This review contains spoilers.
2.6 Life Of The Party & 2.7 Monsters
Well, after wondering where Dottie was last episode, this pair of episodes brought her right back to the forefront of the series in a big way, and it was everything I dreamed. Her gloriously sadistic, sarcastic outlook contrasts brilliantly with the chipper, moralising Brits in the cast and the predatory vibe she gives off towards Peggy in particular could not be more glorious. Forget the increasingly uninteresting Sousa/Peggy/Wilkes love triangle, I’m far more interested in a Dottie/Peggy/Jarvis thing.
At least Wilkes finally grew some personality this week. After spending the entire run of the series grinning dimly at Peggy the writers finally gave him a chance to wrestle with the enormity of his situation and the main cast’s apparent lack of urgency in saving him. That said, it’s unsurprising it’s taking them so long to get stuff sorted. Where’s Howard Stark again? I can buy him not being around all the time, but when you’ve got Mrs Jarvis filling in at the lab it starts to get a little tenuous.
Still, there was plenty of plot and character movement in this week’s double episode block, not least the movement of Frost from behind-the-brains to head of a shadowy cabal, and the movement of Chadwick from alive to dead. Let’s face it, Frost was never going to be content with her husband wielding power. And her sudden connection to Wilkes at least gives him a role in the plot other than standing around providing thematic resonance.
Although the plot is really starting to heat up now, there were still a lot of great comedic moments even if they have dialled them back slightly. Jarvis and Dottie infiltrating the political fundraiser together was tense but hilarious, and virtually every line the latter speaks is worth grinning at. While it’s true that the comedy has been heightened to near-farcical levels this series, for me that’s kept the tone as close to MCU movies as TV has ever managed.
The big moment of the episode block came, of course, at the end of episode seven where Ana Jarvis got shot. For a moment there I wondered if they were teeing up to kill off Jarvis by showing her concern so prominently, but it turned out they were doing a Whedonesque bait & switch by making you empathise with a character the most just before they got put in the worst possible state. I’d expect her to live, but it’s safe to say neither her nor Jarvis is going to exit this adventure completely unchanged.
One question that’s a lot less certain is whether Jack Thompson will do the right thing. He ended up being (mostly) redeemed by the end of last season, even if he did wind up taking all the credit, but this time around he’s got much more serious choices to make about his position and morality, and there’s at least a chance he might end up on the losing team. The question is whether he’s going to let his dislike for Peggy stop him from doing what he knows is the moral thing. It’s definitely a good thing that there are characters like him around who could go either way, and the sign of a well-written show that we can’t say for certain in which direction he’ll go, but that either path would be appropriate for his character.
So, another double episode next week and then the finale. It seems like ABC is burning through their episode order just to get it out of the way, which is a shame because this whole series has been fantastic on an episode-to-episode, scene-by-scene basis. Is it too late to hope it finds an audience on home release?
Read James’ review of the previous episode, The Atomic Job, here.