‘Marvel's Agent Carter’ S2E8: The Edge of Mystery & S2E9: A Little Song and Dance

★ ★ ★ ★

Agent Carter gave us a cute musical number at the top of the second episode and while it featured an original song and choreography by Dancing With The Stars’ Louis Van Amstel, it did little to propel the story forward. Rather than perhaps hint at things to come, it summed up the relationships in Peggy’s life and solidified her love triangle.

Peggy’s love triangle is the weakest part of this season. Sousa already had a head start and Wilkes wasn’t able to keep himself together long enough to have a more physical connection with Peggy. (Literally.) That being said, all of the chemistry isn’t in the scientist’s corner, but with Sousa, the old bunsen burner. Even adding in Sousa’s soon-to-no-longer-be-fiancé didn’t deter him from having a more personal and friendly level of chemistry that Wilkes never had the chance of developing. Wilkes seems more like an afterthought and a plot device than a character actually helping move the plot along. Non-corporeal soon after the premiere and lounging around with nothing to do until these two episodes, the writers made Peggy’s attachment to Wilkes a forced chemical reaction that is nonreactive more than anything.

Agent Carter: S2E8

But things were looking up for Wilkes for some time (until his eventual zero matter burst). He became the more interesting of the zero-matter duo, the dire situation he faced forcing him to make tough choices like siding with Whitney and threatening to kill Peggy for information. It’s last minute development, but it works. Both he and Whitney got the short end of the stick (or, really, the short end of the season) in terms of character and plot development. So even though Wilkes made some strides, it’s all for nought since he got killed off (?) some time later. Since Whitney’s introduction, she has been an interesting character with complex motives that made it feel as if her path could have been a right (but still evil or wrong) path. It wasn’t until she embraced zero matter that her complexity was thrown out the window for a more villainous attitude. She claims to be saving the world, but it passed the line between reasonable and deluded a few episodes back.

The real travesty here, though, is the fact that Agent Carter may have bitten off more than it could chew when it came to approaching the the zero matter storyline. Wilkes was out of the game for far too long and Whitney’s time on the show may be up just a few episodes after harnessing her abilities. Whitney Frost hasn’t even reached the point of calling herself Madame Masque yet. (But, if she survives the zero matter blast, that identity may be showing up in the finale.) Sure, Whitney mentions the notion of using her powers for "good" every now and then, but Agent Carter decided to focus more on her experimentation than anything else. It’s probable that this storyline could have benefitted from either more episodes or a longer, season stretching story arc. For a character as good as Whitney, who’s just blossoming into a super villain role, it’s sad to her all of that growth cut off so soon.

Wilkes, in general, has been a rather useless addition to the cast. He’s no Howard Stark and Stark’s name tossing doesn’t give any more legitimacy to Wilkes, who has yet to contribute something that Stark hasn’t helped him with. Wilkes’ role in Agent Carter’s themes of equality was necessary and a smart aspect for Whitney to side with him on, but that doesn’t save his character from drifting back and forth between interesting developments and just floating idly by. Ironically, his non-corporeal to corporeal state is less a metaphor for his wrongful place in society at the time and more an accidental figurative imagery for his practically inconsequential role on Agent Carter.

After being shot, Anna Jarvis found herself recovered but with the inability to have children. Some people will claim that this is an example of "fridging", a well-known term in the comic book world to describe a female character being harmed in order to give motivation to a male character in some shape or other. It’s a harmful generalization that ignores exceptions to the rule and the fact that harming a loved one is a storytelling trope that just happens to work, no matter who that loved one is. The storyline that came of it was Jarvis swearing to get revenge against Whitney Frost for what she did and him straight up shooting her the second he bumped into her at the nuclear test site. The sad thing is about Agent Carter’s handling of the storyline is that Anna doesn’t get enough screen time to fully show how devastating of an effect not being able to get pregnant anymore would do for her character.

The overall plot to "A Little Song and Dance" got complicated really fast. It seems like these two episodes could have been done sooner in the season and doing so would have, perhaps, led to a whole other episode to develop on some of the plot points introduced here. Both episodes suffered the same time constraint that Peggy and Whitney’s flashbacks went through and the 10-episode count didn’t help fully illustrate the mystery and characters introduced for the second season.

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