Agent Carter 2×03 “Better Angels” Recap

Agent Carter “Better Angels” Spoilers Ahead

Peggy Carter and Howard Stark in Agent Carter "Better Angels"
Photo by Eric McCandless/ABC – © 2015 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

Serious question: is cloning possible because I’d like an Edwin Jarvis (do not ruin my dreams by saying it’s impossible because he’s “fictional”).

Episode Summary: Howard Stark returns to put his brain to use and with a new gadget we’re able to see that the reason things are strangely floating around Peggy is due to the fact that Dr. Wilkes isn’t dead but invisible. Whitney Frost is actually an alias for Agnes Cully and she too is experiencing strange things happening to her body. Unsurprisingly she feels threatened by Peggy and tells her husband she wants her out of the equation — except he fails because let’s be real who can bring down Peggy? Thompson resurfaces, stirs things up, makes unnecessary comments and thankfully doesn’t make his stay in Los Angeles permanent.

Review | Analysis: I didn’t have many complaints about this series last year, and I don’t really have any this year, but the only thing I desperately wished for is that we’d keep the “supernatural” elements that are commonly present on S.H.I.E.L.D. far, far away. Strange but realistic gadgets are perfectly fine, but this zero matter shenanigans isn’t exactly my cup of tea. But oh well, I’d watch a lot more ridiculousness as long as Peggy Carter was the center of it. That said, Agent Carter’s “Better Angels,” though more plot-heavy, set a lot of fantastic things for the future in motion and gave us what’s undoubtedly another inspirational life motto: “that’s why I trust my instincts. They’re more reliable than what I’m told to believe.”

If there’s one “popular” thing I absolutely despise it’s the word “problematic”. Often times the context it’s used in isn’t properly justified, but that said, can we all agree that Howard Stark is the definition of a problematic fav? He’s so easily likable despite constant nonsense he pulls out of the bag, but what’s really intriguing is the fact that Dominic Cooper is able to layer him in a way where we can actually see his heart. He’s ridiculously frustrating in the sense that he’s so selfishly entertaining, but there are moments, fragments, where it becomes very clear there’s more to him than hotheadedness. And we can see so much of Tony Stark in him it’s ridiculous. Both father and son get so obsessive about uncovering things they’ll lose sleep over it and sometimes, even when they’re trying to fix things, chaos will erupt. It’s mostly just a lot of fun to watch his unique relationships with everyone and it actually broke me a little when he asked Jarvis to let him know if he needs to find a new butler. What I personally find so fascinating with Cooper’s work on this series is the poignant way in which he brings out Howard’s vulnerabilities. He’s not a villain sure, but he’s flawed — emotionally and spiritually damaged which he later uses as means of focusing more on his work than his son. But what’s utterly compelling is the fact that this version we see is clearly so dependent on people like Peggy and Jarvis it’s intriguing. And this attachment makes it incredibly interesting to see him constantly make mistakes because of his inability to keep a proper balance.

However, as much as he’s deeply flawed and I’m constantly wishing for a do-over between him and Tony in the future, the fact that he, like Jarvis, Daniel, and Peggy, accept and welcome Wilkes into their little corner is wonderful. He wants to help — even when he fails and sometimes does it for his own selfish reasons. I suppose what matters is that he’s attempting to do something good and for the time being, that’s enough.

There’s a lot I appreciate about Agent Carter, but perhaps what’s always stood out is the way in which Howard and Jarvis not only respect Peggy, but they’re not perfect. It’s not like they never make assumptions about her just because she’s a woman. The series focuses heavily on feminism, but it doesn’t try too hard to be on the nose. We see it for what it really is — an ongoing struggle where we see clear attempts to be better. And that’s exactly what I love about it because it’s exactly what makes Peggy so ambitious. Howard adores her to bits, but since the beginning of time, men have been idiots (Eric Matthews said it first, not me). While he knows she’s great and tells Jarvis too, at times he’ll make assumptions, but as mentioned above, it makes the series so imperfectly wonderful I cannot give enough praise.

That said, it’s easy for people especially men like Thompson for example, to always make comments about women and our instincts because we’re so in tune with them. But what’s so interesting about “Better Angels” is the fact that Peggy actually says “that’s why I trust my instincts. They’re more reliable than what I’m told to believe” to a woman. On a series like Agent Carter, equality is what matters — women and men are equals and that means it doesn’t really matter who’s a villain because they are judged by their acts not their gender. Ultimately, Peggy Carter once again makes it clear that this statement works alongside knowing your value. If you’re confident in who you are and you know you’re living your life properly, it doesn’t really matter what people say. You make choices based on what you know and trust. And trusting our instincts means trusting ourselves.

The wide range of emotions Hayley Atwell needed to deliver in this week’s were once again phenomenal, but it’s the ways in which her character’s done a 180 that make it so fun to watch this series.

Agent Carter’s “Better Angels” shows that sometimes relationships develop subtly and as viewers, we have to nitpick at little moments we believe are meant to showcase more, but when it comes to Daniel and Peggy, it seems the entire world can see that there’s something more except the two of them. Jack Thompson is kind of, sort of pretty worthless. Oh, and rude — extremely rude, but even his arrogant brain can see that there’s something more. C’mon, kids stop dancing around your feelings. And it is frequently during potentially life-threatening moments where feelings are illuminated thereby, the work Atwell and Gjokaj have done within these last three episodes to showcase this idea communicates volumes.

Ultimately, it’s great to see Daniel and Peggy work side by side today because, in “Snafu,” it’s painfully evident that Daniel’s saddened by the fact that Peggy didn’t feel as though she could turn to him for help. He was always the man who not only believed in her strengths as an agent, but he respected her on a profound level as a woman. She wasn’t just the lunch girl to him, she was his equal — someone he values deeply. Thus, learning that she felt as though there was no one she could turn to left him perplexed and anguished. But today, even though there are things he doesn’t agree with, he makes it so she feels comfortable enough to confront him. He defends her, listens to her, cares for her, and trusts her. Peggy Carter no longer has to go behind the Chief’s back because he’s always on her side.

There are now painfully evident barriers between both of Peggy’s potential suitors: a girlfriend soon to be a fiancé and an actual physical barrier due to the effects of Zero Matter on Wilkes. With Wilkes thankfully alive Peggy won’t have to blame herself, but with a target on his back, it’s clear that the two will be getting closer because we know Peggy loves helping those who genuinely need it. It’s not fun to watch someone framed solely because of their skin color thereby, it’ll be great to watch him come out on top because of the person he is and the loyalties he evidently possesses to doing good. It is always the selfless and most brave heroines that find themselves taking responsibility for the choices others make. And although she’s more open to sharing burdens with others, there are moments where Peggy still carries the weight of the world on her shoulders.

With that mind, I’d love to see this slowly change for she deserves a partner by her side to fight through everything. It’s incredible that she has Jarvis, but at the end of the day, Peggy’s always going to blame herself for her future partner’s choices and because of that, she needs someone who’s her equal. Someone who’ll remind her of the fact that she doesn’t have to constantly worry.

Sometimes it’s okay to yell at your TV screen, and moments, when Jack Thompson shows up, are prime opportunities. There are two kinds of selfish people in the world — the Howard Starks who are still decent human beings despite the shenanigans they constantly pull, and the Jack Thompsons, the people who believe it’s their way or the highway. There are moments where it appears the Jack Thompsons have miraculously wired their brain to work properly, but it unfortunately never lasts more than a millisecond. I’m disappointed in the fact that Daniel Sousa didn’t pull the “you come into my house” card when he instantly started calling the shots. Go home, Roger! (Sister Sister, although Roger’s fabulous — Thompson, not so much.) And does anyone else get irrationally frustrated when he calls Peggy “Marge?” At least try to help me like you. I’m glad Daniel turned down his offer for drinks, but even more than that, I’m thrilled Peggy called him out on his cowardice. And of course, his response was an undignified but unsurprising denial followed by taking the case away from Peggy. Okay, Chief “I’m Bitter Because Female Agents Are Better Than Me” you just keep playing your cards the same way you always have because it’ll get pretty lonely up at the top since you like to squish your way through.

Ana Jarvis’ delightful spirit was lacking heavily in Agent Carter’s “Better Angels,” and I would personally love to see more of her friendship with Peggy along with her interactions with Howard.

Politely Sarcastic British Heroes (Jarvis & Peggy): Jarvis and Peggy’s friendship is unlike anything that’s currently on television and because I often find myself wanting to talk about their brilliance, I figured they deserved their own little category. In Agent Carter’s “Better Angels” especially, I loved how easy it was for Jarvis to have Peggy’s back. He may not be an expert in espionage, but he’s well aware of his surroundings and it’s interesting to watch him save her in ways that aren’t exactly traditional. When he realizes things are taking a little too long that’s when he strikes, and panic may be involved, but at the end of the day, he manages to make it all work. The best part about their friendship is that it’s constantly developing, but the more we move forward, the more we’re able to learn just how profoundly the two care for one another. They will undoubtedly go to desperate measures to protect one another. I don’t know when Jarvis dies and I don’t want to know — I’m not ready to spoil myself with that kind of knowledge, but as of right now, Peggy Carter’s still alive, but Jarvis is merely a disembodied voice. I’m not sure how closely she follows Iron Man’s “career” or if she’s spoken to him recently, but the thought of her realizing what’s occurred, though in countless ways beautiful, is a bit heartbreaking. Agent Carter writers have played with foreshadowing in a way that’s so immensely moving, I can’t remember the last time I was in such awe of word choices. And who doesn’t love Professor Jarvis in those geeky glasses?

Three Favorite Quotes:

  • Peggy to Howard: “They’re ready for a movie based on a comic book? Sounds like a dreadful idea.” Oh Peggy, honey.
  • Peggy to Jack: “You’re being a coward! You are so afraid of ruffing powerful feathers you’re doing what you always do — burying an ugly truth and hoping someone will pin a medal on you.”
  • Howard: You’re not contaminated with Zero Matter. Who can tell me how I know this?
    Peggy: Are you teaching a class?
    Jarvis: (raises hand).
    Howard: Jarvis? You have a hypothesis?
    Jarvis: There’s a disruption in the gravitational field near Ms. Carter.
    Howard: Excellent.
    Daniel: (completely unamused) how do we get it to stop, professor?

Brilliant. Just brilliant.

Worth Mentioning: It’s always going to be fascinatingly poignant watching the little ways in which Peggy and Steve mirror one another in their everyday lives. When one of them is angry or frustrated, they turn to punching bags — they’re wise little souls and we should all learn a thing or two because surely the world would be a better place if anger was taken out on a thing with no feelings.

What are your thoughts on Agent Carter’s “Better Angels?”

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