Marvel's Agent Carter Review by Henry Tran

Marvel's Agent Carter 2.05: The Atomic Job

Marvel's Agent Carter 2.05: The Atomic Job

Written By:
Lindsey Allen
Directed By:
Craig Zisk

I suddenly realized before the airing of this episode that this marks the halfway point of the season. So the timeline for the season makes a certain amount of sense. Set up the zero matter mystery by putting Agent Peggy Carter in Los Angeles instead of New York, and then have her hunt for a famous movie star who doubles as a brilliant scientific mind. Whitney Frost is looking for ways to harness the zero matter, while Peggy looks to both try to understand the zero matter and contain it as well. While the dynamics of the plot do seem familiar, there is real art in the way the show sets everything up in one wholly entertaining package. 

For one, Peggy's support staff on this particular mission (basically stopping Frost's acquisition of two atomic bombs in order to recreate the nuclear test that introduced zero matter in the first place) expands to include two people who would not be regularly seen as heroic in any sense. Dr. Samberly forces himself onto the team by throwing Chief Sousa's own words back in his face when he was picked to join the SSR. Samberly, as expected, finds that the field is quite different from lab work. Yes, his only task on the mission was to basically open a door so that a trapped Jarvis could escape, but even then, he stumbles about on that. 

He needs assistance from Rose, the other member of the SSR that Sousa brings along when Peggy repeatedly brow-beats him into doing so. It's actually Rose that proves to be the more invaluable of the two, perhaps with the idea of setting up future missions with her coming along as Peggy's backup. In addition to the encouragement she provides for Samberly (with oddly sexual overtones that lead Samberly to get the wrong idea about their relationship), she can hold her own with Chadwick and Frost's goons. Part of that is her sheer physical size providing her with a clear advantage over every man she encounters.

There's an interesting juxtaposition in how the women of the SSR crew handle missions. Where Rose can surprise with her size advantage, Peggy uses charm and subterfuge (with the assistance of Samberly's temporary amnesia device) in order to get the Jane Scott autopsy sample from Roxxon CEO Hugh Jones. In fact, this episode continues one of the show's more delightful aspects in depicting how women mainly drive the story. Even as there's a by-the-numbers progression to the plot. 

It's Peggy that discovers how the zero matter absorption allows for Dr. Wilkes to temporarily regain a corporeal state; She (along with a game Jarvis) discovers the true nature of what Whitney Frost is and what she's after when Frost absorbs all of the zero matter in Jane Scott's body; The growing power of the zero matter corrupts Whitney Frost even further, making her a frightening, unknown threat to her husband, the Council of Nine, and the rest of the world. It's fascinating to see the power dynamics of the Whitney Frost-Calvin Chadwick marriage get inverted. He may have the backing of the US government as a Senator along with the Council of Nine, but the zero matter becomes the great equalizer, with Frost just beginning to tap into the power that the substance gives her. Chadwick looks legitimately terrified of what his wife has become, and there may be little that he can do to stop her from becoming slowly drunk with this mysterious power. 

In effect, the seeking of the two atomic bombs actually becomes background noise by the end. There's a battle between Frost and Agent Carter that fulfills the episode's usual action quota, but everything that came before that sequence proved more fascinating. Since Peggy had no choice but to drop herself onto that metal rod -- lest she get touched by Frost again and be exposed to the pain of the zero matter slowly corrupting her -- it adds one more complication onto the episode's plot: It inadvertently showed Sousa's devotion to Peggy in front of his doting (and thankfully not evil) fiancee Violet, who promptly recognizes it, and doubts whether she should marry someone who is clearly still hung up on another woman. The chemistry between Sousa and Peggy has been simmering in the background since the middle of last season so this is not a new development from the audience's standpoint, although it seems to be so for the characters involved. How all this will end is still very much in question.

Our Grade:
The Good:
  • The episode is delightfully propelled by the female characters
  • The Sousa/Peggy dynamic continues to simmer along
The Bad:
  • The plot is a bit “by the numbers”

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 - 2/12/2016 9:17 AM135 views

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