17 March 2016
Agent Carter S2E8 "The Edge of Mystery" review
Following on immediately from the cliffhanger ending of last weeks "Monsters", "The Edge of Mystery" sees Peggy and Daniel attempt to free Dr Wilkes from captivity by trading him for the nuclear bomb cores that Whitney Frost wants. Meanwhile, Ana Jarvis lies in a hospital bed, trying to recover from the gunshot wound inflicted by Whitney Frost and wake up from the coma she has subsequently fallen into.
As a title, "The Edge of Mystery" is apt, and not just because it sounds so fantastical. This is an episode that skirts right up against one of the most out there, comic book-y concepts that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has introduced so far, but the shows refusal to push the audiences suspension of disbelief that little bit more (or, more likely, the shows lack of necessary budget) means that it does only feel as if we are on the edge of something bigger and better. As much as I'd like to see Agent Carter take that step into the unknown that is teased towards the end of "The Edge of Mystery", I can't help but think that the show either won't be willing to or simply won't have the time to go as far as I want it to - but I'm more than willing to be wrong about this.
It's interesting to see Agent Carter take itself more seriously as it hits the final stretch of the season, a shift in tone most noticeable in the way in which the show makes use of Edwin Jarvis. We saw this character take on a less comedic role in last weeks "Monsters", and I'm pleased to say that continues here - he's clearly a changed man, at least for the time being, and his almost complete shift in personality now that things have gotten personal both adds previously unseen depth to the character and once again proves just how good an actor James D'Arcy is, once again proving just how important he is to this show.
Additionally, the reappearance of Chief Jack Thompson in this episode feels like just the right time to bring him back into the fold, and I have to say how much I like what they are doing with his character. He's self-serving, sexist and in his own way cowardly, but by no means is he a villain - he's simply a person, potentially one of the most grounded and believable that the show has created to date, and I'm glad that they've straddled the line between deeply flawed and genuinely bad so well with him.
But the bring improvement that both "The Edge of Mystery" and last weeks "Monsters" have had over previous episodes is that for the first time, I both a) don't really know where the show is going to go next and b) really want to find out. I said in one of my previous episode reviews of the second season of Agent Carter that although I enjoyed watching it week to week I wasn't overly attached to it as a show, and the main reason for that is that although interesting, the story being told had never really gripped me. Well over the last couple of episodes I've been gripped thanks to the story simply becoming more engaging, and I have to say that I'm more interested in the show than I've ever been before.
Which is almost a shame given that the remaining two episodes of the second season may well be the shows last. The second season of Agent Carter has (ignoring a couple of substandard but still watchable episodes), been a consistently enjoyable experience, and "The Edge of Mystery" is a good example of why I'll be... not sad as such, but at least somewhat disappointed to see the show cancelled. Because in it's best moments, it's a riveting, fun and surprisingly robust show, one that can do serious and dramatic just as well as it can do light-hearted and comedic, and that breadth of tone is something not often seen on television. And I think we need it.
This article was originally published on OutLoudCulture.