The British are back! Season 2 of Agent Carter premiered this week, and with it came the welcome return of Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), Edwin “Mister” Jarvis (James D’Arcy), and their lovable gang of Yankee counterparts in the Strategic Scientific Reserve. You can read Doug’s reviews of the two-parter here and here but keep scrolling for the biggest and best moments from both episodes.
1) Getting The Band Back Together
Okay, maybe I got carried away in the intro by stating that Jarvis was part of the SSR crew. But really, they might as well hire him as their official valet/beacon of justice. While Season 1 saw him sneaking around with Peggy while she secretly investigated Roxxon without letting her insecure male coworkers know how competent she was, Season 2 thankfully sees our Agent Carter (mostly) untethered by the first season’s rampant sexism. Her exploits last year have made her mythical in the eyes of her coworkers, much to the chagrin of new SSR Chief Jack Thompson (Chad Michael Murray). His feelings of inadequacy lead him to send Peggy off to Los Angeles to work with new West Coast SSR Chief, Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj), on a mysterious case. Fortunately, this also allows for some welcomed contrivances that pull most of last season’s characters together in Hollywood, which of course means the return of one of the best pairings in the MCU when Jarvis greets Peggy at the airport with a flamingo named Bernard in tow.
While Jarvis is in town to manage the unseen Howard Stark’s (Dominic Cooper) LA home and menagerie while the latter works on his new film studio, he finds himself incredibly bored and excited by the prospect of assisting Peggy in her adventures again. From transporting her around town and calling the cavalry when Peggy puts a “sock on the doorknob”, to being amusingly befuddled by his affectionate and energetic wife (premiering on-screen thanks to a wonderful performance by Lotte Verbeek) and thwarted by both Bernard and Peggy when he tries to respectively overpower them. The chemistry between Atwell and D’Arcy was the highlight of last season and the fun and familiarity it brings to the show instantly elevates the proceedings of Season 2.
Much like Clark Gregg on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., Atwell and her performance as Peggy Carter is the most powerful and enjoyable aspect of the show. And while she ably reminds us all of why she’s got her name on the marquee, the show wouldn’t survive without a strong cast around her. Whatever narrative strings had to be pulled, it’s worth it to see so many of Season 1’s characters relocate to the West Coast. And unlike in New York, Peggy already has a lot of new welcome female characters to interact with. While Peggy’s actor pal Angie (Lyndsy Fonseca) was one of the notable exceptions to the returning cast, she will be making an appearance later in the year. For now though, Peggy has great chemistry with Ana, the aforementioned Mrs. Jarvis, as well as the returning Rose (Lesley Boone), who’s traded her phone operating gig to head the SSR’s talent agency office. We also meet Sousa’s fiancé-to-be Violet (Sarah Bolger) and, though they haven’t interacted yet, the villainous Whitney Frost (Wynn Everett). And with Sousa having seemingly moved on from his affections last season, Peggy begins developing a mutual attraction to person of interest and handsome scientist Dr. Jason Wilkes (Reggie Austin), the show’s only character of color. This choice allows the show to tackle the all-too-present racism of the day along with its usual look at sexism. While the ABC show isn’t likely to delve into this issue too much, it’s nice to see it at least acknowledged and allows Peggy the chance to try and punch the prejudice away when it rears its ugly head in a roadside diner. All in all, the returning and new characters all make a strong impression and help bolster the ongoing intrigue in these initial outings.
2) Agent Carter vs Black Widow
The last returning character to mention is actually the first one we meet. In an homage to the opening of Season 1, we see Dottie Underwood (Briget Regan) continue her Peggy obsession by prowling the gray-suit-filled streets of New York in a bright blue suit and red hat, nearly identical to Peggy’s famous Season 1 outfit. The misdirect leads us to a bank robbery headed by the 40’s era Black Widow but it’s quickly interrupted when Agent Carter emerges from the bank vault wielding a shotgun and the rest of the bank clients turn on Dottie’s crew as it’s revealed they’re all SSR agents. Dottie quickly dispatches the older man with a gun trained on her and swings into the vault to attack Peggy. But as we learned many times over last season, Peggy is a formidable foe, and the fight between the two does an excellent job of reestablishing the skills and threat level of both women.
While Dottie uses her lankier frame and height to channel her Red Room training in a method similar to her more established Avengers counterpart, Peggy is a brawler. She might not have the enhanced strength of Cap, but her style is similar as she uses her stockier frame to take hits and dish them back out with more force than Dottie is capable. The intense fight ends when Peggy channels that strength into a bag of coins that she sends across Dottie’s head, a brutal finishing move complete with a slow motion coin explosion worthy of any video game.
It’s not only a visually exciting way to open the season, but it leads right into the interrogation room and establishes that the only match for Dottie is Peggy. This is, of course, something Thompson nearly dies learning later in the episode when he tries his hand at intimidating the spy only to find himself flat on his back with a table pinned to his throat when he underestimates the threat Underwood poses.
3) Marvel Comedy For The Win
No matter your comic book movie franchise preference, everyone can admit that Marvel always wins in the comedy department. No matter how bleak the story, there are always lots of well earned laughs. Agent Carter wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable if it was all fight scenes and bigotry, so I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that through all the action and character development, there are still plenty of comedic moments. Peggy and Jarvis together are always a reliable source of levity, but Ana Jarvis proves just as capable as her husband when it comes to lightening the mood. There’s comedy enough in the way her personality contrasts with Jarvis’s, highlighted by her love of PDA and her nonchalant reaction to finding her husband on top of Peggy after an impromptu, and misguided, training session: “He does his best work flat on his back.”
There’s also a lot of comedy potential to be mined from the West Coast SSR front of a theatrical agency. Each episode features a great site gag from in front of Rose’s desk, starting with her having to wait for a tap dancing duo to finish their routine before properly greeting Peggy when she arrives. In episode two we get Sousa asking “Who’s this clown?” only for the camera to pan to an actual sad clown sitting in a chair, nonplussed by the fact that he’s being ignored by all parties. I thoroughly look forward to this type of thing happening in each episode as it makes a great running gag.
And just to really prove its comic pedigree, each episode features a character played by an LA comic, with Matt Braunger tackling the role of a somewhat disgruntled SSR scientist, bummed that he’s never invited out for drinks by his colleagues. Later, we see Randy Sklar (though you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s his twin brother Jason) as the sexist director of “The Woman With The Golden Face”, the film Whitney Frost is starring in, itself a reference to the famous costume of her comic counterpart Madame Masque.
4) The Origins Of The Darkforce
The substance known as Zero Matter, teased at the end of “The Lady In The Lake” and the main focus of “A View In The Dark,” is known as the Darkforce in the comics and is tied to a number of heroes and villains. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it will also eventually be known as Darkforce, having made it’s real world chronological debut in the Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode “The Only Light In The Darkness” as the power wielded by Marcus Daniels aka Blackout. We’ve also been told that it will play a part in the upcoming Doctor Strange, so while this otherworldly energy will certainly be an ongoing plot point in the rest of the season, it seems that it will also play a large role in the MCU as a whole.
Considering Zero Matter is responsible for the disappearance of Dr. Wilkes (as Austin is a series regular, we can safely assume he’s not dead) and has seemingly marked Frost both literally and figuratively, it’s likely we’ll be revisiting it this season. Time will tell how the matter plays in to Doctor Strange and whether its origins in Agent Carter are referenced (given the lack of reference to anything on S.H.I.E.L.D. in the movies, this is highly unlikely), but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Darkforce returns in a future episode of S.H.I.E.L.D. as well.
So, what did you think? Let us know in the comments what your favorite moments were and what you’re hoping to see next week. You can check out the promo for episode 3 titled “Better Angels” here and for all things Agent Carter, follow along here. For more MCU related news and features, make sure to follow us on Twitter.