Written by Jose Molina, Sue Chung, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, Jack Kirby, & Stan Lee
Directed by David Platt
The episode opens at the home of Doctor Wilkes (Reggie Austin). Chief Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) has a crew at work going over the house to find any evidence that may be missing. Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) arrives to a throng of press questioning if Doctor Wilkes was behind the explosion at Isodyne. Peggy discovers a hidden compartment under the floor that contains evidence Wilkes was a Soviet spy. However, she believes the evidence was planted.
Peggy brings the film Doctor Wilkes showed her to Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper). He tips her off that the pin she found on one of the men signifies membership in the Arena Club, a white all-male society that has been trying to recruit Howard among its ranks for some time. Peggy gets Howard to help her sneak into the club where she searches for a hint of what’s going on. She finds a newspaper dated the next day that seems to indicate the people there have the power the influence things that are going to happen, such as a candidate dropping out of a Senate race that gives the seat to Calvin Chadwick (Currie Graham).
Meanwhile, Jack Thompson (Chad Michael Murray) shows up in Los Angeles. He overrides both Peggy and Chief Sousa on the official report, letting the deceased Jason Wilkes take the fall for everything. He also meets with one of the members of the Council of Nine, who urges him to help them in the cover-up. When Peggy brings what she’s seen to him, Jack refuses to believe her and tells her to go back to New York.
Peggy thinks she’s been contaminated with zero matter. She and Sousa go to see Howard Stark, who theorizes that she’s not contaminated but that there is something around her. He sprays a formula around and Jason Wilkes shows up. He isn’t quite dead, but has been contaminated with zero matter and disappears when the solution wears off. Through trial and error, they figure out that restoring Jason to a normal state will involve zero matter.
All is not well with Whitney Frost (Wynn Everett), though. She has the majority of the zero matter inside of her and it seems to make itself known at inopportune times. It also seems to be affecting her mentally, as her intensity to grab some power increases. Tired of being told she’s “too old” for acting, she’s determined to rise above all that. It’s revealed that she’s the genius and driving force at Isodyne and behind her husband. Although not accepted into the “old boys club” of the boardroom, she’s the one who has helped develop everything and is resentful of it all at the time.
It makes sense that in the face of this, Jason Wilkes teamed up with Whitney at first. Both are treated as less than equal by the white males around them due to race and sex, respectively. However, the two of them are actually much smarter than the ones who are using them to try to get ahead. Jason is all for keeping corporate secrets and only revealing them at the “right” moment, but once it crosses a line, he wants out. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done and results in him becoming invisible, which is, in a way, an allegory for the racism that permeated the country then and still does now.
Chief Jack Thompson has also put himself in a bad position, trying to get ahead but also trying to tread the question of morality. He wants to get ahead and stay there, but, as we saw in the first season, he does have a sense of what’s right, even if he doesn’t always follow it. He’s easy to dislike, but he’s not the same as the villains that are all over the place here. At least, he doesn’t seem to be.
There’s an interesting Easter egg here with Howard Stark filming a movie about Kid Colt, who was one of the early Marvel comics. Peggy even asks “But they’re ready for a movie based on comic book? Sounds like a dreadful idea.” I had to look it up after that line, not having been a huge comic book fan myself. I’m sure there are others I missed, but it’s little things like that which keeps the show fun.
I’m enjoying Agent Carter quite a bit. It is really taking on the idea of good versus evil and creating a gray area where people aren’t all good or all bad. There are reasons why things happen, such as the disenfranchisement of women and minorities, although Jason pulls back from going pure evil while Whitney goes full speed ahead. This show is really terrific with the balance of levity and drama and social commentary.