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Agent Carter - Better Angels - Review

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Agent Carter, “Better Angels,” was written by Jose Molina and was directed by David Platt, whose other credits include House MD, The Blacklist, and Elementary. Dominic Cooper returns as Howard Stark which ensured this would be a terrific episode. I love the chemistry he has with both Hayley Atwell (Carter) and James D’Arcy (Jarvis). There were lots of nice little Marvel Easter eggs in the episode too!

The episode picks up from last week with Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) and Carter investigating Wilkes’s (Reggie Austin) home. They find money, a one way plane ticket to Russia, a Russian passport, and a hidden gun. They both agree that it’s all too convenient and Wilkes is being framed as a Russian spy. Carter is sure that Isodyne is behind it all.

Carter and Jarvis track down Stark on the set of his new movie – Kid Colt Outlaw. Carter scoffs at the public being ready for a movie based on a comic. She thinks it’s a terrible idea! Kid Colt Outlaw is a real Marvel comic by the way. Carter easily captures Stark’s attention by showing him the zero matter footage. Stark remarks that Wilkes would have been an easy target for scapegoat as the color of his skin would already have made him a target.

Carter enlists Stark’s help to infiltrate the Arena club. That lapel pin is one of the few things they have to go on. Stark tells her that the Arena club likes its members “male and pale” – even Jarvis isn’t white enough for them. In an aside, Jarvis tells Carter that he’s one sixteenth Turkish! Stark tells Carter that even though the Arena club has repeatedly tried to get him to join, he’s “not a joiner.” I loved Carter looking to Jarvis for the real reason – “no women allowed.” I also loved that Stark didn’t remember who Dottie (Bridget Regan) was – even though she kidnapped him – until Jarvis reminded him wat he was wearing when he dated her!

Sousa and Carter return to the office to find that Jack (Chad Michael Murray) is still there. I loved Carter simply blurting out, “What an appalling surprise!” He wants Carter to sign off on her report that he’s “fixed.” When she refuses, he signs it anyway. Jack tells them that the case is closed and refuses to discuss it further. We see keys and a pen floating in air as Peggy snatches her purse and goes back to Stark for help. She wants to plant listening devices in the Arena club – and she has a plan that Stark won’t find boring.

Stark and Jarvis are getting a tour of the club, but Stark thinks it needs to be livened up a bit – he’s invited a few friends – Carter arrives in the middle of a crowd of women. She heads off to plant the bugs. I loved the call to security with a “code pink!”

Carter stumbles upon Chadwick (Currie Graham) coming out of the hidden boardroom. She slips in and sees a newspaper for tomorrow with the headline “Anderson Ankles Election.” Carter tries to hide a bug under the table but it sets off a high pitched noise, forcing her to destroy it. Hunt (Chris Browning) comes in to check the room, and Carter slips out.

Once again, Jarvis comes to Carter’s rescue when she has been challenged by the security guard. He admonishes her for getting lost on the way to the powder room. Carter does her best dumb act, saying “I get really confused around books!” Ha! What utter nonsense!

Meanwhile, Jack has actually watched the zero matter footage. When Vernon (Kurtwood Smith) shows up, Jack doesn’t let on that he’s been watching the footage and meets him outside the office. He assures Vernon that the Isodyne report will be “uncontroversial.” Vernon wants the evidence, however. Jack tries to put him off saying the SSR isn’t in the business of handing over evidence and that the evidence is in good hands if the SSR has it. Of course, later in the episode he does hand over the footage, but he continues to lie about having seen it.

Jack also doesn’t tell Carter he’s watched it. He’s livid when he finds out they broke into the Arena club. Carter tries to tell him that they are actually manipulating the future and tells him about the newspaper. However, she has no proof because she couldn’t bring one with her. Carter loses her temper completely and tells Jack that he’s a coward: “You’re so afraid of ruffling powerful feathers that you’re burying an ugly truth and hoping someone will pin a medal on you.” Jack is both hurt and pissed, and orders her back to New York. I thought Murray was very good in this episode, and this scene was one of his best.

Sousa tries to calm Carter down, telling her that he thinks she’s on to something but he can’t help her if she keeps acting like the Lone Ranger. It’s then that they both notice things floating around her. Carter tells him it’s a side effect of zero matter and warns him not to get close to her! They go back to Stark for help.

It’s hilarious to watch Stark completely absorbed by his work. The science is everything, and he completely forgets about the humans around him. He says that the air is 7 degrees cooler around Carter, but that she’s neither freezing nor contaminated. Sousa is clearly really worried about her. Stark and Jarvis have been working on a chemical formula that is supposed to beat Hollywood at its own game. They’ve been experimenting with silver nitrate compounds to make all things visible.

I loved everyone being surprised when Sousa understands the science, and Sousa responding, “C’mon. It’s the Strategic Scientific Reserve!” Stark sprays the compound and suddenly Wilkes is there! He’s been following Carter. He can’t talk until his vocal chords are also sprayed. He’s not solid, however, and Stark creepily passes his hand through him. Wilkes tells them about Frost (Wynn Everett) being in the lab, saying she knew more about zero matter than he did. Wilkes then becomes invisible again. Stark vows to bring him back.

I loved the scene between Stark and Jarvis as he gives Jarvis the shopping list. It was a terrific moment that helped to illustrate why Jarvis is so loyal to Stark. Stark is human after all. He has noticed what a great team Jarvis and Carter make and the spring in Jarvis’s step. He tells Jarvis to let him know when he needs to get a new butler. Jarvis is, of course, aghast and assures Stark that he’s very happy in his position. I also loved that Stark is apparently addicted to Velveeta cheese – ew!

Carter and Sousa split up to get information on Frost. Sousa heads back to the office where he runs into Jack. Jack remarks that Carter is a real pistol. He clearly does admire her skill. Jack suggests that Carter and Sousa have patched up whatever sent Sousa out west, but Sousa insists he came out west purely for the promotion, and he tells Jack that he’s engaged. Jack suggests they go for a drink, but Sousa puts him off – he’s got work to do after all! It was a nice moment between the two, and you get the sense that Jack might actually unburden himself about Vernon given half a chance.

Jack has handed the film over to Vernon. Vernon tells him that if it were up to him, Jack would get a medal for this because he’s doing the US a great service. It’s almost verbatim what Carter has said to him. Jack says it’s all he’s ever wanted to do, but he looks troubled.

When Vernon meets Jack at the Arena club, he introduces him to Chadwick. Jack is handed the newspaper and comes face to face with Carter’s headline. Chadwick remarks, “Who could have seen this coming?” Who indeed! Carter for one, the Council for nine others! And suddenly, Jack is very troubled! Carter really didn’t mean it when she called Jack a coward, though we know he hovers very close to the edge. I think that in the end, he will swallow his pride and admit that he was wrong. I think he really will do what needs to be done to protect his country. I have to wonder if he’s going to end up dying heroically for the cause this season.

Carter confronts Frost at the studio. She continues to play the part of ignorant actor, sticking with the party line. She wasn’t at the lab and isn’t it terrible that Wilkes was a communist. Frost denies having any knowledge about her husband’s work at Isodyne. Carter tells her that she trusts her instincts rather than what she’s told to believe. Frost is called to set before the conversation can go further.

We’ve already seen that Frost has the zero matter inside her somehow. There’s a small line on her forehead and a tiny drop was absorbed by her finger when she touched it. She tries to get Chadwick to agree to her quitting acting, but he won’t let her do anything until after the election. Then she can play the good wife and have as many babies as she likes. I have to wonder if he knows that she is Agnes Cully. How could he not as she is actually a brilliant scientist and the brains behind Isodyne? It’s her work that put Isodyne on the map during the war. Yet, he simply expects her to leave that work behind?

She does put her acting talents to good use in utterly manipulating him through fake tears to get Hunt to go after Carter. The final scene, however, did have me feeling sorry for her. The Director (Randy Sklar) comes to tell her the studio wants her off the picture. She is distraught until he tells her that he fixed it by threatening to walk himself. But it’s also clear that he’s expecting something from her in return. When he sees the line on her face, he freaks out because of course, she’s only worth the beauty of her face. When she tries to push him away, the zero matter horrifically engulfs him and sucks him into her! She’s left with the line getting longer on her face.

Stark and Wilkes work together on the cure, and Wilkes impresses Stark. Carter suggests that Wilkes will need a job once he’s restored and might be a good fit for Stark’s company! Carter is clearly still disturbed by Wilkes’s fate and takes her frustrations out on the heavy bag. I loved Jarvis asking if he could be of assistance. He clearly thinks he might be her sparring partner – eager look on his face – until he sees her throw some really aggressive moves – looks alarmed – and suggest arranging to hire one! Love these two! Jarvis retires and Hunt attacks Carter. It’s a great fight scene – and a nice use of that beautiful pool. Jarvis jumps in and the two manage to fend off Hunt, Carter shooting him in the hand.

The next day, Carter arrives at the lab to see Jarvis installing a loudspeaker – a new security measure. He turns it on and his voice issues a warning. He assures her it’s a temporary measure as “I’ve no desire to spend the rest of time as a disembodied voice!” And of course, the voice of Tony Stark’s computer is Jarvis! Beautiful!

Carter finally admits her guilt to Wilkes over his condition because she asked him to go into the lab. He replies, “You mean MY lab to retrieve MY work?” This is a sweet scene between the two as each wants to protect the other. Wilkes wants to leave but Carter insists they need his help and they’ll protect him. Meanwhile, Stark has flown off to Peru to seek Abner Brody’s help in solving Wilkes’s condition.

This was a packed episode, but it asked at least as many questions as it answered! I like how the show is teasing out this season’s arc. What did you think of the episode? Do you think Jack will do the right thing? Can Carter save Wilkes? Is Chadwick really just the slightly dim pawn he appears to be? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

About the Author - Lisa Macklem
I do interviews and write articles for the site in addition to reviewing a number of shows, including Supernatural, Arrow, Agents of Shield, Agent Carter, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, The X-Files, Defiance, Bitten, Killjoys, and a few others! I'm active on the Con scene when I have the time. When I'm not writing about television shows, I'm often writing about entertainment and media law in my capacity as a legal scholar. I also work in theatre when the opportunity arises. I'm an avid runner and rider, currently training in dressage.
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