Before I get started, I must have a moment of appreciation for Peggy Carter, tied with Phryne Fisher for the best-dressed women on television. I hereby order someone to create a joint adventure for them in which they each change clothing at least five times. At the end, all the clothing will be donated to me, along with a seamstress to alter them to my size.
Back to catching Nazis, er, Hydra, aka The Arena Club.
It’s hard to summarize an episode that saw the return of Howard Stark, Stark invading said Arena Club with a bevy of Hollywood beauties, Peggy snarking at the now-odious Thompson, Wilkes as a sort of extra-dimensional ghost that Stark can make visible because SCIENCE!, and Whitney Frost going down the path to becoming Madame Masque, or it seems.
And I haven’t even mentioned Peggy’s American accent as Miss Wendy, her boxing workout, and Jarvis in a lab coat.
But, to begin at the beginning, Peggy and Sousa are busy exploring Wilkes’s house and find evidence that he might be a Communist spy. Peggy is having exactly zero of that. What she is curious about is the zero matter. I speculated last time that it was related to the Monolith in the present day but, no, it seems like something completely different. The rumor mill has it related to something to do with one Dr. Stephen Strange.
However, their investigation is stalled by the appearance of Thompson ordering Peggy to file a false report and forget about Wilkes. Again, Peggy is having exactly none of that, but her frustration is forestalled by her newly magnetic personality. Okay, she’s more chilly than anything else but things are basically floating around her. That can’t be good.
Who to go for help? Howard Stark, of course, though he’s busy with his second career of movie director. He’s making a Western based on a comic book. “Ready for a movie based on a comic book? Sounds like a dreadful idea,” Peggy says. But we catch a glimpse of Marvel western hero Kid Colt nonetheless. Alas, I couldn’t screencap it but here’s the comic book Kid Colt. TV Colt had the yellow gloves, too.
But in a twist that shows how clever the writers of the show are, it’s revealed it’s Wilkes who’s the source of the floating objects. Or, rather, a Wilkes who’d been transformed by zero matter into a sort of energy being or extra-dimensional ghost or, well, something. Howard and Jarvis had a long science “as you know” segment but I wasn’t paying attention because I was watching Wilkes and Peggy. Eventually, Howard sprays some goo on Wilkes and he’s able to talk to them.
Since all roads leave to the Arena Club, Peggy decides they must investigate to find out what’s really going on. A problem because, as Howard says, “they keep their ranks male and pale.” Howard solves that problem by doing what he does best: crashing the club with a bevy of Hollywood beauties that the club members want to keep around. Peggy takes a huge risk by sneaking into their inner sanctum. She tries to plant bugs but her efforts set off an alarm of some sort, so that’s a
Peggy takes a huge risk by sneaking into their inner sanctum. She tries to plant bugs but her efforts set off an alarm of some sort, so that’s a no go. But she glimpses headlines for future newspapers and realizes the Club is behind Cal’s Senate bid. (That or else Kyle Chandler’s cat from Early Edition has delivered tomorrow’s newspapers to the wrong place.)
Whitney has her own problems, worried about what that scar of dark matter that’s so artfully covered by her hair might mean for her future health and welfare. She wants to quit acting. Cal says “no,” because it will hurt his election bid. When it’s over, he says. These two, they’re like Hydra’s version of the Natural Born Killers.
But, essentially, Peggy strikes out on her infiltration–and has to use the aforementioned American accent to escape–of the Arena Club and Thompson orders her off the case again. It’s frustrating that Thompson is actually right about needing warrants and all that stuff. Perhaps because Peggy’s a Brit, she’s not impressed with Constitutional rights. Later, Thompson will meet with his FBI contact, Vernon Masters aka Red from The 70s Show. Thompson does exactly what Red asks, though there are hints that his intelligence and patriotism might win over his ambition and sleaziness. But it’s going to be a tough call. I hope the end of this plotline is the dismantling of the SSR and the creation of S.H.I.E.LD., though we know now that is a victory with a serious underlying problems.
Still, I’ve joined Team Hope Dottie Kills Thompson.
Thompson properly ignored, Peggy visits Whitney Frost. Agent Carter, Madame Masque. Be nice ladies! Well, they are nice, sorta, since they both know that the other knows more than they’re saying, so the words are bland but the dirty looks are killer. Later, we find out that Isodyne was basically founded on Whitney’s science ideas. Turns out, she’s the Marvel Universe equivalent of Hedy Lamarr. It made me kinda like her, and that’s great, because I’ve had enough of mustache-twirling villains. In another great sequence later, Whitney uses zero matter to accidentally take out a director who’s sexually harassing her. That made me like her more. But not too much, because she insists that Cal send out someone to kill Peggy.
Peggy is so engrossed in her boxing practice, her worry for ghost-Wilkes, and frustration over Thompson being an ass that she doesn’t notice someone sneaking over the fence to Howard’s mansion trying to kill her until there’s a garotte at her throat. In a wonderfully lit scene, Peggy and attacker fall into the pool. Jarvis comes out to help, and he and Peggy drive off the attacker. Peggy has neck bruises as a result of the tussle.
Wilkes is feeling guilty about, well, everything and feels like he should just go. Peggy talks him down. Seriously, these two are great together. I know Sousa/Peggy seems to be the preferred ‘ship for this show but I love Wilkes and Peggy. She was drawn to Steve the underdog, and she’s drawn to Wilkes the underdog. Now if they can only solve the incorporeal problem, which does put a damper on dating.
The best lines of the episode, aside from Peggy’s dismissal of comic book movies, all belong to Howard. “I’m great, I know,” he says to Jarvis. Then there’s the “male and pale” line, plus, we glimpse the first appearance of Jarvis, AI! But he topped both of those by casually walking through ghost-Wilkes. Rude, Howard! So rude.
But Howard topped all of that by casually walking through ghost-Wilkes. Rude, Howard! So rude.
Rude, Howard! So rude.
Season two has so far been great, though I miss Angie. The next episode is “Smoke & Mirrors.” Sounds like spy stuff. Or sorcery stuff. Perhaps some more pink stuff. Like Bernard.