the Cold War is in full swing. Dottie Underwood has fully embraced her villain alter ago, and is heading up bank heists with panache. Except her plans are foiled by none other than Peggy Carter — because as her colleagues now admit, if there’s one person who can break Dottie, it’s Peggy. Can it be that the SSR is finally valuing their not-so-esteemed colleague? A girl can dream!

Dottie isn’t saying anything, but Peggy soon has bigger problems. Out in La La Land, Daniel Sousa is a bonafide chief at the new Los Angeles bureau, and he’s got a doozy of a case for which he asks Jack Thompson’s help. It seems that amidst a string of murders in Tinseltown, the body of a woman is found frozen solid in a local lake — which the local cops, like Detective Henry (Sean O’Bryan) have dubbed the Lady in the Lake killer. So Jack picks Peggy to go investigate, since she isn’t getting anywhere with Dottie. (Remaining jealousy over our intrepid agent’s success? Or genuine concern for Sousa’s case? Who knows.)

In California, Peggy is greeted by Jarvis, and our dream team is back, folks! Plus one uninvited flamingo (named Bernard, naturally), yet another of Howard Stark’s new playthings. While Peggy insists on not inconveniencing Jarvis, he spells it out for her: he is “profoundly and inexhaustibly” bored here, and he’s chomping at the bit to fall into their old ways on the west coast, because otherwise he’s left to clean up after Howard and basically hate his life. (“Miss Carter, you have no idea how foreign Los Angeles will seem to a civilized person such as yourself. They eat avocados with everything! The foliage is preposterous! Take the palm tree. Would you trust the structural integrity of such a thing?” We need more Jarvis rants in our life.)

Courtesy ABC

Courtesy ABC

Their first stop is to stop off at the SSR’s secret hideout, which being in Hollywood, is fronted by a talent agency office (naturally). Things are a little awkward between Peggy and Daniel upon their reunion, proving that there are a whole lot of unresolved feelings bubbling not so deeply under the surface. However, there is work to be done first, because a secret agent has no time for romance woes. They head to the morgue, though are stumped when the autopsy has yet to take place — the body is still frozen solid, inside and out. Curiouser still, when the coroner, Dr. Metzler, dims the lights, the corpse glows in the dark — now what could that be about?!

After a tense discussion with a disgruntled lab tech, they discover that the only explanation for the victim’s luminescence is that she’d been in contact with a particle accelerator recently, and the only local company known to have one is Isodyne Energy. Though the receptionist won’t let them in without a warrant, Peggy pulls the old switcheroo and sneaks into their lab, while Sousa attempts to charm their gatekeeper.

Our agent soon runs into affable Dr. Wilkes (Reggie Austin), who asks if she wants to see something top-secret — only to find out that he’s secretly distilling wine with company property. It’s delicious, but not quite what Peggy had in mind with this op. All is not lost, though, for Dr. Wilkes recognizes the victim’s picture, and reveals that it is Jane Scott, a particle physicist with the company, who also happened to be having an affair with its owner, Calvin Chadwick. Peggy cracks the case and too-subtly gets asked out on a date, I’d say that’s a pretty good afternoon! (Obviously, she rebuffs the good doctor, but I hope she reconsiders, because he is, in the vernacular, adorkable. Except for the thing at the end of the episode we are going to talk about.)

Courtesy ABC

Courtesy ABC

Next up for our dynamic duo: a visit to the racetrack where Chadwick is a regular, to suss him out. Peggy didn’t pack any appropriate attire, but it’s no matter, because Mrs. Jarvis is all over it. Yes, my fellow Carterites, Ana does exist, and we finally meet her — and she is nothing like we may have imagined! She is a firecracker, and keeps Jarvis on his toes, and they are utterly besotted with each other. Jarvis leaves them to their work, while Ana gifts Peggy with a homemade garter holster: clearly, she knows the way to the agent’s heart. (I’m sure that moment will spawn countless dreams amongst some fans.) I’m so down with seeing these two hang out, by the way, especially if we’ve left Angie behind in New York.

Off to the races Jarvis and Peggy go, with Jarvis posing as a movie producer (obviously) to distract the starlet wife, Whitney Frost (Wynn Everett) and Peggy trying on her American accent for size to speak with Chadwick and stroke his political ego. The topic of Jane Scott clearly strikes a nerve, and Peggy is like a dog with a bone, dropping all pretences to begin interrogating him about her death. Isodyne dealt with government contracts, and he’ll only share his information with Peggy if she gets appropriate clearance. Looks like they’ve got a job to do!

When they return to the lab, they find Dr. Meltzer frozen to death next to Jane’s body, and the area is put in lockdown. While reviewing the report compiled before his untimely demise, they figure out that Jane was stabbed after she died, and was actually killed from exposure to the substance that froze the lake in which she was found; the killer tried to throw the SSR off his trail by making it look like the Lady of the Lake killer was responsible. However, Peggy and Daniel realize the only people who would know those details would be a cop — which points them squarely towards Detective Henry, with whom they’d been working. Right on cue, he flees the building, with Dr. Wilkes as a hostage in tow. (Though not without Jarvis’ nose as collateral damage in the skirmish.)

Courtesy ABC

Courtesy ABC

The gang chases Henry and Wilkes through the city, and catch up to them under a bridge (always), and Henry exposits to Wilkes that he never killed anyone, and only worked on the side for money to clean up other people’s messes. So, he fixed Jane’s body to frame the Lady of the Lake killer, but didn’t murder the woman himself. (Totally different story, everyone.)

Henry is desperate, though, because he’s afflicted by the same fate that struck Jane and Dr. Meltzer — he’s freezing from the inside out, and right on cue, he collapses into shards after an inept cop shoots him, before Peggy can get any answers. Peggy apologizes to Wilkes for putting him in danger, and he in turn calms her fears about exposure to the toxin, saying that his best guess is that only direct contact with contaminated blood would put them at risk. Again, he wishes to thank her for saving him by taking her out for dinner and a dance, but Peggy turns him down yet again — this time blaming the no-business-with-pleasure rule she holds herself to. Oh Peggy, no one believes you on that, but that’s part of your charm.

Just when we think things have settled down, we close with the inept cop from the crime scene meeting with Chadwick in the dark, money exchanging hands. Turns out his shot wasn’t an accident after all, and instead was directed by Isodyne’s top dog. He’s dirty after all, but the biggest reveal is that it was not him behind the hit, but his glamorous wife. “That’s the last time he should have to dirty our hands, just because you dirtied other parts of your anatomy,” might just be the best put-down I’ve heard on TV this season, and it also proves that Ms. Frost joins the long list of women on this show who Get Stuff Done — even if it’s totally nefarious.

Courtesy ABC

Courtesy ABC

Since they haven’t found the real killer yet, the case isn’t closed and Peggy conveniently has to stay in L.A. for a while yet. This time, she’s the one who asks Daniel out for a drink to unwind, but he turns her down. Predictably, but no less tragic, Daniel leaves the office to meet his new paramour, while Peggy watches from afar, clearly stricken. (Should have gotten on that bus while you had the chance, Peg.) Yet, lest she wallow, Jarvis shows up just in time to escort her home, ostentatious car and all. Can we all have a Jarvis in our lives?

Back in New York, Jack isn’t getting anywhere with Dottie; our villain realizes he is no match for her wit, and the only person in the SSR who can come close to a good verbal sparring with her is Peggy. She’s actually disappointed when she learns Peggy is gone, and bests — intellectually and physically — Agent Thompson, requiring a couple of other guys to come in and pull her off him. Just when Jack thinks he’s got the upper hand, Agent Vernon Masters (guest star Kurtwood Smith) of the FBI barges in and takes Dottie into custody — along with credit for her capture.

Later, he discloses to Thompson that the FBI stepped in because the SSR, as a wartime agency, has reached the end of its relevancy. Wouldn’t Jack like to be a “mucky muck” at the agency of the future? Jack indicates that he would, but I definitely smell BS with that justification. While Masters assures Jack that the people at the FBI will know who caught Dottie (which, if we’re honest, is actually Peggy, not Jack, but I digress), I have no doubt he’s about to be double-crossed in the name of glory.

Just when we think we’ve seen it all this week, we finish the episode with Dr. Wilkes in a Super Secret lab, no longer the friendly nerd we first met, but a shady dude gazing at what can only be the source of our heroes’ befuddlement. Maybe I take back what I said about Peggy riding that train, because if this is any indication, Wilkes is hiding something, and it can’t be good at all.

Well, folks, after what felt like an interminable hiatus, Agent Carter came back with a bang — or maybe I should say, a clatter of frozen bodies! If one thing was plainly obvious, it’s that the show is fully embracing its women, on all sides of the law. From Peggy’s sheer competence, to Dottie’s evil genius, to Ana’s force of will and Frost’s Lady Macbeth-like string-pulling, I am definitely on board with a season centered on the women, good and bad. While Howard Stark’s specter still hangs over the show subtly (i.e. Jarvis’ day-to-day ennui), I love that the show is evolving into its own flavor. It is undoubtedly still tied into the Marvel universe, but I see these cases branching out, and the show is becoming a procedural in its own right capable of standing on its own. And if it’s able to give Hayley Atwell and all these other fine actresses a platform to kick ass and take names, then sign me up.

Courtesy ABC

Courtesy ABC

Evidently, the writers also aren’t shying away from some of the angles it explored last season, though; it’s obvious that Peggy still feels something for Sousa, yet she’s still damaged enough that she can’t quite allow herself to give in. I cheered when she made the first step towards asking him out, even though I was certain we’d find out he had a new girlfriend. (I don’t read spoilers for this show, but I have been watching TV a long time.) However, I thought it was a great step in Peggy’s growth, demonstrating that she might, finally and glacially, be trying to move on from Steve Rogers, as we witnessed in last season’s finale. I don’t need to see Peggy paired with anyone just yet and am fine with a show about a female spy saving the world with her brains and her brawn, but I do love watching the nuance in Atwell’s performance, displaying Peggy’s conflict between who she wants to be, and what she has to give up to be that person. Besides, it looks like Peggy’s value as an agent is at the forefront so far, and that is perhaps the best development of the new year, though undoubtedly it will be tested in coming weeks.

This episode set up the season two beautifully, both narratively and visually. (Jarvis may not be a fan of those palm trees, but I am!) In fact, I got a bit of a L.A. Confidential vibe from the cinematography (and Frost’s blonde femme fatale looks), and while I love Peggy’s single-girl-in-the-city attitude in New York, I think LA might be the perfect setting for our post-war adventures.

Are you guys pumped for more Carter-Jarvis missions?

Other notes:

Jarvis was on fire tonight. Pretty much everything out of his mouth was instantly quotable. California may rattle him, but it sure makes him hilarious. My favorites?

  • “What do you do for fun? Assemble rifles?”
  • “Aside from ‘Danger’, my middle name is ‘Charm’.”
  • “I’m worried about the aesthetic. Ana is absolutely mad about the [facial] profile.”
  • “I shall be a beacon of justice.”

Nels note: I didn’t realize tonight was a double-header! Episode 2’s recap will come later!

All photos found at Daily Agent Carter.

Nels
Nels knew how to operate a TV remote control before she knew how to talk. As a result, she has spent an inordinate amount of time pretending she actually lives on a soundstage. When she isn’t watching whichever show is currently capturing her heart, she is writing about how said show is currently capturing her heart. She loves pie.

One Response to AGENT CARTER 2×01 Debriefing: Silver spoons and perfect skin

  1. […] the personal issues are dealt with, they jump back into work: they were supposed to have Jane Scott’s body transferred into their custody, but the agents in charge of that get sniped, in what can only be a […]

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