We are exactly one week out from the return of Agent Carter, and to help get fans excited, not only has Marvel started doing a recap of season one, but they’ve also interviewed the star herself, Hayley Atwell. Last week, we posted a b-roll video of season two footage, along with an interview with Atwell. In that video, she talked about the differences between season one and season two, as well as the new characters we’ll be meeting going into this season. In her interview with Marvel – which you can read bits of below – she further expands on her answers.

What opportunities will Peggy have now that she’s gained the respect of the SSR?

Hayley Atwell: I think she’s in a very different place emotionally because she’s let go of the grief that she’s had about Captain America. So her heart is a bit more open to possible romance and so she finds herself in a love triangle out here. And there’s the visual aspect of it being shot in L.A.–everything’s a lot lighter, so her clothes are slightly different, her hair is a bit longer. She’s embraced the glamour of Hollywood, a little bit, and I think that also affects how she is emotionally.

She went through a period of struggling to find her feet in the SSR, of fighting in very subtle ways the sexism she found in the male-dominated [organization]. In the end, she doesn’t necessarily win everyone’s respect. Jack Thompson, for example, takes the credit that she probably deserves. But as she says, she knows her value so she doesn’t need that praise. I think the first season is not so much that she’s able to establish herself to everyone as an equal, but yet, for herself, she uses it as a source of strength for her own worth. In that respect, she’s a lot more confident. She’s coming out into this new world of Hollywood, met at the airport by Jarvis, her dear friend, and she can embark on something a little lighter…but of course, given the nature of this genre, it’s going to go dark very quickly. But she’s a little more quick to deal with it this season with an open heart.

There are a lot of changes coming to Agent Carter‘s second season. Not only will Peggy be making her way from New York to Los Angeles, where she’ll be working with Chief Sousa, who now runs the SSR in Los Angeles. As was hinted at last season, we’ll see a possible romance hinted at as they continue to work together, which will be a big change from the first season – where we saw Peggy still coming to terms with the loss of Steve.

What are the challenges and struggles for her in the beginning of the season?

Hayley Atwell: I think initially being in a slightly different environment of the workplace, she’s having to meet different people based at the SSR out in California, so it’s a whole other attempt to kind of have to prove herself to them just in order for her to do the job and to get to her foot in the door.

The other thing personally for her, though, is that Sousa’s out here. Unbeknownst to her, he kind of had to leave; he had to get out of New York. The tension between them and that it wasn’t really amounting to anything was really painful to him. He got a lead to go out and run the SSR as a chief, and so of course, as it was an actual promotion for him, it was the perfect time for him to go out and have a new life. She’s sent out there under false pretenses, not realizing that Chief Sousa didn’t know that she was coming. He asks for reinforcements and Peggy’s sent. So personally, it throws his world upside-down, and she is also having to realize that he wasn’t actually the one who called her out there so she’s been rejected. So again, it starts out with lots of chemistry and tension between them, but still, they’re so lame in their own ways [laughs] that they’re not getting on with it. They’re both so fragile as human beings, so that’s played out throughout this season, too.

Last week, thanks to Entertainment Weekly’s spoiler room feature, we learned that, although Whitney Frost is the big bad this season, she will not be sporting her famous gold mask. For some, this was frustrating, as they hoped to see Madame Masque actually exist within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But even though she doesn’t truly ever become Madame Masque in the show, it doesn’t mean she isn’t a serious threat to Peggy.

Comic book fans know to be suspicious of the name “Whitney Frost,” but what does Peggy think of Whitney Frost when she first meets her?

Hayley Atwell: She’s never met a famous person before, so I think she’s star-struck. I almost feel that to Peggy, Whitney Frost is the other side of the same coin in that she’s very bright, she’s very successful in her own field, but she’s also probably had to overcome a tremendous amount of obstacles to get where she is and she’s ambitious in her own way. That’s something that Peggy can relate to. The fact that Whitney has just gone down [a different road] with an abuse of power, the road that is actually much darker but essentially parallels the things that Peggy would have gone through and that informed her character, I think there’s something quite intriguing about that for Peggy and probably quite refreshing in that she’s got another powerful woman around. Okay, she might be a nemesis, but at the same time, I think there’s an absolute respect for Whitney’s mind, and her ambition and what she had to overcome to get the success that she’s had in the movie world.

Interestingly enough, when asked what new character Atwell is most excited about, she names Dottie – a character that is actually returning from the first season. Considering where we left off with that character, and the disappearing act she pulled, it’ll be interesting to see their dynamic going into season two. Per Atwell, fans can expect the two characters play a sort of “chess game”.

Which new character are you most excited about in terms of their interaction with Peggy?

Hayley Atwell: It’s kind of a new character, but kind of isn’t: Dottie, actually. I just thought the [Season 1] reveal of who Dottie was in the women’s hotel was so brilliant and I think that Bridget [Regan] is such a fantastic actress. But I didn’t get much to do with her, really. This is a different relationship [this season]. In some ways, without spoiling anything, I need her, and also, I get to have scenes with her that are like a chess game. As an actor, that’s incredibly exhilarating because a lot of the scenes between us are filled with subtext. On the surface, [Dottie] has got this very elegant, very soft-spoken voice and yet you know she’s an assassin and it’s a very potent mix. As an actor, I’m loving my scenes with Bridget.

Agent Carter season two will premiere on January 19th on ABC with a two-hour season premiere, which will air after the Captain America 75th Anniversary special.

Source: Marvel.