The Good: Moments of character
The Bad: Poor continuity, Melodrama, No truly great performances, Mood telegraphs the plot reversal
The Basics: "Monsters" forces Agent Carter into a very simple trap that requires some troublesome filler.
Every now and then, I encounter a very simple work that is stretched out in unfortunate ways to meet the minimum time requirement of the medium. "Monsters" in Agent Carter is one such episode of television. To get to the 43 minute mark, the Agent Carter episode includes contrived scenes and a dragged out mood that telegraphs a number of the plot reversals. The result is that genre fans are much more likely to be bored by "Monsters" than excited by all of the plot and character elements that were mashed into the episode.
Picking up where “Life Of The Party” (reviewed here!) left off, "Monsters" continues to have Dottie Underwood in play with Vernon Masters pulling some of the strings. As well, "Monsters" has to deal with Director Sousa telling Agent Carter that his engagement ended as a result of her.
Opening with Whitney Frost staging a press conference to explain the absence of Chadwick and others on the council, Carter and Sousa try to figure out where Dottie Underwood is. They correctly deduce that Underwood is under Frost's thumb. Underwood is actually in custody of Vernon Masters, who attempts to interrogate her and discovers she is made of stronger stuff than him. When Masters fails to get results, Frost breaks Underwood using her Zero Matter abilities. Carter and her team manage to make Dr. Wilkes corporeal again . . . right before Underwood's tracker goes live again!
With Masters squeezing Sousa for the uranium that Carter stole to prevent it from falling into Frost's hands, Carter and Jarvis head knowingly into Frost's trap. After getting captured attempting to rescue Underwood, Jarvis, Carter and Underwood attempt to break out while Wilkes and Ana Jarvis have a heart to heart conversation. But in liberating Underwood, they discover the true nature of Frost's trap and when Frost abducts Wilkes, Ana Jarvis is caught in the crossfire!
Dr. Wilkes begins to show some of the psychological strain associated with being disembodied as long as he has been. Wilkes advocates using the destruct mechanism in Underwood's necklace and that is a shift in his character, which makes some sense given how he is coming psychologically unraveled. Wilkes has a reasonable evolution in "Monsters" that actually works for his character as he becomes desperate to develop a containment vessel.
At the other end of the spectrum is Vernon Masters. Masters continues to develop as one of the true villains of the second season of Agent Carter. In "Monsters," Masters subtly reveals how he has risen to such a position of authority and power by revealing that he still has some faith in the U.S. Government and the agents under his command. Masters knows how to use the institutions that exist for his own gain and Kurtwood Smith has great range to play both the torturer and extortionist. Masters's machinations in "Monsters" move him to being a more overt threat to Carter and one of the ironic and few delightful elements of the episode is how Underwood alludes to the HYDRA presence within the SSR!
Jarvis continues to have his own sidekick and side story in "Monsters." Ana Jarvis has been watching Jarvis interact with Peggy Carter and she is reasonably concerned about the level of danger Jarvis is put in by "Monsters." While Ana Jarvis and Edwin Jarvis's interactions work wonderfully, the episode takes an abrupt, literal, stop in the middle to have a painfully forced conversation between Edwin and Carter. While there are certainly ways such a scene could work and seem vital, it comes across as very . . . high school in "Monsters."
While "Life Of The Party" allowed Hayley Atwell to present a new level of physical performance that she had not previously played, "Monsters" does not continue to play up Carter's wounds. That is somewhat problematic as Agent Carter should not have recovered nearly so quickly from being impaled as she has. Given that Carter was nearly mortally wounded 48 hours prior, her moving around the way she does in "Monsters" is terribly unrealistic.
"Monsters" has no great performances, though all of the acting is competent enough. The character development is minimal and the sudden attention to Ana Jarvis only serves to rob the episode of any surprise when Frost uses her as a component of her getaway. The result is an Agent Carter episode that barely progresses the main plot and does so in a fairly dull way.
For other works with Hayley Atwell, please check out my reviews of:
Agent Carter - Season 1
The Avengers: Age Of Ultron
"The Things We Bury" - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
"Shadows" - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
[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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