AGENT CARTER 2X02 Debriefing: We’re just getting started

peggy

We pick up right where we left off in our previous chapter. Peggy’s consorting with swimming pools and movie stars — by way of Howard Stark’s mansion. There’s still work to be done at the SSR, so there’s no living the fab life for our intrepid heroine.

However, it seems like Jarvis’ west coast sojourn hasn’t been for naught: he’s taken the last year to work on his fitness, and it’s definitely impressive. Like a little boy, he’s keen on demonstrating his prowess to Peggy, since their capers last year are what inspired him to take up the deadly arts. (“I’ve actually developed into a rather dangerous Judoka.” “How many butlers can say that?”) And, it seems, to share the regimen with his wife. The couple that spars together stays together? (More of Ana, please!)

Off to work we go! We learn from Rose, the manager of the talent-agency front, that Sousa still hasn’t told Peggy about his new flame, but sooner than you can say “awkward,” the point is moot, because of course, nurse Violet (Once Upon A Time‘s Sarah Bolger) happens to meet Peggy in the office before Daniel can say anything. Naturally, she’s also perfect — beautiful, kind, friendly, and sassy enough to run circles around Daniel. She even invites Peggy to dinner, which neither of the SSR agents particularly want, but she won’t take no for an answer.

Courtesy ABC

Courtesy ABC

Once 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 professional hit, and her body disappears. Curiouser and curiouser! Jack Thompson comes through in New York, though, and gets them a search warrant for Isodyne’s lab. “Wanna go kick a hornet’s nest?” asks Sousa. “Let’s stomp it to the ground,” answers Peggy.

There’s no question that Isodyne must be responsible, and sure enough, we witness a Super Secret Meeting between Calvin Chadwick and the big-wigs of said Super Secret Bad Guy Social Club. They let him know that he messed up, and that they’re shutting down Isodyne, despite his protests that they’re on the cusp of an energy breakthrough that would be more profitable than the atomic energy that is all the rage right now. They’re not buying it, though, and tell him to stop worrying his pretty little head and stick with his political campaign, to which they’ve contributed greatly. He’s disappointed, but snuffs out his candle (not even a euphemism) just like everyone else, apparently aware of his place in this organization. They’re like the freemasons of nuclear warfare!

Speaking of Isodyne, once Peggy and Sousa show up to execute their warrant, they are unsurprisingly foiled yet again by the all-too-professional receptionist, who informs them that there’s been a “containment leak” in the lab and it is now under isolation — meaning that no one is allowed in, especially not nosy investigators. How convenient! They run into Dr. Wilkes, and he echoes the party line, only he slips a secret message into Peggy’s hand, pointing them to an address for a meeting. He also sneaks into the not-so-contained lab himself to steal what looks like a film reel out of the cabinet, but he is not as stealthy as he thought, as a shadowy figure spies on him doing so. Uh-oh!

Courtesy ABC

Courtesy ABC

Sousa pinpoints Wilkes’ address to the Dunbar Hotel downtown, and Peggy wants to go meet the doctor there alone, as per his note, despite Sousa’s protests. (“Whenever I plan to ambush somebody, I always ask them to bring friends.”) However, things get even more tense, when Peggy discovers an engagement ring on the floor when picking up the jacket he dropped. It stings, but she congratulates him — that was why Sousa was so insistent on going to dinner with Violet alone that night, before his girl invited his former crush. Oh, Peggy, timing has never been your strong suit.

With Ana’s help, Peggy finds a swanky-appropriate frock to wear to this meeting with Wilkes, even though she thinks she’s perfectly dolled up, thank you. She admits it’s nice to be able to talk with someone outside of the SSR, and while the conversation is about the scientist, I think the same could be said about her budding friendship with Mrs. Jarvis, too. In any case, she finds a smokin’ dress, and Jarvis finds a suitable car of Howard’s to take to the rendezvous. (We should all be so lucky to have champagne in our glove compartments.)

Not to be undone, Wilkes is looking equally handsome, and is laying on the dapper charm thick. He wants to get to know Peggy first, and while she initially rebuffs his attempts at personal conversation, he reminds her that his neck is on the line — as his emergency meeting with corporate lawyers that morning can prove — and he’d like to know who he’s risking his life for before he trusts her. In a rare display of such vulnerability, Peggy relents, and regales him with a tale of breaking into her headmaster’s home as a schoolgirl, taking the fall for stolen liquor for her friends, because that’s the kind of woman she is.

Courtesy ABC

Courtesy ABC

This is what Dottie was talking about in the premiere — Peggy knows, unlike Thompson, that you have to give something to get something, and she’s a master at it here with Wilkes. It works, because he informs her that while he doesn’t think Chadwick killed Jane, he also believes Chadwick could kill to keep Isodyne’s secrets. “This is bigger than you think it is” he whispers as they dance, which is pretty much the tagline to every show, bud. Right on cue, as the two leave the club, the same shadowy figure from the lab tails them, and we all know this won’t end well.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Chadwick — Whitney Frost — is having a rough time at work. Just when she thinks she’s delivering the performance of a lifetime on set, the director cuts, and chooses to criticize the lines around her eyes and her weight instead. Misogyny, it’s what’s for dinner! Frost’s steely gaze could cut through him if he paid any mind to her, and it’s obvious she’s leagues smarter than anyone on this soundstage. Including, apparently, her husband in her dressing room. When he admits that Isodyne’s Zero Matter project is dead, she berates him for not fighting hard enough for it, but when he counters that maybe the “Council’s” contribution to his campaign is a worthy tradeoff in the long run, she relents, but behind his back, it’s obvious she has other plans. I wouldn’t pick out new upholstery for the White House just yet, Calvin.

Wilkes’ next stop is the Griffith Observatory, one of his favorite spots in the city. (Mine too.) There, he is reminded of where he came from, the orange groves outside of town; this prompts him to confess to Peggy that he feels loyalty to Isodyne because after the war, it was the only place that gave jobs to people of his color, and was the sole offer he got after his navy sting was over. Yet he’s also aware that what the company is doing is hurting people, which is why he now wants to help Peggy.

Courtesy ABC

Courtesy ABC

He reveals that the project they’re working on was a result of an atomic test gone wrong: instead of a mushroom cloud, the explosion turned into a sort of wormhole sucking in everything in its path, leaving behind only particles which they called Zero Matter, because it didn’t belong to anything on the periodic table. Zero matter appears to absorb the heat of everything around it, which is how Jane Scott must have died. Of course, Peggy decides at this moment that she needs to steal some zero matter from the lab to test it, which is when Isodyne’s henchmen conveniently decide to ambush the pair at the observatory. Hijinks!

A shootout ensues, and Peggy finds that the cronies have slashed her tires. What’s a girl to do? Why, hot-wire said cronies’ car to escape! She manages to extricate herself and Wilkes, with the henchmen on their tail  through a path that clearly doesn’t lead through Griffith Park, but that doesn’t matter. They take cover in a dark alley when the car sputters, and walk (in heels!) all the way to town. Curiously, the agent finds a lapel pin in the car that matches the one Dottie was after inside the bank earlier, which tangles this web even further.

Peggy tries to get change for the phone booth once out of harm’s way, from a disapproving baker who happens to be open at this time of night, but he refuses without her buying something. (“A big jab to the right eye will adjust his attitude tremendously.”) Wilkes is used to this treatment, though, and urges her to just go along with the farce so they can get out of there.

Courtesy ABC

Courtesy ABC

Another car pulls up, and the duo rush into said phone booth to avoid suspicion, and as is usual when two attractive individuals are confined in tight quarters, they kiss. (Yay Peggy!) However, the moment is interrupted when Peggy picks this moment to steal yet another car, to get them back to Isodyne to take the zero matter before the henchmen do. (Not exactly what Wilkes was planning for the night.) Someone beats them to the lab, though, and Peggy aims to distract them while she sends Wilkes to fetch the mysterious substance. No big deal, right?

Well, it is a big deal, because Wilkes is caught by none other than Whitney Frost, who has come to retrieve it herself — and is also surprised that Wilkes is still alive. Obviously, she was the one who sent the goons after him (and Peggy), and she’s shocked that he finds his “crisis of conscience” worthy dying for. He tries to call her bluff, claiming that if she really does know how powerful zero matter is, that she wouldn’t dare shoot him while he’s holding it, lest something happen to it. Of course, once he says that, a struggle ensues, and the vial of matter predictably falls to the ground, shattering the tube and exposing the entire building to its effects.

Courtesy ABC

Courtesy ABC

Just as Peggy finishes beating up the last of the goons, she hears the explosion and rushes in to find Wilkes. All she finds is a darkened lab, and a thoroughly empty space where the containment facility once stood, and presumably the debris is what is left of the doctor (and unbeknownst to her, Frost). When she exits the building, she is shaken, and reunited with a frantic Sousa and concerned Jarvis, who had spent the night searching for her. (The chief even nixed his big night with his would-be fiancée to find her.) She’s clearly in shock, in a way we rarely see the agent, and Sousa sends her home to recover.  “Mr Jarvis, can I trouble you for a ride home?” she asks meekly, and I bet it’s all Jarvis can do from hugging her right then, because I know I sure do.

The next morning, Peggy is still processing the events, with a little help from Ana under the guise of a whiskey chaser. Ms. Carter feels guilty about what happened to Wilkes, and more than that, is troubled by how deeply connected she felt to the man despite only knowing him a few days. Ana reminds her of what Jarvis went through to save her during the war after only knowing each other a few weeks. “It doesn’t take long to realize you met someone special,” she offers, and you know, that could probably be said about us fans, too.

Now, this could probably also be said for lovestruck Chief Sousa, because he returns to his home in the morning to be greeted by Violet on his doorstep, who had been worried about her boyfriend. She happily accepts a rescheduling of their date, but it’s obvious once she leaves that Sousa is having second thoughts about everything — as Rose’s prescient words at the office about his “special kind of worry” about Peggy remind us. This is a situation in which there will likely be no winners, because someone is about to get hurt, big time.

Courtesy ABC

Courtesy ABC

We end in what must be the Chadwicks’ home, with Calvin nervously calling for his wife, when we know she can’t answer. Or do we? As we pan into her dressing room, we see a crouching Whitney Frost trembling — out of cold, or fear? — behind her curtain, a spike of black marking her forehead. Is she about to meet the same fate as Jane Scott or Detective Henry? Or is something more sinister afoot?

Once again, I was absolutely riveted by this episode. I was a huge fan of season 1, but I must say that I think I’m enjoying season 2 even more so far. While it was interesting watching Peggy covertly kick ass while fighting stereotypes at work, I like that everything is out in the open now, because I think it affords the show greater story opportunities.

Moreover, the move to California seems to perfectly dovetail with this greater respect, like a fresh start. I’ve always thought that Los Angeles kind of came of age in the 40s, and I think much of the art-deco-inspired landscape of the city fits in nicely with Agent Carter’s tone; it’s like the town (and the studio backlot) were made for this story and this period. The contrast between the perpetual sun and the seedy underbelly of the night is delicious, and I’m a sucker for the noir-esque elements to these first two episodes.

I can’t wait to see where the story goes next, and how Whitney Frost being not-so-dead figures into the plot. Does this mean that Wilkes is alive somewhere, too? If not, how did she survive the blast? And on the personal side, while I’m loving all the conversations between Ana and Peggy, I hope we get to see them discuss something other than her love life soon — because I bet Ana’s got great advice on just about everything, and Peggy needs a friend right now.

Everyone needs some Jarvis chasing a flamingo in their life. / Courtesy ABC

Everyone needs some Jarvis chasing a flamingo in their life. / Courtesy ABC

Are you on board for Agent Carter’s second season?

Other odds and ends, quotable edition:

  • Peggy re: her disarmament tactics: “I learned that one from my brother!”
  • Ana re: Jarvis’ signature move: “Did he catch you with his patented Tortoise of Fury?”
  • Ana has been Jarvis’ sparring partner for the last year! “He’s never more lethal than when he’s flat on his back.” Ahem.
  • “When I think Howard [Stark] has reached the depths of depravity, you turn up a wellspring, Mr. Jarvis.”
  • Wilkes: “You gonna punch all of LA?” Peggy: “Maybe. I could do with a hobby.”

All images from Agent Daily 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 2X02 Debriefing: We’re just getting started

  1. […] playboy even solves another riddle, by informing them that the curious pin they found on the henchmen (and which Dottie tried to steal) belongs to members of the Arena Club, the most exclusive society […]

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