Marvel’s Agent Carter “Smoke and Mirrors” Review (Season 2 Episode 4)

MARVEL'S AGENT CARTER - "The Lady in the Lake"

Hey everybody! I reviewed the lovely first season of Marvel’s Agent Carter last year, and I was very excited about its return, but due to stuff going on and yadda yadda yadda I’m picking up the reviews now in episode four! So here we go!

“Smoke and Mirrors” pushed the story forward with the secretive Arena Club and the intimidating influence they have on just about everything, but all of this progression was cut with quite a few flashbacks into the backstories of our two leading ladies.

We of course started with Peggy herself, as we saw young Peggy roughhousing with her big brother. At first I was a little concerned about her flashbacks, because I felt like I already knew all about Peggy. We knew she was a rough and tumble tomboy, who was always trying to prove that she was just as capable as her male colleagues, and that’s exactly what I got from that first flashback. Of course her traditional British mom didn’t want her to be like that, but I figured that Peggy has always been fighting against traditions and gender roles and that we’d just see her continue in that vein as the episode continued. However, the next scene we saw was totally different! Peggy was a kept woman, working a boring job as a code breaker with a bunch of ladies and she was engaged to a boring government worker! This was a huge difference from how I always assumed she’d been, and I loved that she really got into the SSR to help avenge her brother’s death and to be the person she really wanted to be. It really adds a lot of depth to her character, and it’s great to know that she’s not just simply a tomboy with something to prove.

The flashbacks for Whitney Frost were equally effective. I love seeing how smart and powerful she is, especially in a time when a woman being smart and powerful was not socially acceptable. Her mom was doing her best to squeeze her smarts and independence out of her, instead telling her to just focus on her looks, but I love that she maintained her brilliance and is now ascending into a super powerful person in a totally different way. Her character arc is actually very reminiscent of another female character on a different Marvel show: Trish Walker on Marvel’s Jessica Jones. She’s a smart girl, but (I guess minor spoilers for Jessica Jones…) she was forced into acting by her controlling and abusive mom, but now she’s grown into the smart and powerful woman she was always meant to be. Hooray for more strong female characters!

Outside the flashbacks, the stuff we got in the present day was also pretty great. I don’t know if maybe I’m just not remembering the first season differently, but this season seems noticeably funnier than the first. I don’t know if it’s the bright Californian sunshine that’s lightening the mood or something, but they seem to be fitting in quite a bit more jokes and laughs than I remember from before. I actually like it, especially with all the other Marvel shows being much more serious.

There really wasn’t actually a whole lot going on story-wise. Peggy kidnapped Rufus, he told them about the Arena Club, and the shady Vernon Masters showed up to shut down the SSR’s raid. That’s really about it. You can really tell that they are using the two extra episodes this season, whereas with only eight episodes last season there really wasn’t any slowing down. The only part that I didn’t quite buy was how quick Peggy was to tell Masters all about her research on the Arena Club. You’d think the fact that he happened to appear with an audit right before they were about to raid the Arena Club would have clued her in to the fact that Masters was probably working for them. She eventually caught up when Masters started to beg her for the informant’s name, but it shouldn’t take you that long, Peggy!

A couple small complaints aside, this was another solid episode that moved a few pieces slightly forward, and also gave us some great backstory on a few characters. We’re almost halfway through the season now!

Random Thoughts:

– I do hope we get to see Jarvis face that Koala. I really loved the line “It’s adorable appearance belies a vile temperament”.

– For those of you who were wondering, Hedy Lamarr divorced her third husband (John Loder, the third of six) in late 1947. Good job keeping your headlines current, guys!

– I liked that Peggy’s mom couldn’t find her handkerchief in both of her flashbacks. Cool touch.