‘Agent Carter’ Season 2 Episode 6 review: ‘Life of the Party’

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In this week’s episode of Agent Carter Underwood, our hero Dottie finally escapes from prison, where she’s been ever since her capture by the SSR (way back in issue 1, true believer – Ed.).

Forced against her will into aiding the evil forces of democracy Dottie overhears and oversees some extraordinary events before once again falling into the wrong hands…

Well, perhaps not quite. After last week’s near-miss (figuratively & literally) ‘Life of the Party’ sees Peggy less active than usual. Full marks while I’m on the subject to Hayley Attwell, who carries the painful discomfort of simple movement throughout the entire episode – it wouldn’t be the first time an actor had shed a limp or an accent partway through a performance. However, it’s more than just an inconvenience when this week’s plan involves snatching a sample of zero-matter from its one remaining source (that is to say, season villainess Whitney Frost) “and then making a hasty exit without any fuss.” While the ability to operate a hypodermic syringe is well within either Peggy or Chief Sousa’s abilities, the turn of speed needed to beat a speedy retreat is not.

Consequently, and another example of the delightful ‘comic book’ thinking that I mentioned last week, the only possible solution is to spring Soviet super-agent Dottie Underwood from a top secret prison to assist them. I would suggest that in fact a minute or two’s clear thought would probably produce at least half a dozen alternative solutions but no matter – before you can say “cunning plan” Peggy has put on a white coat and some glasses, and posing as a prison psychiatrist pays Dottie (Bridget Regan) a visit.

An improbable twist it may be but it’s certainly an entertaining one – and forced into spending time in close proximity without the option of simply slogging it out there are some delightfully polite-but-vicious exchanges between Peggy and Dottie. Again there are similarities to Buffy, where the villainous Spike ended up if not exactly a good guy, certainly an ally. I could easily imagine it happening here with Dottie.

With the ‘temporary agent’ in place, Peggy sends Dot along with Mr Jarvis to a Campaign Fundraiser, a shindig for the great and the good (or rather the rich and the powerful) of LA. For once the SSR professionals have to sit this one out – literally, with Peggy and Daniel communicating from a van outside with Jarvis and Dottie via radios concealed ingeniously in a pair of glasses and a fascinator respectively. (I can only assume that Howard’s lab is stocked with a vast range of such gadgets for all possible occasions.)

With all due respect to the ladies, James D’Arcy as Jarvis steals this week’s episode. From his series of mimes indicating the possible weapons he should take with him in case he needs to protect himself against Dot; to ‘locking horns’ with Agent Thompson; through to his status update that he is “presently engaged in a frenzied search [for Miss Underwood] while speaking to my glasses like a madman.”

It’s an absurdly daft character, but alongside the apparent ‘caricature’ of a Jeeves tidying up after his wayward Master, there are some nice moments of reality and depths – particularly over the past few weeks, and again here, where a previously-unexpected enthusiasm for adventure and excitement begins to show.

If there’s something of a change of key personnel for the good guys, then there’s an even more dramatic change in the opposing corner. We learn a little more about the Council of Nine, the main thing being that it is going to have to either change its name or organise a recruitment drive. Tricked into appearing before the council, Whitney is briefly trapped – but husband Calvin has severely underestimated how powerful she has become, and in a very few moments two henchmen, half of the council, and finally Cal himself, are all absorbed and destroyed by the zero matter.

The four survivors sat around the table very wisely swear their loyalty to Whitney Frost as the new de facto head of the Council. What her plans are now we can only guess at (although she promises the remaining Council, including Roxxon CEO Hugh Jones (Ray Wise) “I will bring you unlimited power” so I assume it’s something pretty big) but as the episode ends things certainly aren’t looking good for her new prisoner: Dottie.

I guess we’ll just have to tune in to next week’s Agent Underwood to see whether our plucky Commie heroine can manage to escape from those dastardly Americans.

Aired at 9pm on Thursday 3 March 2016 on FOX.

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