An Ode to “Agent Carter”

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It’s not often I regret not watching a show. Usually, I try a show and am either invested in it or not. With “Agent Carter,” I initially tried watching the first episode after it began airing, only to find I wasn’t in the mood for its admittedly slower pace and less superhero-y environment (compared to other Marvel works). But having now seen both seasons amongst its unfortunate cancellation, I can say for a fact that I regret not watching it sooner.

For those who also didn’t watch it initially or don’t follow the MCU, “Agent Carter” follows the post-“Captain America: The First Avenger” adventures of Peggy Carter, the comrade-in-arms and love interest of Steve Rogers aka Captain America. Alongside Edwin Jarvis, butler to the playboy genius Howard Stark, and her colleagues at the SSR (Strategic Scientific Reserve), Peggy is thrown into missions involving assassins, gangsters, and even at least one superpowered foe. There are little references sprinkled here and there towards the comics, and since the show is set between 1946 and 1947, it also sets the groundwork for some things touched upon and shown later in the films and “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”

The first season, and my personal fave of the two, focuses mainly on Peggy being stationed at the SSR headquarters in New York City. Throughout the season, she befriends and often teams up with Jarvis (making for easily the best duo in the show), attracts the attention of her colleague Daniel Sousa, and contends with the pompous yet surprisingly loyal Agent Jack Thompson. She also learns over time to accept Steve’s apparent death and move on with her life. There are nice references to the Black Widow program as well as some groundwork laid for HYDRA’s rise in the future. Plus, getting to know Howard Stark a bit more after countless references to him in the Iron Man films and others was great. His interactions with Peggy and his playboy attitude that Tony would later adopt made him fun to watch, and he even gets a few dramatic moments before the season ends. Aside from one or two minor cliffhanger bits, the finale could have easily wrapped the show then and there (if it had been a one season wonder, that is).

The second season, however, is a bit more flawed. While I knew going in that a location change was made to cut costs, it took me a while to warm up to the quick transition of Peggy being in New York to suddenly spending a season in Los Angeles. However, I did like that they could pull out an old-timey version of Hollywood, making the locations more interesting to look at as a result. This season also brought in a love triangle between Peggy, Daniel and a scientist named Jason Wilkes. It’s not the worst attempt at romance Marvel’s produced, but I preferred the duo of Peggy and Daniel far more by the end. Jarvis also gets a more comedic role, which at times could be a bit TOO silly, but he still had plenty of dramatic moments to remind me of why his character is just so good. But my biggest gripe was the focus on a superpowered enemy. Yes, I know, Marvel is mainly known for those, but I found Season 1’s grounded reality far more interesting. Maybe I just wanted something more on the spy side and less supernatural, but regardless, it took some getting used to. There were definitely things about Season 2’s plot I enjoyed, but I ended up wishing that they’d used the time devoted to it to instead start building towards the creation of S.H.I.E.L.D. (though maybe that was the end game for the show). And, unfortunately, Season 2 ends on a cliffhanger that may never be resolved, which is a huge pet peeve of mine.

Ultimately, the biggest draw of the show for me besides its old-timey atmosphere was the characters. Even if the plot would falter once in a while, I enjoyed following Peggy and co. for their relationships with each other and strong personalities to boot. Peggy in particular should be considered a role model to anyone trying to capture what a female lead should be like. It just makes me sad that the show didn’t get the viewership it needed to stay on ABC. When I started watching, I found I was more invested in Peggy’s world than I was in Coulson’s during “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, and that surprised me because I LOVED Coulson’s character. But, much like with the Netflix shows, I feel part of my investment was thanks to Marvel keeping both seasons short and to the point. I’m still hopeful that the “Save Agent Carter” petition does bring Peggy and the gang over to Netflix one day. However, if this really is the last of her on-screen adventures, I’m happy to say that “Agent Carter” was a good little show in its own right.

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One thought on “An Ode to “Agent Carter”

  1. Good write-up. My reaction was pretty much the same — Season 1 was better, but still a very enjoyable show, if only for the cars, costumes and locations! Sorry to see it go, and really hoping it finds new life elsewhere.

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