Features TV

REVIEW: Agent Carter 2×04 “Smoke & Mirrors”

This was the Agent Carter episode that I’ve been waiting for.

With a healthy combination of action, humor, backstory, and plot, “Smoke & Mirrors,” was definitely a step up from last week’s episode. The season’s plot finally seemed to make some progress this week as we were introduced to a wealth of new information thanks to some well-timed flashbacks and Peggy’s expert interrogation skills.

Spoilers ahead!

“Smoke & Mirrors,” had two key plots, both of which centered around Whitney Frost. The woman in question spent much of the episode, understandably, freaking out over the recent discovery of her new powers. After receiving a box of lab rats from Isodyne, Frost attempts to control her powers and, while successful at absorbing a rat, Whitney can’t quite figure out how to prevent the slash on her forehead from growing.

Meanwhile, Peggy and Jarvis are trying to figure out what role Frost plays in Isodyne and the mysterious incident at the lab that left poor Wilkes as a non-corporeal being. After noticing that Chadwick’s driver is supporting an injury in the very place that Peggy shot her previous attacker, the Brits realize that Rufus Hunt is definitely a person of interest and decide that the best way to handle him is by shooting him with a tranq gun and sticking him in the boot of the car.

How jarvelous!

Sousa is brought into the fold when he catches Peggy with the kidnapped man and the two tag-team him in the interrogation of all interrogations. Peggy, being the genius that she is, knows that Hunt won’t talk if tortured but might talk if he thinks he’s going to die. She injects him with a liquid cold that Stark created, telling him it’s malaria and he only has twenty minutes before he dies. The ploy works and Hunt sings like a canary, dropping names and informing Peggy that, “The Council of Nine,” record all of their meetings and said recordings can be found in the Arena Club’s storage room.

AC204

The information is just what the SSR needs to acquire a warrant and raid the Club but just as they’re about to head out, Jack Thompson’s creeptastic buddy from the war office, Vernon Masters, roles up under the pretense of, “auditing,” the SSR. Of course we know that it’s really just him stopping the raid from happening and buying the Council time to move the evidence. Luckily, it only takes thirty seconds for Peggy to realize the same thing and avoid giving Masters any additional information (like the name of her informant). Perhaps it was Masters’ less than subtle, “A tidal wave is coming Agent Carter, and you’re going to have to work very hard to stay afloat,” that gave him away…

Anywho, Peggy and Sousa head back to where they’re keeping Hunt and let him “escape” their custody BUT it’s all a rouse because Margaret Elizabeth Carter actually planted a bug on him, meaning the good guys get to hear everything that goes down when Hunt goes running to the Chadwick home.

Which, admittedly isn’t much, because after confessing that he’d told Peggy and the SSR about the Council, poor Hunt gets absorbed by Whitney… which doesn’t exactly translate that well over the wireless.

So once again, Peggy and the gang know that something’s up with Whitney Frost… they just don’t know what.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this episode is how Agent Carter chose to approach Frost, the clear frontrunner for this season’s, “Big Bad,” title. The flashbacks sprinkled throughout the episode, though not entirely necessary where the larger plot of the series is concerned, played a pivotal role in showing how both Peggy and Frost came to be the women they are in the present.

While Peggy spent much of her youth playing a part and squashing her own hopes and ambitions, the then Agnes Cully refused to feign interest in things she disliked and give up on those she did. Both women were influenced drastically by the people in their lives. Peggy’s brother encouraged her to take the position in the SOE that she had previously turned down at her boring fiancé’s insistence. Agnes Cully on the other hand was given a harsher reality check when her mother told her that her intelligence wouldn’t get anywhere but her looks would.

Where Michael Carter’s encouragement, and eventual death, gave Peggy the push to follow her passions and become the woman she wished to be, Mrs. Cully convinced her daughter to hide who she is and adopt a new identity all together. Peggy’s late brother’s statement to, “Stop pretending to be someone you’re not,” is key where Peggy and Frost are concerned, and seem to be the greatest signifier of who they are as people. While Peggy chose to take the advice, Frost is now literally doing the opposite, losing her name and the young Midwestern girl that she was, in order to become someone that she thinks the world wants her to be.

It’ll be interesting to see how the similarities and differences of Peggy and Frost come into play further down the line as the two women interact more with each other and feed off of one another.

Episode Grade: B

Episode Highs:

  • The humor was top-notch, resulting in a few audible laughs from myself. We all saw Jarvis getting tranqued coming, but that didn’t make it any less funny to watch.
  • The information that was given to the audience was actually new and there was very little, if any, repetition.
  • “You gave him a cold?” “An intense cold.”

Episode Lows:

  • The cast of Agent Carter is pretty enormous, meaning that many key players don’t get as much screen time as is desired. What happened to Ana Jarvis? What was the deal with Dottie Underwood trying to steal that pin? I’m certain we’ll see more of them but (particularly where Mrs. J is concerned) it seems odd to hype their significance and then have them disappear.
  • I know that she’s killed two people at this point (that we know of), has ordered countless others to be killed, and is generally bad news, but Whitney Frost just doesn’t seem all that ominous to me just yet, and this episode’s flashbacks only served to further the fact that she still doesn’t seem like a big enough threat to warrant such duress from the SSR.

Additional Thoughts:

  • Do you think Howard is gone for good or will we see him pop up again?
  • How many rats does it take to turn Frost completely black?
  • What’s the deal with Wilkes seeing that ominous crack?

Sound off with your thoughts on Twitter or in the comments below and let us know what you thought of the latest Agent Carter.

About the author

Silje Falck-Pedersen