Agent Carter: Life of the Party/Monsters review

It's a double dose of Agent Carter season 2 as ABC airs back to back episodes.

This Agent Carter review contains spoilers.

Agent Carter season 2 episode 6 and 7

It wasn’t the best week to be a fan of Marvel’s Agent Carter. With news of Hayley Atwell signing on for a new ABC TV series, it leaves fans with doubts about whether we’ll get to see Agent Carter season 3. This would be a shame.

But even if Agent Carter is going to ride off into the sunset, we still have a few dances left and this week, ABC dropped two new episodes. Now, these double episode reviews are tough to write, so bear with me, but needless to say, there is a lot to take in.

The show’s strength is its characters and this week, the plot serves up many reminders about how awesome these characters are and how terrible it would be if anything happened to any of our heroes. And not all of our champions were left standing by episode’s end.

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First off, we have the return of Dottie Underwood since Peggy needs the Russian agent to help her infiltrate an Isodyne party in order to get a sample of the Zero Matter coursing through Whitney Frost’s veins. This is a bit of a plot hiccup as I just didn’t buy that Peggy doesn’t have anyone else she can turn to. I mean, Dottie can just as easily kill everyone in LA.

But Dottie gets the job done after playing with Peggy and Jarvis but it’s Frost who does more damage to Isodyne than a battalion of Russian agents. Frost makes her move this week and takes the Isodyne council down. It was like watching the deaths of a legion of Mr. Drummonds! Frost also finally kills her impotent husband so there’s one ineffectual character we won’t have to deal with anymore.

It’s funny; Peggy Carter is still trying to prove herself within the SSR and really gaining no ground. She does what she does out of duty, but her greatest enemy, Whitney Frost, has done what Peggy never could, take the power away from a male dominated agency and rise within its ranks.

There are some male power plays this week as well as Vernon Masters sweeps the LA branch of the SSR away from Agent Sousa. Masters plays a cunning game of politics and uses the instability caused by Frost to make his play. Now, the dad from That ’70s Show (or Clarence Boddicker) is in charge! In the first of this week’s episodes, the Masters stuff is rather tedious with a lot of whispering and politicking but when Masters’ plan is revealed, it’s a real devastating moment which made Sousa look very small. For the first time, I was very aware of Sousa’s crutch as the imposing Masters ripped away Sousa’s position. Rough stuff.

But not as rough as the shocking climax featuring Dr. Wilkes and Anna Jarvis. The incorporeal doctor and Edwin’s loyal wife became fast friends. Wilkes makes a breakthrough this week and is able to retain his solidity as long as he stays in a very ’40s looking containment chamber, and good old Anna even makes him a Hungarian feast to celebrate his no longer being a ghost.

But sadly, Frost and her loyal mob gorilla Joseph Manfredi came a-calling. Frost lures Peggy and Jarvis away from their homestead by dangling the captured Underwood in front of Peggy. The ever loyal Carter makes the save, but this leaves Wilkes and Anna vulnerable. Frost, who just really was the ultimate badass in both episodes this week, captures Wilkes and shoots Anna in the gut.

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At this point, let’s back it up, there is a great deal going on this week between the two installments, and through all the drama and power plays, the show never loses its sense of humor, especially when Carter and Jarvis are on screen together. There are some great sequences this week of Carter and Jarvis discussing in a very proper British fashion such topics as Peggy’s two suitors (Wiles and Sousa), Jarvis’ desire for a sword cane (I agree), and  Howard Stark’s personal dirigible. It was all very funny and light…and then Anna Jarvis is gut shot and suddenly the sometimes clownish Edwin Jarvis becomes very human.

It was a gut shot to fans of this show to see Edwin’s beloved in such peril and really raises the stakes of the season. Whitney Frost goes from a dangerous threat to a true personal demon that needs to be brought down. But she has Wilkes and the SSR is in the pocket of her crony Masters and things just seem dire.

And that is when Peggy Carter is at her best, when things are darkest. I am confident Peggy will bring Frost to justice with the help of Jarvis, Sousa, and even Dottie. Peggy can overcome anything, except ratings that don’t please the suits at ABC. Monsters!

Retro Marvel Moments

– I did some research on Joseph Manfredi. Why I didn’t do this a few weeks back is anyone’s guess, so I apologize for not serving as your guide to the nooks and crannies of the Marvel Universe.

Frost’s goon Manfredi is an actual for real Marvel villain and get this noise; he was once a circus performer that controlled bats. Didn’t see that one coming, didja?

As Blackwing, Manfredi first appeared in Daredevil vol. 1 #118 (Feb 1975) and was created by Gerry Conway and Don Heck. That’s right, the writer that created the Punisher and the artist that worked on pretty much every classic Marvel title in the Silver Age created this dummy.

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Blackwing comes from quite the lineage as he is the son of the mobster known as Silvermane. Silvermane created many headaches for Spider-Man and Daredevil but junior here never really reached the upper echelons of villainy.

Blackwing’s criminal career began as a member of the Circus of Crime where he trained bats to help the larcenous carnies commit their big top robberies.  This brought him into conflict with Daredevil, after which Blackwing joined HYDRA where he and his father were brought low by Daredevil and SHIELD.

Later, Blackwing became an operative of the Red Skull because I guess the Skull likes to hire animal trainers and carnies. That was probably more than you ever wanted to know about Blackwing. On Agent Carter, Manfredi doesn’t wear a costume and he never trained bats. He might have been to the circus at some point in his life, though. The show doesn’t shed any light on that.


3 out of 5