Agent Carter recap – Episodes 2.01 and 2.02
We have a double-header this week. First up: “The Lady in the Lake.”
Dottie, dressed like Agent Carter, holds up a bank with a platoon of thugs. Not only is she there for money, but what she really wants is in safety deposit box 143. The SSR was tipped off to the heist and Carter is waiting for Dottie in the vault. All the bank employees are SSR agents. Dottie gets her ass kicked and arrested. Back at SSR, Carter is interrogating Dottie. What she wanted in box 143 was a pin, with an “A” emblem on it. Before she can get any info out of Dottie, Jack calls her in. She is being reassigned to Los Angeles, where Sousa is the chief of the newly-opened west coast branch of the SSR. Carter’s hopes are raised when Jack tells her that Sousa requested her specifically.
In Los Angeles, Sousa is called in on a strange homicide case. A woman was found dead in a lake, in what appears to be another case just like the Lady in the Lake case. Detective Andrew Henry was on that case a few years ago, and never caught the murderer; now it seems he is back. But this case is particularly odd. Despite it being the hottest day of the year, a good portion of the lake is frozen over, and the victim, Jane Scott, is embedded in an enormous block of ice.
Jarvis picks up Carter at the airport, and insists she stay at Stark Manor while Howard is off “casting” girls for his next motion picture. He clearly misses the excitement of playing spy. Jarvis drops her off at Auerbach Theatrical Agent, which is the cover for the SSR office. Rose shows Carter how to get in, and Sousa is shocked to see Carter. He plays it off that he wasn’t expecting her until tomorrow, but she figures it out pretty fast: he didn’t request her.
Carter, Sousa, and Henry go to the coroners office. Jane Scott is still frozen solid, and the lab is freezing cold. The coroner hasn’t been able to autopsy her, but when he shuts off the light, the corpse glows eerily. While the coroner gets out the ice pick and starts the autopsy, another lab geek gets them a sample from the corpse and discovers it isn’t ice, but something radioactive. The only place nearby that has a particle accelerator is Isodyne technologies, so the trio head over. Carter sneaks in, and meets a black scientist, Dr. Jason Wilkes, who is very helpful. (I was initially surprised that the producers would make a black man a scientist at this point in history. I thought diversity might be getting out of hand. But Wilkes’ race and circumstance is explained later on.) He recognizes the victim. Rumor has it that Jane was the mistress of Calvin Chadwick, the owner of Isodyne. The receptionist catches Carter and kicks her out, but Wilkes gives Carter his card, and his home number – he is clearly sweet on her.
Sousa sends Henry off to check in with his press contacts, mainly so that he stays away while Carter goes looking for Chadwick. She finds him at the racetrack, with his actress wife, Whitney Frost. Jarvis chats up Whitney about a movie roll while Carter talks to Chadwick. He acts startled at Jane’s death, and promises to give Carter a personal tour of Isodyne – if she can get proper government clearance to do so.
Returning to the coroners office, Sousa, Carter, and Henry find the coroner dead, frozen in place as he was opening up Jane. When they touch him, he tumbles over and shatters on the floor. While a containment unit is cleaning up the pieces of the coroner, Carter brings in Wilkes and asks if he can run tests on a piece of him. Wilkes says he can and excuses himself for a sip of water. Henry is already at the water fountain, and when he leans in for a sip, the water freezes. He is alarmed when Wilkes comes in and takes him hostage. Henry punches out Jarvis and takes his car, insisting that Wilkes will “fix him.” While that happens outside, inside Carter and Sousa realize that Jane wasn’t killed by the Lady in the Lake killer. The chemicals killed her; the crime scene was staged to look like a pattern kill. Some of the details were held back from the press, which is how Carter figures out that Henry was responsible for, if nothing else, dumping Jane Scott.
Sousa, Carter, and Jarvis drive around until they find Jarvis’ car, abandoned and frozen under an overpass. They leave Jarvis to wait for backup and continue on, looking for Henry and Wilkes. Henry and Wilkes are on foot, but Henry isn’t doing well. He admits to Wilkes that, for the right money, he cleans up other people’s messes. Shots are fired and Wilkes escapes. Carter pulls him to safety, announces over the radio not to shoot – they need Henry alive – then goes after him. Carter and Sousa eventually find Henry and promise to help him – he is freezing over. Before anything can be done, a uniform shoots Henry, shattering him into a zillion pieces. The uniform claims he left his walkie in the car and didn’t know not to shoot.
Of course, that is a lie. Later that night, the cop has a clandestine meeting with Chadwick. The job is done, and Chadwick pays him off. Whitney is beside him, and Chadwick promises his wife he figured out how to fix it all; this should be the last time they have to dirty their hands.
Carter and Sousa are wrapping up for the night and Carter asks him out for drinks. He takes a raincheck and leaves. She watches him out the window and sees him kiss a young lady. Carter is supremely disappointed.
And back at Isodyne, Wilkes has returned to work, which has him staring at a huge blobby thing in a containment unit. Though it doesn’t harden like the monolith in Agents of SHIELD, it does have the same liquid properties. Also: back in New York, Jack isn’t making any progress with Dottie. The FBI comes in, led by Vernon Masters, and takes Dottie into custody, promising to handle the case from that point out. Jack is hurt, offended, but drinks with Masters later reveals that he is being groomed for a gig at the FBI.
On to episode 202: “A View in the Dark”
Sousa comes into the office, promising Rose he will tell Carter about his girlfriend, Violet, but when they get there, the two are chatting over cookies, and invites Carter to dinner tonight. Jane Scott’s body is on its way to the SSR, in a special hazmat container. The body is intercepted on its way into the transpo truck, the hazmat guys are shot, and the body is disappeared. The truck with the transpo guys is later found in the reservoir. It was a professional hit.
Chadwick goes to a private club whose symbol is the same A on the pin that Dottie was so hot for. He is sent into a conference room, with a dozen old men gathered around. The council has decided it is time to shut down Isodyne and dispose of everything, much to Chadwick’s dismay. He insists that the “substance” is priceless and could make atomic energy a thing of the past. The council won’t budge, and insists Chadwick focus on his senate race. He acquiesces, and Isodyne will be cleaned out.
Carter and Sousa get their warrant for Isodyne, but by the time they get there, the place is under quarantine for a radiation leak. Wilkes runs into Carter and mimics the company line, but slips Carter a note, asking her to meet him tonight at the Dunbar hotel, downtown. Wilkes continues about his work, which includes him sneaking into an extra-secure room and stealing a film reel. Sousa knows the Dunbar – it is a “hotspot for the colored crowd.” Sousa will cancel his dinner plans to provide backup, but Carter insists she will be fine. A box drops out of Sousa’s pocket, which Carter retrieves. It is an engagement ring. He was going to propose tonight. Awkward.
Jarvis loans Carter one of Stark’s cars. It has been decked out for sleazy trysts with champagne, tinted windows, a change of clothes, a seat that goes flat, and a mirror on the ceiling. But more important is the tracker he had installed in the car. Stark uses it in case he has to ditch the car in pursuit of tail, but it will prove useful for Carter. Carter and Wilkes meet. She is uninterested in small talk, but this morning Wilkes got a long lecture from the company lawyers about treason and government secrets. He wants to know more about the woman he is trusting. Carter opens up, then Wilkes insists they dance. He claims that Chadwick didn’t kill Jane, at least not deliberately, but he thinks Chadwick would kill to cover the research. Wilkes finally agrees to show her, and the two leave. The hitman who disposed of Jane follows them out.
They go to the observatory, where there is more first date backstory. We do find out that Wilkes applied to 16 different labs across the country, and Isodyne was the only one willing to look past his race and hire him, so he does feel a certain sense of loyalty. Carter, though she is having a nice time, wants to get to the reason they are there. The two go inside and Wilkes plays her the film reel he stole from work.
The film reveals a fission test in the desert. Unlike a typical A-bomb, this one creates what looks like a black tear in the universe. This anomaly eventually sucks in all the trucks and the men (yet somehow, doesn’t touch the camera), and they are never seen again. There isn’t even a trace of them. All that was left was a material they called “zero matter,” which is unlike anything they have ever seen. It is a “perfect fluid” with no heat conduction. Zero matter will always be cold because it devours all energy. Wilkes was charged with building a containment unit for this stuff, which could be alien in nature, or it could be from another dimension. It is not of this Earth. Carter wants to steal it tonight. Unfortunately, the hitman and his squad have found them and left Carter’s car with a flat. She turns on the tracker and has Wilkes cover her while she hotwires one of the hitman cars. They peel out; the hit squad climbs into the other car and give chase. At some point, Carter’s car starts smoking, so Wilkes directs her into an alley where they can hide. Sure enough, the hit squad drives right past them. Something in the car pokes Carter – the same pin that Dottie was desperate for.
The tracker alarm goes off at Stark Manor, and Jarvis calls the office to let Sousa know. Sousa was on his way to dinner with Violet, but cancels when he learns that Carter might be in trouble. After checking at the observatory, Jarvis and Sousa return to the SSR, and Sousa goes into his office and throws stuff for a few minutes before he comes out, barking orders at every agent in the building. Then he decides the only logical place for Carter to be is at Isodyne.
With no other options, Wilkes and Carter travel on foot until they find a payphone outside a donut shop. They go in for change and the white proprietor is immediately suspicious. He asks Carter if she is in trouble; Carter thinks he is being preposterous. He finally agrees to give them change if they buy something, which infuriates Carter. Wilkes, sadly, is used to this kind of treatment and buys an éclair.
Outside, an already-annoyed Carter becomes even more frustrated when it turns out the phone doesn’t work. A car comes and Carter grabs Wilkes and pulls him inside the phone booth, just in case the hit squad has found them. The two of them are very close, and when Carter announces it isn’t the men trying to kill them, Wilkes kisses her passionately. Carter returns the kiss, but then has an idea. Wilkes thinks this is innuendo; Carter just wants to steal the car.
At Isodyne, Carter sends Wilkes to steal the zero matter while she takes care of distant voices. She discovers the men clearing out the building, and starts beating the hell out of them. Wilkes has a special tube system that will send a vial into the main containment unit, suck out the zero matter, and deposit it safely in a sealed container. Everything goes smoothly; he has the zero matter in his hands, but Whitney shows up unexpectedly.
After a rough day on set (where her director was continually referring to her as an old woman), Chadwick tells his wife that Isodyne is over and the council is clearing it out. She is mad that her husband let the council walk all over him, but he tries to soothe her with his senate campaign. She weakly agrees that that is better in the long run, and the kiss… but Whitney’s eyes grow dark. I assume she thinks this zero matter could turn back the hands of time.
Anyway, Wilkes is startled to see Whitney, but he is a huge fan. He warns her she shouldn’t be there, but she wants the zero matter, claiming she is the only one who knows what it is capable of. She pulls a gun and Wilkes clutches the zero matter like a teddy bear. He thinks she is smart enough to know not to shoot him while he is holding the zero matter, and Whitney falters. Wilkes uses this opportunity to knock the gun from her hands, but the two fight and the glass tube is dropped. It breaks, freeing the zero matter.
The explosion sends Carter rushing to find Wilkes. All she finds is a hole in the ground. Wilkes and Whitney are gone. So is the zero matter. Sousa and Jarvis show up and find Carter. She is in shock; they are relieved she is alive. Carter is taken home to rest, and she admits to Ana she is surprised at how hard Wilkes’ death hit her.
Chadwick calls for his wife. She doesn’t respond – but she is at home. She is hiding in a dark room behind a dressing screen, crying and trembling. Beneath her hair is a small cut that, instead of bleeding, seems to be leaking zero matter.
You can watch a promo for the third episode of Agent Carter Season 2, titled “Better Angels,” using the player below.