WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS TO FOLLOW
Agent Carter Season Two, “The Lady in the Lake” & “A View in the Dark”
Agent Carter is back and it’s brought all the style, pace and humor of its first season along for the ride. If anything, the first two episodes increase the pace introduced in season one. Both pack in plot and character work while covering a lot of ground without once feeling overstuffed or rushed. The first episode drops the viewer straight into the action. There’s a bank heist, a fight scene in a vault and an arrest straight away. Old faces are reintroduced and the seeds of the season’s plot are laid.
Peggy (Hayley Atwell) still works for the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR) in New York, under the command of Jack Thompson (Chad Michael Murray). A strange case in Los Angeles falls under the jurisdiction of the new SSR west coast office, headed by Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj). His office is understaffed so he calls New York for backup. Thompson sends Peggy and, quick as that, the show is off to California, where Peggy is greeted by Jarvis (James D’Arcy). Their reunion is succinct, terribly sweet and within short order they are right back into the banter and rhythms of their friendship.
The new setting provides the show a chance to brighten its already colorful palette. As Peggy steps down off the plane onto California soil the brightness of the surroundings is a stark contrast to the muted tones of New York. In season one Peggy’s costumes were a source of bold color, making her stand out. Now, the environment is full of color as well. Peggy is no longer out of place. The world is now in sync with her.
Agent Carter is not retreading the same ground as season one, not with the environment, the plot or the antagonist. Peggy’s main foe in season one was the sexism of her fellow agents. Now, Peggy is a respected, almost revered member of the team. She does not have to become a double agent to utilize her full skillset. As she performs an interrogation two agents extol her abilities while Thompson glowers in the background (thus motivating him to send her away so he can get the glory).
Misogyny is certainly not gone—it’s very much present—but it is no longer the primary antagonist to our protagonist. Instead, we get Whitney Frost (Wynn Everett), a Hollywood actress married to an idiot running for Senate (Currie Graham). She is very much a Lady Macbeth figure for season two. Dealing with misogynistic directors and an inability to directly influence her and her husband’s shady dealings Whitney is in much the same place Peggy was last season. It will be interesting to see how the show deals with her character reacting to similar circumstances in vastly different ways as she slowly evolves into what can only be assumed is the season’s primary antagonist.
Rounding out the cast are Jason Wilkes (Reggie Austin), a charming scientist and romantic interest for Peggy (and a welcome addition of a non-white actor into the cast) and Ana Jarvis (Lotte Verbeek), Jarvis’ devoted and strong-willed wife and newfound friend for Peggy.
And then, at the center of everything is Peggy. Hayley Atwell continues to shine in this role, bringing Peggy to life in ever more spectacular ways. In fact, she’s in even better form this season, adding more depth and layers to Peggy as she builds on the experiences of the previous season’s arc. She continues to be the heart of the show and the first two episodes of season two have set up plentiful material for both the actress and the character to get their teeth into with wonderful gusto.
The tension between Sousa and Peggy is well done but hopefully the show does not draw out the love triangle between them and Violet much longer. Hopefully they make a decision within the next episode and stick with it, one way or the other (though I admit, this is mainly because I love Peggy and Daniel as a pair, and if I’m not going to get them, I want to know sooner rather than later).
Improvised weapons are back! In “The Lady in the Lake” we get Peggy grabbing fistfuls of coins to pack more into her punch and then delivering a beautiful final blow with a bag of coins. In “A View in the Dark” we get a lab coat used in very creative ways.
Bernard the Flamingo is one of my new favorite things ever. I would very much appreciate if he is a season-long addition to the show.
“It’s the flamingo isn’t it?” “It is indeed the flamingo.”
“He’s the devil in pink”
“I had that pink atrocity exactly where I wanted him.”
“I’m normally a whiskey girl.”
“Aside from danger my middle name is charm.” Never change, Jarvis. Never change.
The friendship being built between Peggy and Ana is fantastic: “A garter. That’s also a holster.” “You are fantastic.” and “Edwin suggested tea, but I thought whiskey was more the order of the day.”
It’s also so refreshing to see Ana and Jarvis being portrayed as a devoted couple entirely secure in their relationship. Ana is fully aware of everything that is going on and never once has a jealous moment toward Peggy. It might have been a cheap way of inserting some drama into the episodes and it’s a relief to see the writers did not choose that route.
“Could be a long walk in those heels.” “I’ve performed far more strenuous tasks in heels.”
Next Week: “Better Angels”