Agent Carter - season two review (part 1)
Almost as soon as the post credits scene had finished on Captain America: The First Avenger, fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) were calling out for more Peggy Carter. After a few cameos in other films and Agents of SHIELD, these calls were eventually answered with the exceptional Agent Carter TV series.
The ending of Season 1 was, in many ways, looking at the future of the wider MCU, not just that of the show itself. Season 2 really feels like a continuation of Peggy's personal story (the story I really want to see) and not just of the previous or future MCU storyline. What Season 2 offers up in its first half is some of the best, wittiest and dynamic character driven action-drama you’ll see on TV.
We find Peggy tracking down and capturing Dottie, who escaped at the end of S1, which links us to and more or less ties up the previous story’s loose ends. Jack is now the head of the SSR and Sousa has left New York to head up the new LA branch. Very quickly Daniel is faced with a strange and unusual murder case linked to a local serial killer and, under staffed, asks Jack for additional manpower. Jack, seizing the opportunity to palm Peggy off for a few weeks, sends her off to LA.
We get a lovely feeling that Peggy is putting up with even less shit from her colleagues then she did previously and her vocal assertion that Jack can't interrogate Dottie because she's not scared of him speaks volumes of where everyone is now. Peggy's increased confidence in the face of her superiors and the free range afforded her by working alongside Sousa, allows her character to expand even further.
Season 2 has a very strong first two episodes; The Lady in the Lake and A View in the Dark which move brusquely and entertainingly into the next half a dozen. After the main story catalyst - the mysterious LA murder - kicks everything into play, things move along apace. We’re quickly reintroduced to our main characters (with it being heavily implied that Sousa, about to propose to his nurse girlfriend, took his LA job to avoid the awkward situation that had developed between him and Peggy) and with the shift to LA the show adds more than a dash of Hollywood glamour and a strong, film noir edge, especially in these first few episodes.
There are great new, interesting characters too, all of which get very organic introductions, with no one feeling forced. With Peggy staying at Howard Stark's home, we not only regroup team Carter/Jarvis but we’re also introduced to Ana Jarvis. Ana was, in S1, an oft mentioned but never seen character, adding depth to Edwin Jarvis. Here she moves fully to the forefront of the supporting characters. The introduction of Ana is perfect and vital and I'm thrilled to see her join the on screen cast. Not only charming and likable, she’s yet another realistically balanced, strong women – bringing another kind of strength to Peggy’s gang. Within a few appearances she’s quickly become one of my favorite aspects of S2 and I’m looking forward to seeing where they take her – though for the sake of the show’s integrity and my own sanity I hope she doesn’t get fridged!
The villain in waiting, Whitney Frost, is another of these well-balanced women. The movie star trophy wife of a corrupt politician, she’s shown to be intelligent and driven yet lacks the Y chromosome to be taken seriously in late 40s America. She also has an honest vulnerability, which I really enjoy. She’s surrounded by smug, selfish old white men whose constant using of her makes her fall towards super villainy feel natural and tragic and, in more enlightened times, maybe avoidable.
Peggy has a new love interest too, in the charming form of Doctor Jason Wilkes. His and Peggy's instant, slightly awkward, attraction to each other is very welcome. Peggy deserves happiness after her missed romance with Steve Rogers and Wilkes’ brilliant, slightly geeky/slightly cool scientist is a good rebound!
The show really pops when Peggy and Jarvis are onscreen together. The actors performances compliment each other brilliantly and there’s a lovely feeling of British camaraderie about them; two sane minds in the insane, uncivilised America.
For me, Peggy is the heart of the MCU and I love watching her adventures, so far this season has built on the great groundwork of the first and feels more confident in terms of character and narrative. I hope it can keep up the momentum…
Robert's reviews of Agent Carter will continue with a detailed review of the first and second halves of season two coming soon...