Marvel's Agent Carter Review by Henry Tran

Marvel's Agent Carter 2.01/2.02: Lady in the Lake/A View in the Dark

Marvel's Agent Carter 2.01/2.02: Lady in the Lake/A View in the Dark

Written By:
Brant Engelstein; Eric Pearson and Lindsey Allen
Directed By:
Lawrence Trilling

It's a marvel (pun intended) that this show can hit the ground running and not lose its stride for the entirety of its two hour premiere time. SSR Agent Peggy Carter is back, and she hasn't lost a step. What's really amazing to me is that while the first season recap was appreciated, it was hardly necessary in order to watch these two episodes. Agent Carter hasn't lost its sense of sass and fun in the long time it's been off the air. The relationships between characters have deepened somehow, and the introduction of some new characters fill in the world a little bit more. That world feels a little more lived-in, and the jettison of one particular aspect that the show was known for last season frees it up for the story to go in other, more interesting directions.  






Agent Carter quickly moves Peggy out of her New York comfort zone, although that's after a stellar opening action sequence that involves a nice reversal of the opening shot of the entire series and a bank robbery with a purpose beyond stealing cash. Dottie continues to ape Peggy in every way, which is right in line with what happened in the final episodes of the first season. Peggy is right in the middle of a fascinating back-and-forth interrogation with Dottie when she's undercut by Agent Thompson and sent to Los Angeles to figure out a case that has that SSR office stumped. 


This action sheds light on the major issue of Agent Carter's first season: The rampant sexism and office politics that Peggy had to deal with and circumvent in order to get things done. Sure, it was present at the time period that's being depicted, but the show had a way of having the major male players go over the top with their mistreatment and dismissal of Peggy and her abilities. Agent Thompson gets his way, with Peggy gone way across the country, thus allowing him to hijack the interrogation of Dottie. Of course, Dottie proves later that she only wants to play games with Peggy and will not give Thompson any information under any circumstances. He continues to underestimate every woman that does anything around him. The subplot is oddly dropped in the second episode as the focus shifts to Peggy in her new sunny California environment.






The thing is, I didn't miss Thompson all that much. Sure, there could have been more development into what exactly Dottie is up to, but that can be put on the backburner for now. This much is true: Peggy Carter would make a very good detective. And being in 1940s Los Angeles, at the very height of noirish detective mysteries, she would fit right in to whatever role she wishes to take on. She has the looks and moxie to even be a femme fatale if she so chose. But she is ostensibly the hero, and as such, she works the cases she's assigned to, even if that's not what she or others might want. Thompson sent Peggy to LA in order to get rid of a thorn in his side and to stick it to his former colleague, Agent (now Chief) Sousa. 


Sousa is understandably rattled by Peggy's continued presence in his life, but manages to make it work to his advantage because her insights give invaluable assistance in solving the "Lady in the Lake" killer case. Peggy is, after all, a professional, and has no time for interpersonal drama to get in the way of the job being done. It's not all that demonstrative in the two opening episodes of the season, but Sousa having a relationship with the perky, though somewhat milquetoast, Violet could have potential to complicate matters. The two episodes do make out well to develop Peggy's ongoing relationship with Jarvis (providing some rather amusing moments and memorable sequences throughout) and introduce and further interaction with Dr. Jason Wilkes (Reggie Austin) of the nefarious-seeming Isodyne Energy company. 






While the Peggy-Jarvis relationship forms the core and heart of the series, amplified by the delightful presence and contributions of Jarvis' doting wife Ana (who not only loves Jarvis but seems to be a big fan of Peggy), there are veritable sparks that fly between Wilkes and our title character. Where Jarvis and Peggy fit like a glove, Wilkes needs more time to develop, and these episodes flesh out his character very well. At the outset, there is little of this because we (and the SSR characters) don't fully trust Wilkes, but it gets more and more development as the second episode goes along and Peggy gets deeper into the investigation. Wilkes clearly likes Peggy (What guy wouldn't?) and there's something rather sweet about his eagerness to court and impress her. He goes with the flow, even as Peggy puts him in more and more absurd and/or dangerous situations. 


There was a hint of his being a bit sinister by harboring the zero matter (which looks a lot like the gravitonium that was introduced in the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) for Isodyne, but subsequent revelations make it look like he's on the level. There might be some other revelations down the line that connect this storyline with the Dottie one (hinging on that mysterious lapel pin) but for now, the focus is on Wilkes and Isodyne Energy. That makes Peggy's growing affection for him and his subsequent "death" from the zero matter "explosion" all the more devastating.






That final sequence at the end of "A View in the Dark" serves as more confirmation that anyone who gets romantically involved with Peggy eventually ends up dead. What else can be said? The life of an SSR agent is a dangerous one, and even though she's an amazing character with a whip-smart sense, those dangers will lead to one rife with tragedies left and right. It should be said that Jarvis, Wilkes, and Peggy should have immediately picked up on the fact that anyone with the last name "Frost" might in fact be a villain, even if Whitney Frost was not really aware of it. That is a guess only from initial look at the premiere episodes. 


More research outside the show reveals that Whitney Frost is actually Madame Masque in the comic books, a villain of Iron Man's. Of course, here, she wants to get her hands on the zero matter, and in the ensuing struggle with Dr. Wilkes, unleashes the matter outside of containment, initiating the explosion that likely enveloped Dr. Wilkes and perhaps embedded itself inside her head. It's a heck of a cliffhanger to kick off this season of Agent Carter. I certainly didn't expect for this show to remain so good coming out of the gate. Here's hoping that continues with the rest of the season.

Our Grade:
A
The Good:
  • The new setting is perfect for Agent Carter
  • The mystery at the center of the season is promising
The Bad:
  • Will the ratings be good enough for a third season?

Henry Tran is a regular contributor of review for Critical Myth; The Critical Myth Show is heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @HenYay

Marvel's Agent Carter by - 1/20/2016 10:47 AM158 views

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