Agent Carter was one of last season’s most unexpected surprises.
Simply put, I was pleasantly taken aback by its action-packed charm and incredible lead, Hayley Atwell. Although the show wasn’t exactly a ratings success, ABC still saw enough potential in its special brand of Marvel that it wisely brought it back for season two.
The shift from New York to Los Angeles definitely feels like a network mandate (after all, the series shoots in California). Nevertheless, the change fits the show with an even brighter aesthetic and some utterly gorgeous cinematography. Much like Mad Men, you never once question the time period or the impeccable production design.
The serialized mystery featuring Zero Matter doesn’t kick off in the most exciting manner in this two-hour premiere. In fact, episode one is quite slow – an error that’s thankfully rectified with a brisk second hour that zips along with a whole lot of fun and momentum. It helps that the cast is so uniformly strong across the board. Atwell and James D’Arcy’s chemistry in particular is as outstanding as ever – cementing Peggy and Jarvis as the most loveable duo on television. Even the dynamic between Hayley and Sousa is amplified; I wasn’t exactly rooting for these two last season, but this year there’s a ton more sexual tension (undoubtedly because Sousa is now involved with someone else).
Finally, the premiere introduced a handful of characters brimming with potential. There’s Jarvis’ wife Anna (and she’s a hoot on every level), Dr. Wilkes (a terrific love interest, and a man of color in an age where racism was rampant), and our new villainess Madame Masque in the form of Hollywood starlet Whitney Frost. I have high hopes for the latter, and if the cliffhanger with her exposure to Dark Matter is anything to go by, we’re going to be in for a wild ride.
Bits & Dames
– Awesome opening fight in the vault ending with Peggy knocking Dottie out with a bag of coins in slow motion. Never seen that before!
– Jarvis’ adventures with the flamingo were hysterical. More please!
– Dot flipping the table on Jack – badass..
– Jarvis does weights! And he’s got funny sports attire! And he knows judo!
– Love Rose. Hope we get to see more of her going forward.
– Comedic highlight: Stark’s car with the Champagne (for dehydration), the epic tracking device, and the mirror on the top!
– It’s good to see that even female baddies faced sexism back then. The scene with the director telling Frost she has lines around her eyes and that she should skip lunch was just harsh. Payback soon?
– How racist was that diner employee? Loved Peggy biting into the eclair and dumping it!
– Amazing fight choreography with Peggy against the thugs as Frost tries to stop Wilkes from taking the Zero Matter. Does anyone really think he’s dead?
– Superbly chilling ending with the Zero Matter inside a traumatised Whitney. Hello Madame Masque!
Jarvis: Miss Carter, you have no idea how foreign Los Angeles will seem to a civilized person such as yourself. They eat avocados with everything. The foliage is preposterous. Take the palm tree. Would you trust the structural integrity of such a thing?
Peggy: When can we expect our esteemed Mr. Stark to return from the preproductions of his motion picture?
Jarvis: That depends on how long the location scout allows Mr. Stark to… scout her locations.
Jarvis: I couldn’t maneuver him into the enclosure. He’s the devil in pink.
Peggy: You’ll live. Keep your head back.
Jarvis: Of course I’ll live. I’m worried about the aesthetic. Ana’s absolutely mad about my profile.
Sousa: It didn’t really come up when we were chasing officer Icicle.
Peggy: A quick jab to the right eye will adjust his attitude tremendously.
Wilkes: Won’t get us anywhere. Besides, it’s not like he’s a rare specimen. You gonna punch all of L.A.?
Peggy: Maybe. I could do with a hobby.
Not a brilliant hour, but still a very solid return from Agent Carter – one of television’s most undiscovered gems.