(Marvel Studios 2016)
Summary: It’s 1947, one year has passed since Peggy took on the remnants of the Nazis and came out victorious. But not all wars are won after just one battle, and Peggy’s journey to build a life for herself after the war continues. This time in L.A. after a mysterious new substance called Zero Matter has cropped up and begun wreaking havoc. Agent Peggy Carter has been dispatched to find the answers behind this new threat, and along the way she is joined by old friends and new enemies. Season 2 is finally here, and what tale it shall be…
Episode 4 – “Smoke & Mirrors”
Directed by David Platt; Written by Sue Chung
Review: I wonder if this episode was specifically written as the transition episode from bad to good for this season and if so does that mean the next episodes we’re getting are going to be more akin to the Agent Carter I know and love?
From the forced relationship(s) storyline, Whitney Frost just being a downright boring character, the effects of Zero Matter being all over the map and (so far) disjointed enough that it’s going to take a lot of effort on the writer’s part to explain all of what’s going on with it. Four episodes in and it’s genuinely felt like this season has failed to not only pick-up momentum but also keep a good distance away from any sort of focus on a main story.
Well, we don’t really get a remedy to any of that this episode except for one: By the end of this episode I actually began to feel something for Whitney Frost. And not because we get flashbacks to her broken childhood in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma – while they were helpful in character building – but because at the end of this episode she finally makes an executive decision to do something. And as evil as it is, she’s finally started to take charge. I liked that a lot. Let’s keep that going. That’s the Whitney Frost I want to see.
Speaking of flashbacks however, we get several strung throughout this episode featuring both Peggy and Whitney. Not together, but more focused on their separate upbringings. While Whitney’s flashbacks are more useful in fixing her character by making her more relatable and 3-D, Peggy’s are better served to showcase more elements to her past that we’ve just never seen before.
The Peggy Carter pre-Captain America was a continued mystery to us. What drives her to do what she does? What hardships did she have to overcome to get where she is? Well, I don’t really think any of us were clamoring for that information and now that we have it not much has really changed in how I see her as a character. But it’s all nice to have regardless. It’s interesting to see how Peggy became Peggy and it seems like her older brother we’re just now finding out about had a lot of impact on her to help create the person she is today.
But none of it ever felt necessary either, so I never found myself having any real emotional investment in her flashbacks while I was watching the episode.
Frost’s flashbacks however not only made me slightly proud as an Okie to see my State being highly represented in a show I truly love – even if the memories served to us were dire in the State they took place in – but these flashbacks were important. Quite frankly Whitney’s been a dead horse for the last 3 episodes and something of a confusing character for me. I haven’t been able to pin down what her role in all of this is even though they’ve continued to tout up her importance in the story with each passing episode. So these flashbacks had to deliver to make me care for her.
The flashbacks certainly helped in that, I can definitely understand now why she chose to become an actress and become a pampered princess instead of a scientist. I found myself feeling for her because of her verbally abusive mother. And I also found myself rooting for her to escape her home and become whatever she wants to be.
But it was definitely her final scene where she finally embraces that notion that I found myself whooping with joy. Whitney Frost was becoming a villain. Whitney Frost was becoming interesting. Whitney Frost was taking control of her character from the writer’s who’ve done her so wrong up until this point.
Whitney Frost stole the show this episode.
I also highly enjoyed all of the scenes with Hunt the hit-man who became a bigger character in just this episode than I was expecting from the guy. And the actor who portrayed him did a really good job with what he had. I was actually kind of sad to see him go at the end of the episode.
Honestly, four episodes in, Agent Carter Season 2 needs to really start picking up next episode and begin to focus on one core storyline to drive its narrative rather than continuing to play back-and-forth between several different strands that have thus far only loosely fit together into a semi-coherent series. Also everything to do with the Vernon Masters is just so bland and tropey I don’t even know where to begin with him.
I really, really, really, REALLY do not want to keep dissing on this season. But until it picks up and begins taking itself a lot more seriously I just don’t see how this season is anywhere near as strong as season 1 was. Season 1 had a purpose as well as the drive to achieve that purpose. Season 2 is so far running through the wind and rain hoping the clouds will eventually part and the sunshine will shine down from the Heaven’s to show it the way home.
I hate that. However this episode’s second half showed a lot of promise for the approaching episodes. That at least gives me a bit of hope and lightened heart. And a slight twinge of excitement for the events to come…
Final Score: 2.5 Oklahoma Flashbacks out of 5
Derrick is a born and raised otaku with a love for comics, anime, manga and movies. The full list is pretty long, but that’s just the basics. Stories set in space are his bread and butter.
You can find more of his writing at IndieComix.net