Agent Carter recap: Better Angels
Peggy and Sousa get some help from a familiar face as Howard Stark makes his return
EW was so excited about Agent Carter that two staffers — Gina McIntyre and Andrea Towers — decided to recap Peggy’s L.A. adventures together. Below, a discussion about tonight’s episode.
ANDREA TOWERS: So, one of the things I love about Agent Carter is that it moves pretty quickly, partially because it has a lot of story to tell in a short time and partially because there’s so much going on there really can’t be much filler. We cut right to the chase with so many things in this episode: The true properties of zero matter, how Thompson’s efforts to hold on to a leadership role could impact Peggy, what that mysterious Council of Nine is up to — and perhaps most importantly, Wilkes’ fate (yes, he’s back, but whether he’ll be able to regain corporeal form is another question). And I like how we’re seeing the relevant themes of the time period threaded through the show, with Whitney’s acting career in peril from ageism and Wilkes experiencing continued prejudice because of his race.
GINA MCINTYRE: Yes, poor Wilkes. I am betting that he regains physical form by the season’s end, and I’m also willing to bet that he’ll be able to outrun the allegations that he’s been spying for the Soviets, with assistance from Peggy and Jarvis, of course — though it’s not going to be easy, given the degree of evidence that’s been planted at his home. I do love that Jarvis appears so eager to take on a more active role in Peggy’s mission, but I was sad not to see more of his domestic side — namely Ana! She needs LOTS of screen time. Still, no complaints…
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ANDREA: Here’s to hoping we get more of Ana Jarvis in the next few episodes! Besides, if Peggy’s going to be having all these feelings for Wilkes, she needs a girl who knows when to give her whiskey. This is probably hugely far-fetched, but I’m going to throw a theory out there anyway because why not: Howard’s line about potentially losing Jarvis as a butler, what with him taking such an interest in Peggy’s cases, combined with the introduction of zero matter, makes me wonder if this is how we’re going to get the Jarvis as we know him in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Could the show be setting up something where Jarvis gets “absorbed” like Wilkes was and that’s why he loses physical form? I could be way off the mark, but I’m not going to lie and say my brain went there.
GINA: That’s definitely an interesting theory. I would point out, though, that Tony has said he has many fond childhood memories of Jarvis, and since young Tony is not yet part of the equation, I’m not entirely 100 percent certain that Jarvis will find his way into the great zero matter plane beyond. Then again, comics, which means anything can happen.
NEXT: The return of L.A.’s original genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist
ANDREA: Fair enough — and good point! Speaking of young Tony, let’s talk about Howard Stark because I need to talk about Howard Stark. I was so happy to see Dominic Cooper back. I know Hayley Atwell can have chemistry with a tree, but I truly missed their banter, and I will always get joy out of seeing Howard be so flippant and superficial about life. (Like father, like son.)
GINA: YES! Howard… Dominic Cooper really does beautifully capture the genius billionaire playboy vibe, and I think this new side enterprise as a budding film director suits him, maybe a little too well? The scene with Peggy and Jarvis accidentally standing in the frame of the Western showdown was delightful and featured some outstanding examples of that banter you mention: When Howard mentions to Peggy that he always thought she should be in “pictures” playing some saucy-lady roles, her retort is perfection: “I’d rather be the cowboy.” (That same conversation also sets up Peggy with the night’s best knowing aside: “A movie based on a comic book? Sounds like a dreadful idea.”) It’s funny that such a reprehensible womanizer could also be so wildly charming. It shouldn’t work, but it does. Especially when he chastises the stuffy, males-only Arena Club for the speed at which they deliver a martini to a thirsty guest. I also found it strangely gratifying when Howard invited a bevy of his gal pals into the club, even if it was only a cover for Peggy to bug the council’s secret conference room.
ANDREA: I agree with you saying that “it’s funny that such a reprehensible womanizer could also be so wildly charming” because I feel the same way. (Then again, I personally love Tony Stark, so maybe this isn’t such a stretch.) As much as I groan seeing Howard treat the beautiful ladies lounging in his pool as decor, I also find it strangely endearing. (And shout out to the Stark bathrobe that travels through generations.) Maybe it’s because, as you said, he does help out Peggy and, more importantly, offers her genuine words of advice, making it clear that he truly does respect her, even if she probably doesn’t realize it.
GINA: I might add, too, that his admiration of Wilkes’ intellect won him some points from me. Given the time period, Howard, weirdly, is kinda progressive? Well done. Loved the scenes with the two scientists teaming up once Howard had figured out a way to make Wilkes appear visible after his zero matter encounter.
ANDREA: Also: Whitney! It looks like she’s realizing how powerful she can be with this zero matter stuff, and I need to know if Whitney’s growing “scar” from zero matter will be the thing that prompts her to don Madame Masque’s traditional golden disguise. And speaking of masks, what about that reveal that “Angie” was the real brains behind Isodyne? I’m really happy the Big Bad this year is a female, and not only because I enjoy watching Peggy Carter take down people who are clearly on her level. And I’m so happy that we’re not playing the long con game with no one being suspicious of Peggy. Whitney’s talk with Calvin proves that we’re going to be in deep water soon.
GINA: I agree. It will be interesting to see how their relationship evolves. Whitney might be aging out of Hollywood, but her acting chops are still there, judging by the ease with which she manipulated her husband, convincing him that Peggy was a dangerous threat that needed to be eliminated. The fact that she herself doesn’t understand the power she now wields, and that it frightens her, gives her a more sympathetic edge, always a good quality for a villain. There’s something particularly resonant about the way both Peggy and she, as intelligent, powerful women, must navigate the world in these needlessly complicated ways — working through the men in their lives. They have just enough in common to develop a kind of imminently watchable protagonist-antagonist tension. Though sadly for Peggy, it’s not like Whitney’s the only source of trouble in her life. Really feeling like Thompson could head back to New York, and no one would miss him…
ANDREA: It’s clear they’re setting Thompson up for something big, but when he sees the date of the newspaper and realizes that Peggy’s been right about how the council has been trying to influence the course of history, he clearly looks like he’s conflicted. It makes me wonder where his loyalty is going to fall this season. I remember last season, we got a little bit of insight into his character during the Howling Commandos/Red Room episode where Peggy went to Russia, and it reminded us that he is human, even if he seems like he’s the worst person to walk into the SSR. Thompson could very well redeem himself…or he could ignore the knowledge Peggy gave him and choose “every man for himself.” I suppose time will tell with that one.
GINA: My money is on the “every man for himself” approach. If I’m sweet on any SSR agent who is not Peggy Carter, it’s Sousa, and that’s really only because he’s so sweet on Peg. And honestly, how could you not be?
Notes from the L.A. Bureau:
- How much did you get a kick out of the way Howard remembered Dottie? “The Russian knock-out with the killer backhand” certainly left an impression.
- Do we think that Thompson actually gave Vernon the reel with the fission test? Is it too much to hope that maybe there’s a little bit of a Good Guy hidden in Thompson and maybe he only pretended to give him the film? (Small chance given he was willing to forge Peggy’s signature illegally, but you never know.)
- Important Howard Stark information (that’s probably on his Tinder profile): The man likes Velveeta cheese.
- Thompson seems to imply that there was something that happened between Peggy and Sousa that we didn’t see and that ultimately caused him to move out to L.A. Let’s hope we get an episode where they both talk about their feelings or at least talk about what happened.
- “I find an evening workout is the best way to release frustrations from a given day” (Us, too, Peggy. Us, too.)
Marvel's Agent Carter
Marvel’s second TV series on ABC tracks the exploits of Agent Peggy Carter, played by Hayley Atwell, last seen in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.