Picking up right where it left off last week, season two of Agent Carter continues to be as captivating and exciting as season one. Episode three, “Better Angels”, sees the whole gang back together as Jack (Chad Michael Murray) joins Agent Carter (Hayley Atwell) and Chief Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) out in L.A. This episode also goes even further in the direction of science fiction, while still managing to make it feel grounded in the real science of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is something at which Marvel is very adept. And who better to dig deep into zany fictional science than everyone’s favorite genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist of the 40s, Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper), who makes his return in a decidedly Stark fashion. Despite a couple missteps, Agent Carter continues to be one of the most engaging shows on television right now.
The episode starts out with Agent Carter and Chief Sousa searching the house of Dr. Wilkes (Reggie Austin) after the incident at Isodyne Energy. Upon walking across a room, Carter immediately noticed that a floorboard is hollow. For some reason, instead of using her completely unencumbered body to bend down and investigate, she stands there as Chief Sousa, while having proven himself very capable still has difficulty getting around due to his fake leg, bends down and removes the floorboard. They find plane tickets to Moscow and a Russian passport. It’s at this point that some random agent enters and states that there’s an abundance of evidence to indicate that Dr. Wilkes was a Russian spy. Agent Carter, who was unfortunately not an investigator in the Steven Avery case, immediately knows that all of the evidence has been planted by Isodyne Energy to frame Dr. Wilkes.
Agent Carter and Jarvis (James D’Arcy) then go to see Howard Stark, who’s directing a film called Kid Colt, which was an actual Marvel western comic. This leads to a great exchange where Stark mentions featuring Carter in his film, but doesn’t think America is ready for a strong female lead yet. Agent Carter retorts that it’s no more ridiculous than making a movie based on a comic book. Yes! Stark is shown the film documenting the creation of Zero Matter and is able to tell Carter that the pin that she found on one of the men that tried to kill her, which is the same as the one that Dottie Underwood (Bridget Regan) was attempting to steal from a bank, is a pin for members of the Arena Club, whose ranks are “male and pale.”
Later, when Carter and Sousa return to the office, Jack is there asking Carter to sign a doctored version of her report that paints Dr. Wilkes as a Communist spy. Jack, ever eager for a pat on the head and a cookie from his superiors, is allowing himself to be led around and serve his powerful mentor Vernon (Kurtwood Smith), who is working to protect Isodyne Energy and the Arena Club. After proving herself competent and efficient last season, this plot development is a great way to still have Agent Carter do what she does best, fight against opposition from all sides in an unwavering search for truth and justice.
To infiltrate and bug the Arena Club, Carter has Stark go in under the guise of being interested in joining, only to open the door of the place and allow all of his “production assistants” (read: gorgeous, young women) to swarm in, obscuring Agent Carter’s entrance. Carter makes her way to a secret meeting room where she finds the next day’s paper that indicates the senatorial race competitor for Isodyne Energy CEO Calvin Chadwick (Currie Graham) has dropped out, leaving Chadwick unopposed. Carter has to make a quick exit when a suited thug enters the room, which means she can’t grab any evidence, especially since the bugs she was planting all shorted out. Everyone rushes out of the boring club as Stark tells his horde of random women that they’re retreating to his place for a game of “Water-Giggles,” whatever that is.
Back at the office, Jack reasserts that the investigation is over and, after a heated exchange, orders Carter to return to New York. As Carter is exiting the office, floating objects on her desk make her fear Zero Matter contamination and she and Sousa rush to Stark’s house to have her checked out. Stark discovers a gravitational anomaly around Carter and when he sprays a solution that makes visible portions of the light spectrum that normally aren’t, Dr. Wilkes is revealed to be following her around in a non-corporeal form. This is pretty exciting news, not only for Carter, but for fans of the Marvel Universe, who have been crying out for more diversity, and were disheartened to see the only character of color in the entire show killed in the second episode. He’s alive! He informs everyone that Chadwick’s wife Whitney Frost (Wynn Everett) was present at the explosion at Isodyne Energy.
As Stark gets cracking on a cure for Dr. Wilkes’ intangibility, Carter decides to pay Frost a visit herself. After a great, strategic exchange in which Carter subtly threatens Frost and Frost deftly avoids any admission of wrongdoing, Carter heads back to Stark’s. She shares an intimate moment with Dr. Wilkes where she tell him she’s an “excellent judge of character,” which mirrors her initial attraction to Captain America. Meanwhile, Jack is handing SSR evidence over to Vernon and Frost is manipulating Chadwick into taking a hit out on Carter. Later, while Carter is putting some Captain America-worthy moves on a punching bag, she’s attacked. With a little help from Jarvis, they fend off the attacker.
As Carter is feeling good that she rattled Frost into doing something rash, Stark is gearing up to seek out an expert in subatomic and gravitational physics in Peru. When Carter returns to the office, Chief Sousa tells her that he uncovered that Whitney Frost is really an alias for Agnes Cully, who did some brilliant work during the war and is secretly the brains behind Isodyne Energy. Meanwhile, Frost is informed by the director of her latest movie that the studio wanted to go with someone else, but he fought for her. When they hug, he starts to get a little creepy, at which point the Zero Matter in her body attacks and absorbs him. The Zero Matter crack on her forehead then grows a bit. Her transformation into well-known Marvel villain Madame Masque grows nearer. It’s great that this season’s main villain is shaping up to be a woman hiding in plain sight, cloaked by the dismissive gaze of passive misogyny.
While the action is well done, the social commentary is poignant, the dialogue is snappy, and the jokes almost always hit, Agent Carter continues to excel at the thing that keeps its viewers returning, the depth of the characters. The interactions and motivation of the characters is always exciting and truthful. As season two continues, fans will undoubtedly continue to tune in to find out how things turn out for these characters that they have grown to genuinely care for.