Agent Carter: Better Angels

Posted on January 28, 2016

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Yes, we’re once again a day late on our Agent Carter review. All we have to say in our defense is… well, nothing really. Our schedule just got a little away from us. Sorry about that, darlings. We didn’t want you to think it’s because we’re less than excited about our favorite super-spy.

On the contrary, despite our wiffy review of last week, which was partially fueled by a Nyquil coma and subsequent fugue state, we’re loving season 2 so far. The energy level of the show – which was energetic to begin with – has skyrocketed this season, along with a sense that everyone involved knows exactly what works best for this character and story. So long as they give Peggy at least one scene a week where she mouths off to a chauvinist, one scene a week where she kicks someone’s ass, and one scene a week where she looks deliciously drop-dead gorgeous, they’ve more than done their jobs.

But they’re clearly going all-in on the Big Superhero Science this season, judging by the newfound abilities of Whitney Frost. We confess that our position on this hasn’t changed much from last week. No one loves Big Superhero Science more than us (or more than Tom, to be more accurate, since Lorenzo is decidedly ambivalent on the matter), but any time Agent Carter gets away from mid-Century spy stuff and has a scene that relies a bit too much on digital effects for our tastes, the show goes in a direction that interests us less. We loved every bit of this episode, until we got to the scene where … um, Whitney’s hand sucked up her director and kind of … ate him? It’s good, creepy stuff, but we still would have preferred a story that stuck to super-spying in an increasingly fantastical post-War world rather than jumping headfirst into Avengers territory.

But we can’t deny that Miss Frost (who will presumably be taking up her comicbook counterpart’s code name Miss Masque at some point soon) is turning out to be more and more interesting as a foil for Peggy. Dottie may have been Peggy’s dark doppelganger in some sense, but Whitney, it turns out, is brilliant on a “mastermind” level and it’s interesting to us  how the writers took the basic backstory of Hedy Lamarr and, with only slight adjustments, turned her into a believable supervillain. We’re interested to see where she’s going to go next and whether or not Peggy truly understands how smart and dangerous she is. Although to be fair, she seemed more than convinced of her supervillain skill level by the time she was fighting for her life in Howard Stark’s pool.

And speaking of which, we really wish they’d make Dominic Cooper a co-star and put him in every episode. For one, he’s having a grand old time playing this character and it shows. He and Hayley Atwell have off-the-charts chemistry with each other. Second – and we admit that the irony of this complaint is not lost on us, given how badly women are often portrayed when men are the lead heroes – we’re somewhat annoyed by the male characters on the show. Occasionally. Last week, we were miffed that Jarvis was being played as a comic relief character and this week we found Jack Thompson’s over-the-top chauvinism annoying. To be fair, he’s being painted with shades of gray and Peggy is perhaps a bit too confrontational with him. There’s a chance to do more with this relationship so we’re willing to see it play out for now. There’s more possibility (and we don’t mean romantic) in Peggy and Jack’s relationship than there is in Peggy and Souza’s, that’s for sure. Enough with the will-they-or-won’t-they? She’s way out of his league. Stick with your nice nurse, Daniel. Jason Wilkes is a likeable enough character and a much-appreciated shot of diversity in a lily-white world, but he hasn’t been around long enough for us to form an opinion, really. We’re all for the romance, because they do have great chemistry and it serves as a subtle example of how bold and unconcerned Peggy is with social norms of the time. Maybe that’s not the most appropriate way to introduce a story’s first non-white character – as a tool to show how wonderful the white lead is – but it does follow Peggy’s comicbook history (she was the first Marvel comics character to be in an interracial relationship) and it’s thematically appropriate, when you consider how deliberately and joyfully she upends people’s ideas of how women are supposed to act.

Anyway, our point is, Jason’s fine and we want to see more of him, but we also want to see more of Howard Stark and have some of the other relationships with male characters straightened out a bit more. At the very least, we’d prefer that they not fall into the trap of having any more male characters develop a crush on her. She’s actually a much more interesting character when she’s interacting with men as a peer rather than as a potential love interest. It’s a big reason why we find Souza to be such a drip. Jack’s a dick, but at least he talks to her like a fellow agent.

Anyway, these are our rambling thoughts on our gal Pegs and the season in general so far. Loving the ride, but we’d prefer if a few things were tweaked.

 

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