Sorry for the delay…again.
How awesome is Peggy Carter? Though billed as Captain America’s love interest, the two don’t get together until the end and even then Steve disappears and is presumed dead right after they start to get together. Does she mope around? Nope! This badass lady gets back on her feet and leads the Howling Commandos to hunt down HYDRA, kicking as much ass as any of the guys. She proves herself as one of the best agents of the SSR and founds SHIELD along with Howard Stark. Before that though, Peggy had a greater enemy to face: Sexism.
Background: I know little to nothing about Peggy in the comics, but I’ve seen her in the films and in her one shot that inspired the series. She’s awesome.
WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS FOR AGENT CARTER SEASON 1
The year is 1946: After the end of the war, Agent Peggy Carter, played by Hayley Atwell, continues to work for the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR) in New York City, but is treated as a secretary due to her gender and mocked due to her relationship with Captain America, who she is still mourning. When her friend Howard Stark, played by Dominic Cooper, is accused of treason for selling his own deadly weapons, Howard enlists her to find who stole his weapons and set him up. As he flees, he leaves her the assistance of his butler Edwin Jarvis, played by James D’Arcy, the future caretaker of Howard’s son Tony and model for his beloved AI butler J.A.R.V.I.S.. Now Peggy must work behind her boss’s and coworkers’ backs, who are convinced of Howard’s guilt, and solve the case while a threat known only as Leviathan looms in the background, growing ever closer.
Thanks to the shorter length of the series, only eight episodes in its first season since it was aired during the mid winter break of Agents of SHIELD season 2 (and is why Peggy appears in some early episodes), we’re spared the standard ‘bad guy of the week’ formula most shows, like SHIELD, normally do in their first season. Agent Carter’s story has a consistent plot that is built up through each episode providing each major character their chance at development. The plot is solid and gets across what it’s trying to do very easily. It has to. Again, it only has eight episodes.
Not only does the show add more to the characters of both Peggy and Howard, but also allows for some world building we don’t get in other parts of the MCU. Sure, we get bits of what the Red Room was like in Age of Ultron, but a) that came after this season and b) this gives both more details as well as its early days. These are the days before SHIELD, before Iron Man, and it’s interesting to see how the post war 1940s of the MCU is both different from and parallel to our own universe.
Speaking of which, the settings and design are spectacular. The post World War 2 era is in this wheelhouse of mine that spans 150 years or so from the Victorian Era to the end of the Cold War where I find the most interest in culture and history, Sure, most of my interest is in British history, but we do get a bit of that since Peggy and Jarvis are British. Everything just looks great, the costumes, the sets, the vocabulary even the more sci fi aspects. It looks like what early Stark Tech and spy equipment would look like.
Hayley Atwell is amazing as always, but her supporting cast is right up there. Thompson is the stereotypical jerk traditionalist that you get in a lot of shows with a prominent female or minority, Sousa is the sympathetic, caring, obviously supposed to be the love interest down the line, guy, Dooley is the stern father figure who has a soft spot for the main protag even if he is set in his old way. He’s at least willing to give her a chance where Thompson won’t. Jarvis is exactly the kind of man we can see growing up to be the closest thing Tony had to a father figure: caring, devoted to both those he serves and those he cares about (which tend to align), cautious, but with good reason seeing who is employer is. He’s someone Tony loved so much he fashioned his primary AI/ house system/ butler after him when he died and treated it like he had the original human. The stuff with his wife is gushingly adorable, romantic, and will make you cry. (Also, as someone who’s seen half the first episode of season 2, Ana Jarvis is the best!)
Howard is….Howard. It’s easy to write him off as 40s Tony, but he’s really not. He knows full well what his inventions do and what they’re used for and he doesn’t like it, but needs to accept it to keep from ending up back where he started: the son of (possibly) Jewish immigrants living in the Lower East Side (AKA Captain America’s original comic backstory (Look it up)). Like I said in my post about Tony and Steve’s relationship, Howard considers Steve to be the one creation that makes up for all the death and destruction on his conscience. Steve redeems him. Tony didn’t know/ care about what his weapons did until he saw it first hand. Only then did he stop production on them and dedicate his life to protecting people. …He’s gone about this in interesting ways, but at least he tries. By that time, Stark Industries had enough money to afford the loss of military contracts. SI in the 40s doesn’t. Howard doesn’t have much choice.
Then there is the villain. Without getting into spoilers, they’re great and you don’t expect it when you first meet them. That’s all I’m saying.
If I do have a complaint, it’s not with the show itself. It’s with both ABC and Amazon who are the primary distributors for the series. I’ve aired my grievance about Amazon before and, from what I’ve seen, they haven’t improved in the slightest though they at least lowered the prices to something more manageable. ABC made it clear they cared about Agent Carter about as much as NBC cared about Hannibal. They gave it little promotion, limited streaming access (it’s not even on Netflix), and didn’t even give it a proper air time, just sticking it in the dumping ground of the mid winter break. I can only be glad they chose not to air it on a Friday.
You should definitely watch Agent Carter because it is amazing and worth your time. My advice, buy the show on ITunes. It’s cheaper, at $20 per season in HD, and you don’t have to deal with the flimsy box or worry about lack of extras because you don’t get them anyway. Plus, Amazon doesn’t even have season 2.
Some time this summer I’ll probably be doing reviews for Agent Carter S2, Jessica Jones S1 and possibly Daredevil S2. And if we’re very very lucky, I might just get SHIELD S3 done and be caught up with Marvel by the time Doctor Strange comes out in November. Time, and my ability to get a job, will tell.
Happy (belated) Independence Day.
(Photo via Disney-ABC Domestic Television)