In the second half of this week’s two-hour premiere, many of the questions from the previous episode are answered, and we get a much better idea of the direction this season of Agent Carter will go. I decided to review these two episodes entirely separately, writing my review for episode one before watching episode two, in order to judge the episodes on their individual merits as standalone episodes. This decision led to my disappointment with episode one, as it was nothing but set up and unanswered questions, and subsequently a pleasant surprise from episode two. While I still don’t think episode two’s strengths are an excuse for episode one’s weaknesses, viewing these two hours of television as a single unit rather than two episodes certainly improves the first half.
As I said, this episode picks up where the first left off, as Peggy and the other SSR West Coast agents struggle to unravel the mystery behind Jane Scott’s death. We learn that Calvin Chadwick, head of the Isodyne research lab, is a member of a secret powerful organization (Marvel’s awfully fond of those, aren’t they?) who pull the strings of the world, and are even responsible for the stock market crash of 1929. After Isodyne’s experiments in something called “Zero Energy” have gone wrong and attracted the attention of the feds, the council decides to shut down Isodyne’s experiments, much to the dismay of Chadwick’s wife, actress Whitney Frost.
Of course, the SSR knows none of this until Jason Wilkes offers to meet with Peggy privately and tell her what’s really going on. Most of the latter half of the episode is dedicated to Peggy and Wilkes’s “date” and the implications it has for the rest of the season–and beyond.
Wilkes reveals to Peggy that after World War II, Isodyne’s advancements in atomic energy had led them to testing a new form of energy involving nuclear fission, which had accidentally created something known as “Zero Energy”. This energy, Wilkes says, has origins that are either extra-terrestrial, or even extra-dimensional. This energy is cold enough to completely destroy everything around it without a trace, or freeze those who come into contact with it. Peggy decides that this power is far too dangerous to leave unattended, so she and Wilkes break into Isodyne to steal the Zero Energy for the SSR. Of course, they’re followed by agents from the Council (wearing the same pins that Dottie was trying to steal from the bank in New York in episode 1), as well as Whitney Frost.
The episode moves forward at a pretty quick pace, and follows a fairly standard plot offering few surprises. Each step becomes obvious about 5 minutes before it happens, but that doesn’t take too much of the enjoyment out of it. Unlike the first episode, this episode was packed with the action and fun and intrigue that made us love season one.
The episode ends with Frost and Wilkes seemingly dying in an explosion caused by the Zero Energy, which almost breaks Peggy of her composure. After sharing a kiss with Wilkes and building a very quick rapport with him, her dismay at his apparent death feels earned, and as always, Atwell portrays it extremely well. Whitney Frost, as we learn in the final shot of the episode, is not quite as dead as we thought, but rather has been somehow changed by her contact with the zero energy. It’s an effective ending that makes me excited to tune in next week!
- 3.5 Secret Organizations out of 5. So, between Hydra, Leviathan, The Ten Rings, AIM, and now this, how many evil organizations are we up to in the MCU now?
The opening scene of this episode has convinced me that the world needs Edwin Jarvis Workout Tapes.
Sousa’s girlfriend Violet is great, which makes me think she’s definitely up to something.
Race is finally addressed in this episode. Granted, it’s only a few half-assed references to “the colored crowd” or one suspicious and slightly rude bakery owner, but still, it’s nice to see Agent Carter isn’t ignoring the issue of race entirely.
Bernard Stark, the scene stealing flamingo, says be sure to follow along here for all things Agent Carter.