I’ve been fairly outspoken with how disappointed I’ve been with this season of Agent Carter. Sure, there have been high points, but they’ve been buried underneath a great deal of muck that feels much more evocative of its shark jumping cousin, Agents of SHIELD. “The Atomic Job” however, changes things up a bit. This episode was an adorable ball of energy from the moment it started. Sure, it wasn’t the most dramatic point in Peggy’s story, and there are still plenty of lacking plot elements being juggled around, but here they were either entirely ignored or replaced by something more enjoyable. I suppose I’m just a sucker for a good old fashioned heist.
The entire hour was essentially spent racing Whitney and Chadwick to the materials that created the zero matter explosion from before. Whitney wants to recreate the event in the exact same set of circumstances. In order to do that she needs to get a little power boost from Jane Scott’s body, and find the atomic bombs that Chadwick has in his back pocket. Carter and Jarvis are almost a little too conveniently hot on her trail, but unfortunately loose out on the zero matter by a hair. There was a lot of fun banter here that set a nice precedent for the rest of the story, particularly when Jarvis had a mini mental breakdown over the possibility of spiders in the vent. However, the episode really found its footing after this initial chase, as Carter and Jarvis realized that getting the atomic bombs before Whitney was now an absolute necessity. Unfortunately, Chadwick’s base has just about all of the security possible, so in classic Peggy’s Eleven fashion, they needed a team.
Getting Sousa on the crew was a no brainer, but Peggy had some slightly unconventional ideas for the other burglars. Rose, who up until this point has just been a secretary, got a chance to prove how well trained and resourceful she is, while warding off the romantic advances of one Dr. Samberly, who was also a lot of fun. I’m enjoying the idea of giving Peggy a Q-ish figure to hook her up with gadgets, especially if it leads to more hilarious sequences such as the one where she used a memory inhibitor device to constantly wipe a key Arena Club member’s memory over and over. It felt like a scene straight out of a screwball comedy from this era, a tone which the rest of the episode took on to very enjoyable effect. For the first time this season, it felt like the writers were actually having fun with the period, and leaning into the cheese factor for all it’s worth.
Meanwhile, Whitney continues to become more frustrated with being foiled by Carter. Their little confrontation in the laboratory was a pretty enjoyable indication of things to come. In particular, Wynn Everett’s delivery of the line “you’re just not cut out for Hollywood” before Peggy fell into a a small concrete pole, getting impaled in the process was a juicy combination of soapy and menacing. Everett’s performance has really been improving over these past few episodes, and watching her intimidate and emasculate the still utterly boring Chadwick was a joy. Hopefully we’ll see her powers develop at a bit of a faster rate though, as I’m still a bit unsure as to what exactly she’s going to be able to do, and I want a couple episodes where she can play around with the full range of her abilities. Even so, Peggy’s injury was a nice way to add consequence to such a bouncy and silly episode.
There were also a couple new wrinkles thrown into the mix, which thankfully spared us from Kurtwood Smith and Chad Michael Murray’s “I Can Be The More Boring Cooperate Stiff” competition for a week. Instead, we were introduced to mobster Joseph Mandredi (Ken Marino), who is already a lot of fun. Very few people can play a ridiculous stone faced bully like Marino, and watching him nearly beat one of his own men to death for “undressing [Whitney] with his eyes” was an unexpected joy. Hopefully Chadwick gets killed off soon, and Mandredi becomes the second in command. Hell, I hope Whitney takes out that whole stupid council at this emergency meeting that Chadwick called at the end of this episode. Meanwhile, we got a bit more development on Violet, Sousa’s new finance in a proposal scene that could have easily come off silly, but felt completely natural. However, I’m not huge on her getting all upset about Sousa wanting to take care of Peggy after her stabbing, and accusing him of being in love with her. It feels like a contrived excuse to create a love triangle, especially since we haven’t had a great deal of interaction between these three characters.
What really made me happy about this episode is that it really seems like this story is finally going somewhere, and hopefully the back half of the season can remember to be this free spirited and fun. It was an episode that owned all of the best parts of Agent Carter, and just for future reference writers, those parts do not involve a bunch of square jaws telling Peggy what she can’t do. There’s certainly still room to improve, especially considering the emotional weight brought by last week’s outing, but this is a start. We’ve got a big two hour bash coming next week, and something tells me that’s where things are really going to heat up. Keep ‘em coming Peggy, butler’s orders.