Marvel’s Agent Carter – Season 2 Episode 5
“The Atomic Job”
Marvel’s Agent Carter lets Peggy partake in a bit of thieving when she has to arrange to steal a dead body and two atomic bombs. All in a day’s work for Peggy Carter!
The reason for needing to steal these strange items is initially to help Jason who believes that the Zero Matter stored within the body could be enough to cure him completely. Unfortunately Whitney gets there first and absorbs the Zero Matter into herself and instantly craves more. That’s where the atomic bombs come in. Whitney wants to use them to recreate the conditions that led to the discovery of Zero Matter in the first place so that she can get more of it and grow her powers. Naturally that can’t happen and she hatches a plan to steal them first.
Peggy’s plan brings the most interesting and fun elements of the episode into play involving Peggy making use of her skills as a spy. It has been identified that most people at the SSR can’t be trusted so she makes do with Jarvis, Sousa and Rose as well as the lab tech Aloysius Samberly (Matt Braunger). It’s not the most elite team but a gang of misfits can be more fun than the best that an organisation has to offer. There’s a fun Reservoir Dogs style slow motion shot of them walking out of a building to help reinforce that attempting such a dangerous job with such a group is completely ridiculous.
Despite that the team does work fairly well together and the mission is accomplished. Complications arise when Jarvis has to dismantle the bomb instead of Sousa which is supposed to be a really tense scene but doesn’t really work for a variety of reasons. I think the prevailing one is that none of the characters seem all that distressed by the situation. Jarvis seems nervous but not as terrified as he really should be. It’s a shame as this scene had so much potential to be a masterclass in suspense.
Rose was good fun throughout. She seems like such a sedate person but proves herself formidable when she needs to. She certainly handles herself well in the action sequences and shows how persuasive she can be in convincing Samberly to come with them.
Samberly was the weak link in all of this. I liked the scene where he justified the need for him on the mission but proves to be fairly useless when they actually get there. He does some 1940s style hacking but also spends much of his time doubting himself and complaining. It’s fine to emphasise that he’s not really ready for field work and has a romanticised view of what going outside the lab really means but something just felt off about it here.
Whitney is proving herself to be a more compelling villain with each passing episode. Ever since discovering her abilities she has gone through a complex character arc that now leads to her embracing them and wanting her powers to grown. Wynn Everett is towing the line between being power hungry and still noticeably human really well and hasn’t lost Whitney in the cartoonish desire to have more. The mechanics of Zero Matter are still largely a mystery but she at least acts as if she knows how it works. I suspect that she really doesn’t and her desire for more power will have a negative effect on her before long.
This episode marks Peggy and Whitney’s first direct confrontation and having Peggy underestimate her completely was a great choice. Part of the appeal of Peggy’s character is that she is fallible and a little arrogant so makes these kinds of mistakes. She seems to assume that nobody can beat her in a physical confrontation least of all an actress so she goes right on the attack and almost pays for her carelessness with her life. Whitney almost drains the life out of her before Peggy falls and is impaled through her abdomen. That’s not a good way for the first fight with an antagonist to end up but it definitely increases the jeopardy and teaches Peggy a powerful lesson about the nature of this new threat.
One of the best sequences in this episode was Peggy’s infiltration of RoXXon CEO Hugh James’ (Ray Wise) office to steal a key. The repetition of her continually zapping him to erase his short term memory when he remembers who she is was hilarious and the disgust on Peggy’s face as she had to undo his belt to conduct a thorough search was great. I always enjoy it when Hayley Atwell plays Peggy in disguise as she has such a wonderful command of accents and mannerisms to the point where she almost convinced me that she was someone else.
The notable handicap of being intangible doesn’t stop Jason from having some meaningful development. He may not be tangible but his chemistry with Peggy certainly is which brings a sense of longing to each of their interactions. They were starting to explore an attraction before he wound up this way and now he hangs around as a ghostly presence that reminds each of them that it can’t be explored. I’m glad that his strong connection to the Zero Matter isn’t being kept as a long drawn out secret because that artificial creation of drama and tension really annoys me. It’s better to have things out in the open and deal with them directly as far as I’m concerned as it creates further dramatic possibilities.
In this case it represents an open and honest interaction between Jason and Peggy that shows a trust building between them. It also gives Jason a sounding board for his feelings on the matter so that his fear can come across clearly.
One thing that really irritated me was Violet’s break up with Sousa because she interpreted his concern for Peggy as being in love with her. I praised this show for avoiding that in earlier episodes but to have that as the catalyst for the end of their relationship just comes across as lazy. Maybe Sousa is in love with Peggy but that hasn’t really come across before this point and certainly shouldn’t be a conclusion anyone can draw from this one event. It’s possible that Violet is emotionally unstable and prone to jumping to conclusions but none of her previous appearances indicated that. What’s next, Ana Jarvis accusing her husband of being unfaithful with Peggy?
Speaking of Ana, where is she? She has been absent since the second episode of this season and her lack of presence is certainly felt. There was a sense of fun to her being around and a wisdom that feels unique among the current group of characters so I’d like to see more of that. It looked as if she was going to serve as something of a conscience for Peggy but she can’t do that if she’s not there. Having her around would give her husband more to do as well since his role is largely support at the moment without having him play a major part in things.
A really fun episode that has some fun with the spy elements and establishes Whitney as a really formidable opponent for Peggy. Violet’s break up with Sousa felt needlessly melodramatic and the lack of Ana Jarvis is very noticeable but it’s another strong outing for Marvel’s Agent Carter.
• the unconventional spy team lead by Peggy
• an excellent first confrontation between Whitney and Peggy
• the comedic touch when Peggy liberally used a memory erasing gadget
• Jason and Peggy’s developing relationship
• Violet’s angst ridden break up with Sousa
• Jarvis being given comparatively little to do