UK TV review: Agent Carter: Season 2, Episode 6 (Life of the Party)
Quid pro quo9
Mark Harrison | On 03, Mar 2016
This is a spoiler-free review. Read on at the bottom for additional, spoilery analysis.
“I have a terrible idea.” This season has been subverting expectations from the off, with Peggy’s adversary-at-large Dottie Underwood being apprehended in the space of a cold open smackdown before the entire show upped sticks and moved to the West Coast. It’s only fitting that her return in Life Of The Party should be equally unexpected.
The Soviet agent gets her Silence Of The Lambs moment as an injured Peggy seeks help to infiltrate a meeting of the Council of Nine at a political fundraiser for Chadwick. There are few agents she can trust at the SSR, so she makes the unusual choice of getting someone she absolutely can’t trust to pose as Jarvis’ partner for the evening.
Her mission – to get a sample of Whitney Frost’s zero matter-affected blood so that Jason can build a containment chamber for himself and get a firmer grasp on his loosening tangibility. As slippery as Dottie can be, the entire meeting has been convened so that the Council can get a look at Whitney’s new powers, which may turn out to be more than any of them bargained for.
After last week’s heist caper, the spy-jinks are back in a big, bad way and the hilarity keeps on coming. Going back to 2008’s Iron Man, Marvel Studios has had a knack for embedding comedy in their adventures, but seldom has it come together so perfectly as in Agent Carter, which has consistently excellent writing and an even better ensemble cast.
Bridget Regan hasn’t been around much this season because, frankly, Peggy has had bigger fish to fry, and you can tell that this burns Dottie. Without getting too psychoanalytical, you can believe that from the moment she refused to cave to Jack Thompson’s interrogation in Episode 1, she’s been waiting for something as dotty as Peggy springing her from prison to help out.
At this point, it really goes without saying that James D’Arcy is brilliant, but the physical comedy that arises from the unlikely team-up is delightful – at one point, Dottie takes Jarvis’ watch off him, despite the fact that she’s tied to a chair at the time. In fact, the episode is constantly finding enjoyable ways around your expectations and setting up the returning Dottie as a welcome third party in the contrast between adversaries Peggy and Whitney, even while the former doesn’t trust her as far as she can throw her and has the Q branch gadgets to back up that distrust.
But the comedy never undercuts Whitney’s effectiveness as a villain and, indeed, she goes to new lengths when she is delivered in front of the patriarchal Council of Nine. Not to be outdone, Hayley Atwell and Enver Gjokaj sizzle in the scenes that start to get to the bottom of the lovely awkwardness between Peggy and Chief Sousa.
All around, this season is Marvel’s fastest and funniest produce yet and Life Of The Party marks a welcome return for a suitably enjoyable antagonist. Espionage also makes a welcome return, but even aside from the stuff we’ve missed so far, the second season of Agent Carter continues its winning streak in its own inimitable style.
Agent Carter Season 1 and 2 is available on Sky Box Sets. Don’t have Sky? You can also stream it on NOW, as part of a £7.99 Sky Entertainment Month Pass subscription – with a 7-day free trial. It is also available on Amazon Prime Video, as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription.
Where can I buy or rent The Good Fight online in the UK?
Spoilers and further consideration
– Among the security measures that Peggy inflicts on Dottie are an electric net, which is satisfyingly deployed when she first escapes from the SSR’s secure facility, and a choker filled with neurotoxin to keep her from Dottie-ing up the proceedings. Even with this in mind, she still manages to give Jarvis the slip and generally jeopardise Peggy’s gung-ho operation in the process.
– “Want me to kill him?” “DO NOT KILL HIM.” Thompson’s arrival at the party gives us this brilliant exchange between Dottie and Peggy/Jarvis/Sousa. We mentioned how funny this season is, right?
– Somewhat inevitably, the man who would be Senator Calvin Chadwick has to die in this one- it’s just not practical for him to be in Whitney’s way any more, especially after he convenes the Council with the express purpose of curbing her new-found powers. Nevertheless, Wynn Everett plays Whitney’s joint heartbreak and rage to a tee. She also takes out all of the members we don’t know, leaving the likes of Hugh Jones to do her bidding, while Dottie watches from her hiding place. And when Dottie looks freaked out, you know it’s bad.
– Elsewhere, Vernon Masters clocks that Thompson is reluctant to turn on Peggy because she’s got some dirt on him, among other reasons. Masters expressly orders him to discredit her and take her down at the end of this week’s episode, which looks like more trouble for our heroine and more internal turmoil for the chief.
– Guess what else Thompson is told in this episode? “You should smile more.” Let it never be said that the show isn’t in complete control of its gender politics and all of the satisfying subversions therein.
– By the end of the episode, Peggy is romantically torn between Chief Sousa and Dr. Wilkes, and Dottie is in the powerful clutches of Whitney and the Council of However Many Are Left. That’s where some of that patented Season 1 pace went! Roll on next week!
Photo: © 2015 Marvel & ABC Studios