Agent Carter: 208 “The Edge of Mystery” Review
Reviewed by Ollie Gregory.
Continuing shortly after last week’s episode, this week Ana Jarvis (Lotte Verbeek) is still in hospital, with a cloud of uncertainty over whether she’ll ever wake up over everyone else’s heads. Meanwhile, Whitney Frost (Wynn Everett) tries to persuade Dr Wilkes (Reggie Austin) to listen to the ‘Zero Matter’ induced voice in his head, and do exactly as it demands. Petrified for Wilkes’ well-being, Peggy (Hayley Atwell) and Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) attempt to rescue him by any means necessary.
This may sound like an exaggeration, but James D’Arcy gives not only the episode stealing performance, but the series stealing performance this episode. One of the most fantastic elements of Jarvis’ character is the fact that he’s naturally funny. He doesn’t need to make jokes or witty comments, he just needs to act like his natural loveable self. Combining his natural humour with his compassion and care for Mrs Jarvis was probably the most fantastic decision the show has made so far. The fact that even after everything, he still seems like Jarvis, makes his performance even more genuine. I believe that deciding how a character reacts to the death (or almost death) of someone they’re close to is an incredibly difficult decision, but Agent Carter did it almost perfectly.
I say ‘almost’ because I’m still uncertain as to whether turning Jarvis into a blood thirsty murderer was a good idea. As much as I’m all for characters changing and evolving, I just don’t know whether Jarvis is the type of person who’d react the same way every other fictional character does (I was going to write a list of examples but there’s so many). I know this is probably the most ordinary way to react, but Jarvis isn’t the most ordinary of people, so to see him react slightly differently would have been a nice change. They didn’t even have him point a gun at Whitney and realise he couldn’t pull the trigger – he literally shot her in the chest.
But despite this, the two Jarvises (plural of Jarvis?) are definitely the best part of this episode. Their relationship with one another is leagues above pretty much every other relationship on a superhero TV show ever. There’s none of this love triangle nonsense, or ‘I can’t be with you because you’ll get hurt nonsense’, just two people who clearly really care for one another and want to protect each other. Both James D’Arcy and and Lotte Verbeek played the roles to perfection, and although I was a little bit anxious that he was imagining it, the moment where she opened her eyes and admitted to having been awake for a while brought a huge grin across my face. There is however, one problem with the two of them this episode, and that is that there just wasn’t enough of a focus on them. Get rid of the Sousa and Peggy ridiculousness and put more emphasis on the Mr and Mrs Jarvis. They were undoubtedly the best part of this episode and I just want their relationship to be explored even further.
Just because the two Jarvises were the best part of the episode, doesn’t mean there wasn’t some other great bits as well. We got to see a different side of Peggy, a soft and caring Peggy, putting all her attention into trying to comfort Jarvis. Normally Peggy is confident and powerful, but this episode we got to see her both devastated and petrified. Despite this, Peggy had to hide her emotions in order to try and convince Jarvis that everything would be okay, and not to worry him even further. Atwell was as superb as ever, making Peggy into an even more likeable character than she already was (as if that were possible).
We finally got to see Ken Marino put to good use, as Joseph Manfredi became a fun villain who you enjoyed seeing on screen. He wasn’t quite as horrifically vile this episode as he was last episode, but he was still a total douchebag. I wasn’t too sure on what the purpose of the angry old woman was though. Was she supposed to be funny? Little bits such as her liking Sousa but thinking Peggy was the devil were quite amusing, but when she got the knife I just didn’t know how to react. It didn’t feel very serious, but at the same time it didn’t feel funny. Maybe it was just me, and everyone else thought it was funny, but I just felt uncomfortable.
Jack Thompson (Chad Michael Murray) too became an interesting character, as we also finally got to see Jack Thompson’s face turn (That’s a pro-wrestling term for being a good guy). I always enjoy a good guy who is a bit of a jerk, and Thompson seems to be exactly that. The fact that he simply isn’t as capable as he thinks he is, but is still incredibly smug, makes things even better.
Unfortunately, there were a number of huge irritants this episode. The incredibly convenient and magical appearance of Howard Stark’s plans to build a machine capable of destroying ‘Zero Matter’ had absolutely no build and just felt extremely lazy on the writer’s behalf (although if Dominic Cooper had appeared to give them the plans I almost definitely wouldn’t be saying the same thing). And then there was the convenient dropping of the fake Uranium rods. What moron would carry legitimate Uranium rods (as far their concerned) in such a clumsy way? Imagine if they’d been real, which from the point of Mr Butter-fingers they were. Everyone, good and bad, would have been dead for goodness sakes! For a show that is so well written 99% of the time, both of these things bothered me a lot.
Despite her slightly inconsistent character, Wynn Everett was pretty good as Whitney Frost. The best evil performance, however, was that of Reggie Austin, who completed his heel turn (opposite of face turn) as Dr Wilkes. One of the reasons this was so great was because I predicted it two reviews ago, but it was also great because it was executed so perfectly. I do feel that Dr Wilkes should have been far too intelligent to fall for Whitney Frost’s blatant manipulation, but I’m willing to overlook that as we got the fantastic scene where he walks through the wall of van. Peggy’s face of utter devastation made things even better.
The conclusion of this episode, much like the conclusion of last episode, was fantastic. Perfectly combining the tension of the baddies setting an atomic bomb off with the humour of Dr Samberly (Oh yeah. Matt Braunger returns and he’s amazing) trying to help Sousa shoot the huge machine Samberly had built, it was exactly the way this episode needed to end. The humour made the whole scene fun to watch but it didn’t take away from the seriousness of what was happening.
And then the episode ended on the biggest cliffhanger so far. There’s so many questions to be answered over the next two episodes. How will Ana Jarvis react to knowing she can’t have children? What is going to happen to the newly captured Peggy and Jarvis? Have Marvel and DC came to an odd agreement on turning Dr Wilkes into Hector Hammond? Well done Agent Carter, I’m officially hooked!