Same Geek Channel: ‘Marvel’s Agent Carter,’ 2.4 “Smoke and Mirrors”

Wilkes and Peggy, so close yet so far apart. Image via ABC/Disney
Wilkes and Peggy, so close yet so far apart. Image via ABC/Disney

Flashbacks are the most overused narrative trope in fiction right now. I blame Lost. Rarely are they well done and most are horrible. For example, after a good start in season 1 of Arrow, Ollie’s flashbacks have become increasingly dreary and irrelevant. It’s gotten to the point where I wonder if anyone can tell a story from front to back without detours anymore.

Agent Carter‘s parent show, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.LD., has indulged in flashbacks a few times, but not so much that I grew to hate them. If you can’t make them great, make them short.

All this is lead-up to saying that when I realized Agent Carter was going to indulge in flashbacks for a substantial part of the fourth episode, I cringed. Would this wreck the love affair I have going with the show?

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Whew. No, it did not. Granted, I don’t feel the flashbacks were absolutely necessary, but I liked them. I liked the juxtaposition of Peggy going from the brave knight who saves the world to a young woman who’s been told so often that those dreams are not practical that she’s given up on them, while Whitney chose the path of pursuing what she wants while hiding who she is. Whitney is a young girl who dreamed of big things, like Peggy, and never gave up on them. She merely found a way around society’s expectations of beautiful blondes.

Peggy Carter
I call shotgun! Image via ABC/Disney

Unfortunately, it took her brother’s death to knock Peggy out of her funk, and then she was done hiding. It was lovely that Michael Carter was his sister’s biggest ally. Is he also Sharon Carter’s grandfather in the Marvel cinematic universe? Probably, if they keep that bit of comic history, but they’d be better off letting it go because Steve falling in love with Peggy’s grand-niece is weird in the comics and it’d be weird on-screen too.

Another note: Those scenes of little Peggy saving the princess? My first thought was “well, that’s going to make the ‘Peggy is bisexual’ crowd on Tumblr happy.” Then I remembered Angie is, so far, still missing, and I was a little bummed–but only a little because this season has been excellent.

Red, you dumbass. Image via ABC/Disney
Red, you dumbass. Image via ABC/Disney

Besides the flashbacks, “Smoke and Mirrors” featured one murder, one interrogation scene, one tranquilized Jarvis, a romantic scene between Peggy and Wilkes, and Peggy being threatened with deportation. Not bad for a quieter episode.

What caught my attention? Two things: the interrogation/torture sequence and the longing in the Peggy/Wilkes scene.

The torture scene because torture scenes are one of my pet peeves. I’d like them to die in a fire. Why? First, because people who are supposed to be heroes should find another way and, from a writing standpoint, I want the writers to think of something clever to trick the information out of the subject. Think more Columbo than 24.

This one fell in between, leaving me torn. On the one hand, no physical violence, which was a serious relief. It also showed a more ruthless side of Peggy, the Peggy who fought behind the lines in a horrible war, which was interesting. I also liked that she tricked the information out of her former attacker by claiming to have given him a deadly disease but instead gave him a cold. Still, it was torture. I much preferred Peggy’s interrogation of Dottie in the first episode, with its mental give and take, to this one.

The Peggy/Wilkes scene was a complete 180 from that. It’s hard to do romance and sexual longing right. Many shows resort to ridiculous angst to keep the two characters apart. No need for that here, as it’s hard to date someone who’s the equivalent of a ghost. So close to each other and yet so far. I don’t know if Wilkes is the love of her life, but Peggy will never forgive herself if she can’t find a cure for his condition. I refuse to believe the show will kill Wilkes and I’ll hold onto that belief until proven otherwise.

Jarvis, who usually steals the show, acted as comic relief. That was fun, but I hope there’s not much more of that. Besides, I want to see more of Mrs. Jarvis.

Final thoughts:

I like Sousa better this season. He’s gained an inner confidence that even threats of being branded a Communist can’t shake. He also has complete faith in Peggy. It doesn’t matter anymore if it’s romantic or not, he’s Team Peggy all the way.

Is the woman who gave Whitney a free ticket to the movies the same woman who is now her maid? I’d like to see an expanded role for her, if true.

The Arena Club isn’t Hydra yet, but I suspect it’s going to be. My guess? One of the reasons Peggy founds S.H.I.E.L.D. is a counter to the Arena Club and their influence in the government.

I want that blouse. And those sunglasses. Image via ABC/Disney
I want that blouse. And those sunglasses. Image via ABC/Disney

I want Peggy’s pink blouse, but I bet it looks better on her than it ever will on me. I also need a screenshot of that necklace because I can’t figure out what it is and I’m dying of curiosity.

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Writer, Mom, Geek and Superhero. though usually not all four on the same day. Author of the award-winning Phoenix Institute Superhero series and the steampunk novel, The Curse of the Brimstone Contract.