Agent Carter Recap: Better Angels

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By Katie Hughes, @MsKatieHughes

 

Agent Carter is back for week 2, episode 3, and we’ve got a few more answers, a few new questions, some amazing new dresses, comic references left and right, a brewing paranormal romance, and a supervillain origin story sprinkled with some real Hollywood espionage.

 

Episode 2×3: Better Angels

 

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The episode begins with Peggy driving up to the missing/presumed-deceased Jason Wilkes’ home on a palm-lined LA street, being greeted by a surprisingly large swarm of reporters who are asking if Wilkes was a suspect in the explosion at Isodyne and if it was “a personal vendetta.”  The question of what Isodyne was working on and if it was dangerous, however, is almost as mysterious to our SSR agents as it is to the reporters.  

 

Meeting Sousa at Wilkes’ house, we see that Peggy is not taking the loss of Wilkes lightly, and that any more information is hard to come by regarding zero matter, the ensuing explosion, or why people were willing to kill for it.  Within moments, though, Peggy notices a hiding space beneath the floorboard, concealing about $50,000, a one-way plane ticket to Moscow and a forged Russian passport. An Agent Baker (presumably also of the SSR) also uncovered the same gun used to kill the two agents moving Jane Scott’s zero mater-contaminated body during the last episode. We know it wasn’t Wilkes (it was that shady fedora-wearing man), but barring any other evidence to the contrary (and unfortunately, not able to take into account Peggy’s excellent ability as a judge of character and point that any spy worth their salt wouldn’t hide everything in one place), Wilkes is concluded to be a Russian spy and implicated in the murder of SSR agents.

 

Peggy and Jarvis go to see Howard Stark on the live set of a western filming at Stark Pictures. Shout-out to the iconic “end of the line”, as well as, “But they’re ready for a movie based on a comic book? Sounds like a dreadful idea.” (I see what you did there. Bonus, Kid Colt, the movie Howard is filming and the comic he holds up was, in fact, a real cowboy comic of the 40s from Marvel’s predecessor, Timely Comics, and Kid Colt was reimagined by Marvel in the 2000s as an anthropomorphic horse.)  After catching Howard up to speed on zero matter, Howard easily identifies the mysterious lapel pins from the first two episodes as coming from the Arena Club: a social club for filthy rich and immensely powerful men, established 40 years prior.

 

Meanwhile, Whitney Frost (pictured as starring in “Tales of Suspense”, a classic Marvel title), is finding out the zero matter crack on her forehead lightly oozes (lovely), and when she touches it, it is absorbed into her skin (can’t be good for her camera appearances; luckily, her fashionable hair swoops right over it for now). Her husband Chadwick bursts in as she hides this contamination, and it is revealed that Whitney planned the framing of Wilkes as a Russian spy, and Chadwick’s secret council put it into effect. There is also some clear marital discord: Whitney is feeling out ways she can hide her zero matter infection, but Chadwick will have no actions that might threaten his senate race. Stalemate.

 

Back at SSR headquarters, Jack Thompson has unexpectedly flown in from the New York office, and he’s edited Peggy’s Isodyne report to cite Wilkes as a communist. Thompson claims he is trying to cover for Peggy and protect her from communist implications, but we’ve also seen Thompson’s ladder-climbing tendencies and interest in just closing the book on this case. That being said, Thompson has an inkling that Vernon Masters is after the missing zero matter Thompson saw on the filmstrip, and he’s thus far unsure if he wants to hand it over if it is recovered.

 

In an effort to clear Wilkes’ name and also find out what is going on at the Arena Club, Peggy has Howard “decide” to join the club. Somewhere between a distraction and Howard’s actual antics, he invites a bevy of women into the club, Peggy included, so she can snoop and plant some 40s-style listening devices. Peggy manages to find her way into the secret council’s hidden room, where she pieces together their involvement in rigging the senate race for Chadwick by threatening his opponent. When she tries to plant her bug, however, it starts emitting feedback, and she escapes detection by the now fedora-less guard in the room by setting a small fire with a short from her busted bug and the decorative flower from her dress (nice MacGyvering, Peggy!)

 

Peggy unfortunately has no hard proof of the conspiracy short of her own observations, and it turns out all the bugs were destroyed. Peggy and Thompson are none-too-pleased with each other about this turn of events, and Thompson orders her back to New York.  On her way out of the office, though, pens and paperclips start floating near Peggy (and aside from the metaphorical tiny pink hearts that float out of my head when I think about Peggy Carter, that’s generally regarded as not normal).  On presenting this phenomenon to Howard, he also notices that the air around Peggy is 7 degrees colder than the surroundings (sounding a bit ghostly, perhaps?). They deduce that there is a disruption in the gravitational field around Peggy. In Howard’s lab (with some stained glass windows that look shockingly like an Iron Man arc reactor), through some comic science, Howard is able to make all wavelengths of light visible to the human eye with a silver nitrate-based solution in a spray pump. Upon spraying Peggy’s gravitational field, we find the now-visible but still ghostly intangible form of Jason Wilkes!

 

Wilkes catches everyone up to speed that he had been “haunting” Peggy for a day trying to be noticed, and then tells them that Whitney was at Isodyne at the time of the explosion, too, before he disappears again. While Howard tries to make Wilkes permanently visible and tangible again (with a side project of trying to make Velveeta fondue), Peggy goes to pay a visit to Whitney. With both ladies putting on their best amiable fronts with their questions, neither of them get very far, aside from Peggy suspecting Whitney of hiding something and Whitney suspecting Peggy of being a threat. When Peggy returns, Howard and Wilkes have worked together to make the doctor visible again, though making him corporeal remains elusive.

 

At the SSR office, we see Thompson hand the Isodyne zero matter filmstrip over to Vernon Masters. Sousa is later perusing a birth certificate of one Agnes Cully (born in Broxton, Oklahoma, which, as a Marvel comic tidbit, is noteworthy for eventually becoming neighbor cities with Thor’s home Asgard. Asgard spends some time floating in the space above Broxton, as such things do in the world of comics).

 

Whitney has been rattled by Peggy’s visit. She’s not an actress for nothing — she is able to manipulate her husband into calling “Mr. Hunt” to take care of Peggy. (Mr. Hunt may be the fedora-wearing man of previous mention, or Mr. Hunt may call the fedora man into action; the man we see in the next scene is wearing a mask, but I would believe the secret council to have a trusted secret dirtywork guy.)  The thug shows up to take out Peggy while she is working out (sign me up for Steve Rogers and Peggy giving punching bags a workover), but a pool, some gym equipment, Jarvis and an eventual gunshot through the hand send the masked man running before he can take down our agent. Jarvis stays up the rest of the night enhancing the estate’s security, at Howard’s request; there is now a vocal warning from Jarvis at unauthorized entry. Jarvis insists that it is temporary; he has no desire to spend the rest of time as a disembodied voice (I see what you did there).

 

Howard, on a caffeine high trying to solve Wikes’ tangibility problem, is insisting on going to Peru to see his old professor, Abner Brody.  Peggy and Wilkes have another heart-to-heart, full of lots of self-sacrifice on the part of who is endangering who more, and also flirting.  Wilkes decides to stay, not for safety, but because Peggy wants him to.

 

Sousa shows his research into Agnes Cully to Peggy. He likens her as Marie Curie, holding many patents, getting Isodyne on the map through her research, and helping in the war effort though her research and developments — turns out, Agnes Cully is the birth name of one Whitney Frost (it’s also worth noting that, in the last two episodes, we’ve learned that Sousa likes swanky LA nightclubs and maybe knows a thing or two about getting a hickey in France. Just saying).

 

Thompson is Vernon Masters’ guest to the Arena Club before heading back to New York (sans Peggy, who not-so-accidentally missed her flight).  Thompson is introduced to Chadwick, and he’s clearly being positioned in the circle of movers and shakers. Chadwick announces he’s now running unopposed for Senate, and though Thompson is interested in advancing his career, he looks wary as he realizes that Peggy was right; the exact newspaper headline she spied in the Arena Club’s secret meeting room is now that day’s front page news, and these people seem to have the power to make things happen.

 

The final scene this week is Whitney being visited by her sleazy director, who indicates the studio was trying to replace her, but he lobbied for her to stay. When his intentions are made clear by an awkwardly long hug, he notices Whitney’s zero matter forehead crack. In a panic, Whitney grabs his arm, which turns him into a zero matter cloud that she absorbs into her hand. And so we wrap up another episode with a truly distressed Whitney, observing the growing zero matter crack in her forehead after having troublingly absorbed a human being.

 

Extras

 

Want some more reading about real cool stuff to keep you occupied in the meantime?

 

  • History: check out Hedy Lamarr, a clear inspiration for Whitney Frost’s actress-with-STEM background, and contributions to WWII espionage and war technology.  Also, the Frolic Room was a real hotspot in the 40s. And we’ve had a lot of name-drops: Marie Curie, as well as old Hollywood stars Cary Grant and Rita Hayworth.
  • Science and technology (as Sousa pointed out, it is the Strategic Scientific Reserve!), check out how film is really developed, and again, Hedy Lamarr, this time by way of WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS.
  • Comics: check out both old and new references to Kid Colt and, for that Broxton shout-out, the storyline Fear Itself and what’s going on with Asgard. That reference to disembodied Jarvis voice is a given, but it’s always worth reading up on Jarvis and the Vision.


Next week, looks like Peggy will be capturing fedora-man on the trail of Agnes Cully/Whitney Frost. For my part regarding this week, still missed seeing some great lady characters (Ana, Rose, Dottie, Angie) but it was great seeing Howard again, and the return of some good old spy-tech. Also, my 100% clear highlight was Peggy Carter’s wardrobe, I was completely enraptured with every outfit and I had to make a concentrated effort to focus on the plot and not how much I loved that purple & teal dress and that navy & red dress and and and… hey, I’m a cosplayer and I love retro dresses, what can I say?! Twirling off until next week, Nerds!


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