Marvel's Agent Carter (2015) season 2, episode 4
"Smoke & Mirrors"
WRITER: SUE CHUNG
DIRECTOR: DAVID PLATT
AIR DATE: February 2 2015
"Smoke & Mirrors" bounces back and forth in time for two characters this time out, as we see a steady amount of flashbacks for both the protagonist and Big Bad of season two for Agent Carter. Both Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and Whitney Frost (Wynn Everett) get their pasts fleshed out somewhat in this episode, which nonetheless moves the current narrative forward in terms of the SSR’s investigation of Isodyne Energy, as well as the predicament Jason Wilkes (Reggie Austin) finds himself in.
Whitney’s seen as a child at first, growing up in Broxton, Oklahoma - a nice nod towards Marvel’s comics, which for the last few years has featured Broxton as a location primarily tied to the Thor comic book titles. The girl has a brilliant mind, with a natural understanding of engineering and science, and yet because of her gender she’s neglected, rejected, or ignored. It gives the audience a reason to be sympathetic with her (even if in the present she’s becoming something terrible what with recent events).
Peggy’s family background comes up, giving us a sense of who she was before we first met her in Captain America: The First Avenger. The dynamics of her family relationships, her love life as the war was getting underway, and her transition from ordinary woman to cipher clerk to working as a spy is examined. There’s a moment late in the flashbacks that’s agonizing for her; the audience understands because of the way she’s related to the individual in question. It also makes her decisions going forward from that point entirely understandable.
The current day tale concerns itself with the investigation, part of which involves interrogating a Council of Nine henchman. The other part of that involves Whitney showing her abilities to her husband - abilities that horrify him. Where the two of them go from here is a question. The bigger question is how can Peggy deal with someone of those capabilities? This is going to require much more than knowing your way around a fist fight.
In paralleling the different past lives of these two women, the episode ends up building their characters, serving as a good character study and giving answers to where they are now. There’s more to come, of course, and this serves as a good crossroads to the rest of the season.