Marvel’s Agent Carter – Season 2 Episode 2
“A View in the Dark”
Marvel’s Agent Carter concludes the double bill opening night with an episode that immediately moves the story on much quicker than I would have expected.
Thankfully the show never loses sight of the characters and the action is firmly focused on Peggy herself. She is shown to be having trouble adjusting to life in L.A. this episode and finds it difficult to accept that Sousa has found someone. She does the decent thing and wishes them well rather than be tormented by unrequited love. The episode makes a point of showing Violet as being a pleasant person who welcomes Peggy into her life and extends an offer of friendship. There’s no jealousy there nor any suspicion of wanting to steal her man. I find this immensely refreshing as it shows these characters acting like adults and reinforces Peggy’s integrity as she adopts an attitude of acceptance.
A similar thing is going on with her connection to Mr and Mrs. Jarvis. Ana walks in on what might have been considered a compromising situation in another show but it isn’t played as such. Like in the last episode she has implicit trust in her husband and enough faith in their relationship that she knows her husband wouldn’t do that to her. She also appears to trust Peggy enough to know that their connection is entirely platonic. The sparring scene itself was actually quite funny though it did get a little cartoonish towards the end. I half expected accompanying sound effects when they both turned to look at Ana.
The bulk of the episode was spent developing the Jason Wilkes character through his relationship with Peggy. When they spend some time together we see that they get along really well and Reggie Austin has great chemistry with Hayley Atwell. I liked that their evening was part espionage and part date. Peggy has been portrayed as a fairly closed off person so it resonates that she would feel comfortable around Jason. He even gets her to open up about her upbringing and give the audience some insight into it at the same time. On its own that suggests that he has worthwhile qualities that she admires and the way he is written more than backs that up.
One thing that worked really well was how the episode tackled the problem of race in the 1940s. Jason would always be fighting an uphill battle for acceptance because of his race so his loyalty to Isodyne makes sense as they gave him the chance to develop his knowledge and skills in a place where his race wasn’t going to be a problem. That would be rare to come across at that time so it’s easy to believe that he would be taken in by this and do whatever they ask for him. The episode doesn’t sensationalise the racial inequality but it does acknowledge the fact that it exists and it doesn’t really need to do any more than that as the facts more than speak for themselves.
He isn’t naive and does understand that the company he works for might not be entirely on the side of the angels so he takes the opportunity to do the right thing when it’s presented to him. It all flows from a really relatable human place without feeling like a narrative contrivance.
I was really surprised that revelations about the mysterious material known as “Zero Matter” in this episode came so soon but I’m really glad that they did as it leaves the rest of the season open for deeper exploration of it rather than a collection of teases before a rushed payoff. Judging by the way “Zero Matter” behaves I am reminded of Darkforce. This would make sense as it has already been mentioned over on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and would fit with the magical era the Marvel Cinematic Universe is about to enter. More information will be required before I can be sure. This may have been spoiled already on the internet I have no idea but this is just what I think at this point.
Whatever it represents, “Zero Matter” is shown to be something that is currently unknowable, very powerful and incredibly unpredictable. It can be contained as Jason points out but nobody knows what happens when it is used. This is something Peggy experiences first hand when Jason is apparently killed by it and Whitney is affected by it in some way as well.
I really like how the show is approaching Whitney. She is an actress who is getting older and is being taken less seriously in Hollywood. It is mentioned that she is losing her looks and lots of work has to be done to hide the fact that she is aging. The episode establishes that she largely defines herself by her career so the prospect of losing that is really difficult for her to accept. There’s an element of desperation to her character that actually enhances her deviousness. She shows herself to be a very good actress as she is able to fool most people but turn sinister at a moment’s notice as shown by the way she acts when threatening Jason. It’s a nice touch to have Jason underestimate her because she’s a woman and have that be a fatal mistake.
The loss of Jason feels very sudden but that is very much the point. I like the idea that Peggy has let herself become close to someone who almost immediately dies with her being indirectly responsible. Hayley Atwell plays Peggy in shock wonderfully and the pain can be seen in her eyes. Ana helps her to contextualise her feelings by recounting what her husband did for her without knowing her for very long. I like how Ana seems to continually bring a different perspective on a situation.
Most of this episode was spot on but the clandestine meeting involving snuffing out candles was a bit much even for me. Is it supposed to be some kind of H.Y.D.R.A. meeting or are we seeing something else? Having Ray Wise back as RoXXon C.E.O. Hugh Jones does suggest that it might have a connection to H.Y.D.R.A. but I’m not entirely sure at this point. It was definitely an unnecessary scene in an otherwise excellent episode. Marvel’s Agent Carter season 2 is off to an excellent start.
An excellent episode that moves forward the main plot of the season much faster than I would have expected so early on.
The episode never loses sight of the characters and spends a lot of time dealing with Peggy having trouble adjusting to life in L.A. as well as finding it difficult to accept that Sousa has found someone. Ultimately seeing how nice a person Violet is causes her to suck it up and be happy for Sousa rather than giving us a tired love triangle.
Her connection to Mr and Mrs Jarvis is similar. Ana walks in on what other shows might consider a compromising position but she isn’t phased by it at all. This shows how much she trusts her husband as well as Peggy’s platonic connection with him. The scene was pretty amusing but got a little cartoonish at some points.
The bulk of the episode was spent developing Jason Wilkes through his relationship with Peggy. They get along really well and Reggie Austin has great chemistry with Hayley Atwell. Peggy has been portrayed as a fairly closed off person so it means something that she feels comfortable around Jason.
One thing that works really well is how the episode tackles the issue of race in the 1940s. Jason’s loyalty to Isodyne makes sense on a character level as they allowed him to carry on with what he wanted to do without caring about the colour of his skin. The racial issues aren’t sensationalised in any way as the facts speak for themselves.
I was really surprised that the revelations about Zero Matter came so quickly. My theory is that it is connected to Darkforce in some way which makes sense given the direction of the Marvel Cinematic Universe at this point. Regardless of what it is, it is made clear that it’s unknowable, powerful and unpredictable. It can be contained but nobody knows what happens when it is used. Peggy experiences this first hand when Jason is killed and Whitney is affected by it.
I really like how the show is approaching Whitney. Having her be an actress that is losing credibility due to her age is a nice touch and it’s easy to see that her actions are motivated by her defining herself by her career. There’s an element of desperation that enhances her deviousness. She shows herself to be a good actress when she turns sinister at a moments notice and I like that Jason underestimated her because she was a woman which was a fatal mistake.
The loss of Jason is sudden but I think that’s the point. I like the idea that Peggy has let herself become close with someone who almost immediately dies with her being indirectly responsible. Hayley Atwell plays the shock wonderfully and I like how Ana helps her to contextualise her feelings.
One thing that didn’t work for me was the clandestine meeting. I thought that it was a bit much and completely unnecessary in moving the plot forward. I love comic book stuff but this was a bit much even for me.