Bluntly, part one of this week’s two-part episode, “Life of the Party,” was poorly conceived. Agent Carter’s multiple storyline format didn’t work to its advantage this week. Instead of the various storylines weaving together naturally, the disparate narratives seemed mashed together with little thought given to how they should connect.
Dr. Wilkes is still disappearing: his dramatic exit last episode was just a tease. In order to forestall his disappearance into the “dark force” that beckons him–Frodo? Luke? Kylo?–the team must acquire some Zero Matter. Wilkes plans to use Zero Matter to create a containment suit for himself. After some discussion with Sousa, Agent Carter decides that the only way to get any will involve infiltrating Calvin Chadwick‘s campaign fundraiser, which Whitney Frost will be attending, and covertly stealing some from her bloodstream using a vacuum syringe designed by Dr. Wilkes. Witness the mashing together of different storylines I referred to earlier. Strangely enough, my reaction was pretty similar to Chief Sousa’s when he has the plot described to him at the beginning of the episode, “Okay … ”
In a sillier turn of events, because Peggy was punctured by some rebar in the last episode, a temporary replacement for Agent Carter is decided upon: Dottie Underwood–fans who have been around since last season will remember Underwood both as Peggy’s housemate at the Griffith Hotel and as a member of the elite Soviet assassin organization Leviathan.
Sick of her “six walls,” an incarcerated Underwood brokers a less than genuine release deal with Peggy. After a short training period, during which Underwood finds out about Dr. Wilkes’s intangible state, Dottie is sent to Chadwick’s campaign fundraiser. Not trusting Underwood with a gun, Peggy sends Dottie in with only the vacuum syringe, a two-way radio fascinator, and the butler who can do anything, including dance, Edwin Jarvis. Peggy and Sousa provide backup and listen in remotely in a nearby radio van.
Before long another couple of old friends show up at the campaign fundraiser, Chief Jack Thompson and his manipulative mentor Vernon Masters. Being a prisoner of the SSR, Dottie must avoid being seen by either, so while Jarvis distracts Thompson Dottie retrieves the sample from Whitney Frost. Having completed her objective, Dottie ditches her fascinator in an attempt to escape. On her way out, Dottie stumbles upon a meeting of the Council of Nine and witnesses Whitney Frost murder five of the members, including her husband Calvin Chadwick using her Zero Matter powers.
Startling truths revealed to her, Underwood attempts to make good her getaway when she’s seen by a passing Vernon Masters who demands that his thugs capture her alive. Dottie dispatches Masters’s goons with a nice bit of butt kicking but is ultimately overcome by a pistol whip from Jack Thompson. And, though she’s taken down with relative ease, Dottie’s butt kicking frenzy lasts just long enough to stop Ross and Rachel–I mean Sousa and Carter–from kissing in the radio van. Underwood gets hauled in again but she leaves the Zero Matter sample behind. Jarvis retrieves the Zero Matter and the team gets the sample back to Dr. Wilkes in the lab. Great! That was the plan and, confusing though it was, it went off okay aside from Peggy’s losing track of Dottie Underwood.
This is where this Agent Carter two-parter lost me. Rather than immediately starting work on Dr. Wilkes’s containment suit, which was the whole point of this harebrained caper, the team is instead fixated on finding Dottie Underwood. Granted Dottie’s a security threat but it seems a bad choice to put off building Dr. Wilkes’s containment suit if he could cease to exist at any moment. After all, isn’t that why the team just pulled this crazy stunt with Dottie Underwood, because time was running out for Dr. Wilkes and they couldn’t wait for Peggy to recover from her wound? Never mind all that! The episode’s over!