Synopsis: Peggy squares off with movie star Whitney Frost and Jack, newly arrived in L.A., while struggling to discover the truth about Isodyne. Howard Stark makes an appearance.
This episode gets 5 stars for that alone.
While struggling with her shock and grief over Wilkes apparent death, Peggy also fails to convince her superiors of the events that happened at Isodyne, given that she technically has no proof, since everything was destroyed in the explosion.
In order to clean up the mess, and maintain the good political standing of company found Chadwick, Isodyne, the FBI try to frame Wilkes as a communist sympathizer and enemy spy, by planting evidence in his home. Among these items is a lapel pin identical to the one Dottie was after last week. Howard Stark, in a grand re-entrance as a film director, recognizes the pin as belonging to member of the Arena Club – a stuffy club for crusty old white dudes.
After again failing to obtain any evidence at the club of Wilkes innocence, Jack tells Peggy she’s off the case and to go back to New York. In her anger, she discovers that she’s making small objects around her float. Terrified that she’s been exposed to the Zero Matter that’s already killed several people, she turns to Howard, who determines that the floating is actually being caused by Wilkes – who is still alive, but drifting outside of the human range of vision and hearing, and has been shadowing Peggy ever since, trying to get her attention. They find a temporary way to make him visible, though still incorporeal, and he and Howard science bro all over the place, trying to find a cure.
It was really incredible to see smarmy playboy Howard immediately drop everything, refusing to even eat or sleep when confronted with Wilkes predicament. He nearly kills himself desperately searching to cure a man he’s never met, when two scenes prior he was rolling out of bed at noon with a bloody mary and into a pool full of scantily-clad women.
Wilkes is able to tell them about Whitney’s involvement with the accident, but she denies all knowledge when Peggy confronts her. In her panic at being discovered, she does some impressive fake crying to convince her husband – Chadwick – to send his assassins after Peggy, who narrowly escapes, with a little help from Jarvis. It’s significant that this was the only action sequence in the episode. It was brutal and short and completely personal, keeping well with the tone of the rest of the episode.
After making it back to the SSR, Sousa tells Peggy he’s discovered that Whitney Frost is a stage name, and she is actually Agnes Cully, the famous inventor and the true brains behind Isodyne Energy. Back in Whitney’s dressing room, her director makes an aggressive pass at her, and, in accidental self-defense, she grabs him and turns him to goo, which she absorbs, worsening the cut on her face that exposes the Zero Matter beneath her skin.
What I love about the potential of Whitney as a villain (who I think we can all agree will be Madam Masque, no?), is that she has every right to her anger and despair. She gained her powers on accident, began using them on accident, and is transforming into a ‘monster’ just because she was smart enough to know she couldn’t have gone to anyone around her for help. But now she has to deal with it alone. She’s exceptional in every regard, and is treated like dirt by everyone in her life.
That’s enough to make anyone a villain.