Let’s Talk About: “Life of the Party” and “Monsters”
In which Sarah Tompkins and Annie Meagle learn some new pick-up lines and jump straight into the garbage pail.
Annie: *whistles a jaunty tune while digging grave*
A: *lies down in grave*
A: *crosses arms and closes eyes*
A: Alright, I’m ready to talk about last night’s episodes, Sarah!
Sarah: I don’t know if I’m ready? I mean, maybe? Can I ever be ready? I think I am floating in some Zero Matter existential plane of existence??
A: Tell Frodo hi for me if you see him, as that glimpse into the world of Zero Matter pretty much just told me that it is the same thing as the One Ring? All gray and shadowy and windy sounding? Did Peter Jackson direct this ep?
A: But seriously. It has been a long time since I have been that invested in two hours of television, I’m not going to lie. So much happened, I could barely keep up much less process. At the same time, WHAT A RIDE. God, I adore this show. So damn much.
A: So where do we even begin? Disappearing Dr. Wilkes? Deadly Dottie? DISHEVELED DANIEL?
S: Oh my god. Disheveled Daniel, though. I want to collect that Garbage Pail Kid Card.
A: Same. He’s the only one that matters, Sarah.
A: (God, I am the real Garbage Pail Kid here.)
S: I am looking through my notes, Annie, and it’s all just CAPS LOCKED EXCLAMATIONS. These episodes were rich with developments and wonderful moments and terrible moments. But why don’t we start with Dottie? I think she might have been my favorite part of this all.
S: Pardon my British, but Dottie is BA AF.
A: 100% agreed. I actually was just waxing poetically about her over on the tumblrs. So much of Dottie shouldn’t work, she should be too cliched and too predictable and too over-the-top. But she isn’t. The character is wonderfully handled, both by the writers and Bridget Regan. She is at once fun and terrifying, but there is also a fragility to her, even though this is a woman that has mutilated herself to train for torture situations. Her interactions with Jarvis were a thing of wonder and hilarity, and I cannot help but to want her to join Team Carter? For good? For Peggy to be the Nick Fury to her Natasha Romanoff? Am I crazy???
S: No. Because that would make me just as certifiable. She has all the necessary qualifications of a Baddie Gone Good – and there’s nothing I love more than the uber reluctant hero. While she obviously made a run for it – and who wouldn’t try to escape the six (not four) walls of a high security jail cell – she still maintained enough respect for Peggy to complete her “mission.” I need more of the “this whole thing would be so much easier if you just let me kill people now and again” attitude; honestly, it makes me gleeful.
S: Not to mention: “I’ve pulled out my own teeth”? A great pick-up line.
A: I am cackling. As the season rolls on, and we see our fearless agents seem to move farther away from the corruptible SSR, I can’t help but to see (well, hope I see) the foundation being laid for S.H.I.E.L.D. to rise. We know it’s gonna happen, and I would love to see Dottie a part of it.
A: What did you think of her interactions with Agent Red Foreman and Whitney Frost?
S: I had an incredibly strong reaction to it, actually. I know that we talk about the dreaded Woman v. Woman Trope in these discussions a lot, and here we saw Agent Red Foreman try to literally pit woman against woman. And ya know what? I may have jumped up from my couch when it failed.
S: But Dottie’s interactions with Whitney were so well done. When Whitney attempts to get information out of her – “we’re not in the same boat – we’re not even in the same ocean” – now that is the type of women against one another I can get behind. These are both powerful, but flawed (not even counting the giant black faultline on her face) women who have fought tirelessly (and literally) to be respected.
S: I challenge you to find another show that writes women as well as Agent Carter – as thoughtfully and good.
A: I could never accept that challenge because said thing does not exist. And you are so spot on about the Whitney/Dottie scene, it was beyond phenomenal. To see Dottie, an unbreakable character beginning to break…that was some powerful stuff.
A: (Sidenote: SERIOUSLY WHAT THE EFF IS THIS ZERO MATTER IF IT CAN BREAK THE WOMAN WHO PULLED OUT HER OWN TEETH????)
A: Whitney, for her part, is really ramping up into a villain of the first water for me. And it’s insanely enjoyable to watch. She is SO SMART, terrifyingly so, and yet completely broken and balls to the wall. I completely fist pumped when she killed half of the Evil Council of Old White Dudes. And that noodle Cal. No shame in my game. But I loved how even through all that, they gave her delicate layers of pain and emotion – you see Cal’s betrayal cut deep. She doesn’t want to kill Ana, as she is innocent in all this. I also don’t think she particularly wants to kill Peggy either, as there is respect there, just get her off her case.
A: But Agent Red Foreman? I’m ready for him to die now, please and thanks.
S: There was a line that Agent Red had last night that encapsulated everything that makes him so despicable – that makes him more unlikeable than any other villain on this show.
“You’re going to have to take her out. Killing makes her a martyr, shines more of a light on her. I need you to destroy the very idea of her. Discredit, disgrace, and subdue Agent Carter. So that all of this misguided work that she has done becomes unquestionably invalid.”
S: This is someone who isn’t killing for their mission. This is not someone who simply wants a person out of their way or the way of their mission. This is true fear and true hatred – just pure hatred. This is a man who is so threatened by a fierce, intelligent woman, that he doesn’t want to just get rid of her, but to actually fundamentally dismantle who she is and what she does. To remove an identity, to pull apart an entire life for the sake of seeing the shell that remains so that you can feel successful, so that you can feel powerful, well, that’s vile.
S: And obviously this can be seen as a microcosm for sexism and bigotry – both as it existed in the 40s and as it exists today. While you might not see a Big Bad like Agent Red giving speeches that are so succinctly outlined and overt, the idea of gaslighting and undermining women, minorities is absolutely a major issue today. And it is just as sinister.
S: And what the hell? Kicking my baby Daniel while he is down?? (HE DOESN’T WANT YOU CALLING HIM DANIEL, YOU SLUG.)
A: YES YES YES. Ugh, yes to all of this. He is actually the scariest kind of villain mainly because even today we are surrounded by his ilk. Looking at you, Donald Trump. But I was seriously grinding my teeth with rage through every one of his speeches, and there was some major catharsis via Whitney when she had him by the balls by the pool at the end of the episode. (Also bonus Ken Marino sighting! Love how his character still loves her, Zero Matter and all.)
A: ALSO TOUCH DANIEL SOUSA AGAIN AND I WILL HUNT YOU DOWN. <<insert donna meagle threat.gif>>
A: Ugh him limping up the stairs at the end, all bruised and beaten, and then still not kowtowing to Agent Red Foreman’s threats…standing strong against corruption. This man, Sarah. This. Man.
S: I just want to put that little freckled bean in my pocket and carry him around for always.
A: Speaking of that corruption…prediction on Jack Thompson. Will he pull his head out of his greedy ass and heed Jarvis’ warning about the sharks he is swimming with?
S: As always, Agent Chad Michael Murray’s facial expressions give nothing away, and I can only take wild stabs at what is going through his greasy little pinhead. But I feel like maybe, just maybe he’ll make an attempt to redeem himself? If that crazy? (It’s totally crazy.) At the moment, his hesitancy to “destroy” Peggy seems to stem from that pretty terrible secret he told Peggy while they were in Russia (you know, the one where he killed a whole ton of people and got a medal for it), but perhaps it will morph into something else when he sees that true terror that is Zero Matter?
A: It’s not totally crazy and here’s why: while Agent Chad Michael Murray is an arsehole of titanic proportions, I don’t think Chief Dooley was wrong when he called him out for having a crush on Peggy. His request for her to get on the plane with him? That was an emotional ask. He was asking her to stop because he doesn’t want to do this to her. I also think something in him is wising up to Agent Red Foreman’s manipulation. I’m probably wrong. But how he plays this from here out will be interesting. I oddly can see him surprising us all and having Peggy’s back.
S: I would love to see the formation of SHIELD with Peggy at the helm…and Chad Michael Murray as an underling, reporting to her, fetching her coffee. Because people like Agent CMM shouldn’t be allowed to come out clean in all of this, when beautiful, noble fawns like Ana Jarvis are on the brink of death. Ugh. That ruined me, Annie. Ana Jarvis Protection Squad 2k16 (or 1k47??).
A: Guh, that was a twist I did not want. Though I knew it was coming, as our sweet Ana is feisty and brave and of course would try and stop them from taking Jason. It also balanced out her arc of the evening, being so worried as she began to see just how dangerous the work Jarvis is involved in these days is. (Though, talk about some #relationship goals – Ana might have been worried for the man she loved but she also loved and understood him enough to let him continue his adventures as she knew how much he wanted to.)
A: All of this capped off with a completely unraveled Jarvis in the hospital waiting room, and Peggy being the support that he’s so often been for her, quietly holding his hand and just being there…THAT was beautiful. Their friendship is so beautiful.
A: Which. Now. Sarah. Brings us to Jarvis playing that friendship card in the car with Peggy and getting her to discuss her suitors.
A: We need to discuss her suitor revelations this week.
A: I HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS.
S: DANIEL’S EYES. SO WARM, SO WISE. You know our SOULS, Mr. Jarvis.
S: Their friendship has been the best relationship arc on this show. Other than the fact that Hayley and James play off one another so well, they are characters who were brought together out of necessity but had truly similar hearts. They’re tenacious and smart, brave and kind. I think of that moment when Peggy demands to know why Jarvis was charged with treason because she needs to know she can trust him, and then that final moment of this week, where she comforted him – it’s been such a natural and beautiful development. Not to mention, funny as hell.
S: Jarvis Mother Henning it in the car? He’s her friend. He wants the hot goss, but he also just wants her to be happy. That exchange about him perceiving her as a chippy stringing along too respectable men and his immediate denial, him telling her that of course she can’t realize how wonderful she is and that every man should love her? I wanted to pop up from the backseat and squeeze both of them in a big ole Sarah Sandwich.
A: Same. They are just too good for this world.
A: Now as for the suitors…wow. Ok. So there was some biiiiiiig movements on that front. We got a kiss and an almost kiss. The L-word wasn’t necessarily dropped, more just introduced into one of the relationships. At one point, I was literally sitting on the couch, gasping out loud and holding my arms above my head like a lunatic.
A: We need to break these revelations down, my friend.
S: Where – where do we even begin?
S: I mean. Okay. Maybe where it’s less complicated? Jason gives Peggy a big ole smacker – and who can blame him? He’s hot. She’s hot. She’s corporeal. He’s (mostly) corporeal. Obviously we saw that attraction when they first met. They are both incredibly smart people who have faced their fair share of discrimination. That was not necessarily a surprising moment, but it certainly surprised our Peg – and presented some major dilemmas for her, what with the whole…Sousa getting dumped for presumably being in love with her thing.
A: I completely agree with you, because as weird as it sounds, Jason is rather uncomplicated for Peggy. He likes her, she likes him, there is mutual attraction, and save the whole Zero Matter mess, that’s that. She can flirt and be flirted with. Have just a nice, little romantic entanglement. I can see why that is alluring to her, considering her last relationship was with Cap. She’s coming off losing a great love of her life, one that was massive and all-consuming and deep. I can see why something a little lighter and easier is nice for her.
A: And then there is Daniel. And that connection is…stickier. Deeper. More along the lines of what she shared with Steve. He’s in her world, he understands her and her life in a way that Jason probably never will. There is a kindred spirit type bond there, one that is built on mutual respect. And she can be fully herself with him, and as her brother Michael pointed out, that is the key to her truly being happy.
A: Not to mention…the tension. The attraction. The eyes they make at each other. So much unspoken. So much yearning. I can’t handle it, Sarah. I CAN’T.
S: I mean, I like Jason, I do. But I obviously need Peggy and Sousa to do the do.
S: Their almost kiss made me nearly explode, and his face. HIS STUPID FACE. And hers. Jarvis’s reactions to overhearing? That was me.
S: Daniel is someone who intrinsically understands her. Who knows who she is, what she needs, and above all, that he trusts her implicitly (but maybe not with throwing Rose into danger, Daniel worries about Rose). And he’s not avoiding at this point either. I think he respected her decision when she turned him down in New York and really took that to heart, letting her be happy, attempting to be happy himself. He was honest with her about what happened with Violet, and I think that near kiss was enough to make him realize that hey – maybe this isn’t one-sided. And he is definitely the kind of man who will fight for Peggy Carter.
S: I just. I have a lot of feelings that could gush on for hours.
A: I also love how he is one of the few people that not only supports and fights by her side, but also isn’t afraid to stand up to her and push back when she goes a little off the rails. Because she can, just like we all can sometimes, and it’s important to have those people in our lives. The ones with our best interests at heart, there to shake some sense back into us. Daniel has spine, and that is a very important quality in a potential partner for Peggy.
A: I also want to shamelessly point out that the almost kiss was also a little different because it was the only time we’ve seen Peggy make a move as well. With Jason, she’s kissed him on a mission as a cover, and this week he kissed her. Not that I don’t think she didn’t enjoy either one! But I think it’s also a bit telling. She was leaning in to meet Sousa half way before stupid Dottie went and ruined everything. She was leading with her heart as much as he was.
A: And it makes me emotional.
A: I just want Peggy Carter to have all the love in the world, is that so much to ask?
S: I would hardly think so.
S: And Peggy is certainly going to need lots of love and support in her life. Not only is she out of a job, but with Agent Red Foreman as the new Chief of the SSR’s L.A. branch, Dottie on the loose, and Whitney in full command of Ken Marino, the Evil White Men, and likely the SSR themselves, well, she needs a little TLC (and probably a fair amount of firearms).
S: Final question time: What terrible thing will Agent Red Foreman add to Daniel’s office that he will later have to burn with fire?
A: A framed photo of Joseph McCarthy. Possibly with a little plaque that says “Patriot Hero” under it. Hands down.
A: And you: you have to choose between Ana Jarvis’ wardrobe and Howard Stark’s wine cellar. GO.
S: Annie. Annie, this not fair and you know it. You know how I feel about my vino. But Cap forgive me, I would chose the clothing. Mama needs to look good.