UK TV review: Agent Carter: Season 2, Episode 2 (A View in the Dark)
Mark Harrison | On 04, Feb 2016
Already seen Episode 2? Read on at the bottom for spoilers.
Romance isn’t usually on the cards for Peggy Carter. Just because she’s a female lead, it doesn’t mean that Agent Carter the show should find lovey-dovey intrigue for Agent Carter the character. To a certain extent, Steve Rogers’ Capsicle looms over her personal life in the wake of his heroic sacrifice, but A View in the Dark courts matters of the heart more openly than any other episode of the show.
Happily, it has no truck with love triangles, given how we’ve met Mrs. Jarvis and Captain Sousa’s girlfriend, Violet (Sarah Bolger), and they both get on splendidly with Peggy. Aside from anything, she’s got her eye on Isodyne Energy scientist Jason Wilkes, who might prove to be as good an evening companion as he is as a lead on the Zero Matter investigation that was kicked off by the chilling case in Episode 1.
But time is running out: behind the scenes, industrialist Calvin Chadwick is encouraged to close down Isodyne by his shady benefactors, in order to focus more fully on his electoral campaign for the US Senate, much to the displeasure of his wife, Whitney Frost. Jason has some information to share with Peggy, but will there be any proof left at the end of their eventful first date?
After a few speed bumps in the season opener, this one runs as smoothly as Howard Stark’s shagadelic leisure car, revealed in a scene of comic brilliance and made even funnier by James D’Arcy’s role as an apologetic Q. But there’s an atypical sexual frisson running throughout the whole episode – it’s nowhere near as explicit as Netflix’s Jessica Jones, but it’s certainly flirty and it feels a heck of a lot livelier for it.
From the physical comedy of Jarvis’ sparring session with Peggy to the electric chemistry that Hayley Atwell and Reggie Austin bring to their interrogation-cum-date in the latter half of the episode, sparks fly off just about every scene and it’s delightful to watch. The familiar regulars – Peggy, Jarvis, Sousa and even SSR secretary Rose – were all well rounded by the end of Season 1 and given room to breathe. The new characters – Wilkes, Whitney, Ana and Violet – all fit right in.
These first two episodes were aired back-to-back in the US and as a double-bill, the romantic and comedic bits of A View in the Dark really bring up the standard next to last week’s procedural. Of course, this being Agent Carter, it’s not completely given over to Carry On-style frivolity, although Ana comes close when she delivers the line “My husband is never more lethal than when he’s flat on his back” with adorable pluck.
The established tone remains intact as the episode zeros in on Zero Matter as the scientific discovery that’s fallen into the wrong hands. Chemically, it could be classified next to the early Stark-designed explosives that were replaced by a deadlier McGuffin by the season’s end, but it feels more of the atomic age and the world has expanded since then. You’ll see this when Chadwick’s aforementioned associates rock up and lay claim to such controlled terrorist attacks as the Wall Street crash and even draw a connection back to Season 1.
Add in loads more action, including a delectably Jackie Chan-esque fight between Peggy and multiple opponents, and you’ve got a real standout episode. We’re two into a slightly extended run and Season 2 is already settling in, striking a balance between old and new characters, and comedy and action, while the larger narrative of the season continues apace.
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
– So, Whitney. We see her as an ageing starlet, enduring Hollywood sexism and ageism all at once in a particularly rough working day, but there’s clearly something else going on. For starters, we see her steely resolve about protecting the Zero Matter in the face of her considerably less sturdy husband. As of this episode, she and Peggy haven’t had any scenes together yet, but based on where she is by the end of this one, it’s not her right side that her dismissive director should be worried about.
– The council meeting where Chadwick is ordered to shut down Isodyne is an interesting one. Hugh Jones (Ray Wise) rocks up again, having previously appeared as the head of the Roxxon Oil Corporation in Season 1’s Bridge and Tunnel, and his part in the candle-snuffing ritual decision making of the group suggests that this council might have colluded with Leviathan back in New York. Either way, they seem supremely uninterested in Chadwick’s goal of using the Zero Matter to help advance humanity.
* Zero Matter is demonstrated in a film that Jason shows to Peggy at Isodyne, and we learn that it was a by-product of atomic testing that accidentally created a singularity that sucked in everything around it. There was a similar phenomenon in the Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D Season 1 episode The Only Light In The Darkness, in which this was called Darkforce, but we’ll see if this leads to any further crossover.
– In keeping with the show’s stellar portrayal of historical inequality, the representation of Peggy and Jason as a (prospective) interracial couple is reliably well-handled. With modern eyes, Atwell and Austin are so good together, you don’t even think about the context until they run into trouble and you get a taste of how others treat Jason. Likewise, there’s no question of whether Peggy can move on from Cap – it all seems so right in the moment.
– However, this is just the kind of show to wrench that away at the end, as Whitney confronts Jason and accidentally causes an impromptu repeat demonstration of Zero Matter. As we see at the very end, Whitney survives with some disfigurement, and we doubt that we’ve seen the last of Jason, but Atwell’s shell-shocked performance at having lost someone else is a knockout moment for her and the character.
– Line of the week: “Good Lord, is that a mirror?” from Peggy, gazing at the roof of Stark’s shagmobile, after being unexpectedly reclined at the wheel.
– We’re going to have to hedge our bets on who the Big Bad of this season will be, but for Jarvis, it might just be Bernard the flamingo, who hilariously enough seems to have become the butler’s personal mission…
Main photo: ABC Studios & Marvel / Patrick Wymore