Episode Nine of Agent Carter is amusingly and accurately called, “A Little Song and Dance.” The Netflix Jessica Jones series was the first one to bring sex into the Marvel Universe. Now, Agent Carter has brought in musical theater in a really entertaining number. I’m not sure why they decided to go that route, but it’s a fun scene, and the timing is decent since the movie “Hail, Caesar,” has some similar numbers and just recently came out.
Carter wakes up and has a black and white (literally) conversation with her late brother. As she wanders, more hints of color come in, until she’s back in the Automat in New York City, where we also get to see her friend Angie turn up again. Then everything gets weirder as the scene turns into a musical number about Carter needing to make up her mind between Sousa and Wilkes. There’s even a brief Dottie cameo. Her waking up is done beautifully, in a great bit that draws on the SSR’s cover in Los Angeles.
Carter and Jarvis are tied up in the back of their truck. Of course, that doesn’t stop Carter long, and she manages a very James Bond-style escape, bringing Jarvis with her. The two of them bicker about his attempt on Frost’s life and his not taking her work seriously. He finally shares Ana’s diagnosis with her, and they make a kind of peace as they trudge along the desert highway.
Thompson, Sousa, and Samberly are still where they were left in the desert. The good news is that the rift of Zero Matter seems to have closed. The bad news is that they’re in the middle of the desert with no ride. The worse news is that some of the compromised SSR agents show up, and Thompson orders them to take Sousa and Samberly in to custody. He manages to persuade them not to kill the other SSR men, since they know how to fix the Gamma Cannon, which Masters is going to need.
With their captured vehicles, Manfredi and Frost and their goons are fleeing the scene. Wilkes wakes up in the back seat, and clearly all is not well with him. He finally convinces them to stop and let him out, which isn’t hard since Manfredi doesn’t want Wilkes throwing up in his new car. This is also when they discover that Carter and Jarvis have escaped, and Manfredi handles it his usual calm and understanding manner.
Manfredi sent some thugs back to recapture Carter and Jarvis. To absolutely no surprise, it doesn’t work out that way. Carter and Jarvis take off in their reacquired vehicle, heading back to the SSR to see how bad things are. Jarvis also needs to get back to the hospital to check in on Ana.
Back at the SSR, there are wheels turning within wheels. Thompson convinces Vernon Masters to not kill Sousa and Samberly. Instead, he proposes they fix the Gamma Cannon and turn it against Frost, which Masters likes. Thompson even, cleverly, tosses in one of Masters’ favorite phrases, “restore order.” Clearly, Sousa and Thompson have a plan. Or at least one.
Manfredi brings Frost to the building he set up for her experiments. It doesn’t look like much, but it’s got what they need. Manfredi clearly cares about Frost, which is almost disturbing, considering how easily he kills people for just annoying him. They go off on a tour of the facility. Wilkes warns them that he needs to be away from people, that something is very wrong with him and he shouldn’t be in a populated area. Frost doesn’t care, and Manfredi, of course, agrees with her. Frost begins her plan to get the Zero Matter out of Wilkes, which looks unpleasant at best.
A very much worse-for-wear Carter finally makes it to the SSR. She storms across the bullpen, goes into Sousa’s office where Masters is lounging, and starts beating on him. I’ve been waiting on that for a while, and I enjoyed it just as much as I expected to. Sousa and Thompson pull her off and tell her about their new plan, requiring them all to work together. There’s not a lot of trust in that group, but they all agree that Frost needs to be stopped. When the Cannon isn’t ready by the deadline Frost set (why she needed a deadline I’m not sure, maybe she’s just impatient), Thompson takes the opportunity to go see her and spin yet another angle on the chaos going on between Frost and the SSR.
The delivery of the Gamma Cannon is finally arranged (anyone else notice there are a lot of hand-offs and exchanges this season?) and things go badly from the start. Thompson has a different agenda from the rest of the SSR, not to mention different from Masters and Frost. Sousa and Carter are sabotaged before they can even get to the exchange.
As all this is going on, there’s a great scene with Edwin and Ana Jarvis. He’s at her bedside in the hospital, and she’s pressing him for details on the case. It’s funny- the more he’s trying to protect her, the more she’s sounding like a seasoned agent, or at least adventurer. Finally she urges him to get out and go help Carter. That scene ends on him presumably telling her the bad news from the doctor about her injuries.
Frost’s new headquarters has so many different factions going on you almost need a flowchart. Carter is going after Wilkes to free him, Wilkes wants everyone to get away from him, Masters is sucking up to Frost long enough to try and kill her, and Thompson has his own game going. Weirdly, considering how much of a jerk Thompson generally is, I find myself on his side for at least some of this. The episode ends with several things coming to a crisis point, and some very uncertain futures for at least some of the cast.
What I liked: Carter’s dream at the beginning was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed it, and it was nice to see Angie again. The scene with the Jarvises in the hospital was really touching. I like Ana more and more. Sousa is trying to do the right thing while almost everyone around him seems to have some shifting goals. Manfredi is actually endearingly psychopathic, if that makes any sense at all. There are a lot of levels here and it’s getting really interesting.
What I didn’t: Aside from the dream, has everyone forgotten about Dottie? Where is she? It’s not good to misplace a highly dangerous assassin. Aloysius Samberly is really getting on my nerves. Carter is losing sight of the bigger picture too easily for the experienced agent she’s supposed to be.
I’ll give this one a 4 out of 5. I’m really curious to see how all the different factions come together (or fail to) in the conclusion.