Lines are drawn and relationships are tested in Peggy's race to save the world.
With “The Edge of Mystery” and “A Little Song and Dance”, we’re down to just one episode before Agent Carter’s second season is in the books. And judging by the events of tonight, it may not be the events themselves that are dangerous, but the consequences of them. Let’s dive in.
We begin with a flashback from last year’s season premiere, “Now Is Not the End” — you know, the one with Peggy in that amazing sequin dress. But this time, we’re seeing the other side of the conversation that happened when Peggy called Jarvis to ask about diffusing the Nitramene bomb. When Ana asks who was on the phone, Jarvis tells her about Peggy. “I don’t think she’s like the others,” he tells his wife, which is probably what would be written on a dating website for Peggy if you could leave reviews about a person after you went out with them. Ana is worried about how Peggy’s dangerous life will affect them, even all the way in Los Angeles, but Jarvis is firm about the fact that “Mrs. Carter won’t interfere with our lives in the least.” Famous last words, as they say…
In present day, there’s good news despite last week’s shooting: Ana Jarvis is okay! The bad news is she’s still unconscious, which has put Jarvis is a miserable, worried, and emotional state. I’m pretty sure we’ve never seen the poor butler so unraveled. Peggy tries to take care of her friend before returning to meet Sousa at the mansion. They fill each other in on the events of last week, and Peggy decides to give Whitney the uranium rods she wants so badly — if they can find her. Fortunately, Sousa can help with that. Whitney has new lackey and resident beau, Joseph Manfredi. (For the record, I liked Chadwick better.) They show up at Manfredi’s restaurant, where in a scene reminiscent to last year’s diner fight in “A Sin to Err,” Peggy conveniently takes down his goons like it’s no big deal while Manfredi hilariously argues about gravy with Nona in the kitchen. Manfredi, at least, is not above having manners and serves them a nice plate of spaghetti and meatballs while Peggy and Sousa interrogate him about Whitney’s plans. Peggy eventually convinces Manfredi to pass on a message to Whitney.
Things aren’t looking so good for Wilkes, who wakes up to find Whitney examining him, like he’s one of her experiments. Whitney wants to know what he can do with his power, so she can figure out what they can do together. Wilkes wastes no time in sharing his opinion of her work (“I think you’re a mass murderer of rats”), but Whitney then asks if he hears “it”: the voice that apparently is in her head, coming from somewhere else, presumably the place Zero Matter really resides? And yes, Wilkes does. Whitney tries to get Wilkes to embrace the voice, which might help him embrace his power. “You see this as a curse. I see this as a gift,” Whitney tells Wilkes before they’re interrupted by Manfredi telling her Peggy is willing to give up the uranium in exchange for Wilkes.
NEXT: Boom! Goes the cannon…
At the hospital, Jarvis is continuing to hold his vigil for Ana while promising to be better about the things he’s never appreciated in their marriage over the years. And Ana wakes up! There are tears and happiness all around, and Jarvis calls Peggy to share the news. Afterward, the doctor tells him the sobering not-so-good news: Because of complications from her surgery, Ana won’t be able to ever have children. This news is particularly devastating to Jarvis, who is no doubt beating himself up for the fact that he put his wife is in this position. Thus, he lies to her about what’s wrong, then runs into Peggy, Sousa, and Samberly at the house, where Samberly is working on making some false uranium to bring to Whitney. Jarvis is ready for his revenge mission and wants to go with them. Peggy smartly denies his request, and they’re interrupted by Howard’s telex machine which is sending them a code that Samberly figures out are design specifications for a gamma cannon. The cannon would create a pulse that would eliminate Zero Matter, which would allow them to kill Whitney. Samberly gets to work on the machine, which means Jarvis can now come on the mission, after all. Before they can leave, however, Thompson pays the group a surprise visit. Turns out he’s done some sleuth work of his own, pretending to engage in some drunken revelry in order to get dirt on Peggy. He now has a file that implicates Peggy in war crimes and wants her to return to New York. Peggy being Peggy isn’t even deterred: She simply tells him that she thinks he doesn’t need to cut corners to get ahead. “You’re better than that,” she tells him.
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They arrive at Whitney’s with the truck and prepare to hand off the uranium, and things seem to be going according to plan…until the case breaks and Whitney realizes she’s been duped. Fortunately, Wilkes has already been handed over, and as they drive away, Peggy tells him about the gamma cannon. Turns out Peggy’s been duped, too, because Whitney’s sweet talking appears to have worked on Wilkes. He holds Peggy and Sousa at gunpoint, demanding to know where the rods are so he can destroy them. When Peggy refuses to break down, Sousa does, and Wilkes escapes through the side of the van. (Zero Matter totally has its perks.)
Whitney calls Vernon to disclose where the rods are hidden (the SSR, of course), and Thompson happens to overhear the conversation by accident when he’s kicked out of Vernon’s office and then listens in on the call. He corners Vernon, but when Peggy and Sousa arrive at the SSR, they find Thompson alone and seemingly disoriented, having been a victim of the memory inhibitor. He manages to backtrack his way through what he does remember, which leads them to a pad of paper where he’s scribbled coordinates that Peggy realize lead to Whitney. In this “calm before the storm,” two emotional moments happen: Peggy calls Sousa out for having personal feelings when he tries to talk to her about being dispassionate toward Wilkes, and Jarvis visits Rose and asks her to look after Ana while also dropping off a briefcase of items (including a last will and testament. Oh, Jarvis.)
Whitney’s reason for driving into the middle of the desert soon becomes clear: she wants to re-open the Zero Matter rift so that she can absorb it with Wilkes. She’s successful, but things don’t quite turn out the way she’s planned — it’s Wilkes that the Zero Matter chooses, and as he ascends to the sky, Whitney throws a temper tantrum to the gods. “What about me?” Whitney yells. “Take me! It’s supposed to be me!” While Samberly gets the machine ready, Jarvis takes matters into his own hands and decides he needs to kill Whitney himself. He drives off, despite Peggy asking him to stop, and the cannon does its job, effectively closing the rift. It also returns Jason, which is surprising, because Zero Matter doesn’t return anyone. Jarvis shoots Whitney, who doesn’t die because who really dies if you’re made of Zero Matter? And as such, our heroes are captured and knocked out.
NEXT: Everybody’s dancin’ and the band’s top volume
Welcome to Dancing With the Stars! Today’s contestants in contention for the mirror ball are Peggy Carter, Angie Martinelli, Dottie Underwood, Daniel Sousa… Oh, wait, you’re watching Agent Carter? My mistake.
You probably either loved or hated this dream sequence, which was dazzling and different and really, really fun. There was dancing and singing Peggy, dancing and singing Sousa (sans cane), and yes, dancing and singing Angie — the sequence was the vehicle for Lyndsy Fonseca’s welcome return, and despite the brief appearance, it was absolutely worth it to see Peggy’s old BFF again. (Other moments that were worth it: Rose punching Peggy out, Jarvis with feathers, Dottie dolled up in a diner uniform.) It was also a way for the voices in Peggy’s head to remind her she’s still having feelings for two guys.
But just as black and white fades to color, the DWTS dream shifts to reality, when Peggy wakes up with Jarvis in the back of a truck. She’s pissed because the reason they’re here at all is Jarvis’ fault, but they manage to escape via a hot wire that melts the lock. Of course, now they’re in the middle of the desert with no car and no sign of civilization, so what do they do now? If you’re Peggy Carter, you walk. And you don’t complain about it. Also, they say a desert is the best place to talk about your feelings, so…cue Peggy and Jarvis finally having it out, with Jarvis insisting everyone around her gets hurt or killed. Peggy throws it right back in his face by saying he thinks of her adventures as simple fun, when there’s a cost he can’t possibly understand. Jarvis finally admits Ana can’t have kids and also says he feels like a coward for not being able to tell her. This entire scene is emotionally charged, volatile, genuine, and completely sold by Atwell and D’Arcy, who together have done some of the best and most rewarding work this season. It would be a shame for Agent Carter to be canceled, if only because we would lose one of the best relationships on television right now.
Samberly, Thompson and Sousa have been left on their own, and neither of them know what’s happened. Before they can figure anything out, a car from the SSR shows up. Sousa recognizes the man as the guy Vernon hired to beat him up, and Thompson persuades them to trust him so they can get themselves back to the SSR safely. Meanwhile, Wilkes comes to in the back of Whitney and Manfredi’s car and realizes something is definitely wrong. Whitney doesn’t care about what he feels; she wants to know what he saw in the rift. She also wants to know why he came back. When Wilkes tries to tell them he’s not safe, Whitney stops the car and finds out Peggy and Jarvis have escaped.
NEXT: And so the balance shifts
Manfredi brings Whitney to her new lab — a dump, or rather, a waste management facility. Whitney starts another experiment on Wilkes, intending to extract the Zero Matter from him. Back at the SSR, Sousa and Samberly help Thompson explain to Vernon how the cannon, should they get it fixed, will kill Whitney. Vernon agrees to assist them, and all the kudos to Fazekas and Butters for staging this episode in a way that left me personally guessing when it came to Thompson’s true allegiance. Having escaped the desert by staging a ruse of their own and stealing the truck back from Manfredi’s men, Peggy shows up just in time to punch Vernon. (“Are you going to punch all of L.A.?” Yes, you are.) The team quickly gets down to business, though Peggy is hesitant to trust Vernon and with good reason. But they all have dirt on each other, and the only way out is together, so maybe it’s time to do some teamwork for a change. Samberly realizes he needs more time on the cannon, so Thompson offers to let Whitney know. The visit isn’t without an ulterior motive: Thompson charms Whitney and then lets it slip that they’re going to use the cannon to kill her. But Thompson says he’ll personally deliver the cannon AND Vernon to her, in exchange for a seat on the Council.
As Vernon readies the cannon for delivery, Peggy and Sousa prepare to follow in the car…but find their wires have been cut. Realizing something is wrong, they approach Samberly, who tells them Thompson’s plan to turn the gamma cannon into a bomb and kill everyone — including Whitney, including Wilkes, including Vernon. Wasn’t that their idea? The only good thing is that the bomb is on a remote trigger, so if Samberly can build a jammer, they can try to block the signal. While the team gets ready for another big mission, Ana talks to her husband, who refuses to answer questions about what her friends are doing. (I love no-makeup, long-haired, natural-looking Ana. I just do.) Ana’s not fooled: She knows her husband is a terrible liar and that he’s worried, so she tells him he should go to Peggy. Jarvis finally sits down and tells Ana about her surgery complications. It’s a quiet scene — we don’t see the actual conversation — but it hits.
As Peggy watches the cannon delivery, she decides to go in to get Wilkes herself. Wilkes doesn’t want to be saved, though, and believes he doesn’t deserve it. While she’s trying to rescue him, Vernon is attempting to show Whitney how the cannon works. When Thompson turns a gun on him, he realizes he’s been had, and as Peggy tries to help Wilkes escape, she realizes she’s also been had: Wilkes locks himself inside and lets the Zero Matter take over his body. Samberly successfully blocks the detonator, just as Thompson prepares to set it off. He’s pissed when he finds out his plan has been thwarted, and Whitney’s also pissed that Vernon tried to sabotage her and uses her Zero Matter powers on him. “I’m remaking the world in my image,” Whitney says. “And I’m starting with you.”
Well, maybe they’ll be starting with no one, since Wilkes stumbles into the room and chooses that moment to explode… Cliffhanger, anyone?
Notes From the L.A. Bureau:
For more thoughts on tonight’s Agent Carter, be sure to read my discussion with EW staffer Gina McIntyre about what we loved about this week’s episode!