Review: Agent Carter S2 Ep3 – ‘Better Angels’

By January 27, 2016

Agent Carter continues season two with another solid and fun episode. In this week’s episode, Peggy and Sousa look to unravel the mystery of what happened at Isodyne, Howard Stark is back to provide some assistance in the way only a Stark can, a supervillain emerges and Peggy thinks a movie based on a comic book sounds like a dreadful idea. Let’s take a look at this week’s episode Better Angels.

After the explosion at Isodyne Energy there’s a lot of blame to go around and everybody (well almost everybody) wants to point a finger at Dr. Wilkes; the press, the FBI, the SSR, all of which are claiming that he was a communist spy. Isodyne even went so far as to plant plane tickets to Russia and a gun commonly associated with Russian agents at Dr. Wikes’ home. Peggy doesn’t believe it for one second. Even though she only knew Dr. Wilkes for a few days her instincts are telling her that this was a set up and Dr. Wilkes is being used as a scapegoat.

Peggy and Sousa return the SSR only to find that Jack has shown up and is calling the shots on this case (at the urging of his FBI “pal” Vernon no less). Jack is still a sexist jerk, but at least he has a brain (as I’ll discuss a bit later). I was annoyed at the way he treated Peggy (and Sousa) about the case as he seemed to be making some progress at the end of last season. He just wanted to close the case so to not ruffle feathers. He even went so far as forging Peggy’s signature on her report so that he could close the case. Jack also claimed that he was doing this to help Peggy so she wasn’t seen a Communist sympathizer. Yeah, okay. Whatever excuse you want to tell yourself Jack.

Peggy decides to seek the counsel of someone who can actually help make sense of the Zero Matter and what happened at Isodyne, Howard Stark. Howard takes a break from directing his latest film, Kid Colt, to assist Peggy with her investigation. It’s always great to see Dominic Cooper back as Howard Stark. He’s an absolute delight. Stark is intrigued and astonished by what the Zero Matter has the capacity of doing and he tells her about that pin that she keeps coming across. It belongs to members of the Arena Club; an exclusive club only for wealthy and influential men.

This of course does not stop Peggy one bit. She has a plan for infiltrating the Arena Club and it involves using some of Howard’s more exclusive traits; his ability to get away with pretty much anything and his love of women. Stark and Jarvis visit the Arena Club under the pretense of being interested in joining. Both are extremely annoyed with Torrence, the man charged with showing them around, as Stark continues to reiterate how dull and boring the club perceives to be and Jarvis is chomping at the bit show ole’ Leopold how to make a proper martini. To liven things up, Stark brings his numerous lady friends into the club allowing Peggy so slip in and begin her investigation. It may be a “men only” club, but the members (other than Torrence) didn’t seem to be too upset that a numerous beautiful women just walked in. In fact, they quite enjoyed themselves. Great plan Peggy!

Unfortunately all of the bugs that Peggy planted were no good as the Club employs some sort of countermeasure that knocks out any listening devices. What Peggy did learn is that the Arena Club uses their influence to force their agenda on whoever they deem a target. She locates two possible headlines for the next day’s newspaper. One headline states that a political candidate decides to withdraw from the race and the other places that same candidate in a scandal that forces him out the race. Both options help one of their own members, Calvin Chadwick (husband of Whitney Frost) as he will now run unopposed.

Back at the SSR., Jack has decided to watch the film that shows just what kind of damage the Zero Matter can do. He may still be a jerk but as the episode went on you could see he had his wits about him and he was picking up on things that Peggy and Sousa brought to his attention. I realize that he still evolving as a character. A character in that setting with his background and where society was at that time you’re not just going to completely change overnight. He is starting to listen to what Peggy and Sousa are telling him even though he may not acknowledge that to their faces. Jack is questioning the FBI’s (Vernon more specifically) motives. Not verbally of course but you can tell he’s not buying everything that Vernon is selling. Peggy also landed a solid (and low) blow by inferring that Jack just does what the higher ups expect all for the recognition i.e. a medal. Which of course is a call back to what we learned about Jack last season where we was awarded a medal for something he was immensely ashamed of doing. This of course lands her a one-way trip back to New York.

Before Peggy and Sousa can determine what their next move or even if they have a next move they discover that she was exposed to some residual effects of the Zero Matter explosion. Howard determines that there is something present on a spectrum that the human eye can’t detect, so he creates a solution to help make it visible. Jarvis has apparently picked up a few things from Howard over the years as he is able to adequately assist Howard and understands the basic principles of the science as does Sousa apparently. He is in the Strategic Scientific Reserve after all. I liked that little reminder about the SSR. They do have a scientific origin.

Howard sprays the solution near Peggy and it is revealed that Dr. Wilkes is indeed alive (I figured as much) but he’s just out of phase. He is not a traitor or a communist like the papers (no thanks to Isodyne and the Arena Club) would like the country to believe. He is out of phase so to speak. He was effected by the Zero Matter and is now invisible to the naked eye. Stark’s formula makes him visible but he is still out of phase.

Wilkes informs Peggy, Howard, Sousa and Jarvis about what happened that night at Isodyne revealing that Whitney Frost was there and knew quite a bit about the Zero Matter. Peggy pays Ms. Frost a visit hoping to poke the bear and get some more information. This of course scares Ms. Frost into doing something rash. She puts her acting skills to use and convinces her husband to use his Arena Club connection to reach out to their resident hitman to take Peggy out. First of all, dude, your wife is an actress. Surely you could be a little more hesitant in believing her when she burst into tears. She is good, I’ll give her that.

The hit on Peggy was a failure as she is able to be more than a match for her would be assassin. Jarvis with the assist! This doesn’t rattle Peggy one bit. She is more determined than ever to solve this mystery, restore Dr. Wilkes to his normal self and expose Isodyne and the Arena Club.

The episode ends with a couple of reveals. All through the episode Whitney Frost has been monitoring (and hiding) the streak of Zero Matter on her head. She’s not sure what it means and neither are we until it manifests itself in some sort of ability. Frost absorbs(?) her director, who is an absolute creep by the way, and we get the birth of this season’s supervillain. Not only does she now have powers but she is brilliant and always has been. The kicker at the end is that Whitney Frost (whose real name is Agnes Cully) is actually the brains behind Isodyne Energy. As Peggy says, every eye in the country is on her but no one sees her.

Agent Carter is such a fun show! All the characters are great. Hayley Atwell is a national treasure…well not this nation, but we can make her an honorary member can’t we? She continues to be wonderful as Agent Peggy Carter. I’ve already touted on Dominic Cooper, but I have to mention James D’Arcy as Jarvis. He’s so much fun and quirky. Jarvis continues to be amazing and he just loves being around Peggy and the action. I can’t wait to see these characters in action every single week.

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Christopher Skalicky
Chris, a film and television junkie, grew up on Star Wars, all things Disney, Stargate SG-1 and a healthy dose of John Wayne. When not thinking about movies he is busy being an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. He will also argue that Surf Ninjas is the greatest movie about surfing ninjas ever made. Tweet him at @Schlick51