Forces are closing in on our “Agent Carter” this week. As the dark shadow of the Cold War Red Scare looms heavy in the background, we get peeks into the pasts of both Peggy Carter and Whitney Frost. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on “Smoke & Mirrors.”
The first flashback to Peggy’s youth was as amusing as the one with Whitney Frost’s was tragic. With Peggy we find the heart of a hero doing the right thing. Just as Peggy is chastised for doing boy activities, we see much the same in science nerd Frost’s childhood. They may fight their instincts, but both women follow their passions in the end.
The use of these flashbacks in this fourth episode of the second season is a bit questionable to me. Was there anything here we needed to know? Was it relevant to the current story? “Arrow” does a great job of weaving flashbacks into the present day story, and I can see that what the powers that be were trying to do here. I’m just not sure it works in this context.
In the present day, simple observation rather than dedicated detection reveals the mysterious Mr. Hunt to be Chadwick’s bodyguard, Rufus Hunt, who’s also the head of security for the Arena Club. Played by rugged character actor Chris Browning, Hunt has a good turn as a hostage to Peggy, Jarvis, and Sousa. And if I’m being honest, he was the best part of this slow episode.
After some ridiculous ‘torture’ involving a Stark-created cold formula and the accusation that the WWII Japanese were worse than the Nazis (seriously, was this a thing?), Hunt spills his guts. He also implies that he has nowhere to hide from the Illuminati-like Council. After saying this, I found it rather odd that he ran directly to Chadwick and Frost. Aren’t they on the Council?
As Peggy and Sousa prep to make a raid on the Arena Club, Vernon Masters and the FBI show up and effectively shut down the west coast bureau of the SSR with red tape. No one is going anywhere and it’s solidly evident that Masters is on the wrong side of the law, as he continually references the oncoming shadow of the Reds in his threats.
The late forties were just the beginning of the red scare and the blacklisting that nearly destroyed our country, and Masters is riding the forefront of this tidal wave. Certainly the Council is helping stop the paranoia either. One could guess this season will end with Peggy and Stark forming a private version of the SSR, S.H.I.E.L.D., as a safeguard against this sort of nonsense.
This was a very weak episode, as compared to last season, and others this season, as not much happens. It’s almost as if the show has been dumbed down a bit, and pulled back from what it has really wanted to do. This season had an opportunity to really say something about race relations of the day, just as last season did with women, and it failed.
Yes, better red or infrared than dead, Wilkes is still alive, but his lack of essence prevents any real romance with Peggy. They can’t even touch! One could say he’s just as intangible as the black man was in the late forties. For shame! In this season’s first episodes, all I wanted was more Wilkes, and now his very appearance makes me mad. A terrible missed opportunity.
Next: The Atomic Job!