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‘Agent Carter’ Post-Show Analysis, Season 2, Episodes 1-2: ‘The Lady In The Lake’/’A View In The Dark’

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With Agents of SHIELD taking a much-needed winter break, Marvel’s other spy adventure series, Agent Carter, is back for a two-month engagement, with Hayley Atwell reprising her role as Peggy. Our AoS recappers Agent Ziah Grace and Agent Chris Haley are on hand to review the highs and lows as Agent Carter relocates to Los Angeles to bring down new foes.

We were treated to two episodes of Agent Carter this week to kick off the second season; “The Lady in the Lake” was directed by Lawrence Trilling from a script by Brant Engelstein, and “A View in the Dark” was directed by Trilling from a script by Eric Pearson and Lindsey Allen.

Ziah: Well, first off, Chris. Chris. How great is it to finally be reviewing a show with “Marvel’s Agent” in the title that’s actually good? Agent Carter has style, a cast with chemistry, writing that’s actually pretty fun! I was really pleasantly surprised that this show was so delightful. What’d you think?

Chris: Oh, I loved it. Did you not watch the first season?

Ziah: I meant to, but then I got distracted. Now that I know how great it is, I’ll definitely be going back to check it out.

Chris: To be fair, I’ll say that I missed the last few episodes of the first season, but I ordered the first season blu-ray to try to catch up in time for this. Sadly, it did not get here in time, but I should be fully versed as an Agent Carter expert by next week.

 

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Ziah: I’d heard how great Hayley Atwell was, and it’s definitely true. She’s got great chemistry with almost everyone on the screen, especially Doctor Wilkes, and she really does anchor the show with a fun lead.

Chris: As far as I’m concerned she is the absolute best thing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe behind Chris Evans as Captain America.

Ziah: I’d say she’s Evans better, if you know what I mean.

Chris: See what a good mood we’re already in when we get to watch something that doesn’t make us want to punch it? We’re smiling, we’re having fun. Good times.

Ziah: Oh shoot, yeah, let’s not be too positive. Here’s one! On the negative side of things, Mrs. Jarvis has the worst accent I’ve ever heard. It’s supposed to be Hungarian? It’s genuinely distracting in every single scene she’s in.

Chris: I had no idea what her accent was supposed to be, but she also seemed to forget to do it in a couple of scenes, so I didn’t mind. It was fun that she wasn’t what we or Peggy were expecting.

Ziah: Oh yeah! I loved how many times the show offered the rote, boring path and then faked us out. Mrs. Jarvis isn’t going to get jealous at Peggy and Jarvis sparring because she knows what a dork he is; Peggy and Chief Sousa’s fiancee are actually going to get along great instead of it being awkward. It was really refreshing to see a show not go for the easy plotlines.

 

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Chris: Yeah, everything about this show is refreshing. We’ll probably get more into this as the show goes on, but I think one of the best and most refreshing things about this series that really separates it from all the other comic related shows on TV is the fact that because it has a much smaller number of episodes per season, the storytelling is always much more focused and no time is wasted. They tell the story they want to tell and do it in an exciting way that never leaves you feeling like they’re just treading water to fill up a few episodes of their twenty-something episode season.

I love that about this show. It’s never boring. You always feel like what you’re seeing matters and it makes it so much easier to get invested in the characters and story and not want to just have it on while you absent-mindedly check Twitter.

Ziah: Yeah, we also brought this up while talking about season three of Agents of SHIELD, but jumping in midway to a show should make you eager to check out the back-episodes, and while I was never lost at what was going on thanks to the exposition, I actually really want to tune back into season one. I want to see what’s up with Peggy’s Russian-spy ex-roommate. This did exactly what a season 2 opener should do.

Chris: Absolutely. Even though I’m caught up in the middle of this season’s adventure, I’m psyched to go back and rewatch Season 1 and just have more time to spend with these characters. I’m also hoping I’ll be able to spot some more background things that will have some kind of payoff in Season 2 or other Marvel properties.

Ziah: Speaking of, it’s crazy how seamless this Marvel property brings in weirdness as compared to AOS, huh? This basically feels like X-Files in the Marvel Universe in the 40s, and there’s really nothing in there I don’t like. The opening case of a serial killer’s possible return combined with a corpse found in a frozen lake was a really intriguing hook.

 

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It’s fun to see the show do its best to show LA in the 40s, which is hit or miss depending on how closely you want to look, but the show is actually funny. The exchange between Wilkes and Carter where he asks her if she’s going to punch everyone in LA, and her response was, “Perhaps. I could use a hobby” is pretty fantastic. And Chief Sousa putting on the smoulder so Peggy could sneak past the Isodyne secretary was great. Chris! The cast is so fun to watch, and the writing is clever! Is… is this what positivity feels like?

Chris: That’s what I’d call it. I think my biggest problem with this show is I enjoyed it so much it was hard to remember to take notes. I just kept getting wrapped up in what was going on. I loved both of those moment you mentioned. Even the little bit players on this show feel like they’re acting their asses off. That lady at the Isodyne welcome desk was more enjoyable and memorable than people whose names I should remember but don’t from Agents of SHIELD.

Ziah: Oh, totally. There’s some real personality to people, from the crooked-detective who’s the villain in the first episode to the secret evil Council of 9 or 12 or whatever that control things from behind the scenes. It feels like an actual world of characters, which is helped by showing locations that look unique. It might not always hit the period piece goals, but it’s certainly trying, and that’s pretty refreshing.

Chris: Also, I loved that they’re using comedians for some of these one scene bit parts, with Matt Braunger playing the SSR scientist that never gets invited out for drinks in the first episode, and one of the Sklar brothers as the director of Whitney Frost’s movie in the second. I hope this trend continues with a different comedian in every episode.

 

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Ziah: Oh nice! I didn’t catch that. I did catch that they’re using two of the worst TV dads in history for possible villains: Kurtwood Smith and Ray Wise.

Chris: Hahaha! I didn’t think about it like that, but you’re right. I love Kurtwood Smith though, so even though he seemed shady as hell on here, I couldn’t help but be glad to see him.

Ziah: Also fantastic: some nice background Marvel stuff setting up future villain Madame Masque as aging hollywood starlet and one-half of a House of Cards-esque power couple, Whitney Frost. Madame Masque in LA seems like a sly reference to her appearance in Kate Bishop’s Hawkeye issues, so this was pretty fun. I’m really hoping Doctor Wilkes becomes The Blue Marvel, because how fantastic would it be for The Blue Marvel to be on television, Chris?

Chris: It’s nice that as tied into Iron Man’s history as Agent Carter is with her friendship/working relationship with Howard Stark and Jarvis being her sidekick that they’d at best plant a seed for a future Iron Man villain, or at least give a nod to one. After that scene at the end of episode two, with Whitney having that zero matter crack in her face though, it certainly seems like they could be setting up a reason for her to have to wear a mask.

 

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Oh, wow, now that I think about it, all of that stuff about the lines on her face with the jerk director could have been setting the stage for what’s going to happen to her face as well. That was a fun name drop of the classic Marvel series Tales of Suspense as the title of one of Frost’s movies as well.

Ziah: Yeah, the Easter eggs have been fun shout-outs without being obnoxious. I really like the idea of hinting at Frost’s vanity by showing that she’s getting a little too old for the Boy’s Club of Hollywood before she covers up her (presumably) scarred face when she becomes Madame Masque.

Chris: I recently had to read up on The Blue Marvel for one of the Fantastic Five videos we do here, and the idea of Dr. Wilkes becoming The Blue Marvel definitely crossed my mind. I thought, “Why do Blue Marvel and not call him by his name from the comics?”, but maybe they’re just doing that to throw comic nerds like us off so we don’t spoil the surprise when it turns out the explosion didn’t kill him! Or maybe we’re getting way too excited and he’s just dead and it’s a bummer. Who knows what kind of crazy effects the zero matter may have?

Ziah: That’s what they did with the Martian Manhunter in Supergirl, right? I think changing names of non-iconic characters is a good move to fake out comics nerds, and I’d honestly just be so jazzed for Blue Marvel on television. I definitely got a vibe of (at least the Al Ewing written-version) Blue Marvel’s personality from Doctor Wilkes, but who knows. I doubt he’s dead, since this is comics television, and no body means no dice.

 

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Chris: Speaking of the zero matter, I can’t help but think that since the name of the company was Isodyne, that this mysterious new material is going to be the “Iso-8” that has been slowly spreading its way from some of the Marvel video games and just recently into some comics in the new post-Secret Wars Marvel Universe. Or maybe it’ll just be another one of those things that sends people to the blue planet from Agents of SHIELD. Man, I really hope not though.

Ziah: Ohhhhh! That’s really clever! It probably is! Wow. That would actually be some sneaky stuff (also it adds some weight to my Blue Marvel theory, since they’re dealing with Iso-8 in The Ultimates, yeah?)

Chris: Hey, speaking of the zero matter and the blue planet from AOS, did you notice the lapel pin Chadwick and the other mysterious bad guys were wearing looks like the NASA logo that somehow lines up with HYDRA?

Ziah: Oh yeah, but I’m hoping it’s AIM, cause of that big ol’ A. I’ve heard it’s the Secret Society, which I don’t really know much about, but as long as it’s not HYDRA. I’m really sick of hearing about HYDRA.

Speaking of getting sick, I was initially a little nervous about the fight scenes since the opening scene was edited and shot in a really frenetic, confusing way, but by the time Peggy beat up three guys with a tire iron while dressed as a scientist, I was on board. I like that she’s confident in her skills while still playing things smart, and it’s just a fun time. This is a fun show. Chris, we’re reviewing a fun show?!

Chris: Yeah, that first fight scene in the opening moments of the first episode was a little bit of a shakey-cam/quick-cutting mess. It reminded me of what I don’t like about about most of the fight scenes on Agents of SHIELD, but when she hit Dottie in the back of the head with that bag of coins and it exploded in a beautiful, slow-motion shower, it put my worries at ease. This show is very, very fun.

Ziah: So, going forward, what are you hoping with for the show? Besides Peggy getting sent through a time warp so she takes over for the entire cast of Agents of SHIELD and we can just watch this show instead, I mean.

Chris: Oh man, don’t even tempt me with dreams of something that wonderful happening. Honestly, I’m so into this show I don’t care where it goes from here, I’m just excited to be along for the ride. Agent Peggy Carter is such an amazing character, and that’s due in no small part to the strength, warmth, intelligence, wit, grit, and heart that Hayley Atwell brings to her performance. She is an absolute wonder to behold and I couldn’t be more thankful she’s back for a second season!

Ziah: Hear hear. Chris, I am excited to continue reviewing this with you. This is a charming show with a great cast, and it’s amazing how much we’re willing to be satisfied with if those requirements are met.

 

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