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Agent Carter - Life of the Party & Monsters - Review

Agent Carter aired two episodes back-to-back last week and will do so tonight as well. I wish it didn’t feel so much like they are burning off this show. I think this season has been even better than the first season! “Life of the Party” was written by Eric Pearson and directed by Craig Zisk. “Monsters” was written by Brandon Easton and directed by Metin Huseyin, who has also directed Outlander, Borgia, Shameless and Merlin. In addition to writing for Thundercats and Transformers: Rescue Bots, Easton has also written several graphic novels.

Any episodes that feature a large dose of Dottie (Bridget Regan) are ‘swell’ in my book! Really, the highlight of this entire season has been the continuing examination of the opportunities and barriers that women face. It’s not hard to see Peggy (Haley Atwell), Whitney (Wynn Everett) and Dottie being fast friends under different circumstances. But life has dealt them all very different hands.

As “Life of the Party” begins, Wilkes (Reggie Austin) is some kind of netherworld – it reminded me of that old Ah-Ha video. Cool special effects. Peggy is still very much hurting, but leaps out of her bed to bring him back. She insists he needs to build himself a containment field – much as he’d done for the zero matter at Isodyne. And that’s exactly what he does – with Ana (Lotte Verbeek) acting as his hands. But in order for it to work, they need more zero matter.

Meanwhile, Whitney is mumbling and talking to herself. She’s clearly not herself at all. Calvin (Currie Graham) tells her that he’s arranged for her to meet with the Council. He tells her that he’s supporting her and knows that she is smarter than he is. He hugs her, but he’s clearly terrified of her, so I was suspicious of him right from the beginning of this episode.

Peggy has no time to recuperate. Ana remarks that she must have been in terrible pain, and Peggy doesn’t deny it. It’s the beginning of Ana having her eyes opened to the danger that Jarvis (James D’Arcy) is regularly putting himself in. Wilkes doesn’t help in this regard as he overshares just how dangerous the mission is.

Peggy finds Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) in the lab, and he really does look terrible. He deflects her concern, however. Peggy tells him that they are losing Wilkes, and that’s the one thing they can’t afford to do as he is the centerpiece of the case against Isodyne, Whitney, and the Council. But Peggy has a plan – one that involves crashing Calvin’s campaign party that Jarvis happens to have two tickets for. Sousa points out that she is in no condition to be in the field. But they need a highly skilled agent who can throw down with all that glamour! Rose is visiting her sick mother. But Peggy has a plan – one Sousa doesn’t like.

Peggy goes to Dottie in the asylum where she is being held, disguising herself as a doctor! I loved the scene between these two! Dottie is beyond thrilled to see Peggy. They both relish sparring with each other. And each knows that the other knows exactly what to say, and while they say it, they don’t mean a word of it. I loved Dottie saying it would take more than six walls to hold her, and Peggy being confused – the saying is four walls and how normal people perceive a room. Dottie, however, has been taught to think outside the box – in every possible way – and points out they are in a cube – ceilings and floors count too!

Peggy leaves a gadget for Dottie to break out with and we see that Peggy has got the guard with a reappearance of the sleeping lipstick! Sousa and Peggy are waiting for Dottie when she gets out and he shoots Dottie with what looks like a very flimsy net – I loved that Dottie thought it was silly too, right up until it tased her! She wake up under a hairdryer, dressed to kill, and tied to a chair! Peggy also has a necklace for her to wear that will track her and has a neuro-toxin that they can inject her with if she tries to take it off or escape.

Jarvis is beside himself with excitement to be going into the field – maybe not with Dottie though. Dottie persists in calling him “Jeeves.” Jarvis wants a gun, and Peggy insists that Dottie will only take it from him, proving her point by pointing out that Dottie’s already taken his watch. Peggy turns the hairdryer on again, and there is an hilarious scene of Jarvis miming what he could do to Dottie with a sword hidden in a cane – and possibly some cyanide? D’Arcy is fantastic at the physical comedy! If you haven’t seen him play the polar opposite on Broadchurch, I urge you to see it.

Whitney is about to pull out of going to the party because she can no longer hide the mark on her face, but Calvin saves the day with a hat. She promises to thank him properly for the help later. It turns out that Dottie doesn’t recognize Whitney. Peggy warns Dottie not to let Whitney touch her – but Dottie does manage to try to touch Wilkes, and it’s the first time she actually seems surprised.

Everyone ends up at the party, including Thompson (Chad Michael Murray) with Vernon (Kurtwood Smith). Sousa and Peggy monitor from a surveillance van. Jarvis is disappointed at what a good dancer Dottie is. Whitney flirts with Thompson. Dottie asks if they want her to kill Thompson! And it’s hilarious as Sousa and Peggy shout “Do not kill him!” in unison. Dottie slips away from Jarvis and it’s also hilarious as he whisks her away from behind Thompson – with Thompson none the wiser. Jack really is an idiot!

Vernon continues to dangle the carrot in front of Thompson, and tells him that he can’t keep letting a female subordinate make a fool of him. Jarvis distracts Thompson while Dottie gets the sample and makes a break for it. She ends up hidden in the board room and is privy to the Council’s meeting.

Calvin has completely played Whitney, and he almost gets away with it, but her power has grown again and she sucks up the two men who try to put nooses on her, Gloucester (Casey Sander), and three other Council members before turning on Calvin. I was really sad to lose Graham from the cast!

Not surprisingly, Hugh Jones (Ray Wise) and Hayes (John Kerry) give up and give in to Whitney’s taking over the Council. She tells Jones to bring Vernon in line, and he acquiesces immediately like the coward he is. Hayes, the newspaper mogul is to fabricate a story about the disappearance of her husband.

Jarvis is looking for Dottie and Peggy is determined to go in after him, but she pops her stitches. Sousa tells her it’s not fun when your body quits on you, and she wonders how he copes. He tells her that sometimes you have to rely on others to get the job done. He fixes her up and she says she’ll need a follow up with Violet, which leads to his confession that Violet broke off the engagement. I loved how indignant Peggy got when she thought that Violet thought she could do better than Sousa. Peggy offers to speak to her, and Sousa tells her that Violet thinks he’s in love with her – cut to a gobsmacked Jarvis in the stairwell.

Peggy apologizes for coming out and messing up his whole life… and they almost kiss when they are interrupted by a body landing on the roof of the van! Dottie is fighting Vernon’s men. Thompson ends up taking her down, but misses that she’s dropped the vial with the zero matter in it. Jarvis picks it up but can’t find Dottie. The receiver to track the necklace was destroyed when the body hit the van. They decide to retreat.

Vernon knows exactly what’s going on. Thompson is still utterly in the dark. Vernon tells Thompson to “take out” Peggy. Thompson says he’s not going to kill her – again missing the point. Killing her would make her a martyr and bring more unwanted attention. Vernon wants him to discredit, disgrace and subdue. Vernon realizes that Peggy has something on Thompson, and tells him that you can only fight leverage with leverage. He then tells Thompson if he can’t get it done, he wonders if Thompson is suitable for high command.

Wilkes is excited about getting the chamber done, but Peggy tell him they have to focus on getting Dottie back. When Thompson show up at the house, Sousa tries to prevent Peggy from confronting him, and Wilkes sees there is something between them.

Peggy and Thompson spar, and he orders her to get on a flight with him. He seems like he’s trying to save her. She says she’d rather quit, and she tells him she knows she’s right about what’s going on. He tells her that she will lose everything and she’ll never see it coming. I get the impression that he might actually be thinking about himself and realizing that he’s actually lost his own self-respect and autonomy. Is there hope for him to come back and help the others against Vernon and Whitney?

“Monsters” picks up with Whitney giving a press conference about her beloved husband perishing at sea. Sousa and Peggy are there, and Sousa comments on what a good actress Whitney is. Even though she killed Calvin and half the Council, Peggy remarks that no one will question her story for one moment. Why? Because she’s a woman. It’s another great comment on how women were discounted. No one thinks that Whitney is anything more than a pretty face. And this is also a really nice echo of her suggesting that she should steal Thompson to be in her films. He really is nothing but a pretty face. He’s utterly stupid and incompetent as a leader.

Peggy and Sousa share an awkward moment as they suggest they should talk… after. Peggy goes back to Wilkes and Sousa heads to the office. Peggy is sure that Dottie is not dead, and Sousa agrees.

Vernon is going to torture Dottie, but she’s not afraid. I just adore Bridget Regan – I loved her telling him that she’s pulled out her own teeth and fingernails – she’s far tougher than any man he’s ever faced. It makes sense then that Whitney would have better luck.

The scene between Dottie and Whitney is another terrific one. Dottie tries to manipulate Whitney by identifying with her – we’re in the same boat. But Whitney can’t be manipulated by another woman. She tells her that not only are they not in the same boat, they aren’t in the same ocean. Dottie still answers to someone, but Whitney has broken all her chains. Whitney gets the information she needs by touching Dottie. She’s learned real control now in that she can actually pull back out.

Meanwhile, Wilkes and Ana are working against time to get the containment chamber up and running. Jarvis fixes the transponder to find Dottie. Wilkes wonders why Peggy is even bothering to rescue a Russian spy and murderer. He suggests that they just activate the kill switch. Peggy is shocked but excuses it as he’s not himself.

They get Wilkes in the containment chamber and Peggy injects him with the zero matter and he becomes solid! She shakes his hand, but Wilkes pulls her in for a kiss. Peggy is utterly flustered by it! Ana is going to make him an Hungarian feast to celebrate! It’s hilarious when Wilkes says he’s never had Hungarian food and asks Jarvis if it’s any good. Jarvis gives a pretty non-committal, eh.

They get a signal from the necklace. Peggy calls Sousa but Vernon is in the office. He pretends he’s talking to his mother. Vernon is there to put Sousa on the case to find the uranium. Vernon wants it for Whitney. Vernon also tries to manipulate Sousa the way he did Thompson. He tells Sousa that he’s smart and that he has a good back story – one of sacrifice. Sousa protests that he’s no hero, and that he’s not there to add to his “story.” Vernon tells him that he’ll keep his expectations about the uranium “realistic.” Vernon continues to be a good judge of character, and clearly realizes he’s not going to be able to sway Sousa.

Jarvis points out that the signal is a bit suspicious, and Peggy confirms that she knows they are walking into a trap. Jarvis has a Stark gadget – the Jitterbug – that is a concussive device. It will help the two of them take out a number of assailants.

Ana is worried about Jarvis and brings him a darker jacket to keep him better concealed. Jarvis recognizes her worry and tries to reassure her that Miss Carter will keep him safe. Ana tells him she’s not worried about Miss Carter! However, she also recognizes that he likes his adventures and that she must allow him to have them. But at the same time, he must allow her to wring her hands!

I loved the scene between Jarvis and Peggy as they drive to rescue Dottie. Jarvis is hinting about things so that finally Peggy steps on the brake and asks him point blank if he has something to say. He points out that she blushed when Wilkes kissed her. He then goes on to say it’s a bit of a problem with Sousa – but isn’t it nice that she has two quality suitors? But how to choose? Wilkes has a great smile, but Sousa has those eyes! He tells her that she underestimates her allure. Peggy admits that she’s surprised and doesn’t really know what to do. But they have more pressing matters, and Peggy puts her glasses back on to signal it’s time to concentrate on the business at hand.

Jarvis and Peggy are captured by Manfedi’s (Ken Marino) men who are now Whitney’s security after the Jitterbug fails to work. It seems that the different functions are actress’s measurements and Jarvis keyed in the wrong one.

Dottie is not very happy to see Peggy and there’s a race to see who can get free first. And…. It’s Jarvis! Before that, Dottie tells Peggy that she’s a realist and that Peggy’s idealism has blinded her to the depth of the rot at the SSR. Peggy realizes that Vernon didn’t hurt Dottie because Dottie isn’t the real target. The real target is Wilkes – or at least the uranium.

Meanwhile, Ana and Wilkes have been having a delightful dinner. Wilkes asks what’s bothering Ana and she confesses that Jarvis never told her about the dangers he faced. Wilkes tells her that sometimes we lie to protect those we love. Ana says she misses the lie. Can we expect Wilkes to lie about something to Peggy in the near future? Perhaps that he’s not interested so that she will go with Sousa?

The race is on to save Ana and Wilkes. Sousa is waylaid and beaten. We get to hear the Jarvis alarm system in action – and Ana telling him to be quiet.

Whitney makes it to the lab, remarking that Stark is wasting his talents on the movies. Just as she has been. Whitney is impressed by the containment chamber and remarks on how interesting it is that the zero matter affects them so differently. Wilkes is able to take some of her zero matter, but Whitney realizes it won’t last. She tells him to come with her – they can help each other and change the world. Wilkes insists that the world is just fine, but Whitney points out that he was hired for the same reason as Jane – to fill a quota.

Whitney knocks out Wilkes and they try to make their escape. Ana confronts them, and Whitney stops Manfredi from shooting her, saying “We’re not monsters.” And there we have the title. Who are the monsters? Ana says that Peggy won’t stop coming for her, so Whitney shoots her to slow Peggy down!

Jarvis and Peggy arrive, and Jarvis is beside himself! We get to see D’Arcy go through the entire range of emotion! Peggy drives Ana and Jarvis to the hospital. Dottie is in the trunk and Peggy gets a police officer to watch it. Unfortunately, Dottie manages to get out and shoot him before getting away.

Sousa manages to limp into the office only to find that Vernon is taking over the LA operations himself. He tells Sousa to take time off to rest and recuperate from his injuries. He’s told Vernon he was attacked by burglars. Peggy calls the office and looks worried after hanging up when Vernon answers as Chief. As the episode ends, Peggy sits with Jarvis who looks devastated and is waiting for word of Ana who is still in surgery.

All in all, two terrific episodes that showcase everything that makes this such a great show. The acting is just terrific, and there’s plenty of action. Dottie’s fight was just spectacular! But there’s more to this show such as what it says about women, the time period, and what it means to have integrity. What did you think of the episodes? Favorite scene? Line? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! Any theories on how they can possible defeat Whitney and Vernon?

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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