Buckle up, ‘cause here we go!
The episode starts with a interesting “hey, I remember that!” moment – Edwin Jarvis is walking Peggy Carter through disabling the nitramene bomb one year ago, in a flashback to season one; just from Jarvis’ point of view. Jarvis’ wife Ana comes back from her art class, and they chat. Jarvis tells her as little as he can about Peggy and what she does so he doesn’t worry her; only that she is very capable of clearing Howard Stark’s name and reassuring Ana that Peggy isn’t like the usual girls Howard associates with – he respects her. He then tries to distract her with Benny Goodman on the radio, a routine he mentioned they had in the very first episode. He promises Ana has nothing to worry about; Peggy won’t interfere in their lives at all. Ana tells him to not make promises he can’t keep.
In present day, a disheveled and broken Jarvis tries to tune the radio in Ana’s hospital room to Benny Goodman, with no luck. As Peggy walks in, he smashes the radio. Peggy calms him down and reassures him that Ana will be fine, but Jarvis points out they don’t even know if she’ll ever wake up. Peggy says the best thing for Ana right now is Jarvis, and goes back to Howard’s mansion to get clean clothes and toiletries for him.
In an unknown location, Whitney Frost is keeping Jason Wilkes tethered to this world just long enough to study him. She points out that he can only stay whole with bursts of Zero Matter, and that she wants to study where he goes when he disappears. She then asks him if he hears the voices, too. No, really. She’s straight up losing it.
As Daniel Sousa inspects the crime scene at the mansion where Ana was shot, Peggy arrives and fills him in. She tells her of her plan to give the uranium rods to Whitney in exchange for Wilkes – or at least to make her think they are. Peggy Carter always has an ace up her sleeve. Sousa suggests that they go talk to Joseph Manfredi, as his guards were at the Roxxon facility.
Sousa and Peggy pay a visit to a quaint Italian restaurant, where they are stopped by some thugs from speaking to the chef. In the kitchen, Manfredi is arguing with his Nonna about how to make spaghetti sauce – apparently, nothing makes Nonna happy. A man’s body suddenly hits the window and Manfredi sees Sousa and Peggy. Two more for dinner!
In London, Jack Thompson is patrolling the streets drunk with an old friend, singing ballads loudly. His friend refuses to believe Thompson broke his hand taking down a high-level Russian operative, asserting he must have broken it in a bar fight; apparently in his mind, Thompson is still the frat boy he always was (though he isn’t far off). He hands Thompson the redacted file on Peggy Carter he was able to dig up and stumbles off, singing. Jack immediately sobers up and starts reviewing the file. Blackmail!
In the restaurant, Nonna Manfredi serves Manfredi and Sousa spaghetti. She refuses to give Peggy any because she believes her to be the devil. As they eat and talk, Sousa tells Manfredi that they know he used to have a thing with Whitney Frost, and they need to get a message to her. Nonna starts praying, so Manfredi takes away the food and asks them to leave. Sousa blackmails Manfredi into working with him by threatening to tell a newly released criminal that Manfredi snitched on him (a lie, but he doesn’t know that). Nonna tries to stab them with a knife, and Manfredi excuses her and agrees to deliver the message.
Back in who-knows-where, Whitney Frost and Wilkes are arguing again. Frost wants to control Zero Matter and Wilkes wants to get rid of it. She points out that it’s only killing Wilkes because he refuses to accept, study and control it. She starts hearing the voices again, and asks Wilkes to concentrate to hear them. Manfredi approaches, and after a kiss on the cheek for payment, he tells her Peggy’s message; they want to trade the uranium rods in the atomic bombs for Dr. Wilkes. Deal.
In Ana’s hotel room, an increasingly desperate and heartbroken Jarvis is making endless promises to the comatose Ana. I have to hand it to James D’Arcy’s acting chops for giving us the most emotionally powerful scene in the entire show. As he finally loses composure, a crying Jarvis promises to protect her until his dying day if she please wakes up. Ana tells him to not make promises he can’t keep. Jarvis is ecstatic that Ana is awake; she reveals she woke up when he said they could get a dog and wanted to see what else he would promise. He rushes to the get the doctor for her and calls Peggy to tell her the good news, overflowing with joy.
The doctor pulls Jarvis aside and tells him the bad news – they aren’t out of the woods yet. The surgery was a success, but there were complications; Ana will never bear children. He will send a nurse in later to explain to Ana. Jarvis says that won’t be necessary as he will tell her himself. Back in Ana’s room, Jarvis tells her that the doctor gave him the long list of medicine she’ll need. Ana notices something is wrong and asks if there is anything else. Jarvis lies and says she’s perfect.
Now, as absolutely heartbreaking a development as this is, I really like that they chose to go this route. Not only does it show that there are actual consequences on Jarvis’ behalf who seemed to see these outings as mere “adventures” (more on that later), it really helps shape Jarvis as a person later in life. Because Tony Stark had a poor relationship with his much-older father and named an A.I. after Mr. Jarvis, we can assume it was Jarvis who raised and took care of Tony as his own. This plot twist only serves to add to that between-the-lines relationship and give it that much more meaning.
At Howard’s, good old Dr. Samberly has made convincing uranium rod decoys that even scan as radioactive. As Sousa congratulates Aloysius on a job well done, Samberly laments that Sousa learned his first name but still doesn’t know his middle name. God damn it Samberly, are you capable of being happy?
As they get ready to go, Jarvis arrives to pick up some things for Ana. As they explain the plan hastily, a cold Jarvis is adamant that he comes along on the mission. They receive a fax from Howard Stark – designs for a gamma ray gun that should cancel Zero Matter and cure Wilkes (or, as Jarvis points out, kill Whitney). Well, yeah, guys – anyone who watched Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season one could tell you that gamma rays cancel out Darkforce! As Samberly is preoccupied with building, Jarvis all-too-readily volunteers as their new driver.
Serious Jarvis is scary.
As they are heading out the door, Thompson – who has apparently shown up – stops them. He shows Peggy the secret files he was able to dig up on her – she has something on him, he has something on her. She points out the convenience of the information being readily available after Masters asked Thompson to discredit her, and says Thompson is better than that. She leaves as Thompson tries to deduce whether she is telling the truth or not.
At the warehouse they agreed to meet, Frost is covering her scar. Manfredi tells her that it’s beautiful and represents power; she shouldn’t be ashamed of it. Weird that a 1940’s mafioso is the most body-positive character on the show. The gang arrives, and Peggy immediately notices Wilkes is solid. They exchange the fake uranium rods for Wilkes, and Whitney scans them as they load Wilkes into his containment chamber they rebuilt in the truck. The rods scan as good; but then the case breaks, the rods spill and don’t cause an explosion. They’re a fake! As the Maggia goons start shooting, they speed off.
As Peggy explains to Wilkes they have a gun that can eliminate Zero Matter, she notices that they are being followed very slowly by a Cadillac that should have lapped them by now. Then they hear the click and turn around: Wilkes has a shotgun pointed at them.
No, Wilkes! I loved you! My OTP!
Wilkes, clearly affected by the Zero Matter (or at least that is what Peggy and I tell ourselves to sleep at night), knows he needs more Darkforce to remain whole. He threatens to shoot Peggy if she doesn’t tell him where the uranium rods are. She refuses, so he threatens to shoot Peggy if Sousa doesn’t tell him where the rods are. Sousa caves because of his unresolved feelings for Peggy, and says they are in the wall-safe in the S.S.R. lab. Wilkes phases through the truck door and speeds off in the Maggia Cadillac.
In the S.S.R. office, Thompson has brought Peggy’s redacted file to Vernon Masters, who applauds Jack’s work. Jack questions the validity of the file, using the same reasoning Peggy used earlier. Vernon claims that what actually happened and what is true are two different things: this is an official document, so it is true; and whatever actually happened is of no consequence.
Masters then gets a call and asks Thompson to leave the office, but he quickly picks up the phone outside the office to listen in as Whitney tells Masters where the rods are located. As Masters goes to the wall-safe, Thompson confronts him. Masters tries his usual trick of promising power and promotions, and Thompson isn’t buying it – he flashes a gun.
Good Jack! Good Jack!
As Sousa make their way to the S.S.R. lab, they find a disoriented Jack Thompson, who has no idea why he is in the lab. Then they find the Memory Inhibitor- Master’s zapped Thompson! Thompson retraces his steps and remembers listening in on the phone call and apparently writing down Whitney Frost’s coordinates. Sousa and Peggy get suited up for the mission, and Thompson decides he’s coming too. Peggy points out he tried to blackmail her twenty minutes ago, and he points out that he had his mind zapped five minutes ago for standing up to Vernon Masters. He goes to get ready.
Sousa pulls Peggy aside and points out that Wilkes is a hostile and if they have to make the call, they need to take him out. They argue about the situation in the truck and how Sousa gave up the rods to spare Peggy’s life and if Peggy would do the same. Thompson points out he’d kill both of them.
As Samberly is trying to flirt with Rose in the front, Jarvis requests a word with her. He asks Rose to take care of Ana while he’s gone and gives her all her favorite things. Rose is confused as to how long Jarvis plans on being gone, until he hands her an official-looking document “if necessary”. She hugs him and promises to keep Ana safe.
I don’t like where this is going.
They head out to the desert.
As Whitney and Wilkes are preparing to re-run the atomic tests, Wilkes expresses regret for his actions. As Peggy, Jarvis, Thompson, Sousa and Samberly approach with the gamma cannon, they blow the bomb and create a Darkforce rift just like the original testing. It becomes a small black hole and starts sucking in Jason Wilkes, while Whitney Frost screams that it should take her instead.
As the gang sets up the cannon, and Samberly points out he has no idea if it will work, Jarvis spots Whitney Frost and takes off after her with murderous intent. Peggy takes the truck and chases after him. As they blast the Darkforce black hole with the gamma cannon, it leaves Wilkes unconscious in a hole in the ground. Whitney tries to wake him up to avail.
Speaking of waking up, Ana wakes up only to realize that it isn’t Edwin in her room at all but Rose. Rose explains that Jarvis asked her to keep Ana company until he gets back and they start playing Ana’s favorite game Hangman – until the camera pans to show the official document Jarvis handed Rose earlier as the Last Will and Testament of Edwin Jarvis.
As Whitney still tries to wake up Jason, Jarvis approaches and shoots Whitney Frost point blank twice. Peggy screams out as Jarvis claims he”stopped her”.
Peggy examines Wilkes and finds he is breathing. Jarvis realizes that Whitney is too, but Manfredi doesn’t know this. He gets his goons to pull guns on them and orders them to riddle Jarvis and Peggy with holes. Whitney wakes up just in time, unharmed as the bullets were absorbed by Zero Matter, and says that they need Wilkes – which means they need his loved ones alive. They knock Peggy and Jarvis out.
This episode was fantastic. Full of action and emotion, it’s definitely one of the highlights of the season for me. I give it 9/10. Stay tuned, because we have another episode in this week’s two-parter before next week’s finale!