Marvel's Agent Carter Review by Henry Tran

Marvel's Agent Carter 2.03: Better Angels

Marvel's Agent Carter 2.03: Better Angels

Written By:
Jose Molina
Directed By:
David Platt

I have to admit that it was a relief to know that Dr. Jason Wilkes did not get killed by the zero matter explosion (implosion?) from "A View in the Dark." Putting aside the fact that the Marvel universe has not been kind to men of color or even women in general so far, Wilkes was developing some promising chemistry with Agent Peggy Carter before the unfortunate event that apparently took his corporeal status. 

That he and Peggy were getting along doesn't actually change the fact that he can't be touched right now. It's not the greatest message that Marvel intends to put out there, especially after the show has spent two episodes establishing Wilkes as someone to look up to. He's a black man living in a rather racist society, yet has somehow been able to get a prominent job in the scientific field at an innovative science and technology company. 

Isodyne Energy may yet end up being another corporation that has evildoers running the top (its president and founder, Calvin Chadwick and wife Whitney Frost take lead on that point for the time being), but it's an opportunity that few people of his ilk get to indulge in. So his being rendered into non-corporeal form is a disappointment from a storytelling standpoint. He doesn't get the opportunity to go on adventures with Peggy, or anyone else really, because he will be stuck in Howard Stark's lab until they can find a solution with more permanence than the silver nitrate spray that Howard invented on the fly.

Where the episode gains its joy is in focusing on characters other than Peggy. The show's move from New York to Hollywood not only served a practical purpose behind the camera, but has given those responsible for the show a chance to show off their collective abilities to build its world. Howard Stark, for example, fashions himself a reverse of notorious eccentric (and probable character inspiration) Howard Hughes, being an inventor who tries to make movies. 

This affords the show the opportunity to throw in a piece of blunt meta dialogue when Peggy tells Howard that movies based on comic books are a ridiculous notion. On the face of it, in that time period, a film based on Kid Colt the cowboy superhero (which was a real Marvel comic back in the day) would play as absurd, but Peggy and company should be hyper-aware that absurd comes with the territory. She has just seen the effects of zero matter. She was in love with a superhuman hero in Captain America. Some things in this world are accepted, and others are rejected out of hand. 

One of those notions that continues to be underestimated is that of the power-wielding woman. We've seen enough of Agent Carter trying to fight a system filled with men who constantly look down on her and her fellow compatriots. This episode aims to flesh out the various motivations behind Whitney Frost. We find out that Whitney Frost is actually her stage name (which makes a lot of sense since Frost would have villainous connotations) and she was born Agnes Cully. She was actually instrumental in inventing a tool necessary to beat the Axis powers during World War II, then somehow, she reinvented herself in the interim to become a world-famous movie star.

So while Calvin Chadwick is the president of Isodyne Energy and an obvious member of the boys-only Arena Club, it is really the wife in the pairing that wields true power. That fact is made overt by the zero matter scar that is embedded in her forehead. In an industry that churns through and spits out more than its fair share of attractive women, giving one of its most visible stars even something as small as that scar would spell the end of her career in show business. And she is determined to keep that career going for as long as she can in order to stave off her husband's plans to use her for his political gain, then turn her into a baby-producing machine. That would be hard to do when she (and us, the audience) get a glimpse of just how powerful zero matter is: A simple meeting with her doting director turns much more sinister when she grabs his hand, which allows for the zero matter to then consume and absorb the man into her skin, thus making the scar bigger and more visible.

It's certainly a good thing for the zero matter to not only cause problems for our heroes, but also affects the villains of the story as well. It would have been nice to show what exactly happened to Agnes Cully to make her transform herself into Whitney Frost, but seeing that chilling final scene is compensation enough. The show has enough space to develop the characters outside of Peggy, Jarvis, and Howard Stark. It's only enjoyable to a high degree, but also gives more color to the world at large. The writers should be able to run with it every chance they get.

Our Grade:
The Good:
  • Good showing for some of the supporting characters
  • The role of zero matter for both heroes and villains is well-played
The Bad:
  • The message sent by the apparent fate of Dr. Wilkes is unfortunate

Henry Tran is a regular contributor of review for Critical Myth; The Critical Myth Show is heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @HenYay

Marvel's Agent Carter by - 1/29/2016 7:49 AM153 views

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