TV Review: Agent Carter - Season 2 Episode 3 "Better Angels"
Join us each week as we review the latest episode of AGENT CARTER. Warning: the following review contains major spoilers for the newest episode of the show.
Episode 3: "Better Angels"
Synopsis: Peggy's search for the truth about Zero Matter puts her on a collision course with her superiors as Howard Stark barnstorms in.
Recap: As excited as I am to seeDominic Cooperbring Jesse Custer to life on the upcoming AMC series Preacher, the actor's portrayal of Howard Stark has been one of the best elements of Agent Carter. Absent in the first two hours of this season, Cooper reprises his role as the father of Tony Stark and eventual co-founder of S.H.I.E.L.D. in an hour that unfortunately feels a bit like filler material. We get some more development on the future villain Madame Masque and learn what became of Dr. Wilkes after the Zero Matter explosion in the season premiere.
Visiting Howard Stark on the set of his new movie, Peggy and Jarvis implore the billionaire genius to help them infiltrate the mysterious Arena Club, the all male secret society that bares the symbol Dottie Underwood was searching for as well as linked to Isodyne founder Calvin Chadwick. Stark obliges and brings his entourage of sexy ladies to the club so Peggy can break in and plant listening devices in the Arena Club. The devices backfire, but Peggy does spot that the Council room has newspapers dated in the future. clearly either influencing the press or controlling time travel somehow. Peggy narrowly escapes from Council henchman, Mr. Hunt and reports her findings to Sousa.
While the SSR is convinced that Wilkes is a Communist spy, Peggy and Sousa are not so sure. Thompson arrives from New York to close the case out on behalf of Vernon Masters. Peggy tries to explain what she found at the Arena Club and shows Thompson the Isodyne film showing the Zero Matter explosion, but Thompson is unmoved. Peggy calls him a coward and he orders her back to New York. Peggy and Sousa retreat to Stark's home after finding items floating around her body, fearful she has been contaminated by the Zero Matter. Instead, Stark discovers that it is actually Jason Wilkes who has been transformed into an ethereal vision of himself. Stark vows to try and fix Wilkes after observing Peggy's emotional reaction to seeing him again, something Sousa also notices.
Whitney Frost, whom we soon learn is the genius behind Isodyne, is confronted by Peggy about the Zero Matter. Frost, feeling the effects of the darkness inside her, plays her husband into demanding the Council eliminate Peggy. The attack fails but it is enough to show Peggy and Sousa that they are onto something with Frost. Stark, still adamant that he can save Jason Wilkes, departs for South America to try and find assistance from an old teacher, while Thompson turns over the Isodyne film to Vernon Masters who invites him to the Arena Club. There, Masters (wearing an Arena Club pin) introduces Thompson to Chadwick. Chadwick shows off the newspaper Peggy spotted the day before which tells Thompson that she was not making things up. Will Thompson fall prey to his vanity and join the Arena Club or will he serve as an insider for the SSR?
But the big reveal comes in the final scene with Whitney Frost. Previously, we saw the actress being objectified by her director and hinted that she was beginning to be too old for the movies. The same director visits Frost in her dressing room and says the studio wanted to replace her with a fresh face but he was able to convince them otherwise. Frost hugs him in thanks, but the director embraces her and hints that he wants more than words as thanks. As she pulls back, he notices the black goo on her temple, but when he touches it, the Zero Matter envelops him and he is sucked inside of Frost's body. This deepens her scar but what further effects it will have on her is unknown.
Overall, this episode didn't really do much for me. There were a handful of decent scenes, but it felt like a significant amount of padding to fill in the hour. Sure,Dominic Cooperwas great in each of his scenes, but the rest of what we learned here could have filled half the time that it did. After the first two hours really picked up the pace, this episode slowed things down significantly and not for the better. With the narrative seemingly writing Stark's absence in for the next few episodes, I wonder if the writers will reclaim the immediacy and speed of the premiere. Agent Carter is already suffering in the ratings but I hope this doesn't mark the beginning of the end. There is so much potential here, especially in Hayley Atwell's performance. Hopefully we see more of that next week.
Marvel Universe References: Jarvis makes a funny reference to hearing himself as the voice of the Stark mansion security system, saying he would hate to spend eternity as a disembodied voice, a reference to Tony Stark's J.A.R.V.I.S.
Next on Agent Carter: "Smoke & Mirrors" airs February 9th - Agent Carter and the SSR learn there's more than just a pretty face behind Hollywood star Whitney Frost, Peggy's most dangerous foe yet.