Marvel’s Agent Carter – Season 2 Episode 7
Marvel’s Agent Carter caps off the double bill with further development of Whitney’s desire to gain more power.
I mentioned in my review of the previous episode that I really appreciated Peggy’s injury being taken seriously to the point that the entire episode is built around the limitations she has as a result. I’m really confused as to why this episode largely ignored it. Peggy wasn’t eager to get into a fight or over exerting herself in any way but there didn’t seem to be any visible discomfort. Very little time has passed since she sustained her injury and her pain was apparent in the previous episode so I wonder why it was abandoned for this one.
That is a very small gripe in an episode dripping with really interesting content. Whitney has fully embraced her role as the one in charge and seems to revel in the fear others seem to have for her. Vernon Masters is trying to retain some semblance of dominance but knows that his influence is slipping and that she is one step ahead of him at all times. This is clearly an uncomfortable situation for him as taking orders from a woman is something that he thought he would never do. It’s interesting how powerful a motivator self preservation is.
Whitney’s objective is clear and no matter what has happened to her she still thinks like a scientist. She rejects the notion of different rods being used as she needs to recreate the conditions of the original experiment precisely or risk coming up with absolutely nothing. Even though she has almost Godlike powers her brain is still her most dangerous asset.
Her commitment to science and the curiosity that comes with discovery can be clearly seen in her conversation with Jason. She is absolutely fascinated that Zero Matter has had a completely different effect on him and wants to learn more about it. Even when proximity to him pulls some of the Zero Matter out of her she finds herself even more fascinated. Wynn Everett plays Whitney drunk on curiosity wonderfully. Her desire for more knowledge is really intimidating as we know that she will go to any lengths to get it.
Their conversation extended some of the major themes of the season. Jason is at a disadvantage by virtue of being a black man in 1940s America in terms of his career prospects and Whitney is exactly the same. Neither of them are taken seriously by the world around them despite knowing that they are more capable than most. Jason obviously doesn’t agree with Whitney’s methods but can’t disagree with her reasoning. He has dealt with prejudice all his life just as she has so can understand what Whitney is driving at on some level. I like that Jason is obviously conflicted as it shows the blurred lines between right and wrong.
This was a big episode for Jason who was made tangible as long as he stays in the containment chamber. It’s symbolic of how caged Jason is within society and fits within the theme of social prejudice. He’s essentially told where his place is and can’t leave there. This makes Whitney’s offer to him far more tempting as she is giving him the chance to cast off those limitations and achieve his full potential. It could be argued that this episode was heavy on the symbolism but I thought that it worked so well that I really didn’t mind.
Whitney had other great moments such as her fake grief over the loss of her husband. The only purpose her actress background serves is to inform her duplicitous nature to the point that she can project a false image of herself to the public. The plan is for her power to become so great that public perception will be beneath her but she’s not quite there yet.
Her torture of Dottie was another great scene. Dottie conducted herself very well with the playful attitude coming through that seamlessly transitioned to her being deadly serious as she pointed out the reasons would be completely ineffective. The long list of things she has done to herself really highlights how thorough her training has been and how in control she is.
Laying the groundwork for what Dottie can endure makes it especially powerful when Whitney uses Zero Matter as a torture device. It gives a clear idea of how intense the pain is if it can beat the resolve of a Black Widow. The scene was brutal and Bridget Regan brings across the intense pain felt by Dottie really well.
Ana’s contribution to the episode was strong as well. She keeps Jason company while Peggy and her husband are off doing dangerous things. Ana uses this as an opportunity to keep her mind off what her husband is doing and stop herself from worrying. Jason is glad of the company but Ana has found something of a kindred spirit in him as she understands where he’s coming from.
The last episode showed Ana being terrified of the danger that her husband puts himself in and she is able to admit it to him here but remains supportive despite her misgivings. She knows that Peggy needs his help and also knows that he enjoys helping her as it gives him a real sense of purpose. She doesn’t have a problem with what her husband is doing but does have an issue with knowing what that is. For his exploits last season she wasn’t told the whole story and prefers it that way. She essentially chooses to live in self imposed denial but that isn’t possible given how close she is to the situation now. It’s difficult for her as she’s helpless to do anything and only wants her husband to be safe.
Peggy and Jarvis had some great scenes together. His observation about going from “famine to feast with two quality suitors” was hilarious. Peggy’s reaction as she tried to deny it before facing up to the reality of the situation worked really well and showed how strong a dynamic these two characters have. She is eventually able to talk openly to Jarvis about the situation she has found herself in and how she never wanted it. Who she will “choose” remains a mystery but I have a feeling that Jason may not survive the season.
Outside of the comedic side to their relationship there is also an emotionally strong connection. When Ana finds herself shot and is rushed to hospital Peggy is there for him to supportively hold his hand. Seeing Jarvis silently go to pieces was wonderfully acted by James D’Arcy who conveyed so much with facial expressions. It was a moving moment showing real depth to the Peggy/Jarvis dynamic.
Things aren’t going so well for Sousa who is beaten up and has his operation taken out from under him by Masters. I imagine Masters thinks that being in charge of that branch of the SSR means that Peggy will answer to him. Losing authority to Whitney will be a blow to him as well so this marks something that he can control without interference. I’m sure Peggy will soon prove that he has underestimated her.
An excellent episode that only suffers from a lack of acknowledgment of Peggy’s injury. Whitney’s quest for more power is handled wonderfully and the deep connection between Peggy and Jarvis gets a great showing here.
• the portrayal of Whitney’s quest for power
• lots of powerful symbolism about gender and race roles in 1940 America
• the depth of the dynamic between Peggy and Jarvis
• Peggy’s injury being almost forgotten