If last week’s episode of Agent Carter was a bit lacking on action and forward momentum, this week’s episode more than made up for it. Borrowing some of the tropes and essentially functioning as a heist story (which worked out really well for Ant-Man recently), “The Atomic Job” packs plenty of punch and Carter‘s signature blend of light-hearted espionage. The episode also provides plenty of serious moments and character development as both Agent Carter (Hayley Atwell) and her nemesis Whitney Frost (Wynn Everett) strategically move pieces to gain the upper hand, which ultimately leads to a showdown between the two by the end of the episode.
Early in the episode, we get to spend a little more time with Chief Sousa (Enver Gjokaj)’s girlfriend Violet, played by the delightful Sarah Bolger, when he finally and clumsily manages to propose to her. We also get to know a couple SSR characters a little better, front desk guard Rose (Lesley Boone) and the lab technnician with an inferiority complex Dr. Samberly (Matt Braunger). Rose’s take-no-guff attitude and fighting skills are great, but ultimately both she and Dr. Samberly leave something to be desired as far as believability and likability. Still absent and sorely missed is Jarvis’ wife Ana (Lotte Verbeek), who completely won over fans with her strong introduction in the first episode and then promptly disappeared.
The episode opens with Dr. Wilkes (Reggie Austin), Carter‘s possible love interest and intangible, caught-in-some-kind-of-extradimensional-limbo plot device, discovering a reaction between his ‘body’ and a sample tissue obtained from Jane Scott, a woman who had been killed by Zero Matter early in the season. Zero Matter is also what incorporealized Dr. Wilkes. Upon interacting with the Zero Matter in the tissue, Dr. Wilkes become certain of the whereabouts of Scott and become convinced that they must seek her out.
Carter and Jarvis (James D’Arcy) go after Scott’s body, but are stuck in the air vent above her when Frost and her husband of convenience and personal benefit Calvin Chadwick (Currie Graham) make it there first. Carter and Jarvis are forced to watch as Frost, who is already losing control of herself to the Zero Matter inside of her, absorbs the Zero Matter from Scott. The Zero Matter imbues Frost with a knowledge that she immediately relates to Chadwick as she says, “I need an atomic bomb.” Sure. We’ve all had days like that. Chadwick, increasingly the voice of terrified reason, reasonably asserts, “We cannot steal atomic bombs.” Classic domestic scene here. If we had a dollar for every time we’ve had this fight, amirite?
Consulting with Dr. Wilkes, Carter and Jarvis, figure out that Frost is attempting to recreate the experiment that unleashed the Zero Matter in the first place. They deduce that she’s going to have to steal an atomic bomb from a Roxxon facility, on which Jarvis is an expert thanks to Howard Stark’s penchant for corporate espionage. They decide that they’re going to have to get to those bombs first and it’s heist time, baby! Enlisting Sousa’s help, Carter obtains a ‘memory inhibitor’ from Dr. Samberly after they “grease [his] wheels” with a slice of pie.
Before disabling the atomic bombs, Carter will need to steal a one-of-a-kind key that allows her to get into the Roxxon facility. To do this, she must go undercover at the office of the President of Roxxon Energy and Council of Nine member Hugh Jones (Ray Wise) in what may be the most fun scene in the episode. Coming across the disguised and American-accented Carter snooping through his office, Jones assumes she’s a secretary and clumsily hits on her before leaving for lunch. As he’s getting in the elevator to go downstairs, about the same time Carter’s calling him an “arrogant plonker” under her breath, it dawns on him that the woman is Agent Carter, who he has met before. When he rushes back in to confront her, she uses the ‘memory inhibitor’ to erase the last two minutes from his mind. This plays out over and over again until she finds the key in his belt buckle, which she has the strength to do by reminding herself, “You’re saving the world. You’re saving the world. You’re saving the world.”
Meanwhile, Frost and Chadwick are plotting their own infiltration of the Roxxon facility by making a deal to borrow some men with crime boss Joseph Manfredi, who is played by the brilliant Ken Marino (MTV’s The State, Wet Hot American Summer, Axe Cop). Manfredi obviously has a past with Frost and almost entirely ignores Chadwick, making him very uncomfortable. As Chadwick is attempting to ask a question about the deal, Manfredi accuses one of his men of undressing Frost with his eyes and proceeds to beat the man mercilessly. Much to Chadwick’s chagrin, the deal is completed and the men are secured.
This is when the actual heist gets underway. Despite Sousa’s better judgement, their need for backup and gadgets forces them to include Rose and Dr. Samberly in the heist, rounding out Carter’s Five, which is decidedly less suave and smooth than Ocean’s Eleven. They break into the facility, taking out a number of guards. Rose takes down a man weilding a knife, chiding him that she’s “seen bigger.” As the quintet make it to the super secure room with the atomic bombs, they hear Frost and her men nearby and Jarvis is accidentally shut in the room with the bombs by himself. As Dr. Samberly tries to rework the wires to get the door open, Carter goes after Frost and Sousa attempts to talk Jarvis through removing the uranium cores from the bombs, telling him it’s “just like taking a souffle out of the oven. Probably.” After a brief encounter with Frost in which Frost begins using her Zero Matter power on Carter, Carter breaks free only to fall over an edge and impale herself on a steel rod.
With the uranium cores safely removed and in the capable(?) hands of Rose and Dr. Samberly, Jarvis and Sousa take Carter to Sousa’s house, since they can’t risk going to a hospital. Violet is fortunately able to patch up Carter as the rod missed all her vitals and Jarvis takes Carter back to Stark’s mansion. Sousa goes to thank Violet, but she has seen that he is in love with Carter. He doesn’t deny it. Sorry to all the fans who were shipping the celebrity couple of Soulet. Vousa? Never mind. Their names don’t really match for a classic pairing anyway.
Wrapping up the episode for Frost and Chadwick, he tells her that he’s had enough and will no longer help her. She grabs him by the throat and slams him against a wall at which point he decides that maybe he can help some more. Later that night, as Frost is sleeping, Chadwick sneaks off to call an emergency meeting of the Council of Nine. Back to Carter, she’s laying in bed, resting and talking with Dr. Wilkes when he begins to fade away and disappear entirely. No! Dr. Wilkes! This episode really continued to build upon the rest of the season and create great anticipation for the rest of it.