Following last week’s strong episode, I was curious where Agent carter would take the characters with their new found momentum. To my surprise and delight, “Smoke and Mirrors” opens with Peggy and Jarvis doing what they do best – being frightfully British together as they scheme to capture MR. Hunt – the Arena Club’s Head of Security and pool-side assassin- by felonious means.
Using the information obtained from Mr. Obviously-Named-Bad-Guy-Character, Peggy and Sousa plan to raid the Arena Club using their brand new warrant when the evil old white guy arrives with an executive order to do a midnight “audit” on the West Coast SEO. It finally brings Peggy Carter face to face with the head white man in charge who warns her of a tidal wave that is coming. While this is a throwback to Season 1 – Peggy being forced to battle against the establishment she also works for – Vernon Masters is an actual malicious force (while Thompson was just kind of a needless douche.) Already he is significantly more threatening and hateable, and he’s only been a one-scene-side-character per episode thus far.
If “Smoke & Mirrors” shows off anything, it’s Hayley Atwell’s comedic chops. Peggy’s usual MO is walking into a room chest out, shoulders back and giving the answer. But, when she’s doing something a bit underhanded – like, say, trying to distract Sousa from the cries of a half-drugged man in the “boot” of her car – then Peggy becomes as loveable as Lucifer with her “can you really stay mad at this face?” Also showing off Atwell’s range are the scenes between Wilkes and Peggy. In the past, whenever Peggy was on a tender bend, it would come off as painfully saccharine and totally out of character. But, the writers have found their way. I never thought I’d see Peggy look adoringly at someone and not roll my eyes, but surprise, surprise:
What most people are probably talking about is the B-story. Rather than stay in Los Angeles where the action is, the episode takes snapshots into Peggy Carter’s life from her childhood to her almost marriage to the death of her brother which spurred her into the life of a field agent. I know most people enjoyed the side scenes, but I was left shrugging my shoulders with a non-committal “eh”. It’s clear someone was trying to draw a parallel between Peggy and Whitney Frost – who also gets the “Life In Moments” treatment. But, the two women never meet in the episode as adults and their childhood similarities just feel very obvious. (Peggy! You should be a proper English lady! Agnes! (Whitney!) Put down your schematics and focus on being pretty!)
However, “Smoke and Mirrors” does give Whitney Frost another great ending as she finally reveals her powers to her husband. There’s something so deliciously cold in Wyn Everett’s performance that just screams, “this is a woman scorned” by years of the Hollywood grind and having to hide her overwhelming genius. I can’t wait to see her character lose that careful composure and go full Betty-Draper-With-A-Shotgun on Los Angeles.
BOOB WINDOW ANALYSIS:
No Boob Windows per say is “Smoke & Mirrors” but it’s worth knowing that costume designer came up with a way to show Peggy’s…development through the flashbacks of her life.
All in all, “Smoke and Mirrors” is a great continuation of “Agent Carter” Season 2. Whatever the missteps in throwing in Peggy’s backstory (which was largely irrelevant to the Los Angeles case), it’s at least putting Peggy and her journey at the forefront of the series.
Other Episode Analytics:
References to Hedy Lamar (the inspiration for Whitney Frost) – 1
Times a Brit adopts an American accent – 1
- Incidental Music7.0