Of the three new series that Marvel introduced in 2015, Agent Carter was perhaps the most fun, and certainly the brightest. Although perhaps my least favorite of the three, that’s more a comment on the quality of Daredevil and Jessica Jones than it is on the quality of Agent Carter. The first season of Agent Carter felt like a fun adventure in the 1940’s, and captured the same fun camp that made Captain America: The First Avenger one of my favorite phase one movies.
Unfortunately, the premiere of Agent Carter‘s second season doesn’t quite maintain the same frenetic energy that made the first season so enjoyable. The first episode opens with a promising bank robbery that sees the return of Dottie Underwood (Bridget Regan) and her capture by the SSR. The raid is a great way to kick off the season, and is capped off with Peggy hitting Dottie over the head with a giant sack of money. This slightly-cartoonish, but still grounded fun is exactly the sort of thing I hope to see later on this season, and also something that was sadly missing for the rest of the episode.
The main mystery of the episode, and the case that brings Peggy to Los Angeles in the first place, is the appearance of a frozen body in a lake on the hottest day of the year. The police believe it’s the work of a serial killer they’ve been looking for, but this is the first victim that’s been turned into a Popsicle, so they call in the SSR. An understaffed Chief Sousa begs Chief Thompson for some more manpower, and Thompson obliges by sending Carter instead.
Thompson’s decision to pull Agent Carter away from the Underwood interrogation after she makes a compelling and rational argument why she’s the best agent for the interrogation seems like a huge step backwards for Thompson’s character. Throughout season one, Thompson slowly transformed from an unlikable dick who refused to believe Peggy had any value to a sympathetic dick who begrudgingly acknowledged Peggy’s talents. Here, his decision to pull her away from the case she’s obviously most qualified for just for personal reasons seems petty and not like something the Thompson we came to know by the end of season one would do.
Through a series of fairly convoluted and boring scenes of moving from place to place and talking to different people, including Dr. Jason Wilkes, a black man in a high position of science at a prestigious institution in 1947.
Now, I’m not saying that there weren’t any black scientists in the 1940’s who held respected positions and were able to advance in society. In fact, I’m sure there were. However, it seems completely disingenuous to me that Agent Carter doesn’t take the same stance on racism as it does sexism. In season one, Peggy couldn’t walk down the street without ten different men telling her to get back in the kitchen. After performing countless heroic tasks, incredulous men would still refuse to acknowledge her abilities, even as an exception to the rule. It was a little in-your-face sometimes, but at least the position was clear: sexism was rampant in the ’40’s, and women who were frequently just as capable as their male counterparts were ignored simply because of their gender. And yet, the two black characters I can remember seeing in this show have been a police officer in season one and now a doctor.
I’m not sure why Agent Carter has chosen to completely ignore the issue of race in its first episode, and hopefully it will address these issues further, but for now it seems both jarring and inauthentic for the time period in which it takes place.
Ignored issues of race aside, the first episode of Agent Carter turns into a fairly generic police procedural, with a superhuman twist thrown in for good measure. There’s nothing wrong with this formula, except for the fact that The Flash does it much better. After so thoroughly enjoying the first season, I have faith that Agent Carter will be able to turn itself around as the season progresses, but aside from an exciting opening sequence and the always fantastic chemistry between Hayley Atwell and James D’Arcy, this premiere episode didn’t too much for me.
- 2 Flamingos out of 5. Not an awful start to the season, but not an overly promising one either.
I know I mentioned it before, but D’Arcy and Atwell really do have the best chemistry.
In New York, SSR headquarters is hidden beneath a telephone company. In Los Angeles, it’s (appropriately) beneath a talent agency.
“Tales of Suspense”, the series of movies in which Whitney Frost stars, is a reference to a comic series of the same name.
One of my favorite comedians, Matt Braunger makes his appearance as an SSR Lab tech this episode, and hopefully we’ll see more of him as the series progresses.
According to one cop, “The killer’s signature is to switch his victim’s shoes”- but why?
“Of course I’ll live! I’m worried about the aesthetic. Ana’s absolutely mad about my profile.”- Oh Jarvis, you’re the best.