“Smoke & Mirrors” *****stars
Written By Sue Chung
Directed By David Platt
*spoilers contained within*
This week’s episode of Marvel’s Agent Carter was reminiscent of a made-for-TV spy thriller. There was limited action compared to the first three episodes of the season but it was still exciting to watch because it drew a parallel between two characters. The viewers are given a glimpse into the contrasting upbringings of Agnes Cully/Whitney Frost (Wynn Everett) and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). The opening scene shows a young Peggy pretending to be a knight saving a damsel in distress when her mother reprimands her for pushing her brother and she should act more like a lady. On the other side of the coin, we see Agnes brought up in a small farm town in Oklahoma and is subject to emotional abuse by her mother and a man named Uncle Bud. In between the flashbacks, we see two women on two different missions.
This season is already darker and grittier than last season and this episode is proving that sentiment true. Aside from a tender moment between her and Dr. Jason Wilkes (Reggie Austin), Agent Carter was all business and went to any means necessary to get the job done. The episode had that spy film tone with Agent Carter and Jarvis (James D’Arcy) using a stake out, tranquilizer darts and a syringe filled with a cold virus on Rufus Hunt (Chris Browning) to get answers about the Arena Club. There is a bit of humor when Hunt takes the dart out of himself and sticks Jarvis with it. FBI Agent Vernon Masters (Kurtwood Smith) is getting more air time which makes viewers wonder what side he’s really on. Sousa is about to raid the Arena Club when Masters shows up with an executive order to search the SSR’s books. There are a lot of questions waiting to be answered about Masters as the season goes on.
On the other side of the spectrum, there is Agnes who is slowly embracing the zero matter inside of her. She even starts to learn how to control it by testing it on lab mice. The writers did a perfect job on the reveal to Chadwick (Currie Graham). Agnes uses Rufus’s account of what happened with Agent Carter to consume him and reveal the zero matter, now stretching down the left side of her face. She even delivers a great line when Chadwick asks what she is, “I’m anything I want.” With that line alone, Wynn Everett has taken ownership of this role. She was good at it already but tonight’s episode made her.
The parallel between Peggy and Agnes/Whitney made this episode what it was. Here are these two simple women who go down two entirely different pasts because of their experiences. While Agent Carter lived a good life in England before her brother’s death forces her to call off her wedding and join the war effort, Agnes’s life was anything but good. As the flashbacks continue, Agnes is still verbally berated by her mother due to her interest in science and mechanics. She snaps back at her mother and is later shown outside of a movie theater where a talent scout asks her if she would be interested in being an actress.
This episode was the best episode of the season. The scene where Agent Carter looks out of the window and sees her mother collapse at the news of her brother’s death was so powerful. The pieces start to come together as we see Agnes wield her powers for all to see and the mounting distrust between Sousa’s SSR division and Masters. Dr. Wilkes has a vision staring at a chalkboard and tells Agent Carter he saw something call to him. This season will only get better because this episode is setting up a huge culmination of events.
Marvel’s Agent Carter airs Tuesday at 9pm on ABC. Check your local listings.