One of the many strengths of the Netflix Marvel series has been their willingness to spend some time developing their characters with extended flashbacks – sometimes devoting entire episodes to them. While this perhaps isn’t a structure that can be used in network television to the same extent, this fourth instalment of Peggy’s sophomore season delves into her past and counterpoints it with a similar look at Whitney Frost’s upbringing. While one of them is true to herself eventually, stopping hiding her real feelings and desires under a mask of respectability, the other pulls on a mask, disguising her real abilities beneath the breathy tones of an ingénue. It’s highly effective, and in part works so well because of the spot-on casting for the younger versions of each woman.
That’s not to say that things don’t progress in the “present”, with Peggy and Daniel both showing a willingness to cross the line (albeit perhaps more reluctantly on the part of the career SSR agent than the former SOE fighter) as they interrogate one of the bad guys hoping that he will give them an important lead. It seems to make up for Vernon Masters preventing the SSR from carrying out a raid on the Council, until the final shock.
It’s probably no bad thing for the show to take a breath at this stage – Whitney’s transformation into whatever it is the zero matter is making her (and we have to guess it’s Madam Masque), and Jason’s gradual disappearance both need to cover a period of time to be convincing.
Verdict: Fascinating insights into the motivations of both our heroine and our villain. 8/10