Written by Christopher Markus, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
Directed by David Platt
At first, my theory about Whitney Frost was that she was a part of the Soviet project that trained girls like Natasha (Black Widow) or Dottie (from earlier in the series). Smoke & Mirrors clears all that up by providing Whitney’s background as well as Peggy’s before she became involved with the SSR.
Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) has gone off to South America in search of a physicist who was his mentor. Peggy (Hayley Atwell) is in the lab with Jason Wilkes (Reggie Austin) as he’s trying to come up with another solution and figure out exactly what is going on at Isodyne. He comes across a patent Whitney Frost (Wynn Everett) holds on a reactor and tells Peggy she’s a genius and the real brains behind Isodyne.
Whitney Frost, a.k.a Agatha Cully, is trying to figure out how to deal with the black matter inside of her. It already did something to the Director of her movie, who disappeared when she touched him in the previous episode. Filming is on hiatus because of this, and she’s experimenting with rats in the privacy of her home.
Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) comes to the Stark mansion and finds out what Peggy and Jarvis (James D’Arcy) are up to in terms of questioning Rufus Hunt (Chris Browning). He is irate, but more at her for not including him. They manage to extract information from him under duress, but it goes nowhere when they find out Vernon Masters (Kurtwood Smith) is involved with the Council of Nine. They allow Hunt to escape with a bug on him.
The flashback to Whitney Frost’s childhood shows her as a very intelligent child, whose mother essentially sold herself to keep a roof over their head and food on the table. She leaves that life eventually for Hollywood and is discovered there. However, her mind is still far ahead of everyone else’s.
Peggy’s flashback shows what she was doing as the war began. She gets an offer of a promotion from breaking codes to working as a field agent, just as she became engaged. Her brother was the one who recommended her for the job, and he thinks Peggy is making a mistake turning down the job as a spy to get married. The day she is trying on her wedding dress, she gets a visit from the War Department that her brother was killed. This causes her to reconsider the course her life is on.
There is good humor between Jarvis and Peggy as they are attempting to kidnap Calvin Chadwick’s bodyguard using a tranquilizer gun. James D’Arcy is really great in the role as he continues to surprise us with a character that initially seemed like a stuffed shirt. Their interaction makes the show a lot of fun. Hayley Atwell also seems to solidly create a multi-dimensional character who is able to be humorous as well as serious and make the audience believe this crazy story. The background on her is good, since up until now we didn’t know much about her. It makes sense to see her world torn between her brother who knows her and what she would want and the mother who wants to see her be a woman of the era. I didn’t have to see the breakup with her fiancee. I knew she was doing what was expected of her and not what she wanted to do, and the death of her brother is what pushed her to reject the social norms her mother was forcing on her.
Smoke & Mirrors is a great episode that enriches the characters we’ve gotten to know in the series. Knowing now what’s going to happen in the future makes me wonder where the relationship with Sousa is going to go, and I’m not sure at this point they knew what was going to happen at the end of Avengers: Endgame, so there’s that. All in all, solid episode that adds to the characters and the timeline.
Previous episode of the series (link): Agent Carter: Better Angels
Next episode of the series (link): Agent Carter – The Atomic Job