Agent Carter: S02E04 – Smoke and Mirrors
Agent Carter is a show you should be watching. Mark will be reviewing the entire second season week to week. Follow along with him as he explores one of Marvel’s best shows.
Four episodes into this pretty solid season of Agent Carter and I have found myself settled into Peggy’s new surroundings. Still, one look at the season one special effects featurette currently traveling around the internet, and I get nostalgic for that 1940s New York City setting. But here we are for now- pastel colors, hazy sun and all- and I think it’s working for the time being. What’s serving it well is the story, arguably more compelling than last season’s plot.
We are getting a total of 10 episodes this season, compared to just eight last season, and it appears the benefit of those extra two is a bit more time for back story. It seems impossible that as much time as we’ve had with Peggy Carter we haven’t gotten a lick of her origin. Now that has been remedied and couldn’t come at a better time as we place her in direct parallel to her greatest adversary yet.
Peggy: “I’ve grown up. My dreams have changed.”
Michael: “No, you’ve just let everyone else drum them out of you.”
Through the wonderful and heartbreaking story of her and her brother Michael, we find that Carter was born with a grand sense of adventure. Whitney Frost, we also come to know from flashback, was born with an uncanny intellect and love of science. Both of their natures were suppressed as children by the adults around them. We are again examining gender roles in the culture of the time (and by extension our own) but this time it is through the long running debate of nature versus nurture. It’s one of the oldest debates in psychology, and asks how we become who we are- is it our natures that mold us more, or how we are nurtured by those who influence us?
Don’t expect an answer from me, I’m not a psychologist. But as we look at the observation, we see that both Carter and Frost escape nurture in their own ways, and their natures are each realized. Carter outright defies any cultural shackles, whereas Frost uses hers to her advantage, practically bedazzling them with jewels while she gains power. However, now that their natures are realized, it seems their future paths have been and will be determined by those around them.
Chadwick: “What are you?”
Frost: “Whatever I want.”
We arrive again to talk about the need for community. If you’re following along with my reviews, they might prove a pretty repetitive read. But hey, I don’t write the scripts, I just recap. Carter is surrounded by team mates that, as Sousa tells her, are “with you to the end.” Whitney Frost hasn’t had anyone legitimately with her all her life. She’s largely lived a forced existence outwardly, and inwardly she begins to grow bitter over hiding her true self.
We can conclude from this observation that nature and nurture can each play their part. Whitney Frost is now a super villain, but it isn’t because of the deadly powers she has recently acquired. A combination of suppressing nurture and lack of authentic community have created a desire for evil within her. It’s going to take someone with a nature that’s been cultivated and is surrounded by a loving community to stop her. Good thing Agent Carter is on the job!
Next Week on Agent Carter: Our super villain seeks to bend the world to her will. Good luck with that. The SSR Mystery Gang is back together in full and looks like that will provide us a more action packed episode than this week’s. We’ve been promised a jaw-dropper. And jaw-breaker. Can’t wait.