Review: Agent Carter 2.08 & 2.09

Trust me, I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but this was another stellar two hours of Agent Carter. Now that there’s only one episode left (sob!), I’m comfortable calling this season an outright success. I liked last season a whole heck of a lot, but looking back, its real triumph was the setup it provided: allowing viewers to get to know the characters and developing their relationships with one another, making their scenes this season feel beautifully earned in a way they couldn’t have last year.

Case in point? That devastating Peggy/Jarvis scene in the desert that the writers and actors have been carefully, cautiously building towards since the day Jarv and Peggy met. And yes, I’m starting off with that moment because I think it was the best scene the show has ever done, particularly because of how earned it was. Peggy and Jarvis are best friends and partners, something that’s been established over the last seventeen episodes. That means they have each other’s backs, that they’re there to hold hands, fetch radios, plump pillows, and make tea. But, with that ability to provide support and comfort comes a painfully intimate knowledge of weaknesses, sore spots, and deepest regrets, and knowing exactly which button to push to hurt the other the most.

And that’s exactly what they did here, with Jarvis calling attention to the death that surrounds Peggy, and Peggy pointing out Jarvis’s naivety about their adventures up until now. Jarvis’s attack in particular was a low blow given the guilt Peggy already carries, as well as how hard she’s worked to let herself be happy despite the losses she’s endured. But despite the nasty words said, Jarvis immediately apologizing showed how much they still care, and will always care about one another. With the news he received about Ana in this episode, I understood why he went after Whitney and lashed out at Peggy, something Peggy herself luckily understood as well. Serious kudos to Hayley Atwell and James D’Arcy for that scene, and for generally making that relationship the best platonic male/female friendship I’ve seen this side of Parks and Recreation’s Leslie and Ron.

And speaking of relationships, let’s talk about how in love I am with Jarvis and Ana’s. Their marriage is another example of how well-developed the relationships on this show are, especially considering that Ana’s only been on-screen for a handful of episodes so far. At the start of the episode, Jarvis’s desperation to fix the radio so they could have their usual evening routine had me near tears, as did the promises he made to Ana as she slept. When she did wake up (and thank god!), I loved that she again said “don’t make promises you can’t keep”, a bittersweet mantra that’s been achingly appropriate in the last couple episodes. I understood why Jarvis couldn’t tell Ana about the complication at first (after all, having kids was most likely a promise they made to each other), but I’m glad that Ana knew he was lying. Even on her sickbed, she never came across as a fool or a weakling (sending Jarvis off to help Peggy showed that), and proved once again that theirs is a relationship of equals.

Also in a relationship of equals are Peggy and Sousa, who again showed that they share an unshakeable sense of right and wrong unparalleled by any of the other characters, including the other object of Peggy’s affection, Wilkes. As the season has gone on, Daniel and Peggy’s connection has only grown stronger, and Jason’s actions in this episode didn’t exactly help his case. Being willing to sacrifice himself in the end earned him some points, but holding a gun to Peggy’s head on behalf of Whitney definitely didn’t, regardless of what good he was hoping to accomplish by doing that. That choice actually led to another big moment for Peggy and Daniel, with Sousa revealing the location of the rods the moment that Peggy’s life was in danger. And, in the wonderfully frank conversation that followed, where Daniel tried to give Peggy a lecture on action dispassionately towards Wilkes, and she quickly pointed out the hypocrisy of that, they proved once again how well-matched they are. Both are great agents, looking out for the good of the people, but personal feelings do sometimes get in the way for both of them, with Daniel unwilling to risk Peggy’s life and Peggy Jason’s, though at this point more because he’s an innocent man and less because of anything romantic (at least I hope so).

Jack Thompson definitely doesn’t share Peggy and Daniel’s black and white sense of right and wrong, choosing instead to live in the gray area between, something I actually kind of appreciated in this episode. He definitely owes thanks to Peggy for ending up there, with their conversation about the file being the kick in the pants he needed to finally turn on Vernon. Peggy’s always treated Jack like a bit of a pesky fly, something I’ll admit I find endlessly amusing. But despite her feelings towards him personally, she gave him the vote of confidence he needed when she simply told him that he was better than his behavior. However, refreshingly, we didn’t see a complete character turn around after that conversation. Instead, Jack did some double, triple, and quadruple crossing, making plans to kill Whitney, Vernon, and Jason, despite the latter’s innocence. As questionable as that decision was, it was far more believable than Jack just going along with Peggy and Daniel’s plan with no questions asked. Like I said, Thompson’s always been a gray area kind of guy, and I’m glad that the writers stuck with that.

Other thoughts on this double episode:

I have to talk about that awesome, awesome dance number. Did it feel a little random? Yes. Did I love it anyway? Absolutely. Sometimes you just have to go along for the ride, and it was completely worth it to see that sweet moment with Michael, the return of Angie, and, of course, Peggy and Daniel singing and dancing. Plus, there was a lovely bit of symbolism there with Peggy finally getting the dance that Steve promised her so long ago, this time with the man who will hopefully become her husband one day (I’m choosing to ignore the fact that she also danced with Wilkes…)

Seeing Dottie in that dance sequence made me wonder where she was during the rest of the episode. Hopefully she’ll pop up in the finale to provide a little closure.

Samberly was once again used to hilarious effect here, trying in complete vain to impress Rose and getting under Sousa’s skin. Sousa’s annoyance with him was particularly funny to me because he’s always so nice to everyone else, but didn’t even bother trying to hide how much Samberly irritated him in this one.

Rose agreeing to stay with Ana without a moment’s hesitation was very sweet, especially considering they’d never met before.

Whitney and Peggy’s little exchange over the “sisterhood” was a gem that could be easily overlooked in two very busy episodes, but was another cool reference to the similar obstacles they’ve faced. This show does feminism, racism, and privilege in a very smart way, and this was another great example of that.

And on a related note, Manfredi and Whitney’s relationship has become a little fascinating to me in the last couple episodes. I kind of love how much he respects her, but their relationship is obviously super twisted and unhealthy to the point where I can’t bring myself to actively root for them.

Only one episode left this season! Please, please, please don’t let it be the last…

 

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