Agent Carter: 202 “A View in the Dark” Review
Reviewed by Ollie Gregory.
The second half of Agent Carter’s two hour premiere, A View in the Dark, is far more information-heavy than the first. We delved further into Reggie Austin’s character, Jason Wilkes, got a much closer look at whatever ‘Zero Matter’ is, and began to explore both Whitney Frost and Calvin Chadwick, and what they intend to do.
First and foremost, Hayley Atwell is absolutely killing it. Only two episodes in and I’m reminded of why she was so fantastic and why she deserves to be the lead in a show like this. She’s incredibly likeable and witty, and every time she’s on screen you just want to climb in and give her a warm hug. She’s got an aura of optimism about her, and given that even comedy’s are now incredibly depressing (Looking at you BoJack Horseman), it’s great to have an optimistic and bubbly lead that always seems to have a smile on her face. It just makes the whole thing more enjoyable.
Speaking of enjoyable, Reggie Austin was also absolutely fantastic this episode. I enjoyed him in the previous episode, despite his awkward introduction, but this episode he was given a significant lot more to do, and he took advantage of that. His and Atwell’s chemistry was absolutely superb, and a real driving force of this episode. Their whole sequence with one another, starting from the bar and moving to the lab felt really organic and believable, and I was relieved that the show didn’t turn him into a bumbling science nerd because that would have really frustrated me.
I also really enjoyed the show’s handling of racism. For some reason I never really imagined that racism would be mentioned, despite the show being set in 1940s America. I thought the show handled the theme of racism incredibly well. They didn’t force it down our throats and didn’t turn it into some sort of lesson for the audience to learn, they just showed that racism was an issue that Wilkes had to deal with, and that it was part of the reason he felt loyal to Isodyne. It was a clever way to deal with something that people are ever so touchy about.
Hugh D’Arcy and Lotte Verbeek were both equally fantastic as Mr and Mrs Jarvis, with the two of them being involved in most of comedic parts of the episode. Scenes like Carter and Jarvis (male) sparring and Jarvis showing Carter Howard Stark’s car got genuine chuckles out of me, although there’s a very fine line between funny and stupid, and Agent Carter seems to be right on that line. I’m still enjoying all the humour, but I do worry that the show is going to get progressively more and more farcical until the show loses all its credibility. I’m not saying this is going to happen, but watching this episode made me little bit anxious regardless.
Enver Gjokaj’s Daniel Sousa had a far smaller role this episode, due to Doctor Wilkes having a much bigger one, but he was still solid while he was onscreen. The most notable thing his character did this episode was be in a love triangle. Surprisingly, the love triangle story arc isn’t terrible, although I feel this is more down to Atwell’s performance than the writing. While it isn’t awful, and it does give Sousa something to do, the love triangle isn’t my favourite thing to happen on the show. It all feels a little bit too cliche, and pales in comparison to the Fitzsimmons and Will love triangle from last year.
The small look into the people who seem to be this season’s big bad was also interesting. Calvin Chadwick (Currie Graham) is revealed to be a part of a secret organisation of quite old guys, who I’m sure will end up being related to HYDRA in some way, much like literally everything else in the MCU. It turns out these old people have been the ones funding the Isodyne experiments on ‘Zero Matter’. Unfortunately for Chadwick, the council have decided to shut down the experiments as they don’t understand the possible benefits. This not only upsets Chadwick, but his wife Whitney Frost (Wynn Everett) who already has enough on her plate dealing with all the sexism that comes with being a 1940s female movie star.
Despite being an episode more heavily focused on exposition than action, the episode did have an exciting conclusion where Peggy and Wilkes teamed up to try and steal the ‘Zero Matter’ from Isodyne. (I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of watching Hayley Attwell annihilate hordes of full grown men with only her fists, and a few melee weapons she can find nearby). As you would expect, given that this is the second episode, the heist doesn’t go exactly to plan.
Just as Wilkes has got hold of the ‘Zero Matter’ Whitney Frost turns up to stop him getting away with it. Cue a tense scene between the two of them as we wonder who is going to get out of this exchange alive.
Disappointingly, the scene ends with the two of them clumsily dropping the container full of the evil goo (I’m fed up of writing ‘Zero Matter’ and I’m sure you’re fed up of reading it) causing a huge explosion that ‘kills’ the two of them. Given that A) this is a superhero TV show and B) no writers are stupid enough to kill two intriguing characters by making them awkwardly drop something, you’d be safe to assume that at least one of the two is going to back. This is confirmed to be the case when we see Whitney Frost at the very end of the episode, sporting a curious black scar across her forehead.
While this episode wasn’t full of excitement, and certainly dragged in places, the dynamic between Peggy and Wilkes really held this episode together. While it wasn’t as good as Season 2’s opener, it was fairly enjoyable nevertheless. Nothing special, but it did serve its purpose of setting up the rest of the season.