Agent Carter: Smoke & Mirrors

"I will cut off the dragon's head."

While Peggy and Souza get closer to figuring out what's up with Whitney Frost, Jeeves and Wilkes work desperately to bring Wilkes back to reality.

I can't have been alone wondering "It WAS only an hour, right?" Tonight's episode of Agent Carter encapsulates Peggy's life, motivations, and dreams in a lovely, well edited sequence of the main plot and Peggy flashbacks. Folded against this glimpse of a life is a Rorschach-butterfly wing of another: the life of Whitney Frost. In between we get plenty of fun scenes and implacable villainy. The core, however, remained a honest exploration of the lives of two powerful women.

The delving into Peggy's psychological hero landscape was an entertaining symphony to watch, even as we see a scary noose being built around her in the present. We can see her life potentially being the suburban housewife, in the pattern of the traditional woman who raised her. She and Whitney both, in the end, become fighters preserving their own lives by breaking away from their "destinies." What made one fighter serve and protect, and the other become a killer? In some ways, the show seems to be talking about the need for positive relationships. The love and insight of Peggy's brother are what helped waken her from years of repression–and even then only his loss during war serves to nudge up Peggy enough to take off her wedding dress and get the hell out of Dodge. I think she probably also felt she had to take up Michael's mantle, as well. What's the song? Polly Oliver? Except there's no need to dress like a boy these days.


Wynn Everett pulled off a great performance as Whitney Frost; I think she came into her own. There was a very dark and Gothic feel to her scene with the maid and the rats, testing them one by one, and the final horror with Rufus feels like both a vindication and the final, confirming experiment. Is she insane? I keep wondering. How far will that blackness spread? How long before it takes over her mind? How much power must she have until she feels safe from her mother and what seemed like a sexually predatory landlord/boyfriend? How long before she turns on her husband? That kind of childhood environment can really turn a person on themselves. I think her face at the end is a rictus of near-madness, but after seeing all that it's hard to do anything but pity Whitney.


Peggy kicked ass tonight hunting for information about the activity going on at the Arena Club. How many women can handle a syringe and mean it? I can't wait to see what Peggy ends up doing to the Seven themselves. When it comes to action, Peggy's super, but when it comes to love? I'm really not sure about the Wilkes/Souza thing, but what I keep thinking is Carter seems to allow herself to feel more when her men are unavailable or incorporeal.

I called this episode a symphony; it racked up the danger level for Peggy, pulled together several plot threads, and seemed to set up two Big Bads for the season: a shadowy power group, and a Zero Matter powered schizophrenic killer. The way Souza promises Peggy indiscriminate support and essentially cries mockery at their enemies was heartening. She's going to need the help... but the Peggy I saw tonight was indomitable.

Frosty Ones

Every moment of Peggy and Souza's interaction with Rufus Hunt, from the initial attack to their identifying him by his hand to the cold shot. (Hey, is that a double entendre? Frosty one, cold shot? OK, so I'm a pun geek.)

Jarvis: I trust you've handled a tranquilizer rifle before.
Carter: I can't say that I have. Why on Earth have you?
Jarvis: On occasion, wrangling Mr. Stark's animal preserve requires a ruthless hand.
Carter: Not the flamingo?
Jarvis: The koala. Its adorable appearance belies a vile temperament.

[pounding on trunk]
[Souza looks at Carter]
Carter: We... caught a possum on the property earlier this morning. Vicious little creature.
[pounding continues]
Hunt: Let me out of here!
Carter: Or I have a man stashed in the boot.

Four out of four shots of super-virus.

2 comments:

Scott Riggan said...

While I do love this show . . . The actress playing Whitney Frost isn't quite pulling off "genius." Or maybe it's the writing? In any case, she doesn't strike me as anything other than moderately bright. A talented manipulator, yes - and her husband is a bit dim - but we've not seen anything that establishes her as a brilliant mind. Her backstory was well presented, but left out anything (other than childhood radio repair) that would help establish her as a genius.

And Wilkes is obviously supposed to be likable, but he seems a little blank to me. His most compelling quality is just that Peggy has strong feelings for him. He's charming but empty. His current insubstantial condition seems apt, actually . . .

Last season was just so great, with such well-defined characters and a pitch-perfect cast. This season has been decent TV - elevated, of course, by Hayley Atwell, James D'Arcy and Victor from Dollhouse.

migmit said...

I'm going to be somewhat negative towards this episode.

Wilkes annoys me. His flirtation with Peggy is painfully transparent, I would rather expect a sarcastic response from her.

And I couldn't help but feel for Peggy's mother. She lost her son, and now her daughter is going to take the same spot. I can't imagine what this woman must have been feeling.