This isn’t just about proving to the male agents at the Strategic Scientific Reserve that she can do their job as well as they can, or even better. She has to solve a murder case and fight a conspiracy that could threaten her life and career, not to mention Los Angeles in 1947.
However, it all begins with someone wearing a red hat robbing a bank in New York. Yep, Dottie Underwood (Bridget Regan) is back, but she’s looking for a key, not cash. Good thing the SSR and Peggy are there to grab her. She’s about to interrogate Dottie when something comes up. Jack Thompson, now head of the SSR office, thinks he can handle Dottie, though.
Peggy is sent to Los Angeles to investigate why part of the lake at Echo Park is frozen in summer, along with the body of a dead woman–who’s also glowing. She’s later identified as a physicist for Isodyne, who’s involved in atomic research.
It’s all connected with its owner Calvin Chadwick (Currie Graham), who has his eye on a Senate seat. He’s married to movie star Whitney Frost (Wynn Everett). Of course, things aren’t what they seem. Seems that Chadwick is a bit nervous when Peggy talks to him about the dead woman, and not just because he had an affair with her.
Peggy does get help from Jason Wilkes (Reggie Austin), a scientist at the company…and an African-American. In fact, they get close, especially when she learns Souza, now head of the SSR West Coast office, apparently is about to propose to a pretty nurse named Violet (Sarah Bolger aka Princess Mary on The Tudors). Actually, Peggy and Dr. Wilkes look like a good couple, even if it wouldn’t be acceptable to some in 1947. They also work pretty well when they’re trying to dodge assassins apparently employed by Isodyne. At least he’s able to get her to talk about her past, which has never happened before.
Peggy and Dr. Wilkes learn it’s all about “zero matter,” a substance Isodyne discovered in one of its atomic tests. Whatever it is, it acts like a black hole that pulls in energy and whatever else is near it. He’s has been able to contain a fair amount at Isodyne. Chadwick hopes it can be used as a future source of energy. Whitney agrees, since she seems to have more of an idea of what it can do. That may be good for her future, since her acting style is just like her last name.
It’s too bad that a mysterious council that calls itself the “Arena Club” (according to an article in EW) told Chadwick to forget about “zero matter” and just run for the Senate. After all, if they can create the Crash of ’29 and other profitable catastrophes, they can make him a Senator. Come to think of it, should we call this group HYDRA?
Although Peggy only has Souza backing her up, she’s not alone. Jarvis is there, too, since Howard Stark has started his own movie studio because he thinks he can be Cecil B. DeMille. Peggy thinks he’s more like Fatty Arbuckle, especially when she looks over one of his cars that includes instant champagne and a front seat that converts into a bed. Peggy & Jarvis discuss palm trees, traffic and avocados and it turns out he’s working out more often, and is getting good at judo. A more active Jarvis would add a lot to the show.
There’s also his wife, Ana (Lotte Verbeek), who apparently is taking Angie Martinelli’s place as Peggy’s confidant. She seems to be more helpful, especially in choosing the right wardrobe. Still, some people will wish Angie could be around, and she will be…in some way.
As for the SSR’s cover, the office is disguised as a talent agency that no one is supposed to find. Yet budding actors, dancers and even clowns keep finding it. Maybe it should take down the sign outside.
Back to the “zero matter”, Peggy convinces Dr. Wilkes to take it from Isodyne before it shuts down the project. He manages to put it in another container, but Whitney is there to try to stop him. They wind up releasing the zero matter, leaving a big hole in the facility. It also looks like Dr. Wilkes is dead (maybe), and that really hits Peggy hard. Whitney, though, seems to have been contaminated by the “zero matter”. Whatever she plans to do with it, she has to work fast before it kills her. This will lead to a role she was born to play.
Back in New York, Jack is about to offer Dottie prison time if she explains why she wanted that key. Then, the FBI, led by agent Vernon Masters (Kurtwood Smith), decides to take her into custody. Why? Masters says the SSR is on its way out, and if Thompson “plays ball” he can get a better position in whatever organization replaces it. Peggy and Souza would really love that, right? Expect this “long view” by Masters to make things a lot worse, because it is as suspicious as it looks. Also, what will the FBI do with Dottie? Will they try to make her more American, and maybe part of what Masters wants to replace the SSR? If so, I bet Dottie won’t be a HYDRA mole but does find a few, and will surprise herself and Peggy in the end.
This season will have Peggy battling a group more dangerous than Leviathan, and a movie star who is more than she seems. Even if she emerges triumphant, it looks like she’ll lose her job anyway, if Jack doesn’t fight for the SSR’s existance as much as he should. It will also be interesting to see how Stark fits in all of this, especially when he’s got a lapel pin whose symbol is the same as the one on the key Dottie wanted.
Agent Carter airs Tuesday at 9 PM on ABC.