BETTER ANGELS – 8.5/10.
Never let it be said that KOGITFW shows DC more love than Marvel, the simple fact is that there are just more DC shows on TV right now. Thankfully last week saw the return of Marvel’s frankly magnificent mini-series, Agent Carter. Season 1 of Agent Carter was an absolute delight, although this came as no great surprise to anyone who had witnessed Peggy Carter in action in Captain America: The First Avenger and the Agent Carter one shot. Despite the continued lack of a female led film, Marvel has at least given us two fantastic female led TV shows in Agent Carter and Jessica Jones. But most importantly they have given us a revelation in the form of Hayley Atwell; she can do it all, from convincing action scenes, to drama, to comedy and beyond. She makes for a fantastic heroine, an engaging lead and is surely an icon in the making.
Last week’s double premiere ended with the charming Doctor Jason Wilkes and the not so charming Whitney Frost being exposed to Darkforce radiation after a failed attempt to steal the mysterious Zero Matter from Isodine’s Lab. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. viewers will recognise Darkforce as the material responsible for creating the season 1 villain, Blackout. Following the incident at Isodine the Hydra-lite council of Oligarchs wastes no time in framing Wilkes, labelling him a Russian spy and covering up the truth about Zero Matter. Still ridden with guilt, Peggy refuses to accept this, even when the always loathsome Chief Thompson arrives in L.A. to declare the cased closed. Thompson is at his absolute, pig headed worst here, even going so far as to forge Peggy’s signature on a falsified report and hand over the only evidence of Zero Matter to Vernon Masters, a veteran of the War Department who seems as kosher as a hog roast.
Determined to clear Wilkes’ name Peggy enlists the help of her old friend Howard Stark, who has turned his hand to filmmaking. It’s a treat to have Stark senior back in the mix and Dominic Cooper is pitch-perfect as the original genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist. Stark’s dialogue is nothing short of electric, even more so when he is verbally sparing with Peggy and Jarvis. Peggy shows Howard the pin she recovered from the thugs that attacked her at Isodine; he instantly recognises the insignia as that of the Arena Club, home to the shadow council’s evil chambers. The club has a strict policy against females, which Peggy uses to her benefit when she uses Howard and a gaggle of beautiful ladies to infiltrate the club. Peggy’s discovery of the secret chambers leads to a tense scene where she must use her wits rather than her fists to escape detection.
Throughout the episode Peggy fails to notice random objects levitating around her, when it does finally come to her attention she immediately turns to Howard for answers. After some heavy exposition from Stark, Jarvis and even Sousa the cause of the anomaly is revealed to be none other than Dr Wilkes. His exposure to Zero Matter has left him without physical form, while the method by which visibility and audibility is restored back to Wilkes may be somewhat questionable it is good to have him back in the mix. His chemistry with Peggy adds a new dynamic to the show, we know that she met her husband at the SSR but season 1 suggested that man was Sousa, could it in fact be Jason Wilkes? Of course this is all dependent on him making a full recovery and it is more than obvious that business is far from finished between Sousa and Peggy.
Wilkes reveals that it was Whitney Frost that caused the incident at the Lab and while Howard works on a cure, Peggy goes to confront Frost. Sousa later discovers that Whitney Frost is in fact a brilliant scientist named Agnes Cully and the true brains behind Isodine. However after her loaded conversation with Peggy, Frost uses her skills as an actress to manipulate her husband in to sending an assassin named Mr Hunt after Peggy. Peggy barely survives the brutal attack but escapes mostly unscathed with Frost in her sites and a renewed determination to clear Wilke’s name. But it seems like a difficult task, particularly with Masters grooming Thompson for the Arena Club. The episode ends with Whitney inadvertently using Darkforce energy to absorb the director of her film. Whatever is happening to Whitney Frost it more than likely doesn’t bode well for Peggy Carter.
Put simply agent Carter is brilliant, the show has never had a bad episode and this week’s offering was no exception. Whereas Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. took the best part of a season to find its stride this show was able to do it within minutes of the pilot. Season 2 has thus far managed to build on the solid foundations that were laid last season, adding new fantastical elements to the story. Peggy and Howard will eventually go on to form S.H.I.E.L.D. and every new and bizarre experience they have carries them closer towards that destiny. Prequels can often feel stunted as there is no real need to invest in the journey if we already know the destination, but Agent Carter manages to carry a feeling of fresh excitement into each and every episode. Also, I don’t know if I mentioned this but Haley Atwell rocks.
POINTS OF INTEREST
- Jarvis’ reaction to Stark using a recording of his voice to fend off intruders is as ironic as it is priceless, “I’ve no desire to spend the rest of time as a disembodied voice.”
- Did you spot the design of the arc reactor in a stained glass window in Howard’s lab? How many hours did the Starks spend staring at that window in search of inspiration?
- This episode featured so many great Howard and Jarvis moments, my favourite being Howard’s inability to recall Dotty until being reminded of the outfit he was wearing when she kidnapped him
- Howard Stark’s movie was an adaptation of an actual Marvel title, Kid Colt. A nice little reference for the uber geeks.