(Marvel Studios - 2016)
Summary: It’s 1947, one year has passed since Peggy took on the remnants of the Nazis and came out victorious. But not all wars are won after just one battle, and Peggy’s journey to build a life for herself after the war continues. This time in L.A. after a mysterious new substance called Zero Matter has cropped up and begun wreaking havoc. Agent Peggy Carter has been dispatched to find the answers behind this new threat, and along the way she is joined by old friends and new enemies. Season 2 is finally here, and what tale it shall be…
Episode 1 - “The Lady in the Lake”
Directed by Lawrence Trilling; Written by Brant Englestein
Episode 2 - “A View in the Dark”
Directed by Lawrence Trilling; Written by Eric Pearson & Lindsey Allen
Review: When it was first announced Agent Carter was getting a second season I was really excited, despite being perfectly okay with how they ended season one as this perfect little full circle of Peggy’s story in case they never made anything else. And when they announced the new season would take place in L.A. I became even more curious, I knew it was going to be interesting to see the differences of 1940s L.A. to 1940s New York. It was also lovely to know we’re getting a full season of a series that takes place in some place that isn’t just New York. That’s one aspect the MCU has over the comics universe, not every series takes place in New York, most of these characters get to run around and spread their legs and I love it.
Now the new season is here, and we were graced with two hour-long episodes to mark the occasion. Let’s go!
Episode 1 starts out simple enough, but follows a really cliché narrative to tell its tale. This is actually something both of these season opener episodes have in common: they’re fun, but heavily cliché in their narratives. Like I said, episode 1 starts out simple enough with Peggy being called to L.A. to take on a supernatural case that involves a body and lake that’s frozen over in the middle of summer.
Sousa now heads up the West branch of the S.S.R., it’s still new and he’s trying to make it work. But he’s understaffed and his men aren’t exactly the best at their job. Thus Peggy is brought in. This is a great way to introduce her, it doesn’t feel forced or inorganic to her story. I am however rally curious why Jack was so eager to get Peggy out of the East branch. I honestly thought last season ended with him somewhat liking her (in a respect her kind of way)? Did I imagine that?
We also get a killer opening with Dottie and Peggy attempting to outwit one another as Dottie dons a Peggy disguise in order to rob a bank. In terms of opening up a season with a bang, this season was really impressive. And whole lot of fun. – Speaking of fun, Jarvis is back and we even get to meet his wife Ana who gets not only a speaking role but a supporting cast role as well this season. Both of them together make a splendid pair to watch, but Ana’s wit makes her a truly devastating opponent when trying to figure out my favorite between the Jarvis couple.
We are also introduced to a few new characters this season: Madame Masque, who will be our main villain and Jason Wilkes whom, and I’m not sure if he even survived past episode 2, acts as Peggy’s love interest in these openers.
Now, I said these episodes were cliché and that wasn’t an exaggeration. In “The Lady in the Lake” beat-for-beat the story follows a well-worn narrative of intrigue that follows our heroes teaming up with an L.A. detective to find out how the lake froze and what the woman’s body they found in the ice has to do with it. From gathering evidence, to fumbling their way through public interrogations, to the big “twist” at the end every element of the story feels overused and easy to see coming.
There’s nothing inherently original about “’The Lady in the Lake” other than its fun to see Peggy and Jarvis adjusting to the L.A. lifestyle. There’s even a good amount of back and forth comedic jabs at the obvious - yet ever stagnant - love between Peggy and Sousa, as they fumble around aimlessly through the episode always fumbling their words and exchanging awkward glances. Only to find out, surprise surprise, Sousa has a girl he wasn’t ready to tell Peggy about yet.
This truly awkward tension follows into episode 2 and I genuinely hope it doesn’t become the norm for the series. The same happens between Peggy and Wilkes as well, however instead of staying strong as a constant annoyance, their relationship does grow, however unrealistically fast it feels. Again, I’m not sure if Wilkes even survived past the second episode but I won’t exactly miss him either if he didn’t. He was an interesting character, but I’m also just not that interested in seeing Peggy’s post-Steve escapades to see whom she ends up with in the end.
Not that I want her to stay eternally bound to the super soldier, we all know she doesn’t, I just really don’t want it to be a main focus. I don’t want Agent Carter to be a rom-com, and so far a lot of the comedy in these first few episodes is just that. And it’s boring.
Episode 2 is a big info dump which I was really surprised to see. Peggy once again fumbles her way through wacky relationship tropes with Wilkes, and a bit of Sousa, but it also sees Peggy breaking into the company who holds the Zero Matter that Peggy is after. Seems the substance can turn into a black hole of sorts. But we get quite a bit of information on in an easy enough manner that has me a bit worried for the pacing of these 8-12 episodes we’re supposed to get this season.
Madame Masque is nothing to write home about yet. They hint at her being sort of like a mob boss, but for all the power she supposedly commands she doesn’t really get to flaunt it all that much. We’ve been told she won’t be wearing her signature mask, but the events of episode 2 would have given them the perfect opportunity to give her the mask. Oh well, beggars can’t be choosers.
Both episodes are quite fun, just too rom-com for me. The pacing for the season is already off to an awkward start, however I find myself feeling compelled to watch more to see where it goes. As far as a two-hour premiere goes, Agent Carter didn’t really do anything to stand out or feel special. This is especially surprising when we all know it has the potential to be so much more.
I am definitely looking forward to the rest of this new season, and I can’t wait to keep talking about it either. As long as the rom-com aspect slows down and doesn’t remain so prevalent, then I doubt I’ll have much to complain about. A decent start, nothing to write home about, but Agent Carter is back baby, and I couldn’t be all the happier for it.
Final Score: 3 West Side Agents out of 5
Derrick is a born and raised otaku with a love for comics, anime, manga and movies. The full list is pretty long, but that’s just the basics. Stories set in space are his bread and butter.
You can find more of his writing at IndieComix.net