Wonderful performances by Hayley Atwell and Wynn Everett. Fascinating character interactions in extreme circumstances. A clearer picture of deep trouble brewing.
As much fun as Howard Stark is, he seemed out of place and over the top in a few instances. A couple of convenient genius leaps that defied logic even for this fantastic world.
The investigation behind the Isodyne explosion appears to be an open and shut case, but an unrelenting Peggy finds both friends and enemies closer than she realized as she closes in on the truth.
CAUTION: SPOILERS AHEAD IN OUR DETAILED REVIEW
Agent Carter — After the destruction of the Isodyne labs, the deceased Dr. Wilkes (Reggie Austin) is conveniently branded a communist and blamed for the explosion. To clear his name, Peggy (Hayley Atwell) turns to an old friend for help, Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper). After being wowed by the Zero Matter footage, Howard helps Peggy connect the dots between Isodyne, the Arena Club, Calvin Chadwick (Currie Graham) and the plan to rig Calvin’s bid for the Senate. Meanwhile, Whitney Frost (Wynn Everett) becomes more edgy by the moment when the Zero Matter on her forehead simply won’t go away.
Convinced a deeper mystery connects everything, Peggy bends a few rules only to be shut down by a surprise visit from Jack Thompson (Chad Michael Murray) who summarily dismisses her from the case. Not to be deterred, Peggy ignores Jack’s orders and forges ahead. Before she can make headway in the case, everyone is shocked to find Dr. Wilkes is alive. He is barely more than an apparition without physical form, but is able to tell everyone what really happened the night of the Isodyne incident. After learning that Witney’s attempt to steal the Zero Matter triggered the explosion, Peggy confronts the actress and sets off a chain of events that may have much more devastating effects than just a rigged Senate race as things get deadly this week on Agent Carter!
Is Whitney Frost as cold as her name suggests?
We love an ambiguous villain and as of right now, Whitney Frost clearly falls in the camp of uncertainty. We’re not sure what direction her deepest moral compass points at the moment and that’s actually a good thing. The fact that we’re asking the question makes her intriguing. Does she simply have a dark heart and only value the science behind the Zero Matter? Or is she a decent person slowly compromising her values in a relentless pursuit of something scientifically astounding?
Good writing and subtle acting clues have given us some insights, but we don’t have enough information to make a clear judgement on Whitney Frost. Is she evil? She’s clearly deceptive and cunning. Her manipulation of her husband would suggest she’s not averse to using people around her to get what she wants. That she used him to attempt to murder Agent Carter also suggests that evil or not, Whitney Frost is capable of evil deeds as a means to an end.
Frost has chosen to hide in the shadows and let her husband push the buttons. That may very well be one part intelligent strategy and another a product of the period. 1947 isn’t a woman’s world and Frost has gone to great lengths to hide in plain sight as Peggy deducted. When the two women met for the second time, it was Frost forsaking her science background and claiming to be someone else.
“And what are your instincts telling you now?” ~ Frost
“That things aren’t what they seem.” ~ Carter
Peggy’s instincts would prove to be right on the money. Regardless of purpose or intent, Whitney Frost is dangerous. What’s fascinating about Frost, and Wynn Everett’s portrayal of the character, is whether her decisions are influenced more by insecurity or by genius. The truth is probably some combination of the two.
Everette has gone to great lengths to craft a fragile psyche. We’ve seen her vulnerability, but there’s shades of brilliance in her balancing act between who she is and who she wants the world to see. We know one thing, as the story plays out, we’ll be watching her closely for clues that tell us who Whitney Frost really is deep inside. What drives her decisions? And when the chips are down, which way does her moral compass really point?
Will the real Jack Thompson please stand up…please stand up?
Sorry Slim Shady. You deserve a better comparison. The brutish approach from Jack Thompson is off-putting. We all remember the humble Thompson that showed his emotional vulnerability to Peggy in Season One, but unfortunately that’s the same Thompson that later took credit for Peggy’s success without skipping a beat. Who is the real Jack Thompson? And will he stand up and do the right thing in the end?
The writing team and Chad Michael Murray have taken Thompson through a curious arc. We’ve seen him gain favor from Peggy in Season One only to lose credibility again by bulling his ego over everyone around him later. Those two sides clearly fight a daily battle in him and unfortunately the brute usually wins. Interestingly enough, Murray and the writers managed to show both sides in just one episode, but the brute made his appearance first.
“You are so afraid of ruffling powerful feathers that you’re doing what you always do…burying an ugly truth and hoping someone will pin a medal on you.” ~ Peggy
Peggy nailed him in every way possible and he couldn’t even address it without admitting she was right. He knows she carries the secret that he’s not the hero people think, but he also knows she’s not like him. She’s not one to stoop to low blows the way he would. For all the things Thompson is, he’s not entirely stupid. In fact, he can be clever when his ego isn’t in the way and Peggy’s shot across the bow may have deflated that ego enough to allow his eyes to open.
“Did you watch it?” ~ Vernon
“If Rita Hayworth’s not in it, I’m not interested.” ~ Thompson
Every time we think Thompson is beyond help he temporarily removes the stick from his ass—and not for an interrogation. As Vernon (Kurtwood Smith) let his slimy nature show during the acquisition of the Zero Matter film, Thompson did what he does best—he lied. But instead of covering his past, this time it may very well have been the smartest decision he could have made.
Vernon is at the middle of something foul. Thompson may have played along before his confrontation with Peggy, but with his deflated ego dragging behind he approached things more thoughtfully. Spotting the news headline Peggy referenced was something he might have missed before.
The question is, how long will Thompson’s ego remain out of the way and will it be long enough for him to do the right thing? Time will tell, but smart writing and a crafty performance from Murray once again left us on the fence with this character. Thompson is complex and it will be fun to see which way he goes.
The ghost in the mist was a bit campy, but we’re glad he’s back.
Guilt is powerful motivator. Peggy certainly felt responsible for bringing Dr. Wilkes into danger and his death impacted her greatly. She’s a noble soul and would feel the loss of anyone that didn’t deserve it, but something special was brewing with Wilkes and that lit a fire under her. He may have miraculously survived (sort of), but Peggy, motivated by her role in his predicament, won’t stop until the case is solved and his life is intact.
Finding that Dr. Wilkes alive was both a relief and a frustration. On one hand a character we’d come to enjoy wasn’t dead, but he’s certainly not whole either. Jarvis said it best, no one wants spend the rest of their life as a disembodied voice.
“Howard, what’s happened? Why can’t I touch him?” ~ Peggy
If there was a downside to the Wilkes story line it had to be the highly improbably leaps that Stark made to find him. Yes, Stark is a genius, but the deduction behind the temperature drop around Peggy was a stretch and the spray to make Dr. Wilkes visible was a bit of an eye-roller. This show is just fine with a bit of a campy identity so we let little things like that go, but these were a bit much even for Agent Carter. On the other hand, we did get a chuckle wondering just what all Peggy might have done the night before while she had no idea Wilkes was watching. Oh to have the ghostly superpower for a little while.
The good thing about Wilkes returning was the distinct connection that Reggie Austin and Hayley Atwell have on screen. The chemistry between them was palpable. One could feel it through their expressions and emotions. They might not be able to touch, but a connection was still there and we’ll be glad to see it continue.
“You’re not going anywhere. And it’s Peggy.” ~ Peggy
“Peggy, I’m not going anywhere.” ~ Dr. Wilkes
“Good. I’m glad you saw reason.” ~ Peggy
“No, I didn’t see reason. I still think I’m putting all of you in danger. But you don’t want me to leave, so that’s reason enough for me to stay.” ~ Dr. Wilkes
We don’t blame you Doc. If Peggy looked at us that way, we’d likely stay too. Hayley Atwell has an undeniable magnetism and every bit of it came through in the final exchange between the two. Shippers in several camps have good things to root for where Peggy is concerned. Many would love to see her with Sousa, but Reggie Austin is making us believe in Dr. Wilkes and there’s nothing like a sticky, emotional triangle to keep things interesting.
FINAL VERDICT: Strange tidings return a welcome face to Agent Carter. Despite a little bit of hocus pocus science, characters had a chance to grow, showing us complexity and depth.
The wonderful chemistry between Reggie Austin and Hayley Atwell has been one of the most enjoyable aspects of the second season so far and despite his lack of physical form, it would appear the connection is here to stay, which is just fine by us. Yes, we caught that little exhale as Peggy walked away at the end. That was a bit of swoon if we ever saw one. Hopefully Howard Stark will help Dr. Wilkes somehow regain corporeal form and we’re betting once he does Peggy won’t waste the moment on small talk.
Speaking of Stark, a little wacky hocus pocus science to make Wilkes visible and add mass to his vocal cords was a bit much to swallow. Pun intended. Howard felt a bit over the top and shoe-horned in to this episode. Other relationships were sacrificed a bit in the process, namely Peggy and Jarvis (James D’Arcy). The chemistry between our two stars is simply so stellar that when there isn’t enough of it—as there wasn’t in this episode—we miss it. We certainly enjoyed seeing Howard Stark again, but as he whirl-winded in and back out again, it felt a bit like things returned to normal once he exited.
On a completely different front, the sense of nostalgia within this world is evident in almost every corner of every frame. The hair styles, the attire and elements of the period are all beautifully crafted. Giovanna Melton deserves an amazing amount of credit for the exquisite costumes that give us such a distinct flavor of the 1940s. Melton never ceases to amaze us with stunning outfits for Peggy and this episode was another show stopper. In fact, all of the art direction teams deserve the utmost praise for recreating the period in such rich detail, but the beautiful attire sets this show apart from everything else on television.
Writer Jose Molina, no stranger to great character development in unique worlds, gave Wynn Everett some juicy moments to explore her morality and give us a glimpse of her capacity to deceive and manipulate. While doing so Whitney Frost showed both genuinely strong and fragile moments as she grappled with her emotions throughout. Frost is deeply bothered by the perceived decline in her looks. Her career as an actress depends on her appearance and we’ve already seen holes poked in the thin shield that guards her emotions. The shocker of an ending brought the crisis of the Zero Matter front and center for the second week in a row and it will be fascinating to watch where the writing team, and Everett, take Whitney Frost as trouble builds and things unravel.
Director David Platt did an outstanding job of capturing key moments that gave us small details we didn’t need to miss. Jack’s pause both during his lie to Vernon about watching the video and later as he connected the dots over the fabricated newspaper headline were spot on. This episode was chocked full of those small, but vital glances that help us to understand the characters and their motivations just a bit better. Everett’s pauses and calculated approach to her husband came just in glimpses that were golden. Perhaps best of all was Peggy’s wry smile she hid from Dr. Wilkes at the end as she walked away with an emerging swoon. Those moments make for good episodes. Once past the shaky science it was the details that delighted us and will have us coming back for more on the next episode of Agent Carter!
Questions, Comments, Concerns and My Reaction on Twitter…
- Where did all the press get of wind of this?
- Peggy doesn’t do anyone’s dirty work! lol
- Movie based on a comic book? No one will watch that. lol
- Arena club? Women aren’t allowed. No Stark then. And no Witney Frost either.
- Thank goodness for that wavy hair Frosty
- Now I know where Thompson keeps that stick #UpHisAss
- Well, no one can accuse Howard stark of being stuffy
- My word, where do they find these dresses for Peggy??
- “Hide an ugly truth and hoping someone will pin a medal on you.” Ouch!
- But they all froze to death!
- Those goggles are to die for! I do love Jarvis and his sense of no style or shame.
- Holy apparitions!
- Sousa. That shirt is a little TOO California buddy.
- Did you watch it? For once in your life lying was the right thing to do Thompson. #StillAStickUpHisAss
- You’ve impressed Howard Stark and you’ve impressed me. You guys aren’t the only ones. #HireHimStark
- Calvin does NOT wear the pants in this family. At all. #Wimp
- That hair doesn’t EVER move does it Frosty. Calvin is so gullible.
- Howard may be many things, but he’s got one thing 100% right. Jarvis & Peggy are a perfect team.
- You’re not going anywhere. And it’s Peggy. I adore her indelible charm & defiant resolve.
- You want me to stay. That’s reason enough for me. Translation: Great Jehoshaphat I wish I were solid right now! lol
- I don’t think the physical chemistry could be any more palpable than now when they “can’t” touch. Whew!
- Every eye on the country is on her and no one sees her. Holy genius twists!
- Catch the headlines there Jack? Who saw that coming? We DID!!
- Well, that über creepy sexual advance ended up way different than he thought it would.
- The geniuses behind the wonderful sets for Agent Carter better hide their props. #AmericanPickers will be after that #Castrol sign. #AgentCarter
Marvel’s Agent Carter Review 2×03 “Better Angels”