“That’s right, he did say ‘hidden door’ and ‘secret area.’ We’re dealing with old rich men here who like that sort of thing.”

Yes. Of course they do.

Marvel’s Agent Carter gives us some backstory or our hero and our villain, as the conspiracy moves closer.

Title: “Smoke and Mirrors”

Director: David Platt
Writers: Sue Chung

Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter
James D’Arcy as Edwin Jarvis
Wynn Everett as Agnes Cully / Whitney Frost / Madame Masque
Reggie Austin as Jason Wilkes
Chad Michael Murray as Jack Thompson
Enver Gjokaj as Daniel Sousa
Currie Graham as Calvin Chadwick
Kurtwood Smith as Vernon Masters
Christopher Grove as Mr. Edwards
Kevin Changaris as Finn Watson
Chris Browning as Rufus
John Balma as Torrance
Max Brown as Michael Carter
Carole Ruggier as Mrs. Carter
Andrew Carter as Ned Silver
Tamika Katon-Donegal as Mabel
Samaire Armstrong as Wilma Cully
Gabriella Graves as Young Peggy Carter
Webb Hayes as Young Michael Carter
Olivia Welch as Teen Agnes Cully
Ivy George as Young Agnes Cully
Chris Mulkey as Sleazy Uncle Bud
Khalilah Joi as Ticket Lady
Jonathan LaVallee as FBI Agent
Catriona Toop as Bletchley Park Agent
Jennifer Neala Page as Bletchley Park Agent
Randy Sklar as Director Kenneth
Rey Valentin as Agent Vega

Premise

The conspiracy moves in on Agent Carter and her associates, unaware that they’re being outplayed Whitney Frost.

We also learn some of Carter and Frost’s origins.

High Points

It would be easy to just make Peggy and Jarvis’s shenanigans the high point, since the actors have great chemistry and appear to be having a lot of infectious fun together. What impresses me more, however, is the show’s ability to combine comic-book-style fun and adventure with serious undertones and thematic elements.

While Flash this week handwaves serious crimes and ethical breaches by the principal characters (street racing is dangerous. Kidnapping, forcible confinement, and accessory to murder are just fine. Joe also appears to be violating his authority further when he uses a felon as bait, but maybe he got some kind of DCU warrant for that). Peggy Carter does much less that is ethically dubious, and the show wants to discuss the implications of her actions.

The backstories of our major combatants, meanwhile, comment intelligently on the role of women in society, and also contain more than a few meta-moments regarding the media’s complicity in enforcing those roles and expectations.

Low Point

Chung’s dialogue can be brilliant, and often works on multiple levels. She has to get a lot of exposition, social reflection, and ethical discussion in with the action, however, and at times (especially in the flashbacks), it all feels a little forced.

The Scores:

Originality: 3/6

Effects: 6/6

Acting: 5/6

Emotional Response: 5/6

Story: 5/6

Production: 6/6

Overall: 6/6

In total, receives 36/42