Agent Carter’s third episode was extremely understated, to the point of initial frustration. For an eight episode miniseries there sure wasn’t a lot of movement. Despite my initial disappointment, though, I’m still largely enjoying and optimistic for the future of Agent Carter and Marvel TV.
Episode three spent the majority of the episode on scene setting and character development. In many ways I found this tedious – the entire Jarvis might be a traitor subplot, for instance – but the more I think about it, the more this approach makes sense. Aside from Hayley Atwell’s charisma and strength as the titular lead, Agent Carter’s biggest strength is its post World War Two setting. Episode three opens with Peggy’s life in an all-women’s living tenement with a STRICT “no men above the first floor” rule. When one of the women breaks the rule, she is booted from the premises by the matriarch who asserts her building is “not unlike Fort Knox, or Alcatraz.”
This kind of “what a different era!” exploration is a lot of fun, as are the completely baller hats worn by all the male agents. There’s some charming dialogue that comes out of Peggy’s relationship with the diner waitress, Angie, as well, with her excitedly asking Peggy “I got a bottle of schnapps and half a rhubarb pie, let’s see which makes us sick first?” I can’t be the only one who thinks Angie is the most electric personality across Marvel’s entire ABC TV output. Here’s to hoping she’s utilized further (perhaps even brought in on the spy scene) as Agent Carter progresses.
The fill-in setting details are undoubtedly the highlight of this episode, as the A plot stagnates and is reduced to a literal boatload of Howard Stark inventions in need of Agent Carter and Jarvis protection. My initial disappointment with episode three was not necessarily with the show itself – again, still enjoyable and a huge step forward for Marvel TV – but the feeling that Marvel has played all their cards. Episodes one and two frenetically revealed Leviathan and a shadowy organizations attempts to steal Stark tech and frame Howard for treason. And while that’s a great premise for a miniseries, I was really hoping for more twists and turns. Obviously there’s still time, but I’m an enormous fan of shows that surprise you with their fearless ability to tackle “the big question” only to jump into a new and unexpected situation. Shows like Orphan Black (S1) and the Blacklist have found rabid fanbases with this approach, and Breaking Bad’s Hank vs. Walt confrontation in the first episode of the final season was universally hailed. Marvel has not yet proven it has the ability to answer a mystery faster than expected only to replace that thread with an even bigger one. Given the nature of comics (this happens all the time), this is a let down.
Nonetheless, for what it is – broadcast TV drama – Agent Carter continues doing a fine job and I’m excited to watch next week. Aside form the part where Agent Carter is inexplicably off the air next week and won’t air again for two weeks. It’s cool, it’s not like that approach ever came back to bit Agents of SHIELD…
5 Things I Want to See in Agent Carter Moving Forward
Zodiac – Shadowy spies and possible Nick Fury relatives are welcome.
Marvel’s Netflix Shows – I’m increasingly excited about these releases and could really go for some actual footage from Daredevil before its release April 10th.
The Return of Howard Stark – This is already in the wings based on the preview for episode four, but the return of Howard will be very welcome, adding some much needed charisma and humor to team Jarvis.
Captain America History – Dig deep in the annals of Captain America comics and come up with some related characters and stories for Agent Carter to handle.
Agent Carter placement explanation – We’ve heard it alluded a few times now that Agent Carter was dropped off at this American SSR agency and that the head honcho has no choice but to keep her around as an Agent. How about some answers to the myriad questions that generates? Why was she dropped off here? If she has near infinite job security, why is she getting weepy about the commish handing it to her for saving Jarvis (which is obviously what she wanted)? Given her completely essential role to the Ally war effort, how on earth is there not a role for her elsewhere (aside from plot purposes)? Did Tommy Lee Jones make a move at Cap’s funeral, get rejected, and then bitterly banish Agent Carter here?
What do you think? Is Agent Carter working for you? Do what feels right to you in the comments.