‘Agent Carter’ 2.04 Recap: “No One Cares What’s in Your Head”

I was all set to start this new recap with a quip about how I no longer hate-watch ‘Agent Carter’; I loathe-watch it. Last week’s episode was truly dreadful. Fortunately (or unfortunately), the latest entry is better – not great, not even necessarily good, but decidedly an improvement over the last one.

Sadly, we still have the issue of Wilksie the Friendly Ghost to drag down the proceedings. That part is still astoundingly dumb. At least he’s not in this one very much. We see him briefly at the beginning, still stumped as to how to make himself corporeal again. He’s also a little bummed that he can’t eat anything while in his present form, but he’s not above continuing to flirt with Peggy. Later, he’ll have strange hallucinations about a crack in space-time opening in front of him, and will tell Peggy that he’s dead-tired and drawn to let go. That’s as much as we have to deal with his stupid storyline.

This episode is heavy on flashbacks. We start with two young kids playing and realize that little Peggy was always tomboy and a troublemaker. We later jump to 1940, where Peggy works as a codebreaker for the military during the war. She’s engaged to a terribly dull man and initially turns down a promotion to become a field agent because she thinks a woman’s place is to be a homemaker. Her brother dislikes the fiancé and encourages Peggy to take the promotion and do something important with her life. On the day of her wedding, Peggy receives the news that her brother was killed in the war. She ditches the fiancé to take the job, and thus sets her course to become the Agent Carter we know.

As if that weren’t enough flashbacks, the episode also gives us a whole second plotline about the evil Whitney Frost’s backstory. As a child, young Agnes Cully (her real name) was a genius savant about fixing and building electronics. After she’s rejected from a science academy for being a girl, Agnes’ whore mother berates her to stop being such a nerd and put more effort into making herself look pretty, which is all anybody will care about. As a young woman, Agnes moves to Los Angeles and is almost immediately “discovered” by a sleazy talent agent who tells her that she’ll have to change her name if she wants to break into the movie business. Nevertheless, she continued to put her science background to use, and at some point developed a super generator that would become the foundation of Isodyne Energy.

(The Whitney character’s story is very loosely based on real Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr, who developed a radio guidance system for torpedoes that later became the basis for modern WiFi and Bluetooth. However, to my knowledge, Lamarr was not an evil murderous super-powered freak.)

Back to 1947

Enough with the flashbacks. In the main timeline of 1947, Whitney receives a secret delivery of lab rats and spends her time trying to control her new powers and absorb the rats into her like she did the movie director. With each success, the nasty crack on her forehead gets worse. Lucky for her, hairstyles of the day favor letting a sweep of hair cover half her face.

Peggy and Jarvis tail Whitney’s husband Calvin Chadwick and see him interacting with a bodyguard identified as lowlife criminal Rufus Hunt. Peggy recognizes Rufus as the man who attacked her at Howard Stark’s house. She and Jarvis flush him out of his apartment and shoot him with a tranquilizer dart. Actually, it takes a couple of tranqs to subdue him, and Peggy accidentally hits Jarvis with one as well. She shoves Rufus in the trunk of her car and Jarvis into the backseat, then returns to the mansion, where she finds Sousa waiting for her.

Peggy tries to brush Sousa off, but he discovers what she’s done and is quite mad about her kidnapping a man without due process. Rather than turn her in, however, he agrees to help her interrogate Rufus. The thug is not intimidated by either of them until Peggy injects him with what she says is a lethal strain of malaria that will kill him in 20 minutes unless she administers an antidote. It’s actually just a nasty cold virus, but Rufus falls for the ploy and gives up information about the nefarious Council of Nine, which meets in that secret room in the Arena Club. He says that their meetings are recorded on tapes that should still be in the club.

Sousa and Peggy gather together a bunch of SSR agents for a raid on the club, but need to wait for a warrant to come through. Before that can happen, Vernon Masters (Kurtwood Smith) interrupts and demands to know the source of the information about the club. Peggy will only tell him that it was an anonymous informant. It’s clear to her that Masters is part of the conspiracy and has scuttled their warrant request. The raid is called off.

Sousa sticks by Peggy. They return to the mansion and trick Rufus into escaping while unknowingly wearing a wire. He runs right to Whitney and Chadwick. The two of them are concerned about their cover being blown, even though Rufus claims he didn’t give up their names. Needing to tie up loose ends, Whitney uses her power to kill Rufus and absorb him into her body right in front of her shocked husband. Peggy and Sousa listened to the whole thing on the wire but have no idea what happened.

Episode Verdict

In the episode’s favor, the idiotic Wilkes stuff is minimized, the plot isn’t too abjectly stupid, and I actually liked both flashback storylines. I’m not sure that we really needed two separate sets of flashbacks in the same episode, but both were interesting enough in showing us how these two female characters got to where they are today (or, you know, 1947).

On the other hand, the episode is still just as dull as usual. That seems to be an obstacle the show-runners have a really hard time overcoming.

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