Agent Carter: 206 “Life of the Party” Review
Reviewed by Ollie Gregory.
The very beginning of Life of the Party is fairly weak. We pick up directly after the end of last week’s episode to see Dr Wilkes (Reggie Austin) dealing with the fact that he just disappeared and then reappeared. In a move that seemed to directly contradict the character of Wilkes as we know him, Wilkes loses all hope in everything and decided that his life is completely over. The past few episodes have clearly shown that Wilkes has an almost endless supply of optimism, and as much as this is a realistic and understandable reaction, it’s clear the show isn’t going for realism, making the whole scene feel off.
The pacing felt wrong, the dialogue felt wrong, it seemed as if the episode was trying to rush through its opening, and it was unpleasant to watch. It’s the first time this season that I haven’t enjoyed the opening of an episode, which was a bit disappointing. What wasn’t disappointing, was the reveal of why the show was rushing. This was the episode where Dottie Underwood (Bridget Regan) was returning.
First things first (kind of), Bridget Regan absolutely kills it this episode. It’s clear that she really enjoys the role of Dottie and has loads of fun when portraying her, and watching an actor enjoy themselves is always fantastic for the audience. She’s got that natural charisma that makes her a great addition to the show, and she changes the atmosphere the same way someone like Howard Stark does (They mention him, but he doesn’t turn up!). Her appearance is what ensures that when we look back at Agent Carter’s second season, we remember this episode in particular.
Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) takes more of a back foot this episode – understandably, given she was impaled last episode. Atwell is still great as Peggy, but, other than her fantastic interactions with Dottie, she doesn’t really do much this episode. Jarvis (James D’Arcy), on the other hand, seems to be getting more and more hands on every week. Last episode he was defusing an atomic bomb, this week he’s going undercover, working as Dottie Underwood’s partner. It’s arguably James D’Arcy’s greatest episode, as he successfully portrays Jarvis as a fool, being clumsy and the likes, while also displaying his competence, successfully thwarting Jack Thompson (Chad Michael Murray) who tries to ruffle Jarvis’ feathers with a verbal attack. He also works fantastically well alongside Regan, with the two of them bouncing off each other and having some great comedic moments together.
Speaking of, Jack Thompson seems to have been fully corrupted by Vernon Master (Kurtwood Smith) and is now going to try and destroy Peggy, and everything she stands for. I like the idea of Thompson going directly after Peggy, but compared to other villains, I can’t see him being more than a mild nuisance to her.
Whitney Frost (Wynn Everett) finally had her standout episode. Although the early scenes where she was going nuts were a bit cartoony, they were also a lot of fun. Her and Chadwick’s (Currie Graham) small story arc was probably the best plot thread of the episode, providing huge ramifications for the rest of the season. Despite her being pretty evil, the way she put so much faith in her husband, only for him to stab her in the back (metaphorically) was really upsetting. The actual scene where he betrays her was absolutely superb, with her finally unleashing the power that ‘Zero Matter’ gave her. The way she looked at her husband after realising what he’d done to her and the way she murdered him in cold blood was fantastic, and Dottie’s look of horror from within the closet was the icing on the cake. Her husband’s betrayal finally gave her that push, and by the end of the episode we weren’t looking at Whitney Frost, we were looking at Madame Masque.
This episode was both action-packed and action-empty. Other than a fairly awkward looking fight scene where Dottie beats up a couple of guys, before being knocked out by Jack Thompson, there wasn’t any real violence or chase scenes, however, the espionage scenes are full of excitement and suspense, and this episode was full of espionage. The more genuine spy work, the better, and this episode certainly delivered on that front, with Dottie even doing the classic hide in a closet routine.
I also realised that the show was at its most fun when pitting characters against each other in a verbal fight (No, not in the style of 8 Mile). Watching these intelligent character go face to face as they try to manipulate and intimidate each other is an absolute delight. The combination of good acting and good dialogue makes these scenes terrific.
Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj), much like Peggy, has more of a backseat role this episode. He’s visibly different as well, which we learn is due to his recent split from fiancée, Violet (Sarah Bolger). The moment where Daniel explains the situation to Peggy was remarkably good, and I realised I was surprisingly invested in this whole romance situation. I also, however, realised that I’m definitely rooting for Peggy to end up with Wilkes, and Sousa to end up with Violet. The chances of me being disappointed are high.
The episode ends with Whitney having gotten hold of Dottie Underwood, leaving Peggy in a bit of a situation. Fortunately, we can see what happens next immediately! (And I can write another review. Yay.)
This episode wasn’t quite entertaining from start to finish, but was certainly fun from about five minutes in until the end. Agent Carter is yet to drop the ball, and is putting out consistently good episodes week on week. This week’s episode is fun, exciting, and a little bit different.