In the fervent excitement of Agent Carter’s return it was overlooked that the premiere consisted of two episodes. So here’s two reviews for week two.
The second episode reveals a diabolical council is coordinating a long game of high-stakes crime and that Isodyne energy, where Peggy’s new beau works, is attracted too much attention and must be shut down. It’s then a paced, restricted race to steal the black goo from the final moments of last week episode.
The action is superb and rings fresher than the regular cop procedural but it’s the character moments that really strike gold. Peggy and Jarvis were an odd, if forced, pair in the beginning but their friendship has developed to the most natural thing in the world. The extension to Mrs Jarvis and her brash optimism is fantastic and exciting. The longer we spend in this world the more layers it develops, compared to a show like Community that seemed determined to stay in one place.
The senator’s wife (who doubles as an actress on the side) seems to be the key player in the villain department. An early guess might link her as Kurtwood Smith’s daughter but the council is vague enough to have every bad guy interconnected throughout it. Just like HYDRA.
She comes to blows with Peggy’s beau and the ‘possibly extra-terrestrial’ substance now labelled Zero Matter spills throughout the factory. It’s a classic origin story implemented effectively without getting in the way of the current adventure, leaving a discernible scar that will take a great deal to keep hidden. The show would also like to entertain the idea of Peggy’s dubious lover’s death but that is far from the case. It could swing either way, but expect a full blown tilt to villainy upon his return.
In third episode Ms Carter and Mr Jarvis – as they delightfully address each other – meet up with Mr Stark (Howard, obviously). The movie gag continues to be a nice light touch and there’s a bit of self-commentary flying about too. Marvel Television have nailed the Howard Stark element – he is too busy, too eccentric and too much fun to help with Peggy’s cases on the regular.
Still he assists, identifying the recurring pin as the emblem of the Arena Club and telling Peggy/Jarvis what he can about the Zero Matter. Peggy surmises a plan and the episode is truly afoot, only it’s not interesting enough for Howard. Instead he concocts a plan to bring fifty or so women into the snobbiest, most elite club in town for ten minutes at the anger of all involved, only to insult the staff on their primitive ethos and exit swiftly upon the mission’s completion. It’s classic Howard Stark – just as Tony and Cap remember him – with an added spice of heroism.
As Captain America: The Winter Soldier noted, it was Howard and Peggy that began SHIELD in its truest form. Howard seems preoccupied now, faffing about with models and theorising about cheese amongst the mystery. It seems he needs a considerable force to knock him further towards his fate and while it may be a few seasons yet I will certainly relish the introduction of Maria Stark.
And as for Easter eggs, it would remiss not to mention the new security system. Jarvis “not wishing to be a disembodied voice” and Carter’s cynicism was hilarious and reminiscent of the original Iron Man. Carter is quality and damned if people don’t believe it.
One of Agent Carter’s current characters is starting to get considerably more interesting. The New York Chief was the sexist and judgemental lackey boy of Agent Carter’s inaugural run. He’s played convincingly by One Tree Hill’s Chad Michael Murray, so much so that it didn’t seem like the role fit the actor. Now in season two he’s got a promotion and is caught between a rock – Kurtwood Smith – and a hard place – his SSR comrades that think he’s a jerk. Angst ensues, and will continue to ensue for a while yet.
And Peggy’s flame is back for a moment, invisible and non-corporeal. It only serves to send Howard further down his scientific rabbit hole and more embedded into the mystery. But what’s that? There’s a doctor in Peru that can take Dominic Cooper off our screens to save budget? Sure, and take the good doctor along too, as the audience (and I) cannot decide if his nice-guy act is a little too nice.
And after flirtation, resistance and a near-death experience Agent Carter has pulled off a quiet little love story in just three episodes. The final nail in the coffin? He stays, leaving Howard to travel solo to Peru. Still don’t trust him though.
Carter is fantastic and a solid improvement on its first season. It’s a shame the second run is so short.