Marvel’s Agent Carter – Season 2 Episode 8
“The Edge of Mystery”
Marvel’s Agent Carter supplies another double episode as the Zero Matter mystery deepens and the characters are all tested in different ways. As with last week I’m reviewing this episode without having seen the next one so my opinion isn’t altered by future knowledge.
The episode immediately deals with the fallout of Ana Jarvis being shot and gives James D’Arcy a great opportunity to show what he can do as he sits helplessly by her bedside unable to do anything to help her. It’s unclear if she’ll ever wake up in the beginning and Jarvis is clearly coming apart as a result of the certainty.
Of course she does wake up but their are consequences that will affect them for the rest of their lives. Ana’s injuries mean that she will be unable to have children. Jarvis takes the news hard so it seems that he saw himself being a father someday and has now been robbed of that opportunity. Having him lie about it to Ana made sense as it’s a purely emotional reaction that definitely counts as a mistake. People making mistakes that work within the confines of the plot and their characters is part of what makes this show so great. Ana seeing through Jarvis’ dishonesty was a nice touch and it will undoubtedly be brought up again.
This is an important episode for Jarvis as he finds himself pushed to his absolute limit. He blames Whitney for what happened to Ana and is hell bent on seeking revenge no matter the cost. Seeing his will in the box by her bedside is a really touching moment that shows how devoted he is to his wife that he is willing to die in avenging her. He keeps those intentions secret from those around him as he knows Peggy will stop him if she finds out.
He mostly manages to get his revenge as he shoots Whitney without hesitation or remorse. She turns out to be impervious to bullets but the impact of Jarvis actually doing it is by no means lessened. This is a man who seemed almost incapable of this level of violence who is driven by a primal instinct to protect his wife. It’s great to see a new layer of Jarvis’ personality and James D’Arcy is completely capable of selling it.
Peggy’s goals are more altruistic as she wants to save Jason and stop Whitney. Her only bargaining chip is the Uranium rods that she tried to steal before so she has Samberly mock up some fake ones that pass inspection and negotiates a trade. It is quickly revealed that the rods are fake but they initially get away with Jason anyway.
The interesting thing here is that Jason has turned to the dark side of the force -it’s funny because this whole thing is about Darkforce- and has committed to working with Whitney to understand what is happening to both of them. In a short time he has learned to manipulate the Zero Matter in his body so that he can become tangible and intangible at will but there’s lots he doesn’t understand. One major question mark is where he goes when he disappears and a new element of hearing voices from some other place is introduced making the whole thing feel a little mystical and terrifying.
As a scientist, Jason can’t help but be fascinated by all of this and having Whitney be equally intrigued as well as being able to understand the problem presents him with a unique opportunity to study it in detail. Given his curiosity and his desperation it makes sense that he would want to stay with the one person who can really help him get to the bottom of this.
I wouldn’t say it was perfectly handled as the acting from Reggie Austin is a little too unnatural so the shift in personality feels awkward. If he had managed to show being torn between not wanting to help Whitney and his desire to learn the truth then the shift in loyalties might have been more effective. From a performance point of view it feels as if Jason descended too quickly into accepting Whitney’s offer. Reluctant acceptance was the key here and it just doesn’t come across.
Whitney is as engaging as ever and Wynn Everett does an excellent job showing her curiosity and obsession. She has never been more driven to achieve a goal and her life and is already drunk on the power that she hasn’t been able to achieve yet. It’s a great example of poetic justice to have her come so close to having that power and not being worthy of it where Jason was.
It’s still unclear how that will pan out but Whitney’s reaction to Jason hearing the voices and being pulled into the rift was so full of pain and anger that I almost felt sorry for her. Wynn Everett is always note perfect in bringing across her emotions.
I like how the episode handled Thompson by having him come back from being seduced by Vernon Masters’ promise of power and influence. He has always been self serving and I had my concerns that he would turn out to be cartoonishly evil but this episode reminds us that his heart is in the right place if it suits him. In this case he learns the truth and doesn’t want to be a part of it so chooses to help Peggy and Sousa. Sticking with them is the best way to ensure his own safety so it becomes a no brainer for him to do so. I like how flawed Thompson is and Chad Michael Murray makes it very difficult to hate him.
There was some fun retro gadgetry in this episode with the Gamma Cannon. It was a giant unwieldy device that took forever to aim but it looked cool and worked. It’s great when this show plays with the time period with advanced technology that looks old fashioned. It gives the show a real sense of creativity and identity.
A superb outing that gives James D’Arcy some real opportunity to add layers to the character of Jarvis. Whitney’s obsession with power is handled well and Jason choosing to help her is a decent twist that could have been handled better from an acting point of view but was really effective nonetheless.
• James D’Arcy and Wynn Everett’s performances
• the really cool retro Gamma Cannon
• added mysticism to the Zero Matter story
• Reggie Austin’s acting not quite creating the needed complexity