Hats, Guns, and Flamingos
This is a review for both episodes of Agent Carter that aired last night. We’re not splitting them up because that would be obnoxious.
Agent Carter is back and has wasted no time in getting things moving. Given the show’s limited number of episodes, we had a lot of ground to cover (which is an East Coast/West Coast pun for ya). Where to begin? How about that fake out cold open? We thought it was going to be Peggy in the red hat, but instead it was Dottie! Wow!
Actually just kidding. We all knew it wasn’t Peggy because they showed that whole fight scene in the last ten minutes of the Captain America 75th Anniversary Special that aired right before this. So that was a bummer. Good thing the fight scene was cool.
Basically, the setup here is that Peggy is finally getting her dues at the S.S.R. She’s getting so much credit, in fact, that Chad Michael Murray is getting nervous about his position at the top. Peggy knows her stuff and it won’t be long until she gets a hearty promotion. So when Sousa needs a hand out in L.A., he sends Peggy to take care of business and stay out of his hair. Simple and effective setup.
Edwin Jarvis and wife are out there too with an absent-from-the-screen Howard Stark. Oh, and Stark has a flamingo because sight gag. It’s a whole slew of familiar faces thrown at us in a short period of time, which is great not only for the story, but also because the show doesn’t waste time pandering towards a non-existent nostalgia for these supporting characters.
Instead, the story moves at a breakneck pace, with a constantly shifting focal point to keep us on edge. A killer who dumps bodies in a lake is quickly supplanted by a super villain who can freeze people who is supplanted by a black goop that makes things disappear. It’s a bit jarring, but you have to assume that by the end of episode we’ve stumbled upon the true framework for the season. While black goop is a familiar trope for Marvel’s ABC shows, it looks like THIS black goop is different, so anyone who watches S.H.I.E.L.D. isn’t sporting any extra information.
If this all sounds a bit convoluted, you’re not alone. At two hours (three if you watched the Cap special), the show did feel it’s length at times. It wasn’t boring so much as it was over encumbered, which made keeping straight some of the side characters difficult at times. At the end of the day though, this was all a framework for Peggy Carter to work in, and this was the highlight of the episode.
With a fantastic new love interest in Jason Wilkes and excellent chemistry with Edwin and Ana Jarvis, Peggy truly got to shine. Jason was our catalyst for a fantastic discourse on race in the 1940’s and how unpopular favors could create a near Stockholm Syndrome with otherwise unsavory employers. We got a few other pieces of bite sized feminism here and there, but nothing particularly overt given the demands of the pace and story.
Ana Jarvis was a welcomed character who brought levity and a level head to the show. Given how well Peggy and Jarvis work together, I was extremely worried we’d get a “jealous wife” trope to suffer through for the season. Instead, Peggy found a new friend and confidant. Although if someone could tell me what accent she is supposed to have I would be very appreciative.
There was a minor B-plot (C-plot?) with Chad Michael Murray back in New York. The bad guy from Robocop came in and essentially said “We’re taking Dottie, so you better get out while the gettin’s good.” I assume this will come into play at some point, because if the Dottie story wraps up here I will be severely disappointed. Dottie is a great antagonist and match for Peggy, so I’d hate to see an opportunity for a “larger picture” scheme to be wasted.
All in all, the episode was started off with a fast pace, great characters/chemistry, and quite a bit of intrigue. While the complexity was a bit of a hindrance and the show dragged it’s feet in the second half, the story did ultimately come into focus by the end, giving us more than enough to chew on for the next week.
Odds and Ends
- L.A. is much brighter and more colorful than New York in the show, which is a nice contrast to the first season.
- I hope the flamingo saves the day.
- I hope the flamingo gets a spin-off.
- It’s hard to tell if the series has doubled down on references or has taken a step back. We are either on the precipice of a major tie in, or a wholly unique story, so it’ll be interesting to see where things go from here.
Alex Russo likes to talk about television. You can read more of his insane ramblings on Twitter.