‘Agent Carter’ 2.03 Recap: “We Have a Code Pink”

Three episodes into the new season, I’ve already resigned myself to the fact that ‘Agent Carter’ isn’t getting any better this year. The show is still drearily dull. Given its short seasons, I’ve made some peace with that. However, when an episode is also as flat-out stupid as this week’s, that sin may be unforgivable.

Following the Zero Matter incident at Isodyne Energy, the presumed-dead Dr. Wilkes has been labeled a terrorist and blamed for the explosion. That doesn’t sit well with Peggy at all. When she and Sousa search his house, they quickly find a hidden stash of money and a Russian passport, pointing to him as a spy. This is all too easy and convenient. Peggy immediately recognizes it as a frame-up.

Peggy visits Howard Stark on the set of a movie he’s directing. It’s a Western based on a comic book. Peggy scoffs at the notion of movies based on comics. Ha ha ha… Because this show is based on a comic book. Isn’t that so clever?

Peggy asks Howard what he knows about Zero Matter, which is not much, but he’s fascinated. He reviews the film reel that Dr. Wilkes gave Peggy and starts formulating theories. The investigation also points to an institution called the Arena Club, which Howard explains is a very “male and pale” social club for the wealthy elite. He is not a member. He finds the place too stodgy. For Peggy’s benefit, however, he’ll pretend to apply for membership in order to get her in the door.

Jack Thompson, Peggy’s boss back at the New York office, arrives in Los Angeles to falsify the report about Wilkes, sweep the whole Isodyne incident under the rug, and just generally be a major prick. While arguing with him, Peggy fails to notice a pen and set of keys levitating above her desk. That’s weird.

At Peggy’s urging, Thompson watches the Zero Matter film and is disturbed by it. Nonetheless, he continues to suck up to his own boss, Vernon Masters (Kurtwood Smith), who wants the Zero Matter recovered quietly.

Howard disrupts the Arena Club by bringing a bunch of floozies in with him. How dare he? Didn’t he read the “No Women or Animals Allowed” sign? These crazy broads make quite a scene! Peggy slips in with the crowd and goes snooping. She finds a secret room hidden behind a bookcase. Inside are two newspapers dated the following day, with headlines already calling the Senatorial election for candidate Calvin Chadwick, owner of Isodyne Energy. Peggy nearly gets caught planting a bug in the room and barely gets out.

Peggy finally notices things levitating around her. The temperature around her body also seems to be colder than the rest of the room. She fears that she may have been exposed to the Zero Matter. Remembering how everyone else exposed to it froze to death, she goes to Howard for help. He doesn’t think these strange phenomena are coming from her.

Howard whips up a concoction of silver nitrate and sprays it into the air, suddenly exposing Dr. Wilkes in full color standing in the room with them! He’s non-corporeal so Peggy’s hand passes right through him when she tries to touch him. Although visibly speaking, no sound comes out. Howard sprays the silver nitrate into his mouth to make his vocal cords work, and…

You know what… No. Just no. This is just too idiotic. It’s completely moronic bullshit and not worth explaining. What it amounts to is that the ghost of Dr. Wilkes tells them about Whitney Frost being evil and works with Howard to find a cure for his own condition. Howard is impressed with his genius. I, meanwhile, am unimpressed with the depths of stupidity this show has fallen to.

Peggy confronts Whitney, who denies being at Isodyne the night of the explosion. Afterward, Whitney begs her husband, Chadwick, to have Peggy killed. He thinks that’s a bad idea, but she gets manipulative and deceptive and talks him into it.

While staying at Howard Stark’s house, Peggy is grabbed in the middle of the night by a masked intruder. She manages to fight him off with a little help from Jarvis. The attacker gets away.

Unsuccessful in curing Wilkes, Howard announces that he’s going to Peru to fetch a brilliant professor to help. Peggy and Sousa do some digging into Whitney Frost and discover that her real name is Agnes Cully, and she was a scientist inventor before the war. Her current life as an actress is all a sham. She’s the real brains behind Isodyne Energy.

Vernon Masters introduces Thompson to Chadwick, and shows him a newspaper headline about how great his campaign is going. It’s the same headline Peggy told him about. Thompson begins to wonder if maybe Peggy was right after all.

The episode ends with Whitney on the set of her latest film. The director tells her that the studio wanted to fire her, but he fought to keep her. Then he tries to put the moves on her. The more aggressive he gets, the more agitated Whitney gets, until suddenly the director turns to goo and gets absorbed into her body, just like the Zero Matter wormhole sucked in everything around it. That cut on her forehead is also getting worse. Uh oh! She’s a super-villain now.

Episode Verdict

This episode really strains my tolerance for hate-watching bad TV. I’ve never been particularly enthused about ‘Agent Carter’, but this is truly a new low. Ghosts now, really? And a silver nitrate spray magically makes him visible and allows him to talk? The more I think about this, the more I want to punch myself in the head to make myself stop remembering it.

This is just truly an awful hour of television that makes me question how many more of these I can endure. Is the season up to ten episodes this year? If any more of them are this bad, I may not make it.

4 comments

  1. OK…agreed that the episode took too many beyond belief turns. However, I am surprisingly enjoying the season. Each episode looks lush and vibrant, and each episode has had something going for it. I do think they try to be more tongue in cheek than some, and yet there’s something surprisingly successful in the retro feel of the show. Agent Carter and Jarvis are strong characters and the actors do them justice. I do think they have to build on those two a bit more, but once again, so far it’s keeping my interest. There have been episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.LD. that have driven me far more crazy than this one.

  2. Shayne Blakeley

    I’ll concede that the crap with Wilkes is really awful, but otherwise I am enjoying this season quite a bit so far. I never quite understood why you disliked the first season so much.

  3. Bryan

    I don’t think he’s actually a ghost. I think he’s just intangible/invisible (kind of similar to the Vision’s powers – at least in the comics). OK – spraying the silver nitrate into his mouth was a little dumb, but I choose to roll with it. It’s no worse than the pseudo-science on The Flash, and I still enjoy that quite a lot as well…..

    • Paulb

      Ditto. The ‘you can talk now’ was the only eye roller for me but overall it is our favorite comic book show (not counting the ‘serious’ Netflix ones which are a mostly a different category) along with Flash, though I like Agents of Shield a lot now but my partner doesn’t watch that as she was out after a few episodes of the crappy first half of the first season.

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