Warning: The following information is classified. Spoilers are ahead for Agent Carter: “Better Angels.”
Don’t you hate when you absorb Zero Matter, lose your temper, and accidentally consume an entire person? It’s the worst. Whitney Frost started to realize what Zero Matter has done to her in “Better Angels.” You can already see how the transformation is changing her. She wasn’t necessarily a pleasant person before–we saw she fooled her husband into sending a hitman after Peggy–but Zero Matter is already pushing her into crueler territory. And with the unsightly blemish on her face getting bigger, a mask, or should we say masque, might be required soon.
Since Agent Carter has a short season to work with, they have to move along more quickly than series with 22 episodes, and it’s a breath of fresh air. Sousa already discovered Whitney’s genius alter ego, so the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR) is fully aware Whitney isn’t what she seems. The revelation led to the first of what is sure to be many sharp and intense confrontations between Whitney and Peggy.
Whitney, played with so much beautiful restraint and coldness by Wynn Everett, is a different sort of villain than Dottie Underwood. Dottie was a little flamboyant and theatrical. Whitney is reserved and gives the sort of looks that freeze you in your tracks. She’s absolutely on equal footing with Peggy, and the initial dance between the two of them was an utter joy to watch. Peggy visited her to “poke the bear,” and it was a resounding success–even if it put Peggy’s life in danger. She tested Whitney and by taking the risk, she learned how far she’ll go. We’re all in trouble.
The range of Peggy’s relationships was on display in the episode. You saw her joke around with Jarvis, unflinchingly go toe-to-toe with Whitney, slap down Thompson’s idiocy, handle Howard, and you saw her wracked with guilt over what happened to Wilkes. That range and depth in a single episode is why she’s such a tremendous character and also demonstrates Hayley Atwell’s immense skill and versatility.
It was a relief to see Wilkes didn’t die and that Howard was able to help him out. Howard didn’t merely show up for the sake of appearing. He had a role to play. His brain was necessary to making Wilkes visible, and aside from the assist, it makes all the sense in the world for the SSR to turn to a scientific genius like Stark for help with Zero Matter.
There were a couple of especially nice touches with Howard: He blended together his filmmaking with science. It’s funny because of course Howard would try to make a creative endeavor about lab equipment, and it’s a nice nod to the state of Los Angeles in the time period–there was the glamor of Hollywood but also growth in science and tech through places like NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Plus, the way he became increasingly frantic as he stayed awake to solve the problem (I’m tickled to know Howard likes Velveeta) was very reminiscent of what we’ve seen from his son Tony in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Jarvis had to go back to butler mode a bit while Howard was around. He was mostly running errands involving the case, but you could tell how desperately he wanted to help Peggy. He almost had a puppy dog quality about him; it was sweet. He got the funniest line of the episode too, with his comment about being a disembodied voice. In fact, like with last season, the writers are doing a fantastic job of balancing humor with very heavy subjects. If anything, they can do more with less now since the cast is even more comfortable with each other. Atwell and James D’Arcy can communicate volumes with certain looks or body language.
With Howard back in the picture, Peggy and Sousa were allowed to leverage his connections and get into the Arena Club. The layers are slowly being peeled back, and they learned the problem is much bigger than Zero Matter and Isodyne Energy. Actually, Zero Matter is an extension of the inner workings of the Arena Club. It’s clear there’s plenty to explore and that the risks are huge– it’s the sort of case only Peggy and the SSR can tackle, which is an important note to hit.
Finally, can I say how cute it was to see Thompson try to be buddies with Sousa? Not as cute as it would have been if Thompson hadn’t just acted like a total blowhard towards Peggy but endearing nonetheless. He’s an interesting character. He should be easy to hate, but it’s obvious he’s misguided and not intentionally mean. I have a soft spot in my heart for him for some reason.
Wait. One more thing: Sousa needs to wear button-down shirts with tropical prints forever.
- “Is she still rearranging office furniture atop your sternum?” – Peggy Carter
- “That’s why I trust my instincts. They’re more reliable than what I’m told to believe.” – Peggy Carter
- “I’ve no desire to spend the rest of time as a disembodied voice.” – Jarvis
What are your impressions of Whitney Frost so far? Are you beyond excited to know Wilkes isn’t dead? Give me a shout in the comments or come talk to me on Twitter.