Peggy and Sousa continue to investigate Isodyne as Dr. Wilkes is posthumously accused of being a Soviet Spy.
Frost and Chadwick come up with the plan to cover up the incidents at Isodyne by releasing a story accusing Dr. Wilkes of being a spy. Peggy doesn’t buy it for a second and correctly believes that Isodyne is setting up Wilkes to take the fall for them. Peggy goes to see Howard Stark to get some more information. After pulling him away from his exceedingly meta role as the director of a Kid Colt comic book movie, she gets some useful information from him. The pin with the “A” symbol on it belongs to members of the “Arena Club”. It’s an all-white, all-male club filled with people with a lot of influence. Peggy enlists Howard’s help in order to get her in the Club’s door so that she can plant listening devices. Howard floods the club with girls, allowing Peggy to sneak in, but the club seems to have some defense set up against listening devices. Peggy does find some newspapers with fabricated stories that look like they were used to force Chadwick’s competition out of the race, but she has to leave without taking anything for fear of being caught.
Agent Thompson is in L.A. as well. He’s been called there by Vernon Masters in the hopes that he would turn over evidence that the SSR might have obtained from Wilkes. He’s most likely talking about the video that shows the creation of the Zero Matter, which Thompson did watch. Thompson didn’t turn over the video immediately, but he did go along with the story being reported in the media about Wilkes. Thompson wants to modify Peggy’s story to corroborate what the media is saying so the SSR isn’t dragged into possible collusion with a spy. Even after Peggy tells him about what they found at the Arena Club, he’s not willing to continue the investigation. When Peggy calls Thompson a coward, he tells her to get on the next plane back to NYC. Once Peggy leaves the room, she and Sousa notice that objects are floating around Peggy. They’re afraid that she’s been contaminated by Zero Matter (which would mean she’d freeze like the others). When they go to see Stark he tells them that it’s something else. After some science-y talk, he sprays a solution in the air that reveals the visage of Dr. Wilkes, who claims that he’s been following Peggy since the explosion and that Whitney Frost was involved in it as well. The solution wears off before he can tell them much more, but it’s enough to give them a lead.
The remainder of the episode starts to reveal some other plot points. Fueled by coffee and Velveta cheese, Wilkes and Stark get to work on finding a way to restore Wilkes’ corporeal form. Wilkes’ intellect actually impresses Howard Stark, and it seems like those two will be a team for a little while. Meanwhile, Peggy pays a visit to Whitney Frost in order to rattle her. The ploy works and Frost convinces Chadwick to try to neutralize Peggy. That night, the Jarvis residence is intruded upon by an assassin. Jarvis and Peggy are able to foil the attack, which proves to Peggy that she’s on the right track. Instead of leaving for NYC with Agent Thompson, she stays behind to talk to Sousa. He reports that he’s found some more interesting information about Frost. Her real name is Agnes Cully, and she happens to be the brains behind Isodyne. Agent Thompson also takes an undisclosed trip to the Arena Club. He’s being invited in by Masters after eventually turning over the Zero Matter footage. Thompson is introduced to Chadwick, but when they show him the story about Chadwick’s uncontested candidacy, he realizes the headline reads exactly as Peggy said it would. Finally, Frost gets a surprise from her director. He tells her that the studio wanted to fire her, but he got them to keep her. When the director decides he’s owed some sexual favors for saving her job, he finds the crack on her face. Frost becomes agitated and ends up absorbing the director somehow. When she looks at her face in the mirror, she can see the crack start to expand.
- “I have no desire to spend the rest of time as a disembodied voice” – Jarvis
In an episode that seemed to have a higher number of meta-winks to the audience, but this one had to be the best/most severe. If only Jarvis knew what was in store for his voice.
- Kid Colt
The runner up for best meta-momment was the fact that Howard Stark is making a Kid Colt movie. Peggy’s skepticism about “comic book movies” was good enough, but what really seals the deal is that the show runners actually decided to use a real comic book as the source material for this gag. Sure, the comic doesn’t actually come out until a year after this moment in the show, but it was created by Marvel’s predecessor and is under the Marvel brand now, so points for the deep cuts reference.
- “I get confused around books” – Peggy
I face palmed so hard when I heard this line come out of Peggy’s mouth. I don’t know which was more unbelievable, that that’s the line she came up with, or that it actually worked!
I wouldn’t have thought it was possible, given the past temperament of this show, but this episode was even more fun that the premiere. Some of that probably had to do with the reintroduction of Howard Stark, but I thought the whole episode really worked to match the kind of fun, but serious, energy his character conveyed. I think it also helped to reveal that Wilkes wasn’t dead. Granted, there’s lots of questions that his current state brings up. For instance, how does he propel himself around if he has no physical mass? But this is a comic book show, so why let science get in the way. The important thing is that Peggy fan feel a few degrees less guilty, and Howard Stark has a new playmate. It was also nice to see Stark actually being the cause of a solution instead of a problem for once. We all know that he’s supposed to be brilliant, but if he’s constantly playing the fool it’s easy to forget what kind of person he can really be. Although, that part with Peggy stealing his Bloody Mary was pretty funny.
Aside from what’s going on with our good guys, I am really interested in what’s happening with the bad guys. Obviously, Mrs. Frost has developed some kind of powers as a result of the explosion. Her name suggests that she is to become the character Madame Masque, but you never know if shows like this will be that straight forward with their characters. I also don’t recall Madame Masque having the ability to absorb people, or whatever happened to that director. The other characters of interest are in the Arena Club, specifically as it relates to their relationship with Agent Thompson. I think we can all agree that Thompson isn’t the most likeable character on this show. But, being brought closer to these guys puts him in a position to make some decisions. He’s already playing both sides of the fence with Masters by giving him what he wants but not telling him everything he knows. It almost feels like the Arena Club could be some kind of HYDRA-like organization that plants it’s members in other organizations. Thompson could have the chance to redeem himself by taking them down from the inside. Of course, it’s also possible that the Arena Club is just destined to be canon fodder for Frost, or someone else who’s just pulling their strings.