Mrs. Fred Wells. Dr. Agnes Culley.
If not for twists of fate, this is what the world would have had instead of Agent Carter and Whitney Frost.
What made Peggy a legendary SSR agent, and a girl from Oklahoma with incredible scientific skills a movie star?
Most of this week’s episode answered those questions, while Peggy goes through great lengths to find out the secrets of the Arena Club by grabbing its security chief.
In showing flashbacks into the pasts of Peggy and Agnes Culley aka Whitney Frost (Wynn Everett), they seem to be cut from the same cloth. Even in her youth back in the 1920’s, Peggy would rather be the heroic prince than the damsel in distress. While her mom insists Peggy should act like a lady, her brother Michael doesn’t mind. In Oklahoma, Whitney can fix a radio, even one that looks way too advanced for 1920. They are clearly not ordinary girls, but more on that later.
Back in 1947, Peggy is still trying to save the ghostly Dr. Wilkes (Reggie Austin), who finds it odd he can’t sleep or eat in his present condition. He does show Peggy how Whitney came up with reactor plans better than Isodyne, and more powerful. It’s too bad that zero matter crack on her head is getting worse, forcing her to skip filming dates. It does lead her to do experiments, like absorbing mice into her body. Just like River Tam, she is killing them with her brain.
It’s amazing that Whitney is so skilled she might have made a bigger splash in science than in the movies. That was her plan in her teenage years, but her mom Wilma (Samaire Armstrong), who relied on an “uncle” named Bud (Chris Mulkey), had other ideas. She tells Whitney all she has is her looks, and should use them to get ahead. Sadly, this message is still being used today, discouraging women from science jobs. Whitney’s beauty does help her when she heads for Hollywood and movie fame in 1934, but, as we learned last week, her scientific skills still benefited Isodyne and Chadwick (Currie Graham).
Peggy, though, decides to grab Rufus Hunt (Chris Browning), head of security for the Arena Club, and get him to talk. She and Jarvis manage to grab him, even though it takes many tranquilizer darts to do that. She is upset she has to tell Souza what she’s doing, although she preferred he didn’t know.
Hunt is also not intimidated, until Peggy jabs him with a hypodermic needle filled with a deadly strain of malaria. Actually, it’s a vaccine against the common cold that causes all the symptoms very quickly. Still, she admits sometimes you have to cross the line, or blur it, to get things done. She does learn about some of the Arena Club members like Hugh James of Roxxon (Ray Wise), and how they apparently caused the assassination of William McKinley.
Then there’s a flashback when Peggy was a code breaker at Bletchley in 1940, and apparently set to get married. However, her boss says she could take a job with the Special Operations Executive (the British SSR) and get involved in espionage. She thinks that’s absurd. Really. She says her future is with her fiance Fred. We also find out it was her brother, Michael (Max Brown), who recommended her. He knows what she’s really meant to be.
Back in Hollywood, Peggy’s plans to raid the Arena Club are stopped by Vernon Masters (Kurtwood Smith) of the War Department. He decides to audit the SSR office. Of course, he’s also in the club’s pocket. He warns Peggy to be a team player, or she may be fingered as an enemy spy. He uses the Hollywood 10 as an example, although that really happened a few months later. It shows again how he’ll use patriotism as an excuse to stop any threats to the club. It’s a good thing Souza hid some evidence from Masters, and placed a bug on Hunt before he got away.
That’s how Peggy, Souza, Wilkes and Jarvis hear Whitney get rid of Hunt after he threatens to tells the club about what she’s doing with zero matter. However, they don’t see how she dissolves Hunt just like the mice, but Chadwick sure does. He also sees the zero matter crack on her head. He asks her what she is, and she says “whatever I want”, and that’s more than being a movie star.
The zero matter is also affecting Wilkes, causing him to see cracks in reality. He claims it’s calling to him to just let go and head for the other side. Peggy tells him to fight, because she will not lose him. She’s already lost a lot.
Peggy didn’t marry Fred back in 1940 because Michael died in battle. That’s what convinced Peggy to join the SOE, and wind up meeting some American soldiers in 1943, including one from Brooklyn. That twist of fate made Peggy Carter who she is, as another twist of fate made Whitney Frost the most dangerous actress in Hollywood….and everywhere else.
Maybe someday we’ll learn about Dottie Underwood’s childhood, too. Somehow, she will have her role to play this season.
Next week features more disguises for Peggy, as she has a major battle with Whitney.