Agent Carter was back with a bang tonight with a double episode premiere (‘The Lady in the Lake’/’A View in the Dark’) and once again we were back in the glamorous 1940s, surrounded by familiar faces. But Season 2 did not just have the old, we were introduced to many new and exciting characters, a new plotline, new city and new love interests, so let’s get into what made this episode special.
The return of Peggy
The first shot we see of Peggy (Hayley Atwell) is of her knocking out a man and walking out of a bank vault with a shotgun pointed at Dottie Underwood (Bridget Regan). It’s such a commanding and powerful image and so descriptive of her character- Peggy as a leader, Peggy in control, Peggy as a force to be reckoned with. I knew I missed Agent Carter, but I did realise how much until that moment.
The Thompson/Dottie dance
The first Season 2 echoes the premiere of Season 1 where we see Peggy’s red hat in the crowd but this time, it’s Dottie Underwood, the Soviet Black Widow from the first season, who’s dressed up as Peggy and attempting to steal a lapel pin with a weird symbol on it from a safety deposit box at a bank – but she’s thwarted by Peggy, who it seems has been planning that takedown for a while.
Peggy then interrogates Dottie, and we see Jack Thompson (Chad Michael Murray) and two other S.S.R. agents watching the scene, commenting on it, placing bets as if it’s a Floyd Mayweather fight. In a weird way, the two agents were sort of audience replacements, playing off our enjoyment of watching Peggy faceoff against Dottie again.
But Thompson, being the party pooper, that he is gets a bit jealous seeing how awesome Peggy is versus Dottie, and takes her off the case to send her to Los Angeles to give Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) a helping hand.
Thompson, however, get’s his comeuppance when the F.B.I. takes over the Dottie case, and his mentor, Vernon Masters (Kurtwood Smith), tells him that the S.S.R. are a war time agency that is getting close to it’s expiry date (then why open a branch on the other side of the country?) and he needs to start looking for other opportunities to play the long game. If the S.S.R. is not going to be in existence much longer, does it mean we will be seeing the birth of SHIELD soon? Where will Thompson fall in if he is not apart of SHIELD? The government? HYDRA? I’m so curious.
The case that Peggy is sent to Los Angeles to help Sousa solve is that of a woman’s body that was found frozen in the middle of a lake. Investigations lead Peggy and Sousa to Isodyne Energy, a company that is experimenting with different matter, similar to the California-based atomic energy companies of the 1940’s. Peggy has a chance encounter with scientist, Jason Wilkes (Reggie Austin), who works at Isodyne and he identifies the dead woman as Jane Scott, who worked at Isodyne, close to the particle accelerator, she was also rumoured to be having an affair with the owner of the company, Calvin Chadwick (Currie Graham).
Peggy and Jarvis (James D’Arcy) go off to the races to meet Chadwick and his wife, Whitney Frost (Wynn Everett) where Jarvis charms Whitney, fronting as if he’s scouting her for a new film that Howard Stark’s company is recruiting for (Sidenote: The title of the Stark film is shown on a poster in the background when Peggy arrives in LA is called Tales of Suspense, which ironically is the title of the comic series that Iron Man/Tony Stark as well as Whitney Frost/Madame Masque was first introduced), and Peggy charms Chadwick until she blatantly tells him that she and the S.R.R. are onto him and his dodgy practices at Isodyne.
We find out that Isodyne Energy has in their capacity a substance called ‘Zero matter’ which we have reported on in the past as being the Darkforce from Doctor Strange and Agents of SHIELD. Apparently it was the exposure to the zero matter that caused Jane Scott to die and the coroner who investigated her death, and we learn that the policeman on the case was corrupt and was paid off by Chadwick to dispose of the body and he made it look like similar murder – The Lady in the Lake – whereby the body was frozen. He is exposed when he too dies from the substance.
We see Chadwick meeting with a council, they do not say exactly who they are but they have a lot of influence with Chadwick. They tell him to close down Isodyne as it’s wielding no results and to focus on the Senate race instead, even though he tells them that Isodyne is on the cusp of something great. There is something about this group that screams ‘HYDRA’ and I wonder if it’s my paranoia after knowing that HYDRA has been around even before SHIELD, or perhaps I’m stereotyping in thinking that all nefarious groups of old men are immediately HYDRA.
Whitney Frost, however, is not ready to let go of the experimentation on the zero matter just yet, and she goes to Isodyne, just as Peggy and Wilkes are there too in order to steal the zero matter so it doesn’t go into the wrong hands. Wilkes and Frost get into a fight whereby the zero matter gets out and explodes, which appears to be in the end of both of them…
Jarvis and the introduction of Ana and Bernard
When Peggy gets off the plane, in a might fabulous way I must say, Jarvis is there to meet her, of course, as he had been in Los Angeles to help Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) set up a film studio a la Howard Hughes. After Season 1, it’s very difficult to imagine Peggy without Jarvis, and he tells her as much when she arrives as well, that his life has been very dull without her – so he begs her to let him drive her around again, which she agrees to her.
We also finally get to meet Jarvis’ wife, Ana (Lotte Verbeek) who is the complete opposite of him – lively, colourful and completely inappropriate, but she’s an awesome addition to the team, as she balances out the formalities of Jarvis and Peggy. She is also not at all threatened by Peggy’s relationship with Jarvis, which is wonderful and relieving for once, this won’t be the first time I say this in this episode. There is a great scene when Peggy and Jarvis are practicing fighting and Ana walks in on Jarvis on top of Peggy and she invites them to come and have breakfast before adding ‘unless you want to have another round with my husband?’ with no malice whatsoever. I’m excited to see how the friendship between Ana and Peggy will grow.
Who is Bernard though? Bernard is a flamingo that Howard ordered for his outdoor meringerie, and Jarvis had been struggling to get him into the enclosure so he wanders the grounds, and it’s hilarious to watch Jarvis sparring with him. Jarvis is the large portion of the comic relief in these two episodes, and it’s so refreshing to watch a man play the role of signature sidekick to a woman for once.
Sousa, Violet and that awkward moment
So you might remember, last season, Daniel Sousa had a not-so-subtle crush on Peggy, but Peggy was still mourning the loss of the love of her life (this is fact and I will fight you on it), Steve Rogers (Chris Evans). In the finale, it seemed as if she was finally ready to open herself up to love again as she said her final goodbye to Steve, and Sousa worked out the courage to ask her out, and she told him that she had plans but perhaps another time.
When the episode begins, Peggy is in New York while Sousa is in LA, which still doesn’t seem out of place, until she arrives in LA and we see the apparent awkwardness. Sousa had apparently been in LA for months and he had not responded to her messages because sometimes ‘a 3 hour time difference feels like a lifetime’ poor poor excuse Sousa.
Later on, Peggy gives it a shot again and asks him out for a drink and he says perhaps another time, and Peggy watches from the window as he meets up and kisses another woman, seemingly his reason for not calling.
Sousa, and his assistant of sorts Rose (Lesley Boone) seem to be dreading Sousa’s new lady love meeting his almost lady love but when they walk into the office, Peggy and Sousa’s girlfriend Violet (Sarah Bolger) are getting along like wildfire – no petty jealousy or drama here, and I love it. There’s perhaps a little sadness, and maybe a bit of ‘could have been’ or ‘I have the worst luck with men’ or ‘I’m always too late’ but that’s it. We do find out that Sousa intends to propose to Violet that evening (also dude hold up, you haven’t been in LA that long so you could not have been dating this girl for a while, keep that ring until you know for sure) but he has to rush away to save Peggy. There is moments throughout the episode where you can see the affection that he still holds for Peggy and he is obviously wavering on the whole proposal thing, so who knows there might be hope for the Sousa/Peggy shippers after all. Also honestly I don’t think they would have opened the can of worms with Sousa falling for Peggy and then reopened it with her reciprocating his feelings this season if they were just going to write it off, this story is not over.
Jason Wilkes and racial politics
One of the big complaints about the first season was the lack of racial diversity, and this season they decided to tackle it head on, by making one of the most prominent new characters black, and not only that they made him a love interest, not a stereotype, and had him talk about how difficult the time period was for other races.
The chemistry between Wilkes and Peggy is adorable (although I do maintain Peggy could have chemistry with a lampshade) and we watch as they awkwardly dance around each other, how he attempts to ask her out, as they get to know each other and their backgrounds, and eventually kiss. It’s a courtship that happens very quickly but we almost get whisked up in it as well.
Wilkes takes Peggy to a bar that is one of the only places where it is acceptable for black and white people to mix, and before that we could almost forget how truly bad the 1940s were for those who weren’t white males. The first season told us how difficult it was for Peggy to gain respect and it seemed like that we were mostly over that in second season and everything was hunky dory until we remember that there were other groupings who were also facing disrespect and discrimination.
There is a poignant scene where Wilkes and Peggy run into a store to use their phone and the shopkeeper asks Peggy if she’s okay simply because she’s with a black man, and Peggy looks almost as if she wanted to climb over the counter and bash the man’s head in for even suggesting something so derogatory.
Even as he is explaining his story and why he is so loyal to Isodyne, he tells Peggy that he wanted to become scientist even when people told him that black men are not able to do careers like that, and Isodyne was the only company that hired him. Isodyne also hired Jane Scott to work as a particle physicist so perhaps they were very forward-thinking in their hirings.
Even though, as we noted above, Wilkes and Frost were in an explosion cause by the zero matter, Reggie Austin is still credited to appear in the next few episodes so I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Wilkes either.
The birth of Madame Masque
The final scene of the double episode, we hear Chadwick shouting for Whitney and telling her that there was an explosion at Isodyne. Whitney looks up slowly and we see a trickle of the zero matter on her forehead, showing us that some of the zero matter is in her. Are we to assume that Wilkes has it in him too?
Whitney Frost becomes Madame Masque, who in the comics is an Iron Man supervillain, who wears a golden mask to hide a disfigured face. Frost takes on a life of crime and follows in the footsteps of her criminal father.
Agent Carter’s version of the character, however, is a famous character who is dealing with sexism in the industry, being treated as a piece of meat, being accused of getting too old even though she’s barely 30 whilst also having a philandering spouse. This is all before she is affected by zero matter – which we can assume will giver her superpowers and cause her to act in nefarious ways. She might wear the mask in order to hide her identity as a famous actress.
- Where is Angie?
- Will Jason Wilkes have superpowers now that he has been exposed to the dark matter?
- Will we be able to see the creation of SHIELD soon?
- What is the symbol on the lapel pin that Dottie tried to steal?
- How will Dottie fit into the Chadwick/Frost story?
- Will Sousa admit to himself that he still has feelings for Peggy?
- When is Howard coming back?
- Again, where is Angie?