Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Utterly Generic Trade-Off, "The Edge Of Mystery" Disappoints.

The Good: James D'Arcy's performance
The Bad: Utterly bland plot, No significant character development, Forced character movements
The Basics: "The Edge Of Mystery" belabors moving Agent Carter forward on all fronts in an albeit generic way.

Agent Carter was a television series whose cancellation was utterly unsurprising for me. In fact, the series has been so oppressively dull, that it took a lot for me to go back and finish reviewing it. Indeed, by the time I got to "The Edge Of Mystery," watching and reviewing Agent Carter was more of a chore than anything even remotely enjoyable. "The Edge Of Mystery" is disappointing on its own merits, though, unencumbered by any potential prejudice I had going into it.

Picking up where “Monsters” (reviewed here!) left off, "The Edge Of Mystery" is impossible to discuss without some references as to where the prior episode ended. After all, with Carter's attempt to rescue Dottie from Whitney Frost leaving Zero Matter expert Jason Wilkes in Frost's possession, "The Edge Of Mystery" begins with the protagonists suffering from some serious setbacks. Add to that that Ana Jarvis is on death's door, "The Edge Of Mystery" is very much dependent upon the prior episodes.

Opening with a flashback to New York City, a year prior, where Ana Jarvis overhears Edwin Jarvis advising Agent Carter on how to diffuse a bomb. In the present, Ana Jarvis lays near death with Edwin being entirely distraught by her condition. Wilkes awakens, handcuffed to a pipe, to an interrogation from Frost. Frost wants to compare notes with Wilkes and has made a number of observations about the relationship between herself and Jason while he was unconscious. Carter returns home to find Sousa investigating the grounds. Sousa reveals that Vernon Masters is after uranium rods for Whitney Frost before the pair head to mobster Joseph Manfredi's restaurant to interrogate him.

In London, Thompson tries to dig up dirt on Peggy Carter. In Frost's custody, Wilkes begins to get freaked out by the fact that Frost hears a voice from the Zero Matter. While Frost and Sousa prepare to go on their mission with fake uranium to make the trade, Howard Stark's teletype goes off. Dr. Samberly realizes that Stark has sent him plans to make a machine that can neutralize Zero Matter and he sets to building it. When Thompson confronts Carter with evidence she committed war crimes, Carter rejects his premise and goes ahead with the mission to save Wilkes.

"The Edge Of Mystery" is a lackluster hunt story. Peggy Carter and Daniel Sousa are on a fairly mundane search for Whitney Frost. The SSR agents want to make a trade, or lure Frost into believing they are willing to make the trade and Frost is playing the same game from the opposite side. The Thompson subplot in "The Edge Of Mystery" is both forced and the perfect example of "simple problem, simple solution." It undermines Thompson's character that he does not realize how he is being manipulated when Carter takes about half a second to conclude that.

While the fairly generic spy drama continues, Jarvis sits holding his wife's hand as she lays near death. There are any number of dramas that could pull off the Jarvis subplot well, but Agent Carter is not one of them. Jarvis is not a well-developed enough character for viewers to truly care about and his love of Ana is a comparatively new phenomenon in the Agent Carter storyline. Add to that, "The Edge Of Mystery" very quickly brings Ana Jarvis back from the brink of death and it adds a new sense of conflict to the Jarvis's relationship that lacks resonance based on not knowing enough about their relationship before the episode began. Indeed, lacking flashbacks that show that Edwin and Ana actually were invested in having children before Ana was shot, the loss of that ability seems like a generic conflict as opposed to something that is actually character-based.

"The Edge Of Mystery" continues the trend of presenting spies who are unfortunate idiots working for an obviously corrupt version of S.H.I.E.L.D. (pre-S.H.I.E.L.D.) and the only redeeming aspect of the episode is James D'Arcy's portrayal of Edwin Jarvis. Jarvis might not be the most splendid character, but D'Arcy plays him perfectly well. As Edwin holds his wounded wife's hand, D'Arcy plays anguish with only his facial expression and the result is one of his best performances of the series.

Sadly, "The Edge Of Mystery" is not enough to sell the episode or Agent Carter . . . for Marvel fans or those who like television in general!

For other works with Damian O'Hare, please visit my reviews of:
Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Agent Carter - The Complete Second Season, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the final season of Agent Carter here!


For other television reviews, please check out my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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