Last season, Agent Carter emphasized the difficulties of being a woman in a man’s world. This season, the emphasis seems to be slightly different. From the studio system to corporate cronyism, Peggy and her sidekicks are forced to confront the difficulties of being—as Whitney Frost explained—“just anyone” while attempting to contend with wealth and power.
This episode featured three different situations in which powerful, well-connected men manufactured a false narrative out of warped facts: Howard Stark and the comic-book movie version of history; Agent Thompson’s revisions to Peggy’s report; and the Arena Club cabal’s false headlines that become true, thanks to their shenanigans.
It’s the little guys, like Peggy and Dr. Wilkes, who have to struggle to tell the real story about the real world. (Whitney Frost’s way of describing this problem, from the other side, was that “women like [Peggy]” can’t be stopped using “official channels.”) And that struggle is part of what makes Howard Stark so appealing: despite his wealth and power, he’s still fighting the good fight. When he’s not busy having a different sort of fun.
Even though she had lots of villainous lines, Whitney Frost is displaying an ambiguity similar to Howard Stark’s. She’s more than just a pretty face: like real-life movie star Hedy Lamarr, she’s an inventor and a brain. That makes her current situation, in which she is considered too old for a leading role, even more poignant. Was her attempt to take the zero matter also an attempt to establish herself in a new career? That it wound up making her both dangerous and physically scarred is more than ironic.
So is Dr. Wilkes’s situation: his decorporealization evokes, in rather uncomfortable ways, the current cultural dialogue about black bodies. He no longer has one. I certainly hope he gets it back soon. (And I’m very happy he is not dead.)
It’s not all doom and gloom identity politics, though. The foray into the Arena Club was hilarious; I loved how Torrance the maître d’ freaked out when confronted with a bevy of women. Watching Stark and Dr. Wilkes work together was a great deal of fun, as was Jarvis backing up Peggy when she was attacked.
All in all, this was a strong episode that kept things moving, even if we didn’t move very far. It left me with a few questions: How much more do we know about what is happening? Why didn’t we get any hints about how Sousa’s girlfriend is totally evil? At what point will Thompson realize that Peggy is right and he is wrong? Where can I get Peggy’s red-striped dress?
At least some of those questions—although probably not the last one—are sure to be answered soon.
• Peggy: “They’re ready for a movie based on a comic book? Sounds like a dreadful idea.”
• Howard on the Arena Club: “I’ll tell you what they talk about: buying low, selling high, and gout.”
• Peggy: “Oh, I’m so sorry! I get really confused around books.”
• Peggy’s first dress—the purple and green—did a pretty phenomenal job of emphasizing her breasts.
• Fun nod: Jarvis saying he doesn’t want to be just a disembodied voice. Oh, Jarvis.
Three out of four code pinks.
Josie Kafka reviews The Vampire Diaries, True Detective, Game of Thrones, and various other things that take her fancy. She is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)
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