This Agent Carter review contains spoilers.
Agent Carter: Season 2, Episodes 8 & 9
Well, there was a nuclear explosion and a dimensional incursion this week, so I’m not sure how the finale is supposed to be more monumental than that, but we’ll try to untangle the Zero Matter mess together as we cover two episodes’ worth of Agent Carter!
The first half of this week’s two-parter is much more effective in this recapper’s humble opinion due to the strength of Edwin Jarvis. For the most part, the character of Jarvis has been a sort of mash-up of John Steed and C-3P0 since Marvel’s Agent Carter began last year. Jarvis has effectively served as both Howard Stark and Peggy’s man Friday since the first episode and has always been good for some well timed laughter. This week, James D’Arcy shows his range as Jarvis, particularly in the first hour, as he was emotionally torn to shreds over injuries his wife Ana suffered at the hands of Whitney Frost.
Witnessing Jarvis begging Ana to come out of her coma is heart-wrenching this week, as is his reaction to finding out that Ana now can no longer have children. This violation of Ana Jarvis is a reminder just how vile Frost truly is. When you break down all the espionage, the Zero Matter rigmarole, and all the layers of conspiracy, it is the bullet that Frost fires into Ana that truly marks her as the most evil villain ever presented on ABC/Marvel TV. I’ve been saying it for a few years now, Marvel TV on ABC has had a dearth of potent villains (Netflix certainly doesn’t suffer from this malady), but man, is Frost a special brand of disgustoid.
This week also sees Frost hold sway over Doctor Wilkes as the plot keeps things pretty ambiguous over where Wilkes’ loyalty truly lies. Is that still Wilkes or is he more Zero Matter than man? These two episodes also deal with Frost finally setting off her nuclear device in order to tap into the Zero Dimension. Peggy and company manage to close the breach with a Howard Stark-produced deus ex machina but not before Wilkes is sucked into the rift and filled with Zero Matter. When he comes out all steaming and black eyed, I was begging for him to say the word Dormammu. Begging, I say!
Whether Wilkes joins Frost on his own freewill or he is being manipulated by the Zero energy didn’t really matter because Frost betrayed him and forced him into some particularly nasty looking experiments. No real answer is given about the Zero Matter and we only have one week for a straight answer, so I hope we get some satisfying conclusions before we wrap on this season.
We also had, like, two solid hours of SSR intrigue as Vernon Masters tries to manipulate Jack Thompson, who tries to manipulate Sousa, who tries to manipulate Thompson to manipulate Masters and it is really all too complex to spell out here, but it all comes down to some really cool moments with Thompson, who has grown as a character and as a capable agent. Now, it seems like Thompson is mastering that chess game that Masters started a few weeks back. It’s like just being close to Peggy has turned Thompson into a hero in spite of himself and his shades of gray makes him a fun character to watch grow.
And speaking of fun — that musical number to kick off hour number two! It’s like the brain trust behind the series knew that they might not be returning for season three and come hell or high water, they were going to gift us with a 40s-style musical number or else. Let me tell you, Sousa can sing! And Peggy can dance! Poor Captain America missed quite a sight when he crashed that plane and missed his dance date with Peggy. What a fun bit of business to start off hour number two. Now I want to see every comic TV property do a musical number. Flash! Arrow! Gotham! Jessica Jones! Okay, maybe not Jessica Jones.
Hour number two also deals with Jarvis’ thirst for vengeance on Frost. Jarvis is many things, but a murderer he is not and the second hour deals with the consequences of Jarvis’ violent turn. It almost costs Peggy and Jarvis their lives and leads to some great soul searching between the British pair. Jarvis sees all his adventures with Peggy as a fun distraction but Peggy knows the consequences of the life she chooses. There is a great bit in the desert with Peggy explaining to a distraught Jarvis that loss and bloodshed are part of her job and that the gentle Jarvis should not be a part of it. Good stuff and it makes the loss of Ana’s ability to have kids that much more tragic.
We still don’t quite know what Frost’s plans are but we have one more week to find out as everything comes to a head in what I hope will not be the curtain falling on this great show. I need another musical number — maybe a co-production with Agents of SHIELD?
Retro Marvel Moments
Stark’s Zero Matter destroying cannon used gamma rays which was a very nice touch. It’s kind of a cool thought that Howard Stark was futzing with gamma rays years before Bruce Banner got the idea.
I like Whitney Frost and all but before things conclude, I really want to see her in the classic Madame Masque get up. That’s just too classic a design not to use.
Do you realize we have one episode remaining this season and no one has said the name Captain America once? Truly, the season is letting Peggy Carter stand on her own.