Sunday, March 13, 2016

Agent Carter Season 2

I will always consider Agent Carter one of the most woefully under-appreciated branches of the Marvel Universe - which is especially unfortunate considering how few great female leads we get in television these days.  You don't even need to be a Marvel fan to appreciate the superb acting, characterization, suspense and humor.  If you haven't seen the first season, check out my review from last year and watch it for yourself.

This season revolves around Zero Matter, a mysterious other-worldly substance that a super-sketchy company called Isodyne Energy has been researching.  Whitney Frost, the mastermind behind Isodyne, uses her status as a beautiful woman and actress to hide her true purposes.  Peggy comes to Los Angeles to figure out what Zero Matter is, and she stays to stop Frost from getting out of hand.  At the season's end, I wasn't sure how to feel about Frost, who had been a brilliant and powerful Madame Masque.  I don't want to give anything away, but I thought they could have wrapped up her storyline in a more nuanced way.


Peggy and Jarvis continue to have the best (platonic) on-screen chemistry I've seen in a long time.  On the outset, Jarvis is aching to join Peggy on her new adventures in L.A. for the adrenaline rush he remembers from their previous partnership.  Unfortunately, he learns the painful cost of Peggy's line of work.  I applaud James D'Arcy's portrayal of his character as he undergoes emotional tumult in his relationship with Peggy and his wife as the season progresses.  Speaking of, Ana Jarvis was a star addition to the cast.  Her personality was both unexpected and refreshing; I wish I had seen even more of her.  And Howard Stark is as eccentric as always (#MarryMeDominicCooper).

(Source: Wikipedia)

Honestly though, the two most interesting characters (aside from Peggy) were on the antagonistic side.  Dottie Underwood/Black Widow sucks in your attention like a super vacuum every time she appears; her presence always keeps you simultaneously uneasy and intrigued.  Also I'm 99.9% she has a crush on Peggy.  (Mostly because in episode one she dresses up as her and then demands why Peggy is not interrogating her once she's in custody.)  She's cunning, she's intense, she's sassy.  What more could you want from a villainess?

Meanwhile, Agent Jack Thompson is as much of a jerk as you remember.  This season, he's influenced by his mentor Vernon, the most obviously evil man since Senator Palpatine in the Star Wars prequels.  Vernon feeds Thompson's ambition to try to turn him against Peggy, and I kept wondering if Thompson would totally give in to the dark side.  Peggy repeatedly demonstrates faith in his goodness - way more than I would have had in her place - but the writers deftly keep him on the line between good and bad.  Made me look closer at him that I would have otherwise.


Now about the love triangle.  Although I consider love triangles my pet peeve, this one is tolerable thanks to the likability of both the men that fall for Peggy.  I like how they explored racial themes through Jason Wilkes, a black scientist who experiences discrimination similar to the sexism Peggy faced.  He's charming (see above GIF), and I appreciated seeing him as a love interest for a white female character.  On the other hand, Daniel has had two seasons' worth of development with Peggy, but their relationship has become complicated since he moved (ran away) from New York to become the chief of the Los Angeles-based SSR.  Since Peggy manages to have chemistry with literally everyone, she has no issues in that department with either Jason or Daniel.

There are so many other things I could talk about, but I've probably rambled long enough.  Season 2 had its flaws, but it still won me over thanks to its phenomenal actors, charming characters, and non-stop suspense.  Even though the ratings look grim, I hope Agent Carter is renewed.  They left a few loose ends, and I'd really like to know more about Peggy's brother.  He was very likable in the few flashbacks they showed him in, and I can't imagine they'd leave a character like that in the wayside.  Fingers crossed for a third season!

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