“It was NOTHING like making a souffle!”
Wow, what an episode. I greatly enjoyed the first season of this series and I’ve had a lot of fun with this season thus far. That said, this week’s installment took the cake. There were a lot of great small moments within it, such as Sousa’s adorably-inept proposal to his girlfriend and Wilkes becoming a physical presence once more, if even for a moment. We also had a few more delightful instances of Chadwick being terrified of his wife, Whitney Frost.
The real winner, however, was the main plot. Realizing the danger that Frost poses after she overhears Whitney’s desire to steal and detonate a nuclear weapon, Peggy immediately shoots into action. In order to stop Frost, Peggy will have to infiltrate an seemingly-impenetrable Roxxon Oil facility. Doing so requires a special key for the elevator to reach the correct floor, which necessitates a break in to Hugh Jones’ (Ray Wise) office.
What follows is a delightfully pulpy and fun sequence involving Peggy constantly zapping Jones with a prototype device created by SSR scientist Aloysius Samberly (Matt Braunger). It’s effectively a screwball comedy heist sequence and the comedic timing of both Hayley Atwell and Ray Wise is spot on. I was dying laughing throughout. That stretch alone would have made it one of the best episodes of comic book television this year, but “Agent Carter” wasn’t content to stop there.
Due to the high security and the likelihood that Frost will be infiltrating the Roxxon facility at the same time, Peggy realizes that she needs some help on her daring mission. With the SSR compromised due to the long reach of the Arena Club they are dealing with, she is forced to turn to her friends. Her ragtag impossible mission team is ultimately comprised of the crutch-wielding Chief Sousa (Enver Gjokaj), ever-befuddled Stark butler Edwin Jarvis (James D’Arcy), confidence-challenged scientist Aloysius Samberly (Matt Braunger), and secretary-turned-field agent Rose Roberts (Lesley Boone).
Not an imposing bunch, mind you, but a vital one. Not only do they ultimately work extremely well as an unlikely field team, but they all love their jobs. There’s an extreme optimism to the way they approach the task at hand that is wonderfully refreshing and the chemistry between the five of them is great. I sincerely hope that this is a permanent, quirky team going forward. I can’t imagine a more perfect way to round out the back half of this season.
This week also finally introduced Joseph Manfredi (Ken Marino), boss of the Maggia crime family. Marino only gets a single scene to lay his characters cards out on the table, but does so wonderfully. Prone to violent outbursts, Manfredi is an extremely comic book-ish take on stereotypical pulp gangster tropes. By all rights it should come off as forced and cliche, but the heightened tone of the series makes Marino’s performance fit like a glove. Here’s hoping we get to see more of him in the second half of the season.
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