I’m afraid that the cracks are beginning to show in ‘The Edge of Mystery’, this week’s episode of Agent Carter.
I don’t just mean the eerie zero matter split across the face of Whitney Frost, but in the nuts and bolts of the storytelling as the season moves towards its climax.
Unusually it’s an episode that feels a little rushed and unready. A niggling detail perhaps, but it does rather stretch credibility that, after having been so forcibly removed as head of the SSR last week, Sousa (and Peggy) are able to casually stroll in and out of the SSR.
It’s also pushing it a bit that Aloysius Herbert Samberly (the SSR scientist who gains more confidence and more names each time we see him) manages to take Howard Stark’s telex-ed plans for “a gamma cannon” (real scientists may want to find something on BBC Two to watch instead at this point) and make the device in what seems to be only a matter of hours.
While I’m being mean, it also speaks volumes for Howard Stark’s genius that he manages to invent a device for closing the zero matter rift even though when he left, there was no suggestion that anybody was planning to open it. What foresight…
Ignore my moaning, I can live with details like that. They’re the ‘necessary evils’ that keep TV drama moving along – although the skill is in not letting the audience spot them while they’re watching, and to Agent Carter’s credit it’s usually done so slickly that we don’t notice.
But there are bigger things that feel ‘wrong’ this week, character-based stuff that either doesn’t work or doesn’t fit. Despatched by Vernon Masters to dig up some dirt on Peggy, we find Chief Thompson in London schmoozing an old friend who has managed to produce Peggy’s M15 file for him, a file clearly implicating our girl in some massacre. That’s fine as far as it goes, but as soon as Peggy tells Jack it’s faked he believes her. Why bother with a plot strand framing Peggy if it’s not going anywhere?
Then there’s the kidnapped Dr Wilkes. Yes, he would listen to Whitney’s theories on the zero matter infection they share, as one scientist to another he would definitely give serious consideration to her research (when he calls her “a mass murderer of rats” he’s only criticising her methods not her results). But it’s too much of a leap from that to him threatening to shoot Peggy dead if she doesn’t reveal where the stolen Roxxon isotopes are.
The worst culprit is Mr Jarvis. Again, I can absolutely believe his seething rage, his desire for revenge on the woman who shot his wife – but I don’t believe that he would actually leave Ana in order to pursue that revenge given that (whether executed or just locked up) it will separate him from her forever.
It’s a potentially interesting area to explore though, the moral ambiguity of the good guy killing the bad in cold blood. Unfortunately in another misfire that possibility is swept away, because the instant Jarvis shoots Whitney the zero matter saves her.
So, a disappointing entry in what has up till now been a very strong run of episodes.
Aired at 9pm on Thursday 17 March 2016 on FOX.
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