Let’s talk about: “The Edge of Mystery” and “A Little Song and Dance”
In which Sarah Tompkins and Annie Meagle discuss the enduring appeal of coveralls and the dispassionate nature of musical numbers.
Annie: Sarah, to be honest. I have no idea where to even begin this week. This week’s episodes took my already very fragile brain, tossed it into a blender on high, then delicately sipped it à la Liv Moore.
Sarah: Annie, this is my disembodied soul, floating in the ether, somehow pecking away at my keyboard. It slipped out of my body at some point in the course of two hours. It’s impossible to say when.
A: I mean, I couldn’t even keep up with our text convos. I was basically an overstimulated cat, and I just needed a quiet, dark place to come to terms with what just happened to me.
S: You know what, it might have been when Jarvis promised Ana a Bernese Mountain Dog. That’s probably it, my tears and my open, gaping mouth made my everloving spirit separate from my mortal flesh and I don’t know if I will recover.
S: So much happened, Annie. So. Much. I still don’t think I’ve processed any of it.
S: THERE WAS A MUSICAL NUMBER, ANNIE.
A: OK, WELL I’M NOT SURE I CAN DIVE STRAIGHT INTO A GENE KELLY-STYLE DANIEL SOUSA RIGHT NOW OR THAT IS ALL THIS CHAT WILL BE.
A: *deep, cleansing breath*
A: So. Let’s start at the top, maybe? Where we last left our heroes and all that? The Squad was going after that crackpot (do you see what I did there) Whitney Frost to save her captive, Desperately Fading Jason.
A: I love our Squad. Even if no one on the Squad loves Samberly.
S: I SWEAR TO GOD, SAMBERLY.
S: Yes, the beginning, as they say, is the very best place to start. Which, is heartbreakingly, a very broken and distraught Jarvis. But BUT, Ana is still clinging to life. And for that, I think we can all be grateful.
S: (And can we talk about how powerful that scene was? Both Hayley and James just blew me away.)
A: Their interactions this week were nothing short of brilliant. From Jarvis losing it over the radio in the hospital (oh my heart) to Peggy quieting him and being his steady support (oh my heart again) to their later scene in the desert (here lies my heart, dead and buried), the raw emotion, vulnerability, hurt, love and honesty that encapsulated their arc this week was a thing of beauty. This is why Agent Carter is the best show on television for me. No other show brings real, lovely, beautifully imperfect yet perfect relationships to life quite like they do. And Peggy and Jarvis are the epitome of that.
S: Their friendship, like I’ve said before, is the most beautiful relationship on the show. We’ve gotten to see that arc really beautifully explored this season – and that includes the consequences of what being an ally of Peggy’s truly means. In some ways, Jarvis is right that those Peggy loves always die. But it’s not that she’s cursed, or terrible, it’s merely that she does impossible, dangerous, heroic work, and her love and friendship inspires others to put themselves in the line of fire for her and because of her. I am so glad we got to see that first phone call with Jarvis and Peggy – from Jarvis’s perspective this time. We see where they started, where Ana saw it begin – and they are all the better for that relationship despite Ana’s injury.
S: And Ana, too, we see Ana again realize that danger is part and parcel of being graced with Peggy’s brilliance. She sees who Jarvis is – the man who risked treason for her. When she tells him he needs to be by Peggy’s side. Ugh. It’s so well done and heartwarming and heart-wrenching and perfect.
S: But then, no one can hurt you quite like your best friend.
S: How did you hold up when Jarvis asked Rose to look after Ana?
A: How did I hold up? I cried YET AGAIN yesterday as I was rewatching and folding laundry. Had to wipe my tears with a (thankfully clean) sock. Rose is such a rock. I need a Rose in my life. The end when she’s just there, by Ana’s side, playing hangman? It was too much.
A: Rose for President. We could only be so lucky.
A: Also, Unraveled!Jarvis. I was totally a Peggy over him, just swinging wildly between my heart breaking for him and wanting to throttle him and keep his self-destructive ass safe and sound. But you’re so right about his comment to her that everyone she loves dies. I literally gasped when he said it, because ouuuuuuuuuuucccccccccch. But to your point, it’s not because of her. It’s the world in which she exists. I mean, you could even take it one further and just say: war. Wars make widows, not wives. Peggy lost the two men she loved most to the war. Because it was a terrible, dangerous, horrific event. But even though she is still facing all sorts of dangers now, she also exists in a generally safer space simply because the war is over. She will begin to realize this, I think. And start realizing that she’s got people by her side now that she won’t lose. *cough*Sousa*cough*
A: If all that rambling makes sense?
S: Completely. But then, the loss of Jason – in the metaphorical sense – is one that won’t be easy to shake either. Here she thought she’d met someone like her – brilliant, cast out by society – but when the moment came, he wasn’t brave, wasn’t selfless. That betrayal has to hurt a lot.
S: On one hand, it really alleviates the tension of the love triangle, but honestly, it can’t help to have a man you trusted hold a gun to your head. Will Peggy remain as dispassionate as Sousa wants her to? Whitney seems to think that Peggy is still someone Jason loves, someone he will protect. He did seem to genuinely regret his actions.
S: And what is that Zero Matter Explosion/Gamma Ray Fiasco going to do to him? To mean for him? It can’t be anything good. It certainly didn’t look good for Whitney at the end there.
A: I don’t know, but ICK with the whole stuff literally crawling under his skin. I agree with you, that is a betrayal. Even though I also agree with Peggy in that he has been taken over by a vicious alien substance and isn’t of his right mind. But I also agree with Sousa that he’s dangerous more because he is desperate.
A: Basically, I am a very agreeable person. *shines nails*
A: (Also uggggggh with the Sousa sharing that he understands Jason’s desperation because he would go to great lengths too if it were possible to get his leg back. Peggy’s head snapped back a bit at that, because yowza. That was a painful little bit-o-insight.)
A: But I mostly agree with you that this all has thankfully alleviated the love triangle. I think Peggy is in Official Hero Mode™ now, and a lot of her motivation to save Jason is that she views him as an innocent caught up in forces beyond his control. Which he is. But I don’t see her as a Jarvis, so to speak. I don’t see her as a lover charging into battle to save/avenge the one that she loves.
A: But speaking of the one that she loves, what was your take on that little argument she had with Sousa about being dispassionate in the field? It was hardly dispassionate. Heh.
S: I mean, is anything with them dispassionate? They could be discussing toast and I’d be all hot and bothered like Satan on Sunday.
S: I thought that moment was particularly interesting because we’ve kind of seen Sousa put himself out on the line for Peggy time and time again, with not a whole lot of feedback, so to speak, from Peggy. I mean, sure, the longing glances are all well and good, but Sousa is not the kind of man who acts on situations with murky intentions – he’s a goddamn gentleman. But here, here he thinks just maybe he means something to her and can kind of pin her on it – that little smirk he gives when he asks if she would have let him get shot in the field? He knows she wouldn’t. Now, whether that’s because she’s an Official Hero or a woman in love remains to be seen, but I think he has a sense that there’s something there.
S: And honestly, she’s been constantly touching him these past few episodes. When she arrives at Stark’s mansion and immediately fusses over the wound on his face? Who you trying to fool, Peggy?
S: I agree with you – she is saving Jason because he is a good man, an innocent. Perhaps she feels that there could someday be something and she wants to explore that potential, but Jarvis On A Warpath she is not. And the way she punched Agent Red Foreman and immediately demanded to know where Chief Sousa was? Hmmmm…
A: She’s about as subtle as her sterling right hook to your face, Sarah.
A: What I think it particularly beautiful is that I’m not sure how aware Peggy is about her blooming feelings for Daniel. Oh, I’m sure she knows something is brewing, as she is Peggy Carter and she knows what she’s about. But Peggy has lost a lot in her life, and subsequently has some pretty understandably high walls. It’s like our dear Emma Swan. These women have been in survival mode for so long, processing normal everyday emotions and relationships is a bit of a foreign concept.
A: But you’re so right, she’s a woman of action if not words yet. There has been a growing casual intimacy between them, touching, holding hands, etc., that was simply not there in season one. And just like Emma Swan, this is how Peggy is expressing how she feels. How much Daniel has come to mean to her.
A: (Also on this note: I think it’s important to note the difference in how we see her treat her more intimate moments with Daniel versus Jarvis. I mean, I’m no Dr. Ruth, but it’s pretty obvious which one is platonic/familial and which one sure as hell isn’t.)
S: Absolutely. Jarvis said it best a few episodes ago, that he’s not surprised she’s “underestimated her allure.” Part of it is Peggy’s personality – she is humble, she is determined, she is modest, and she’s also experienced the life as a woman in a man’s field (or a woman in a man’s world). Even if she knows her value, the idea of being an object of deep affection and not simply respect, isn’t something that comes naturally to her – to many women, I’d wager. I think there’s a powerful message in there; you can know your self-worth, can know that you are smart and good, but to feel you are worthy of love, to make yourself vulnerable to another person – especially after so much loss – it’s a challenge for any women to face. Even fearless Peggy Carter.
S: And damn if I’m not inspired – and comforted – by that.
S: Hell, we kind of see this in Whitney Frost, strangely enough. Her relationship with Joseph Manfredi, while a convenient source of expendable muscle, is also oddly touching and enlightening. When we first met Whitney, a Hollywood director is commenting on how hard it is to light her, what with her being so old. She is a “fading star.” Then, of course, we have that lovely Zero Matter Makeover, and well, it’s hard to view yourself as Silver Screen material with the void eating away at your face. But Joseph seems to see her, and her power, for what it is. Whitney may literally be omnipotent, but free of self-doubt she is not.
A: Sarah. Sarah, you know how I feel about Ken Marino.
A: You know.
S: Him and his grandmother, Annie.
A: Don’t get me wrong, his character is terribly and out of his mind and a brute. Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut. You’re so right, he is also a complete doll to Whitney. He is the antithesis of all the men she’s ever been around. Sure, he murders people in cold blood. But so does she! TRUE LOVE, SARAH.
A: But seriously, it’s just honestly one more example why the writing on this show is so wonderful and WHY AREN’T MORE PEOPLE WATCHING THIS SHOW.
A: I was also loving all the banter about the dump. Because I am 12.
S: His character adds just the right amount of comedy to this whole terrible ordeal. I also cackled when his grandmother gave Daniel spaghetti because she liked him, but told Peggy she was the devil and gave her the Bull.
A: Well, she isn’t stupid. She could tell Daniel Sousa is a nice Italian boy. Nice Italian boys get spaghetti.
S: Now, you know who makes me the most crazy? Agent Chad Michael Murray. What the hell is he even doing? Every other second I vacillate between doubting his loyalty and thinking that he might actually come around in the end. (Not completely, of course. Leopards and spots and all that.)
A: God, I know. But I will tell you this, I still think he might come around in the end. And it pains me to say that because what an asshole, amirite? But I think he genuinely likes Sousa and we all know he 5th grade-crushing on Peggy. I know he’s power hungry, but in the end, he did try to blow up Whitney and Vernon, even though Whitney could have gotten him on the Council of Evil White Dudes (so many openings right now!). His methods, of course, are trash, but the point stands.
A: Also, I’m fairly certain my favorite moment of the episode was when Samberly asked what he should do, and Sousa and Agent CMM both just yelled “DO AS PEGGY SAYS.”
A: I am cross stitching that line on a pillow. It is officially my favorite. And it’s especially my favorite when it’s her boys yelling it at idiots.
S: It was perfect – and a perfect little MCU acorn.
S: Another lovely little MCU Easter Egg was one that you pointed out to me – we (inadvertently) learn the true importance of Tony Stark in Mr. Jarvis’s life. And, of course, it’s awful and wonderful.
A: Oh god, you demon. I didn’t need to be reminded of those feelings. I didn’t need to drown once more.
A: But it’s so true! Tony became the son that Jarvis could never have, and Jarvis was as much of a father to Tony as Howard was, if not more. And if you think Ana isn’t the reason he is always impeccably dressed, you’re out of your mind. There is a lot there, all of which kills me. This family that three outcasts created – Howard, Jarvis, Peggy. It was S.H.I.E.L.D., but it was also much, much more.
S: This show, as you would say, is designed to hurt.
S: Now. Now, Annie. We’ve held off for so long, but I think it’s time…
S: Time for a little song and dance.
S: When are we getting that Gene Kelly biopic starring Enver Gjokaj?
A: I need it yesterday, Sarah. YESTERDAY.
A: That was such a delightful little divergence, some much needed levity in a sea of heavy. Again, because this show gets it. But it was impressively well executed and completely fun, and JESUS ENVER WITH THE MOVES AND THE VOICE.
A: Were you happy to see Angie again??
S: I was! It’s been too long. Poor Peggy could used some friendly guidance outside of dreamland. And definitely a piece of key lime pie – Angie is totally right on that one. I clapped in joy at Mr. Jarvis surrounded, appropriately, by flamingo-feathered women.
S: This cast is the most talented, it’s crazy.
S: But on a little more serious note – as you mentioned, Peggy is not someone who lets her struggles manifest externally. And on a tv show that doesn’t do talking heads or voice over narration, it’s hard to get a read on what she is thinking – you know, without having time to have real heart-to-hearts and escaping from the backs of trucks. Here we get a little (fun, silly) glimpse into the internal war she’s having. It seems like dreaming is the only time she allows herself to really parse her personal life.
S: Also, maybe she just ate something crazy. Probably an avocado. California does, after all, have an appalling habit of putting avocados on everything.
A: Too right, Miss Tompkins. The heathens.
A: And you are also too right about it being a glimpse into Peggy’s internal monologue. And I think it was important. Because I often think that if a person’s feelings don’t manifest externally, people wrongly assume they don’t have them. But still waters run deep.
A: I also randomly need to discuss something else, Sarah.
A: Something quite important.
A: Peggy Carter’s rainbow spectrum of 1940s lady coveralls that she now wears for field work.
A: I. Am. Obsessed.
S: Honest to Jarvis, I was trying to find an equivalent to wear to work. That wouldn’t be weird, right? Coveralls, like little black dresses, are timeless, surely.
A: They really are. And with the simple silk blouse underneath? Perfection.
A: (Also the scene as she and Sousa walked through her bedroom and she needed to change said coveralls.)
S: (Annie he loves her a lot.)
S: (Annie. Maybe one day he won’t have to turn around…)
A: (I love that we are just such Garbage Pail Kids.)
A: (I couldn’t have less regrets if I tried.)
S: (You did this to me, Annie.)
S: (Like Zero Matter, it has taken over my body and all I can do is float to the giant, black light.)
S: Predictions for next episode? What do you think our Squad is going to do? What is in store for our intrepid agents/butlers/lab rats?
A: Pain? I predict pain. And it also looks like we’re getting almost an old-fashioned High Noon show-down? I am ready to hopefully learn what the flying french toast Zero Matter is and is all about. So nefarious, so nebulous. BUT ALSO HOORAY HOWARD STARK IS BACK! He’s been sorely missed, though I did enjoy him casually telegramming in specs to build a gamma ray cannon. Oh Howard.
A: What do you think? Will Sousa get sucked into the Zero Matter vortex? Will Jason be freed? Will Whitney finally crack completely?
A: (Do you see what I did there.)
S: THIS ISN’T A LAUGHING MATTER, ANNIE. (We could do this alllll day…and lose all eight of our readers. But worth it?)
S: Pain, definitely. I hope, for Peggy’s sake, that they’re able to save Jason. I would hate for her to think that another innocent’s life was on her hands. But Whitney? She’s definitely done-zo.
S: *Cue AC/DC Back in Black*
S: Okay. Final question time. What will kill Samberly first: Zero Matter or Daniel Sousa?
A: Clearly Daniel Sousa. That is a man at the end of his rope. And he’s going to use that rope to do it.