Mark Watches ‘Agent Carter’: S02E05 – The Atomic Job

In the fifth episode of the second season of Agent Carter, Sousa and Peggy acquire some new allies to stop Whitney from destroying Southern California. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Agent Carter.

This review might feel a tad repetitive on one note, but I assure you that I did enjoy “The Atomic Job” a great deal. I was just left puzzled by the writers’ choices to jarringly jump from one tone to another. Or perhaps the episode was edited that way? I don’t know, but there are times when Agent Carter feels like a spy spoof, and I’m not sure why the show wants this.

Perhaps it’s to break up the grim and serious story that is unfolding otherwise. I’m fine with that, and as I said before, Agent Carter’s willingness to feel lighter than the rest of the Marvel universe is one of the reasons it’s such a fun experience. Truly, this show is a lot of fun, and I’m glad it feels set apart from the other shows and the movies. My issue here is solely with feeling pulled out of the narrative. Up until the scene where Peggy sneaks into Hugh Jones’s office, I thought this script was tight, thrilling, funny, and a perfect follow-up to “Smoke & Mirrors.” If that episode concerned origins, then this episode asks us to think about what these characters do with who they’ve become.

For the most part, Peggy, Jarvis, and Sousa are racing against Whitney, and a complicated cat-and-mouse game unfolds for us. All of this is spawned by the revelation that Zero Matter allowed Wilkes to become corporeal for the briefest moment, FILLING ME WITH EMOTION. So, Zero Matter seeks out other Zero Matter, and it also craves more power. It’s an eternal process, isn’t it? Zero Matter is never fully satisfied, or at least that’s my guess. We see that in Whitney, who becomes obsessed with finding more power, like a hunger. Wynn Everett is electrifying here, and it was a real treat to watch her evolve her character as her character’s body simultaneously evolved.

Plus, I love a good heist, and breaking into a mega-secure facility in order to dismantle two nuclear warheads is just the right type of ridiculous that I love. I DO. And yet, Agent Carter makes a bizarre stumble in the middle of “The Atomic Job,” one I’m still struggling to understand. Look, I don’t feel any particular sadness for rich white men who actively harm and hurt others getting their due in the form of an ass kicking. I don’t! But I felt so weird watching Peggy zap Hugh Jones over and over again because the moment wasn’t played as a catharsis, but a wacky comedy. It’s supposed to feel funny, apparently, to watch someone electrocuted into unconsciousness over and over again. Hugh remembering Peggy’s face twice? A lot funnier than what happens after that.

I probably would not have felt one way or another about this, except that the scene is followed by one this is so frighteningly serious that I thought I’d suddenly started watching a new show. It’s nice to see Ken Marino again, but what the fuck was that sequence? Are we meant to see Manfredi as nonsensically violent? What was the point of that moment, y’all??? It’s not long after this scene that the deliberately silly team assemblage moment happens, and I’m sure you know which scene that is. It’s funny, and I do appreciate how non-traditional the mission group is, but I’m not sure why it had to be filmed that way, or why Agent Ryan had to trip.

I get that he’s awkward, but it kind of undermines the point the writers are trying to make about Agent Ryan and Rose. No one expects them to be a part of a field mission! They’re not who anyone would traditionally invite on them, despite that Rose had to go through the same training as Peggy did in order to have the job she does. Yes, Agent Ryan lacked the same kind of training, but I thought the point was that sometimes, you find brilliance in those you least expect it from. BECAUSE WHO THOUGHT ROSE WOULD BE ABLE TO KICK SO MUCH ASS??? Oh, I just adore that someone who looks like she does gets to have a role in this adventure, y’all.  I WANT SO MUCH MORE OF IT. SO MUCH MORE.

Thankfully, the third act is pretty much flawless for me. I say “pretty much” because it was a bit disappointing that Jarvis mentioned the base was a few hours outside Los Angeles, and yet it appeared to be in a plain neighborhood or suburb. It didn’t look much like an impenetrable base, you know? But I could excuse that once everyone got inside because IT WAS SO TENSE AND FUN. Rose, Agent Ryan, and Jarvis are all taken out of their comfort zones, and they each enjoy varied success in doing so. That is a damn fine story, you know? It allows other people to shine for a few minutes before Peggy confronts Whitney.

WHICH IS AN ENTIRELY SEPARATE THING I MUST ADDRESS. God, their fight was just so visceral. Quick, yes, but you could feel the intensity come through the screen. Whitney also respected Peggy in some way, as if she could appreciate the tenacity that got her into that base. BUT I WAS NOT READY FOR PEGGY TO GET IMPALED ON REBAR. NO. NO THANK YOU. I had severe Buffy flashbacks, y’all. MY HEART COULD NOT HANDLE IT. Neither could Sousa’s, apparently. I can’t say I was surprised that Violet found out the truth about his feelings for Peggy, though I definitely thought it would happen later. Still… poor Violet. I just feel so bad for her because I don’t see how she can have her own story amidst this. The only outcome I can see is that she either separates from Sousa, or Sousa moves on without Peggy. Either way, Violet exists more for Sousa than herself in this story.

AND WHAT OF WILKES? How can this end well? I want him to have a good ending, but I’m worried he’ll become a victim of Whitney. NO. PLEASE NO.

The video for “The Atomic Job” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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