I always knew I was going to review this once the first 8-episode season finished, but I’d since given up doing my weekly TV Thursday feature. Marvel announced doing Agent Carter well over a year before it aired, with Hayley Atwell reprising her role from the Captain America movie and the Agent Carter Short.
So was it good? Let’s dive into the first season (assuming it gets a second) of Marvel’s Agent Carter.
After returning from the war, Peggy Carter comes to America to work for the Strategic Scientific Reserve (S.S.R.), where she’s met with sexism and distrust. However, her friend Howard Stark has come under fire as a warehouse of his most dangerous inventions is broken into and have started to show up in the hands of America’s enemies. The government suspects Stark of treason and he goes underground, but he sends a message to Carter and has her team up with his butler, Edwin Jarvis, to clear his name and save the world.
I will be honest, this isn’t what I was expecting or hoping for. After seeing the Agent Carter short, I really wanted to see the origins of S.H.I.E.L.D., with Carter at the helm. I was admittedly disappointed to see what I view as a regression of the character in this series. In Captain America, she was a valuable asset in creating the Super Soldier Program, she was a front-line soldier, she had contacts to the very top of the military and scientific chain and she was clearly in command of male soldiers. In the short, she ended up being given command of the fledgling S.H.I.E.L.D. In her flashback appearance in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., she was still in command, we saw her holding her own around the Howling Commandos. So how do they explain her showing up back in New York and being a gopher? Clearly, there are problems with the continuity. The short takes place one year after the Captain America film, which happened during the war, therefore it had to take place no later than 1946. That means that it must take place around September 2, 1946 (assuming the latest possible date, we don’t know exactly when the Cap movie happened). So the Agent Carter series can only really take place in, at most, 8 months since we know it also happens in 1946. I think it’s clear that Cap took a dive much earlier than the last day of the war, which means that if this series goes beyond another season or two, they’re going to slam into the short and have to fundamentally change how the show operates. I’d rather they just skipped all the 1940s era misogyny and taken off after the short. After all, we saw all of that in the short, let’s just move on.
That said though, I really did like the series as it was presented. Yes, the continual 1940s sexism got really tiring really fast. Yes, the “Oh Peggy, you’re useless, make some coffee” when she was clearly the smartest person around was absurd. In fact, she was so smart that it got a little silly as time went on seeing her be so much more intelligent than everyone else in the S.S.R. She was Peggy Carter, Super Genius! I think they laid it on a little thick at times.
Unfortunately, the season finale wasn’t anything particularly epic. Yes, they captured Johann Fennhoff in the end and threw him in the same cell as Arnim Zola (not a good idea) and Dottie escaped (not the Black Widow, but part of the same program that created the Black Widow), but it wasn’t a huge plot that Peggy Carter uncovered, I was a bit disappointed that it was just two people, or probably one person, plus one who was mind controlled, going after revenge. I guess they can’t show Carter doing soo much too soon, otherwise the short really doesn’t catapult her into the limelight at the S.S.R. Grudgingly, I have to agree with what they did.
I really hope they give this a second season, Hayley Atwell is amazing in the role, James D’Arcy, while I wasn’t sold in the beginning, absolutely inhabited the character of Jarvis and, of course, Dominic Cooper is as much Howard Stark as Robert Downey Jr. is Tony. These are now actors who belong in these roles and I don’t think you could ever imagine anyone else playing them.
Hopefully in the future we can get back to what I wanted to see all along, Peggy Carter, head of S.H.I.E.L.D. That’s really where my nerdgasm is going to happen.