Sunday, 24 January 2016

Review - Agent Carter: 2x02 - "A View in the Dark"


Agent Carter
Episode 2x02 - "A View in the Dark"

Synopsis

With loose ends being tidied away with brutal efficiency, Agent Carter finds herself in a race against time to discover which experiments at Isodyne Energy caused the Lady in the Lake victim to become frozen solid. Meanwhile, Doctor Wilkes offers to provide Peggy with some answers, but can he be trusted?

Review

After introducing Peggy Carter to her new locale of Los Angeles, this second episode spends some time building up her key relationships and sowing the seeds for some interesting romantic entanglements down the line, with Sousa and Dr Wilkes positioned as potential suitors for our titular heroine's heart, although each of them comes with their own baggage. While Sousa initially appeared to be moving on with a new woman in his life, it seems clear that the reappearance of Peggy has caused him to doubt the strength of his feelings for his would-be fiancée.

However, this episode seemed to focus more on Dr Wilkes as a love interest, following on from the brief flirtations seen in the previous installment. I did enjoy the scenes highlighting the bigotry and racism prevalent in late 1940s America, but it seemed clear from the outset that Wilkes wasn't going to be the man for Carter. Their whole “date” seemed laden with foreshadowing and I fully expected Wilkes to be either revealed as a traitor, or killed off to isolate Carter further. As it happens, the writer's went with the latter, although it seems clear that the door isn't firmly shut on the character. It would be funny if he was transported to the same alien world that Agents of SHIELD's Agent Simmons ended up on, but it's unlikely!

There was a slow and measured pace to this episode, which sought to develop the mystery surrounding Isodyne Energy and this new substance, Zero Matter. Whereas the season premiere served to raise questions, this episode focused on providing viewers with a rough framework to how the remainder of the season will play out, introducing a new mysterious threat in the shadowy cabal of lapel-pin wearing businessmen and explaining the newest scientific “MacGuffin” that they'll all be chasing after. As a double-bill premiere event, these two episodes worked nicely back-to-back, acting as well choreographed introduction to this new season.


Even though this episode filled in many of the blanks left behind from “The Lady in the Lake”, there were plenty of unanswered questions remaining at the end, such as the motivations behind the secret cabal of lapel pin owners and the fate of Dr Wilkes and Whitney Frost. Given the way that her face was crumbling away, and the emphasis on her old age and fading looks earlier in the episode, I suspect that her plot-line will see her face becoming disfigured like in the comics, providing her with a motivation – to return her looks. It's interesting to note the similarities between Whitney's condition and the way that the 2005 Fantastic Four movie decided to do the origin of Doctor Doom – I wonder if Whitney's face will peel away to reveal an organic metal mask beneath.

Hayley Atwell remains the heart of this show, and it's great to see her playing off against her supporting cast members, particularly James D'Arcy's Edwin Jarvis – the pair make a brilliant double-act. While Whitney Frost doesn't quite have the same presence as Dottie Underwood, I am enjoying the way that her storyline of pushy trophy-wife seems to be developing into something more unusual. I do hope that the writer's get around to weaving the New York storyline revolving around Thompson, The FBI and Dottie Underwood into this Los Angeles story-arc. With the appearance of the mysterious lapels, it seems highly likely that we will see Underwood reappear to menace Peggy in the very near future.

Overall, this was a great episode which did a brilliant job of outlining the remainder of this season's storyline, whilst leaving plenty of scope for surprises down the line. I'm really enjoying the series' central theme of post-war atomic weapons and the huge risk that they pose to the world. This was explored in Season One with Howard Stark's dangerous inventions and is set to continue with Isodyne's inadvertent creation of Zero Matter. It's great to see the origins of scientific experiments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, knowing that these old forays into science-fiction will eventually led to things such as Iron Man's armour and Bruce Banner's Gamma experiments. Moreso than any of the TV shows on ABC or Netflix, Agent Carter feels absolutely vital to the DNA of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, showcasing the evolution from Captain America: The First Avenger to Iron Man.


Score - 9.5 out of 10


Easter Eggs/References
  • Hugh Jones, Howard Stark's former friend and President of Roxxon Oil is revealed to be a member of the Arena Club, having previously appeared in the Season One episode "Bridge and Tunnel".

Mysteries
  • Where does Zero Matter come from? Is it related to either Gravitonium or the Monolith from Agents of SHIELD?
  • What happened to Dr Wilkes?
  • What is wrong with Whitney Frost's face?
  • Why does Whitney Frost want the Zero Matter?
  • Why did Dottie Underwood want to get one of the secret society lapels?

Next Episode - "Better Angels"
Peggy's pursuit of the truth about Zero Matter places her on a collision course with her superiors.

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