During last week’s two-episode season premiere of Marvel’s Agent Carter, we learned that Peggy was reassigned to Los Angeles to assist with a perplexing case being worked by the newly established West Coast branch of the SSR. Most of the major players from Marvel’s Agent Carter‘s first season are back, including Edwin Jarvis, Daniel Sousa, Jack Thompson, and Dottie Underwood. By the end of the Agent Carter‘s second episode, we had been formally introduced to Peggy’s new romantic interest (professional scientist Dr. Jason Wilkes), a mysterious — and possibly extraterrestrial — substance called “zero matter,” and a new iteration of the Marvel’s Whitney Frost, the legal name of Madame Masque.
— Agent Carter (@AgentCarterTV) January 25, 2016
After the last episode, Dr. Wilkes is believed to be dead and is being framed as a Russian spy. Agent Carter knows better and sets out to prove his innocence. As it turns out, Calvin Chadwick, Whitney Frost, and The Arena Club (more on that below) are the ones trying to put the blame on Wilkes. It turns out Wilkes isn’t dead, but is now in a state in which he has no mass or physical attributes. By the end of the episode, Stark and Wilkes get ready to fly to Peru to meet with another scientist to try to bring Dr. Wilkes back completely
As Carter continues to investigate Isodyne, Chadwick, and Frost, they hire a “Mr. Hunt” to kill Carter, but he is unsuccessful. She knows they are behind framing Dr. Wilkes, and finds evidence that they’re rigging the election. Thompson doesn’t believe her at first.
Howard Stark also explains the origin of the strange symbol that appeared in the first two episodes. It represents The Arena Club, a group of old white men with a lot of political power.
Captain Thompson shows up in Los Angeles, and FBI agent Vernon Masters shows up again. He continues to urge Thompson to think about a future with the FBI. Thompson gives Masters the only known footage of zero matter (which Vernon requested), but realizes he may have made a mistake when he is introduced to Calvin Chadwick and learns that Carter was right to warn him about the fixed election.
As the show ends, Whitney Frost accidentally makes her film director disappear — apparently into her own body, thanks to her unusual reaction to zero matter exposure. As she absorbs his physical body, the scar on her forehead grows slightly.
— Agent Carter (@AgentCarterTV) January 26, 2016
As the third episode begins, Agent Carter has shown up to Dr. Wilkes’ home to meet with the rest of the SSR for their investigation. At the home, Carter discovered a loose plank in the floor, inside of which are airline tickets, tons of cash and a Russian passport. It would appear as though Dr. Wilkes was actually a Russian spy — Carter believes Wilkes has been framed.
Agent Carter wants to ask Howard Stark for some assistance in the case, to help prove Wilkes was innocent. Jarvis takes her to the set of a film he’s directing. At this point, Stark explains the mysterious symbol shown in the first two episodes. It represents The Arena Club, a group of old, rich, powerful white men. Stark was given a chance to join their fraternity, but was not interested, as no women were allowed (because he’s a playboy, not a feminist).
We are then reminded that Whitney Frost has a scar on her forehead from zero matter, but otherwise seems mostly unaffected by the exposure. No one else knows she has the substance in her system, and she wants to keep it that way. Her husband, who was president of Isodyne and is now running for Senate under the advisement of The Arena Club, reveals that they had framed Dr. Wilkes, and they seem to have gotten away with it.
Before the scene ends, Whitney tells Calvin that she wants to retire from acting — he wants her to keep it up until after his campaign, promising her she can quit after the election when they win and move to Washington.
“If we win this thing and move to Washington, you can retire and have all the babies you want.”
It should be noted that Frost has never mentioned being a mother thus far.
Back at the office, Captain Thompson has arrived from New York City unannounced. He is there under the guise of editing Carter’s report of the Isodyne incident so that it doesn’t appear that one of the SSR agents is having an affair with a communist. Carter brings up his work with Dottie Underwood, and Thompson denies the problems he’s had so far. After Carter grabs her purse and leaves, it is shown that her keys and a pen have floated out of the purse. Carter is in a hurry and doesn’t notice.
While Peggy meets with Stark to uncover a way to infiltrate The Arena Club, Thompson finds the footage showing the damage that zero matter can inflict on any and all objects near it. As he is watching the film in secret, he is interrupted by a visit from Vernon Masters, his former mentor and current FBI agent. He continues to urge Thompson to neglect SSR procedures to help the FBI work this case, still implying that the SSR will be shut down soon. He asks Thompson to give him anything else they find that Wilkes stole before he died. He is clearly talking about evidence of zero matter, but doesn’t come right out and say it.
— Agent Carter (@AgentCarterTV) January 26, 2016
At the Arena Club, Stark pretends to be interested in joining. He complains that there are no women to socialize with and then floods the club with dozens of young women. Carter uses this distraction to sneak around the Arena Club complex to try to plant some bugs and gather incriminating evidence. While she discovers that they are blackmailing Chadwick’s opponent into dropping out of the senate race, she is unable to take the evidence — two pre-printed newspapers, one with a headline that would destroy the opponent’s career — back to Captain Thompson, who isn’t in favor of the investigation.
Returning empty handed, both Sousa and Thompson tell her that she should probably go back to New York, as she’s so emotionally involved in this case. It is while having this conversation that Sousa and Carter notice things floating around her. They suspect it’s a reaction to her being exposed to zero matter.
They go to Stark, who discovers she has not been exposed, but that something zero matter-related is causing it. They eventually find out that Dr. Wilkes isn’t entirely dead, and that he’s been trying to contact Agent Carter. It’s just that he’s invisible, and his body no longer has any mass. Wilkes and Stark focus on trying to return the scientist to his normal state.
Agent Carter goes to question Whitney Frost about Isodyne. She claims that she doesn’t understand her husband’s business, and gets bored just talking about it. She flat-out denies having been there during the accident.
While Carter and Sousa are out trying to solve this case, Thompson is meeting with Masters again. He give Masters the footage of the zero matter. Something about this feels off. He then approaches Captain Sousa to discuss what happened between him and Carter between the end of Season 1 and the beginning of Season 2, but no details were revealed.
At their home, Frost tells Chadwick about Carter questioning her. She wants Carter killed. While Chadwick is hesitant at first, she emotionally manipulates him into agreeing that Mr. Hunt should be hired to kill the SSR agent.
At the Stark mansion, Carter is taking out her frustrations on a punching bag when Chadwick’s hired killer shows up. Jarvis makes an assist, and Mr. Hunt is chased away without anyone dying. When she wakes up the next morning, Carter finds out that Stark and Wilkes are flying to Peru to seek the help of another scientist. Wilkes and Carter have a conversation in which they agree that the SSR needs Wilkes and his knowledge of zero matter, while Dr. Wilkes needs the SSR and Agent Carter to protect him from Isodyne, Chadwick, and Frost.
She goes to see Captain Sousa, despite the fact that she should have already flown back to NYC. Sousa has done research on Isodyne and found out that Agnes Cully had developed several patents for them when the company first began. It turns out Agnes Cully is the given name of actress Whitney Frost.
As the show is about to wrap up, Thompson is meeting again with Vernon, who introduces him to his “new best friend,” Calvin Chadwick. The three men toast to Chadwick’s future.
“Here’s to the youngest member of the Arena Club, running for Senate. Unopposed.”
However, at this point, Thompson sees the newspaper headline that Carter had told him about previously, making Thompson realize that she just might have been right all along.
Meanwhile, Frost is meeting with the director, Ken, who had previously made comments about the fact that she was getting a little old — and just a smidge too chubby — to be a Hollywood starlet. He tells her that the studio wanted him to replace her, but that he threatened to quit the film altogether. Upon his threat, they agreed to let Frost stay, and she expressed her gratitude to the director. However, it suddenly became clear that he had ulterior — sexual — motives.
He leans in for a kiss and she turns her head, revealing the small scar on her forehead from the zero matter incident. As Ken freaks out about it, Frost grabs him by the arm in an attempt to calm him down. In doing so, she accidentally absorbs his entire being. The episode ends as she goes back to the mirror and sees the scar on her forehead grow a little bit as Ken’s body is diluted into her own.
Marvel Cinematic Universe tie-ins
- After Stark and Carter playfully consider Peggy playing the role of a cowgirl in one of Stark’s films, he jokes that the audience may not be ready for a such a film. Carter’s response is a not-so-subtle nod to the entire MCU film franchise.
“But they’re ready for a movie based on a comic book? Sounds like a dreadful idea.”
- Edwin Jarvis installs a new security system at the Stark mansion with an alarm that uses his own voice. A little unsettled by it, he ponders the horrors of existing solely as a disembodied voice — an obvious reference to the J.A.R.V.I.S. system utilized later by Iron Man.
- It should be noted that Howard Stark has been portrayed by three different actors within the major elements of the MCU. He is portrayed here by Dominic Cooper, who also played the role in Captain America: The First Avenger, while in Ant-Man and Iron Man 2, he is portrayed by John Slattery. In the first Iron Man movie, the role is taken by Gerard Sanders.
- The hired assassin — Mr. Hunt — may be an illusion to a little-used Marvel villain who appeared in Marvel Super-Heroes, Vol. 2, No. 5 and Captain America, Vol. 1, No. 614. This would mark his introduction into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.