Considering the strong, eventful pace of the first three episodes, perhaps we were due a slower outing to pump the brakes a bit and further flesh out the story. For the first time this season, we got an episode that felt ‘just kinda there.’ Sure we got some insight on the events that steered Peggy Carter and Whitney Ford to their present situations, thanks to a series of flashbacks, but it definitely had that running in place feel.
Maybe the problem was the flashbacks didn’t seem all that vital to the story. We learned Whitney, or Agnes before she assumed her starlet identity, grew up with a single mom that discouraged her thirst for education suggesting only her looks would get her anywhere. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has always been pretty good about avoiding the compulsion to make the villains somewhat sympathetic.
Whitney’s backstory humanized her a bit too much, which isn’t necessarily the best play for the character who is willingly killing/absorbing people. As such, these flashbacks left me more curious about what snapped to make Whitney become so cruel and heartless. Or why she decided after years of ignoring the pressure to just be another pretty face she would reinvent herself as an actress.
Peggy’s flashbacks were clearer although equally unnecessary. In Peggy’s case, that’s because she’s been so strongly written and her character so well established that looking at Peggy’s life pre-war didn’t offer any major new information. Peggy was engaged, but broke it off and accepted a military assignment following her brother’s death on the battlefront. Unlike Whitney, Peggy got encouragement from her brother to be an adventurer and she was able to seize the moment. This episode may have been a case where the flashbacks should have been devoted to just Peggy or Whitney as both were shortchanged and any attempts to draw comparisons to the two fell flat.
Besides, the current day activities were far more interesting. After tailing Chadwick, Peggy and Jarvis identify his bodyguard as the same man who attacked her. That leads to a funny scene where Jarvis plays a cop to lure him out to a waiting Peggy with a tranquilizer gun. Things got a little too goofy with Jarvis also getting knocked out with a tranquilizer and Sousa hearing the bodyguard in the trunk, but the wacky humor was restrained this week.
Wilkes didn’t make much progress with solidifying himself, but he started to see the Dark Force/Zero Matter. I’m curious if he and Whitney will be fighting over control of it by the season finale, but I’m still puzzled why he has had no impact on it while Whitney can directly access it. If nothing else shouldn’t Wilkes be able to make himself solid? Whitney already seems to have mastered it as she reveals to Chadwick after absorbing their blackmailing bodyguard.
One nagging issue with Agent Carter’s first season that’s unfortunately carried over this season is the interfering superiors who seem to exist solely to prolong and needlessly complicate Peggy’s missions. Just as Sousa is rallying the SSR for a raid on Chadwick’s buddies, Vernon Masters brings his federal agents in to do an audit on their operations. Considering this season’s villain can disintegrate/absorb folks, having the obnoxious, shady government agent in the mix seems like overkill.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
The flashbacks fleshed out characters we already have a firm grasp of, but with Whitney becoming more in tune with her powers the stakes have certainly increased. Hopefully next week pays off this episode’s setup.