Agent Carter 2×04 – Smoke and Mirrors

image
Source: PopSugar.com

Because every good show needs a flashback episode!

Our episode starts by panning up from a storybook to a young girl with a wooden sword and English accent rescuing her doll from a fierce imaginary dragon. Just going on a hunch, I’m going to put my money on this being a young Peggy. Her brother Michael takes the wooden sword and they fight a bit, before she pushes him to retrieve the weapon. Her mom approaches and says that one day, she’s going to have to start acting like a proper lady.

We cut to present-day, where Peggy is wolfing down a sandwich in a way that can only be described as “unladylike”. She is going over some schematics with Wilkes, and he laments that he misses food. This somehow leads to flirting because with their chemistry everything leads to flirting, but then it’s back to business. He points out that Whitney Frost was building neutron reactors three years ahead of the game, technologically speaking – while he may be a genius, “Whitney Frost is something else”.

In her dressing room, Miss Frost has received a package – a moving one. She has the assistant set the box down and leave, while she opens it to reveal a cage full of live lab rats. Something else, indeed.

Jarvis attends a Chadwick for Senate rally and reports back to Peggy, but unfortunately, there has still been no sign of Whitney Frost ever since she absorbed Randy Sklar through her hand. As they are watching Chadwick, they notice his driver has the same hand wound Peggy inflicted on her would-be assassin last episode; the man the baddies referred to as Mr. Hunt. Peggy runs the plates by Rose and finds out the car is registered to Rufus Hunt, a soldier turned criminal turned Arena Club head of security. Deciding they need to get him to talk, Jarvis provides a tranquilizer rifle, sort of a 1940’s “Icer”. He says that it’s primary use is not on Bernard the flamingo, but actually on Stark’s pet koala, who’s adorable but evil.

In Broxton, Oklahoma 27 years or so ago, a young Agnes Cully is putting a radio back together. Her  mom, Wilma, tells her to be a good little girl, because her “Uncle” Bud is coming around. Creepy “Uncle” Bud tells her to smile, she’d be pretty if she smiled, and then comments that she is a pretty weird kid. Wilma and Bud go upstairs to be private as Agnes simply turns up her radio.

In present day, Agnes (or Whitney, as she is now known) is preparing to do some tests on absorbing mice. Chadwick bursts in at an inopportune time, as he seems wont to do, and Whitney barely has time to cover her facial scar and livestock. He basically just talks more about his campaign, the missing director, and informs her she has a magazine shoot later this evening. After Chadwick leaves, Whitney successfully absorbs a mouse using her new powers, and her scar grows. Of course.

At Hunts house, Jarvis disguises his voice and convinces him that the police are there. Hunt tries to sneak out back and is tranquilized by Peggy. It was enough sedative for an rhino but clearly not enough for Rufus Hunt. They struggle a bit before he finally succumbs and they stuff him in the trunk – but not before he wakes up and sticks Jarvis with the darts. Jarvis proclaims that he feels “Jarvelous” before passing out.

Peggy drives the sedated Hunt and Jarvis back to the mansion, where Sousa is waiting with some more paperwork on Agnes Cully. Peggy unsuccessfully tries to convince him that Jarvis is drunk and that Hunt is simply a lively bit of roadkill stashed in the trunk. Sousa isn’t happy that Peggy didn’t call him for backup, but she claims she needed to give him plausible deniability. He just wants to help.

Sousa and Peggy try interrogating Hunt, but he says he isn’t allowed to socialize. All-in-all, if he knows anything, he refuses to crack and challenges them to torture him. Peggy refuses to do so because they don’t have time and produces a syringe.

Back in 1940, the girls can’t believe it – Fred finally popped the question and Peggy’s getting married!

Wait, what?

Peggy was engaged? Peggy loved before Steve? This feels….wrong somehow.

The giddiness at the office is quickly broken by Peggy’s boss calling her into the office. She’s already an expert codebreaker, so he wants to sent her to get trained for S.O.E. (Special Operations Executive) fieldwork – basically, turn this almost stereotypical 1940’s dame into the Peggy Carter we know today. She, of course, needs to talks to Fred about it; but probably will refuse.

Is this an alternate universe?

In the present, Peggy reveals to Hunt that she injected him with a strain of malaria synthesized by Stark Industries. There is an antidote if he is willing to talk. Otherwise he will be dead within 20 minutes – she’ll be back in 10. She tells Sousa when out of earshot that it was attempt to cure the common cold, and all is really did was make people get sicker faster. It wasn’t malaria – but what doesn’t kill you, and all that.

Eight years after our last Agnes flashback but twelve years before our last Peggy one, Agnes’ mom is arguing with Uncle Bud as Aggie tries to work on some blueprints. Looks like Uncle Bud has found someone younger and prettier and wants them out by tomorrow. Wilma blames Agnes, saying she could have been nicer to him, and produces a letter from the university – she was rejected, because why would a science department let a girl in? She tells her that if she’s half as smart as she thinks she is, she should focus on her looks; that looks are the only way to become successful in life.

In present day in Whitney’s dressing room, it looks like her hand was hungry; the cage of rats is empty. She non-chalantly cancels her apperance on LIFE Magazine’s cover – which is fair, considering this scar is now engulfing a good chunk of face.

Hunt refuses to talk to Peggy, even in the face on sudden death – but eventually get a few names, including Hugh Jones from Roxxon out of him. The broke the unbreakable!

As Jarvis is assisting Wilkes with a problem, Wilkes starts “zoning out” as a large black hole is being ripped in the fabric of the universe. Then he snaps out of it as Peggy, Sousa and Howard arrive saying that received a warrant and are all ready to search the Arena Club. As they start planning their raid, suddenly their branch of the S.S.R. gets an emergency audit of the F.B.I., led by Vernon Masters, who suddenly wants to see all their cases, past and present. Suspicious.

In a flashback to Peggy’s engagement party, Peggy introduces Michael to her fiancé Fred for the first time – her two favorite men, meeting at last. Only, it seems Fred doesn’t know her at all. The Peggy he knows is this false, giggling Peg, and he seems surprised when Michael makes an offhand joke about her drinking them under the table. When Michael confronts Peggy about her startling new way of living her previously unapologetically tomboyish life, she claims she’s changed – but Michael doesn’t buy it. That’s why he recommended her for the S.O.E. program.

The FBI clear out the S.S.R., pretty much ending any “official” reporting on the Arena Club. However, Sousa managed to swipe some DNA samples of Jane, the frozen girl who kicked it all. Peggy, you’re corrupting out dear chief! As he goes down to get Hunt, Hunt knocks him out and escapes – only for us to quickly realize this was Peggy and Sousa’s plan all along.

Hunt arrives at The Chadwick/Frost residence, saying he needs a drink – but he won’t talk to anyone until Calvin comes home. Our S.S.R. gang is listening to this whole interaction at home.

As Peggy is trying on her wedding dress in 1940, they suddenly receive “the visit” that any military sister or mom dreads – Michael has been killed. Remembering the last things MIchael said to her, she exchanges her engagement ring for the S.O.E. program.

With Michael dead, this brings up the Sharon Carter conundrum. In the comics, Peggy has a niece, Sharon Carter. Sharon does actually appear, as Agent 13 in The Winter Soldier and Civil War – making a small joke about her aunt, without going into specifics. However, Sharon is simply too young and would need to be Peggy’s great niece. But if Michael died childless, as we are led to assume, where did she come from? Is she going to be changed to Peggy’s granddaughter?

As Peggy and Wilkes share a tender moment and a definitely jealous Sousa looks on, they overhear on the radio Hunt telling Chadwick and Frost exactly what happened. Now, this scene is played out to be important – but it’s not information we don’t know, just explaining a lot of backstory to keep all the characters on the same page as the audience. Eventually, Whitney decides to punish Hunt by showing Calvin the little trick she learned – however, over the radio, the S.S.R. just hear screaming and general confusion and have no idea what Frost just did. They lose signal.

In 1934, a young pretty Agnes Cully is at the movie theater to see the same movie – again. She know they haven’t changed the movie yet, but she likes to see the movies over and over again, as an escape. Outside the theatre, she is discovered by a sleazy agent who tells her she would be really pretty if she smiled. He gives her his card and decides that Agnes Cully needs a name befitting her beauty. This is the beginning of that aspect of her career.

Back in present day, Chadwick is rightfully freaking out over what he just saw his wife do. He fearfully asks what that was – she replies, “It’s me” – with a very, very large scar down literally half her face.

Ooh!

Now this episode itself was probably a weak point of the season, even though the flashbacks were very welcome and tremendously important in both drawing parallels and understanding the motivations behind why Margaret Carter and Agnes Cully are the Peggy Carter and Whitney Frost we know today. Still, most of the episode consisted of various characters finding out information the audience already knew, spinning the wheels a bit and not really advancing the plot aside from Whitney’s facial transformation. It was a good episode, but it makes me wonder if they’re stalling; last season had eight episodes and this one will have ten – but did they really need ten?

All-in-all, I give this episode a 7/10. 6 for the episodes, bumped up for the great flashbacks.

Still very excited for next week and what’s to come!

Advertisements

Author: Jesse "The Clairvoyant" Rolufs

Film star. Chemical engineer. Dancer. Comedian. I am none of these things. What I am, however, is a huge geek hailing from the frigid wastes of western Canada. I couldn’t even tell you when it started - I’m told the first words out of my mouth were “I swing my +2 DEX war axe and attack the dragon.” My name is Jesse (also known as “The Clairvoyant”) and I am a big nerd when it comes to video games, board games, movies, anime, TV, RPGs - and I am possibly the one of the world leading experts on comic books, the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Joss Whedon. You can find me on twitter as @JesseRolufs. Don’t be afraid to check out my informative Joss Whedon-themed podcast @whedoncast, and my hilarious bargain-bin-movie-bashing podcast @BlindBuy!

Leave a Comment Here!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.