A View in the Dark – When Isodyne Energy suddenly shuts down its operations, Peggy and Sousa are left clueless but suspicious until Dr Wilkes confides in Peggy over their illegal research into Zero Matter. Peggy and Wilkes hatch a plan to steal the Zero Matter but they’re not the only interested party.
So to the second half of Peggy’s double portioned starter, and the Strange card immediately appears to be played as the episode lays the first MCU groundwork alternative dimensions, a confirmed feature of the upcoming Sorcerer Supreme film. In a sequence that feels unintentionally familiar of The Man In High Castle, the pair watch a nuclear test gone wrong (tying well into the period with nuclear science still a developing field), resulting in a mass implosion and the creation of Zero Matter, the strange substance seen at the end of the first episode and in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1 (the funky shinny stuff in the glass case). While the pledge is that the substance and its origins are completely unknown, Dr Wilkes offers a very specific hypothesis, “It could be extra dimensional”. Of course, there’s no mention yet of any specific realms or dimensions and we can safely rule out any travelling between them. However, it looks like we will defiantly see elements of other worldly phenomenon (do doo de do doo) featuring across the season. What’s the most impressive, however, is that the entire concept does not feel out of place within the setting of the show. The general idea of nuclear research involves scientists messing with forces they probably shouldn’t so this feels a natural fictional extension of that rather than dropping a giant mechanical spider into the old west.
Quite early on the episode throws down a very big card over its greater evil as we see Calvin Chadwick summoned to a secret meeting of none of other than the Council of Nine (a comics evil organisation dating back to the '60's). While most members are new faces, the dots immediately connect when we see none other than Season 1 character, Hugh Jones (The head of Roxxon Oil) is among them. Suddenly, we have the notion that everything is connected in the grander scheme that not only encompasses the events of Season 1, the New York side of this season. It seems a pretty safe bet that the Vernon Masters of the FBI will be one of their members. This means we could well see Dotti working for them (if she wasn’t already) and maybe even a coerced Jack?
On the smaller scale, we also get some interesting insights into what previously seemed our evil power couple, Calvin and Whitney. When Calvin was told to abandon his research he isn’t thrilled about it but he does accept the council decision whereas Whitney is far more driven and defiant. If anything she now feels like the true evil one in their relationship with Calvin merely going along with it. Whitney’s film studio scenes with her A-hole director also establish her some clear motivations of fear and vanity. Although a long successful actress, whether she likes it or not, she is starting to get older and her days of being every man’s heartthrob are numbered. This sets up some great angles for dangerous youth-restoring experiments gone wrong to transition her into her masked villainess persona.
Despite the high bar set by the last episode's bank showdown, we do get some great action here as Peggy explains to a group of men why you should never hit a lady with glasses... because she’ll knock your bloody teeth out for it. Though many of the episode’s best moments come from its excellent humour, which like any good genre balancing show always feels like, it can jump up at any moment. The best results of course come from the Peggy/Jarvis double act. From Jarvis running through Howard Stark’s equivalent of the Austin Powers “Shaguar” and of course, Jarvis’s new physical exercise and combat training routine (but alas, he’s still bested by Bernard). From the moment we cut to his “liberating” singlet the laughs keep coming and a crescendo as he and Peggy spar (“oh Mr Jarvis”). Its conclusion also highlights another real asset to the show and that is Lotte Verbeek’s Mrs Jarvis. Rather than being a 3rd wheel, she’s the 3rd pillar of the tripod boosting the trio to new heights. Her constant causal approach is just wonderful on screen. She is in absolute acceptance of everything in her life and her husband like nothing could possibly shock her. She knows Peggy will no more try to steal Jarvis away from her than she will pull a Christmas tree out of her buttocks. You get the feeling that even if a Dormammu suddenly appeared on their front porch in all his fire placing glory, she’d just causally ask Jarvis, “Four for dinner then darling?”; may we all be lucky enough to find a partner like that. Another impressive new lady on the scene is Sousa’s girlfriend, Violet. In a similar capacity to Ana Jarvis, she shows a great level of acceptance and understanding over the strains his work puts on their relationship, “my boyfriend catches bad guys and I’m very proud of him”. After seeing so many genre shows have couples fight and fall out every time the call of duty ruins a date, it’s really nice to see Agent Carter take a more level headed approach with its characters.
Last episode had quite a bit of ground to cover in setting up the new series location. Now that’s established, A View in the Dark is overall a more enjoyable episode for being able to pace itself. Dr Wilkes and Peggy’s meet up at the jazz club is absolutely captivating because it was not forced by time constraints. So we have big evil, crazy science stuff and a cast of awesome female characters. Agent Carter is certainly shining in this dark.
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