Agent Carter Recap: Episode 204, Smoke and Mirrors

Jarvis and Carter visit Chadwick’s election headquarters, looking for Frost. She isn’t there, but they notice that Chadwick’s driver has the same wound on his hand that Carter gave her attacker. A little research reveals this is Rufus Hunt, dishonorably discharged from the war for profiteering and now the head of Arena Club security. Jarvis pretends he is the police, which sends Hunt out the back, straight into Carter’s tranquilizer gun. He doesn’t go down easily, and a second tranq is used – plus a gun butt to the head. Carter and Jarvis stuff him in the trunk, and Jarvis gets stuck with a tranquilizer, forcing Carter to drive home.

She discovers Sousa waiting for her when she arrives home. He has background on Frost. Carter tries to blow him off, but Sousa sees Jarvis passed out in the front seat of the car and goes to check on him. While there, Hunt starts thumping and yelling from the trunk, and Carter is forced to admit what she had done. Sousa and Carter have it out, but in the end he seems more upset that she didn’t let him help her.

They tie up Hunt in the basement and Sousa interrogates him first. He gets nowhere, so he turns him over to Carter, who approaches with a needle. She’s not going to torture him because she hasn’t the time. Carter injects him with what she says is an extremely virulent strain of malaria. She has the antidote, but it will become toxic in 20 minutes. She will give him 10 to decide if he is going to talk or not. Of course, it’s not malaria; it is a failed cure for the common cold that instead will give him a serious cold – but nothing more. Hunt finally gives up a couple names, but he is scared. Just because he is getting the antidote doesn’t mean he will live much longer. The Arena Club is run by the Council of Nine, and apparently there is no running from them; no protection. They are in everything, and what they can’t buy they destroy. He reveals that they record all their meetings and everything they need to know is on those tapes.

Sousa places a call and gets a warrant from a judge to raid the Arena Club. As he and Carter are readying their troops, Vernon and his troops storm SSR, claiming the War Department received an executive order to audit this branch. There is nothing they can do but let Vernon’s men take everything – everything except for a tissue sample that Sousa was able to pocket.

With the Arena Club raid off the table, they need a new plan. They release Hunt after a “botched” attempt to kill him. Predictably, Hunt goes straight to Chadwick and Frost. Luckily, Carter and Sousa planted a bug on him. They can hear everything.

But first, let’s check in on Frost, whose condition is getting… worse. She gets a cage full of white rats from Isodyne and starts experimenting with them. Each one ends up getting absorbed by the zero matter and sucked into Frost’s body, causing the crack on her forehead to expand. The crack on her head gets so big she has to miss that evening’s photo shoot for Life magazine – much to Chadwick’s chagrin.

Hunt won’t say a word about what happened until Chadwick gets home. When he does, he tells him that Carter kidnapped him and she wanted names. Chadwick is horrified that they cracked Hunt, and Frost draws the shades. Chadwick threatens to turn Hunt into the council, but Hunt insists that he protect him, or he will “tell the council what you and your wife are up to.” Frost steps forward and strangles Hunt, which turns him into zero matter and causes him to absorbed into Frost. The signal cuts out for Carter and the gang. Chadwick is scared, especially when Frost bitterly snaps that she had to clean another one of his messes. She shows him the crack on her face.

About half of the episode played as a flashback, jumping between Carter and Frost/Agnes’ lives when they were young. Carter is shown as a rambunctious child who wanted to be the knight, not the princess. As she grows up, she is a great code breaker and is engaged to a man named Fred. The SOE recruits her for field work, but she just can’t wrap her head around it. At her engagement party, she finally introduces her beloved older brother Michael to Fred. Michael was the one who recommended his sister for the SOE; Fred graciously thanks him but says that “we turned them down.” He clearly wants the stereotypical 1940s wife, and Carter clearly wants to be that. Michael thinks it is a mistake and insists she think about it. A few weeks later, Carter is trying on her wedding dress when her mom answers the door. Watching from her bedroom window, she sees a pair of military men salute her mother, and mom crumbles to the ground. Michael is dead. In the next scene, we see Carter’s wedding dress back on the dress form. Her bag is packed, and she takes her SOE recruitment letter and leaves her engagement ring in its place.

Agnes’ story is far sadder. She grew up in Oklahoma in the 1920s, with a mother who was clearly prostituting herself to keep a roof over their head. She had hooked up with an older man, Bud, who Agnes doesn’t like, and mom is mad that she doesn’t put forward more of an effort to be nice. As a little girl, Agnes was always writing and fixing things, like the radio. As a teen, Bud finds a new young woman to pleasure him, throws some money at Wilma, and tells them to get out of his house by morning. Agnes is not too broken up by this, and Wilma goes ballistic. She throws a rejection letter from a university at Agnes, telling her that no engineering program is going to let a girl in, then drags her daughter to a mirror. “No one cares what is in your head! It is only your face that matters.” A few years later, Agnes goes to Hollywood, where she is discovered outside a movie house by a dubious talent agent. Agnes realizes that she will do whatever it takes to get her face on the silver screen – including changing her name.

Frankly, this episode was slooooow. There wasn’t a lot going on in the main plot, so they padded it out with soft-focus flashbacks, presumably to give our characters some depth and some explanation behind their decisions. It was just too much information, and mixed in with a plot that clearly had very little going on. Next week we get a nuclear missile and some action scenes, so at least that is something to look forward to.

You can watch a preview for next week’s episode, titled “The Atomic Job,” in the player below.