Back-to-back Agent Carter, wah-hooo!
This episode starts with Peggy walking on Jarvis working out, in wonderful old-timey strongman gear. He reveals that he has been lifting weights, boxing and taking judo classes, preparing for their next adventure. They spar, and though Peggy takes him down, Jarvis manages to take Peggy by surprise, take her down, and gets on top of her. Ana walks in on this, but is unphased – she correctly assumes that Jarvis used his favorite move on her.
Meanwhile, Rose is chastising Sousa for not telling Peggy about his girlfriend, Violet, as they walk to the talent agency. He promises to introduce them eventually, but they walk in to see Peggy and Violet chatting and becoming fast friends. Violet invites Peggy to their date tonight, and though Sousa and Peggy are hesitant, Violet insists. One thing that’s great about Peggy is that, though she’s clearly a tiny bit wounded that Sousa has a girlfriend still, she is nothing but polite and cordial to everyone involved. Go Peg!
The “Lady in the Lake” body is being transported by two men in Hazmat suits, when an assassin quickly kills them and takes the body.
We cut to good old Calvin Chadwick, who shows up at a high-society meeting. Wait a minute, there’s the HYDRA symbol again. He is told by the butler that the gentlemen are in the meeting room, so a confused Chadwick opens the secret passage and sees a meeting already in session. These men call themselves The Council of Nine, appear to have ties to HYDRA (knowingly or not), and appear to be behind every major event – good or bad – in the last several years. Kind of like the Illuminati (or more accurately, Marvel Comic’s “The Secret Empire”, which they are based off of. Fun fact: while there is no Calvin Chadwick in the comics, the Secret Empire has a Calvin Burlingame and Hesperus Chadwick!)
Two members of the Council, one who supposedly organized the Great Depression and one who is none other than Hugh Jones, the Roxxon Oil CEO from last season, tell Chadwick that they are cutting the Isodyne project because too many eyes are on it. Chadwick protests, because they are on the brink of a huge breakthrough and believes that Darkforce (or Zero Matter, as they call it) is going to make them multi-billionaires. They tell him that the decision has been made, and to focus on his run for Senate, and that’s that.
Now, in my last two reviews, I’ve mentioned “Darkforce”, so let’s talk about that. In the comics, Darkforce is a negative energy drawn from another dimension that can allow for a whole host of interdimensional superpowers. Characters like Blackout and Mr. Negative can harness it for a variety of purposes, while Cloak, Vanisher and even the ridiculous Doorman use it for teleportation purposes. Darkforce’s first (and only confirmed prior) appearance in the Cinematic Universe was in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode The Only Light in the Darkness, in which stalker Marcus Daniels (also known as Blackout) acquires his powers from Darkforce experimentation and uses it to terrorize Coulson’s ex-girlfriend, cellist Audrey Nathan. It may also have ties to certain scenes in Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man, and has been confirmed to play a part in Doctor Strange. How exciting!
Back in the story, Peggy and Sousa are investigating the disappearance of Jane’s corpse, when they acquire an Isodyne search warrant. Oh, what excellent timing. They make their way to the lab only to find out there was a convenient chemical spill and the lab is under quarantine. My favorite scientist Dr. Jason Wilkes shows up and refuses to give them any more information, shakes Peggy’s hand and leaves – but Peggy reveals that Wilkes had actually put a piece of paper in her hand with a meeting location.
Good old Wilkes!
In the lab, Wilkes sneaks into a room he shouldn’t be in, picks a lock on a filing cabinet and takes a film reel. Despite his stealthiness, another scientist secretly sees him do this.
Back in the S.S.R. (Hey, that’s almost a Beatles song), Peggy and Sousa are discussing the meeting, which is at a bar. Peggy is set on going alone, but Sousa doesn’t entirely trust Wilkes and wants to be her backup. As he takes off his jacket, preparing to change into more appropriate clothes for the setting, something falls out of his pocket and Peggy is quick to pick it up. Finding his engagement ring, Peggy realizes that Sousa was going to propose to Violet at their date tonight, and refuses to let him come on the mission. She apologizes that she can’t make dinner and congratulates Sousa on his engagement, though not without some heartbreak.
Ana picks out Peggy’s wardrobe again as they gossip about Wilkes, and Jarvis shows her some additional modifications to Stark’s car, as she refuses to let him drive her. Modifications such as an instantly reclining seat with a mirror on the ceiling, a hidden wine compartment… you know, the necessities. It also has a tracking device, which is actually useful.
On set, Whitney Frost is starring in her latest picture, and the director is….not friendly. He basically calls Whitney too fat and too old (but “politely”) and she goes to her dressing room to take five. Chadwick arrives and tells her that they cut the Isodyne project and Whitney becomes furious with him. She accuses him of being a pushover and reiterates how this could help them become rich and rule the world and all that.
Peggy and Wilkes meet in a bar, and though Peggy is there strictly for information, Wilkes is adamant on making it a date. Peggy talks a bit about herself until Wilkes decides he can trust her, and they dance. Wilkes says he has something to show her, and they leave – but the assassin from earlier overhears everything from the bar.
They arrive at the Griffith Observatory (Oh, Peggy, nothing good ever happens at places called the Griffith!) and they admire the view. We get some Wilkes backstory about how he came from nothing and how racism has made it difficult to find work in his field, and he seems like a genuinely great guy. He takes her inside to show her the film he pilfered.
Wilkes explains Zero Matter to Peggy much like I explained Darkforce to you, using footage of a nuclear test gone wrong. Instead of a mushroom cloud, a hole basically rips in the universe and sucks any nearby matter or energy in. That’s potentially bad. Then, of course, they start getting shot at. They attempt to escape, but Howard’s tires are slashed, so Peggy puts on the tracking beacon (“The Sock on the Doorknob”) and they flee.
Meanwhile, Ana is having the time of her life drinking wine and watching Jarvis attempt to catch his mortal enemy, Bernard the flamingo. He “almost had him”, but she alerts him of the “sock on the doorknob.”
Peggy hotwires one of the gunmen’s car while Wilkes wastes all her bullets on them, and they drive off, finding the HYDRA/Council of Nine lapel pin in the car. What’s really important about this scene is we find out Wilkes was in the Navy.
You know who else was in the military? Peggy’s husband! In an audio file in Captain America: Winter Soldier, she mentions that her husband was saved by Cap during the war; that if it wasn’t for him, they wouldn’t be together. Now, this could also apply to Sousa, but I am Team Peggy + Jason all the way! Jeggy! Now, in the comics, Peggy ends up marrying Gabe Jones of the Howling Commandos, which was one of the first interracial relationships in comics. I think having her marry Wilkes would be a nice way to honor that. Just marry already!
As Sousa is about to leave for his date, he receives a call from Jarvis and finds out Peggy is in danger. Jarvis shows up and reveals that they found bullet casings and her tires slashed with no sign of Peggy or Wilkes, Sousa throws a little tantrum to show he cares, and they go looking for her.
Peggy and Wilkes go a-hunting for change for a payphone. They eventually get change from buying an éclair from a racist donut shop, the owner of which absolutely infuriates Peggy, but Wilkes tells her to calm down – he’s used to it. The phone doesn’t work anyway, but a car starts approaching, so Peggy and Wilkes huddle up close, to appear to be a couple. The man ends up not being one of their pursuers, and they kiss.
More important matters are supposedly at hand, however, and they go to break into Isodyne. While Peggy is fighting off guards outside with a tire iron (Wilkes used all her bullets!), Jason is inside trying to contain the Zero Matter. As he has it ready for transport, Whitney Frost shows up and threatens to shoot him. He is understandably startled to see a famous actress in his quarantined place-of-employment after hours, but it becomes quickly apparent that she is smarter than half the other people there when it comes to the Darkforce – and she wants it. They fight and drop the cannister, which breaks.
That can’t be good.
The Zero Matter instantly consumes everything around it, and Peggy hears and feels the blast. She rushes inside and finds a large hole in the wall – but no trace of either Wilkes or Frost.
Jarvis and Sousa approach the disaster scene and hear that there were no possible survivors – before a shaken Peggy approaches them. She tells them that Jason didn’t make it. As Peggy’s struggles not to break down, Jarvis drives her home.
Sousa arrives home in the morning to find Violet waiting for him. He tells her that everyone is okay, but he is exhausted. They agree to make it up later. Violet leaves for work, and Sousa idly plays with the engagement ring before returning it to his pocket. Something feels…not right about this scene. Maybe it’s just me, but it feels like one of those scenes where they promise something “Next time we meet!” and then die.
Ana brings Peggy a whiskey because she’s upset – but she’s also upset with herself that she let Wilkes’ death hit her so hard. Ana points out that Edwin hardly knew her when he forged papers and stole aircraft to rescue her from the Nazis. It doesn’t take that long to realize you’ve met someone special.
In our final scene, Chadwick knocks on the door, trying to get Whitney’s attention. She has apparently survived the blast, but is looking horrified in the mirror at a little black scar she has acquired. Now, Whitney Frost is the name of the Marvel villain Madame Masque, known for wearing a golden mask, so I am curious to see where this goes! Is the Darkforce inside her now? Is Jason still alive? So many unanswered questions!
So much happened in this episode it’s hard to believe it’s only the second one. It has me so excited not only for where this show will take us, but ramifications for the the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole. Could the Darkforce/Zero Matter be the key to rescuing Wasp from the Quantum Realm? Could the Infinity Stones be the key to the Darkforce? When Starlord saw his mom when trying to contain The Orb, was that the Darkforce universe? Is it a parallel universe, or similar to an afterlife like Hel (which we are rumored to see in Thor: Ragnarok?) Is that where Wilkes is? Is that where Red Skull and Ronan the Accuser vanished to? Can Thanos bring them back? Will the discovery of Darkforce lead to the long-rumored Cloak and Dagger show?
So many questions!
This episode has got me hyped up and reminds me why I love the connectivity of the Marvel universe. I’d say this one deserves a 10/10 for that alone (even if it’s only worth a 9/10).
Tuesday cannot come faster!