Agent Carter: The Edge of Mystery

“I promise we can get a Bernese mountain dog.”

Although the plottiest bits of this episode were pretty jaw-dropping—Wilkes! Frost! Desert! Guns!—the heart was Jarvis reckoning with what happened last week and all of its messy aftermath.

James D’Arcy has a wide range: this season, we’ve seen him as a fighter, a clown, and an all-around good guy. But his grief and concern for Ana in the first half of this episode really made me appreciate his actorly skills. He managed to perfectly combine utter despair and that proverbial stiff upper lip I’ve heard so much about. The bit about the radio programs that he and Ana listened to together was adorably sweet.

Of course, Ana is going to be okay. She will recover from the gunshot wound, although she will not be able to have children. Jarvis’s decision to keep this from Ana—and the doctor’s complicity—is very much in line with the more sexist elements of mid-twentieth-century medicine: this was an era in which women were sometimes not even told that they had cancer. (Their husbands or adult children were expected to shield them from that perilous info.) But Jarvis’s decision doesn’t seem sexist to me. It seems caring. He knows that knowledge might hurt Ana now, and I assume he will tell her soon, because he is a good guy.

A good guy on a mission of vengeance from which he might not return, of course. Jarvis’s decision to shoot Whitney Frost was a huge moment for the character. He’s come a long way since that “core overload” phone conversation with Peggy that we flashed back to. Whitney Frost got better rather quickly, but I wonder what it means for Jarvis that he moved over to the dark side so quickly.

Encounters with the dark side were par for the course this week. The showdown in the desert was fascinating, although in a few places I lost my visual sense of who was where, when. But Whitney Frost’s decision to explode the zero matter so it did its thing, and Dr. Wilkes hearing the “voice” as he ascended into the void, was darn cool. Why didn’t Whitney hear the voice anymore? What’s up with Wilkes now that he’s back on this plane/in this dimension, apparently filled to the brim with zero matter?

All of that last-act suspense came after some interesting emotional work. In addition to the Jarvis/Ana drama, there was a curious conversation between Sousa and Peggy about letting emotions cloud their judgement, especially in regards to Dr. Wilkes. Sousa saw Peggy as potentially emotional; she pointed out that his own reactions were equally emotional—he just wasn’t in touch with those emotions. This show’s feminism can be a bit ham-handed sometimes. That conversation was not one of those times.

Zero Matters:

• Ana: “Next week, we begin nudes.”
Jarvis: “How very progressive.”

• Whitney: “What do you think of my research?”
Wilkes: “You’re a serial murderer of rats.”

• I loved the look on Sousa’s face when he realized that he had followed Peggy into her bedroom.

• Manfredi, the Italian gangster, has mama/nonna issues and a penchant for spaghetti. I wonder how many clich├ęs he threw into that homemade sauce?

• Thompson continues to wonder if he’ll be a good guy or a good bureaucrat.

Watching this episode, I realized why ABC might be scheduling two episodes of Agent Carter back-to-back each week. Sure, it might be the looming cancellation bear. But it also might be the pacing: the past few episodes have front-loaded so many miniplots into the first 30 minutes that I tend to lose focus. Then the last fifteen minutes are all bam, pop, and shazaam. It’s an odd pacing structure, and I’d be curious to know if any of you feel the same way that I do about it.

Three out of four last wills and testaments

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?)

3 comments:

sunbunny said...

I was really mad at Jarvis when he didn't tell Ana about her injury, but (SPOILER ALERT) his conversation with Peggy about it in the next episode made me forgive him. I believe him when he says it was cowardice that prevented him from telling her, rather than thinking she can't handle it.

Marianna said...

Being Italian, I really enjoyed the nonna scene even though it was one giant stereotype. =)

migmit said...

"Do what Peggy says!"

You know, that's what Steve Rogers would say, if he wasn't doing time as a popsicle.

I like Jack Thompson. Not as a person, of course. As a character. He is a kind of a friend who would sell you for a penny — yet come at your aid when you need it the most. Like Jack Sparrow, only better. (sorry: captain Jack Sparrow). And he doesn't need all that weird makeup and stuff. He is interesting.