‘Marvel’s Agent Carter’ Episodes 8 & 9 Recap: A Little Song and Dance

Hayley Atwell and Reggie Austin in Marvel's Agent Carter.

Hayley Atwell and Reggie Austin in Marvel’s Agent Carter. (Photo: Byron Cohen/ABC)

At the top of this two-hour episode block, Ana Jarvis, in flashback, learns about her husband’s assistance of Miss Peggy Carter. He promises she won’t interfere in their lives, to which she replies, “Don’t make promises you can’t keep.” This frames the two episodes nicely, as it’s all about back-stabbing, shifting alliances, and Peggy Carter, trying to make sense of it all. It was action-packed, high energy, and fun. In the present, Jarvis is distraught at Ana’s bedside while she recovers from her gunshot wound. He makes a list of promises to goad her to wake up, including that he’ll make apple torte once a week. It’s equal parts cute and heartbreaking. Turns out Ana will mostly be OK, except that she can’t have children, which Jarvis finds too heartbreaking to tell her right away. What I don’t like about Ana is that too often she feels like something for Jarvis to have feelings about instead of a fully realized character. In a show of compelling women, she falls a little flat. And Jarvis keeping this secret from her rubbed me the wrong way because of that. Meanwhile, Whitney Frost has Dr. Jason Wilkes in her evil lair and wants him to work with her to figure out the secrets of the zero matter. She asks him if he hears the voice calling him, and he nods his head, which is the first real allusion we have to zero matter’s mystical properties (Marvel has told us that this will tie in with the Dr. Strange movie). Sousa and Peggy finally rendezvous and decide to trade the uranium Whitney wants for Dr. Wilkes. Of course, they won’t trade the real uranium, but a convincing fake made by Dr. Samberly, who returns with some great comedic timing. To get the message to Whitney, they head to mob boss Joseph Manfredi’s restaurant, where they eat with him and his grandma. Grandma Manfredi puts the evil eye on Peggy and tries to stab Sousa, so in a lot of way she’s just like my Italian grandma. Manfredi agrees to let Whitney know about the proposal, which she accepts. While our guys prepare for the trade, they’re interrupted first by a fax from Howard Stark with instructions for a gamma ray gun that eliminates zero matter. Gamma rays, you’ll remember, are what created the Hulk, so this feels like Chekhov’s gun. Then Jack Thompson appears with a file on Peggy detailing war crimes she committed, which he uses to try to black mail her. She shrugs him off and carries on. After some banter, the exchange is made. But just as Peggy is about to go off with Jason and Whitney with the uranium, one of the Italian goons drops the case, revealing uranium as a fake. Honestly, if I were Whitney I’d be angrier that this guy almost killed everyone in a nuclear explosion, but I guess that’s why I’m not a super villain. Instead they give chase. Peggy and Sousa explain to Jason in the back of their truck that they can help him with the gamma rays, but instead he turns a gun on Peggy and tells Sousa to tell him where the uranium is or the girl gets it. Peggy is willing to sacrifice herself for the cause, but Sousa can’t, so he tells Wilkes it’s at the SSR. And the Wilkes phases through the wall and runs back to Whitney, which is pretty cool. Meanwhile Vernon Masters is back at the SSR explaining to Jack Thompson that of course Peggy’s war crimes are real — if it’s on an official document, it’s true no matter what happened. Here I was struck by how different this post-World War II story would be if it were actually being told at the time. I don’t just mean the critiques of sexism and racism, but also the critiques of the government. “Agent Carter” — and the Marvel universe as a whole — is suspicious of the US government in a way that’s very 21st century. Anyway, Whitney calls Masters to tell him to get the uranium, and Thompson listens in on another line, because the SSR has the phone security of any suburban home. Thompson goes to stop him but Masters erases his memories with the machine Peggy used to great comedic effect a few episodes back. Sousa and Peg find him on the floor, but thankful he scribbled some coordinates before he forgot. Sousa and Peggy do not trust him, but don’t have any other options. Before they take off, Sousa tells Peggy that Wilkes is a hostile now, and she has to act dispassionately. Peg points out that if he had been dispassionate and let Wilkes shoot her, they wouldn’t be in this mess anyway. Thompson cuts the tension with a great line: “If it makes a difference I’d have let him blow you both away.” So Sousa, Peggy, Thompson, Samberly, and Jarvis head out to the desert to try to stop Frost before she opens the zero matter crack again. Jarvis leaves Rose with some of Ana’s favorite things and his will, in case things take a bad turn. But our heroes are too late and Whitney opens the crack. But as she and Wilkes approach it, only he gets pulled into the air and into another dimension. Peggy tells her team to shoot the crack, because they’ve only got one shot. Jarvis is unsatisfied that the woman who shot his wife could get away and he takes off after her, and Peggy goes to stop him. The gun seals the crack, Wilkes falls to the ground with zero matter oozing under his skin, and Jarvis shoots Whitney, to no effect. Thankfully, she has the Italian goons take Peg and Jarvis captive instead of killing them, knowing they’re the leverage she needs over Wilkes. And that was just the first hour. Did I say it was action-packed, or what? The second hour opens with an incredible dream sequence. Peggy is at the diner from season one, where Angie Martinelli, Peggy’s much beloved best friend, appears to guide her as she considers Jason and Sousa. She and Jason dance, but then Sousa sings, so we all know whose side I’m on. Dottie Underwood and Jarvis both make appearances before Peggy (sadly) wakes up tied up in the back of a truck with Jarvis. The one disappointment of this amazing sequence was that Captain American did not appear, since Peggy showed up in his Avengers: Age of Ultron dream sequence. I suppose the message here is that she’s moved on (and that Chris Evans is expensive). In reality Peggy and Jarvis are tied up in the back of the truck, and they break out, only to get into a heated fight in the middle of the desert. It’s sad and compelling to watch because they have such a great friendship. She tells him that this is all a fun romp to him, but it’s her life, and he’ll never know the loss she’s had. He confesses that Ana can’t have children and he’s been too much of a coward to tell her. They start to patch things up just as the Italian goons appear to try to recapture them. Peggy obviously outsmarts them and gets the truck back. When they arrive in L.A., she tells Jarvis to go be with his wife, and he obliges. While he visits Ana, she tells him he has to go help Peggy because no one else will. And she tells him to come clean about whatever else he’s hiding. Ana might be OK. Meanwhile Sousa, Thompson, and Samberly have to find their own way out of the desert. When Vernon’s goons come to kill them, they pretend that Sousa and Samberly have taken Thompson hostage, so Thompson can pretend he’s still loyal to Masters and order the men around. And it works. Back at the SSR, they agree to work with Master to repair the gamma ray gun and take out Whitney. Peggy, of course, misses this, so when she rolls up to the SSR she whacks him upside the head, which is really great to watch. But Sousa explains the situation, and they all agree to work together because they’re at a stalemate — they could all bring each other down. At least, that’s Vernon’s reasoning, but we know that twisted logic would never fly for Peggy and Sousa. Things are not looking great for Jason, who’s convinced that he’s going to explode at any moment. Whitney tries to get the zero matter out of him in vain. But she does get an unexpected coup — Thompson appears, warning her that Vernon plans on using it on her. He tells her they can work together in exchange for Vernon’s job and her own seat on the council. This is the third time Thompson has switched sides this episode. Peggy knows Thompson is up to something but can’t sniff it out, so she sends him and Vernon off with the gun. She and Sousa are going to follow them — except their car’s fuel line has been cut. Samberly reveals that the gun is actually a bomb, according to Thompson’s plan, which he thought they were in on. A fourth side for Thompson. They race to stop the bomb. As Sousa and Samberly try to jam the radio waves that control it, Peggy breaks away to get Jason out. He tells her he can’t hold it in much longer and that he can’t go with her. Instead he locks himself in the lab. Interestingly they didn’t play it as a heroic moment of redemption and self-sacrifice. He didn’t appear in the promo, but I don’t think his story is done. In Whitney’s office, Thompson reveals his betrayal of his mentor and leaves Masters to be absorbed by the zero matter. Once he’s clear of the building, he presses his detonator, but it doesn’t work. He finds Sousa, Samberly and Peggy. She reminds him that bringing people to justice — not killing them — is his job, but he pulls his gun on Samberly so he’ll reactivate the detonator. Just as the gamma gun turned bomb starts to flash and Whitney fills Vernon with zero matter, Jason busts in, bursting apart at the seams. End episode. What an ending. At this point, the only people I’m confident won’t die next week are Peggy, Jarvis, Howard, and Angie Martinelli: Peggy because we know she makes it to 2014, Jarvis and Howard because Tony isn’t born yet, and Angie because she’s on the opposite coast. Anyone else seems fair game, which is a great way to go into a season — maybe series — finale.

‘Marvel’s Agent Carter’ Episodes 8 & 9 Recap: A Little Song and Dance