The Butler Did It. Agent Carter: “The Atomic Job”

Peggy Carter is in danger! …Of being upstaged on her own show, that is.

Last week on Agent Carter, Whitney Frost stormed in from Oklahoma and straight up ate a dude while Peggy listened alongside the rest of us. Naturally, we just want to keep following Whitney but that would really push Peggy to the sidelines, so “The Atomic Job” offers a compromise: Not so much Whitney this week, but how about a really fun caper with some characters you haven’t seen a lot?

WE OPEN ON a lot of whiskey by Peggy’s bed. Was there that much when she first got to Howard’s place? I feel like there wasn’t but maybe I’m misunderstanding how Howard Stark works. I mean…whiskey self-replication is probably one of the first things Howard ever invented! Along with Captain America.

Jason Wilkes spooks Peggy out of bed because Highlander is on TV right now come watch OR he wants to show Peggy and Jarvis and Their Smashing Bathrobes that zero matter is now attracted to him and that he can even absorb it and turn solid. His mytharc duties for the day now accomplished, Wilkes disappears until his exposition is once again needed by the innocent citizens of Gotha…er, L.A.

In another part of Los Angeles, Nurse I’m In A Second Episode comes home to find a dinner prepared that seems to be mostly bread and an Agent Daniel Sousa sleeping on her couch. He is cute, even as a lump, and she is cute, even as someone we’ve seen for only two seconds, and they proceed to have the cutest engagement scene in the history of cute. If I can, I’m going to try and clip it out of the episode and embed it here, because it is too sweet for words to describe. Update: Here we go!

All cuteness aside, this is the kind of scene that tells you that Nurse Violet is doomed. It also reveals that Violet is/was Sousa’s physical therapist, which means that between Peggy and Violet, Sousa will fall in love with pretty much anyone who pays attention to him.

There, I’ve made it sad again and now I feel better.

Back at Cal’s Place, we see that Whitney talks in her sleep, but also, doesn’t really sleep, as she demonstrates by surprising Cal in the closet like some kind of wide-awake nightmare. (Was anyone able to make out what she was saying? I think I heard the word “time” at the end there but there was a lot of screechy soundtrack and blanket rustling going on.) It turns out she has plans and those plans involve scheduling a meeting with the body of Jane, the frozen woman from the first episode of this season, because her body still has a ton of zero matter in it seriously where do I even start it all looks so good…

Peggy and Jarvis also want Jane’s body so Wilkes can figure out why he can suddenly absorb zero matter. They climb into the morgue through the vents and, sure, they could have just talked or paid their way in but Jarvis is wearing his recreational tie today.

Agent Carter: The Atomic Job

Whitney and Cal do talk/pay their way in and visit Jane’s frozen body at the same time that Peggy and Jarvis get to the morgue room via the ducts. They watch as Whitney absorbs the zero matter from the body then purrs “I need an atomic bomb!” God I love her.

Agent Carter: The Atomic Job

Wilkes comes back for another trip to Exposition City, where he informs Jarvis and Peggy that Whitney is clearly trying to recreate the atomic explosion that tore open that…hole?…to the zero matter. Her husband’s company, Isodyne, designs nukes but Roxxon is the one that actually obtains the uranium fuel and makes them. No one knows where Roxxon makes the bombs, except for good ol’ arms-racing Howard Stark, because that’s how dad did it, that’s how America does it, and it’s worked pretty well so far.

Tony Stark that's how america does it

Both Peggy and Whitney have a long road ahead of them in regards to infiltrating Roxxon. Peggy needs a key to get in the Roxxon building, but only the Roxxon head/Council of Nine member Hugh Jones has it. The bumbling scientists of the SSR may have a solution! They’ve invented a memory inhibitor that can be pressed against a person’s temples to wipe their memory for two minu…okay it’s just a taser.

Peggy is all PERFECT, NOW GIVE ME BANGS so she can pose as a secretary at Roxxon. Jones is immediately smitten but sees through the disguise almost instantly, as one would because as disguises go it’s more of a “Peggy I love your new haircut” look than a “You are a mysterious new person I have never met before!” Peggy tases him, but the “memory inhibitor” doesn’t even work for two minutes, so she has to keep tasing him again and again and again while she fumbles for the key in his belt buckle. “You’re saving the world you’re saving the world you’re saving the world…”

Agent Carter: The Atomic Job

Because the episode wasn’t already goofy enough, Ken Marino shows up! He’s a mob boss in L.A. but the real question here is whether he’s Veronica Mars Ken Marino, The State Ken Marino, or Wet Hot American Summer Ken Marino, or Children’s Hospital Ken Marino, or…oh, okay, none of those. He’s just a psychopath who randomly beats the crap out of his minions. What a waste of a perfectly good Ken Marino!

(Also, ace performance by Whitney and Cal in the background. Cal gets sicker and sicker while Whitney is at first shocked, then embarrassed, before deciding she’s actually cool with it.)

Agent Carter: The Atomic Job

Whitney and Cal make a deal with Ken Marino and head to Roxxon with their mob goons while Peggy, Jarvis, and Sousa try and assemble a team of agents that they can trust. Peggy suggests Rose, who got the same training that all the agents do but Sousa is skeptical since she’s had no field experience. “I can’t focus on the mission if I’m worried about protecting Rose,” he mutters, not meeting Peggy’s eye. “I’m SEEING Daniel Sousa but I’m HEARING Jack Thompson,” Peggy fires back. As if that sweet burn weren’t enough to seal the deal, Rose immediately proves how tough she is by beating the crap out of a one-man band. God I love her.

Agent Carter: The Atomic Job

Now their team needs Science Gadgets, but the bumbling SSR scientists are resentful of how the agency treats them. The head scientist, Aloysius Samberley (WHAT) is particularly galled. Sousa hired him personally, but Sousa doesn’t even remember doing it. Although the SSR scientists are kind of terrible at their job, I have to side with Samberley here. Being forgotten by the organization you work for is a terrible blow.

Rose, luckily, is there to smooth things over, asking if Samberley liked her pie. “That pie was you? Your pie was in me?” he stammers and wow, that didn’t take long. Slo-mo bad ass hero walk time!

Agent Carter: The Atomic Job

They’re like the Avengers, but hopeless! God I love them.

Samberley and Rose try to charm their way in to the Roxxon plant but the Hydra-esque guards aren’t having it, so Samberley whips out a new invention which…tases them. Seriously, all this guy does is invent tasers.

Whitney and Cal have infiltrated the plant ahead of Peggy’s team, but all the doors are locked and the floor layout is confusing. “WHERE ARE MY DRAGONS BOMBS,” Whitney yells as Peggy’s team enters the arena. Peggy, Sousa, and Jarvis figure out where the bombs are while Rose takes out the good china on a wandering mob goon. Samberly is eager to help, too, but only ends up locking Jarvis in the room with the bombs. “Is the door opening soon?” Jarvis squeaks.

Originally the plan was to have Sousa extract the uranium from the bomb casings, but now Jarvis is the only one who has access to them, so…the butler will have to do it. Sousa tries to talk him through it calmly, telling Jarvis that it’s just like making soufflé, which is kind of like saying “It’s just as hard as you think it is!” Jarvis, it should be noted, is still wearing his recreational tie.

Agent Carter: The Atomic Job

Peggy can’t help Jarvis (and even Rose can barely help Samberley, who can’t seem to figure out how to re-open the bomb room door) so she heads off in search of Whitney and Cal. She finds the two of them having a spat and warns Whitney of the consequences of what she is attempting. Whitney’s face texts “U SRSLY TRYNA SCIENCE @ ME?” and they get in a fight.

It turns out that zero matter is also making Whitney defensively stronger. (And certainly offensively stronger, since she kinda/sorta picked Hunt in the previous episode.) Whitney can withstand Peggy’s punches repeatedly (a fact that even surprises her) and has enough weight to her that Peggy gets repelled through a wooden railing when Peggy tries to kick Whitney away. The whole fight turns into a lose-lose for Peggy. Sure, she got away from Whitney’s zero matter grip, but she ends up falling onto cinder blocks and getting impaled on rebar and HAVE WE LEARNED NOTHING FROM CORDELIA?

Agent Carter: The Atomic Job

Peggy’s crew has the nuclear fuel, thwarting Whitney, and they rush Peggy to Nurse Fianceé who declares that the rebar missed every organ and bone ever and here’s some iodine? you’re all better hooray! I kept expecting Whitney to burst in at any moment and fulfill the prophecy of the Doomed Nurse, but Violet takes care of that herself. After Peggy is fixed up, she tells Sousa that seeing him around Peggy has made her realize that she’s just a rebound for him, a consolation. The engagement is off, because their marriage would be doomed from the start.

Cal, meanwhile, is not happy about the botched theft of the bomb. Whitney tugged on his ambition and his pride in order to get him to play along, but he came very close to losing everything. He may be dopey, but he’s not an idiot, and there are hints that he may not even be evil enough to want the same things as the Council. Whitney is left with no choice but to threaten him into playing along now, but her threat doesn’t stop him from calling the Council. There’s an emergency, Cal says, my wife is the weirdest.

By the end of the episode, we’re back where we started. Whitney still doesn’t have a bomb, Sousa is still un-engaged, presumably Jarvis is still being menaced by Stark’s animals, and Peggy’s in bed with Wilkes ghosting over her. The two of them listen to the song they danced to at the beginning of the season and Peggy laments that they can’t dance with each other now. “YEAH THAT WOULD BE NICE,” Wilkes’ face says.

Then he disappears.

 

Thoughts:

  • Why couldn’t Wilkes have gone on the nuclear bomb heist with them? It’s been five episodes now and Agent Carter has barely featured him. And now he’s been sucked away, or something.
  • Clearly, zero matter doesn’t want to be separated from other zero matter. It’s collecting itself, but is this just a physical property of the material, or is there a will behind it? Basically… is there a baddie we’re going to see beyond Whitney and the Council?
  • “Rumor is her husband surprised her with one of those…televisions.” Commercial televisions definitely existed in 1947, but the broadcast networks hadn’t yet reached the west coast, so there would have been very little on TV for them to watch. It’s like buying a new Nintendo. Maybe wait a couple years for some good games to come out first.
  • “This is bringing back terrible memories. Apricot preserves, in my granny’s house in the cellar. Cold, cramped, and teeming with spiders!” Jarvis would make an excellent reader of bedtime stories. One wonders how little Tony would react.
  • Samberley: “Rose, after all this finished, I think you and I…” Rose: “JUST OPEN THE DOOR.”
  • This was a hilariously staged episode. From the skip in the soundtrack during the SSR’s hero walk to Whitney just popping up behind Cal in the closet.
  • “For the record, that was NOTHING like making soufflé.”

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