Agent Carter Finale Review: Valediction, Season 1 Episode 8

Last week I talked about how the penultimate episode felt like it did not stand alone, that it needed the finale. Well, said finale has come and gone, and maybe I was right and maybe I wasn’t. I actually watched “SNAFU” again with Holly as part of watching the finale, and a couple of pieces I missed (maybe while jotting down notes?) helped bring the episode together, like that they mentioned running a test with the Stark tech – and thus the movie theater madness. So “SNAFU” might stand alone better than I thought, but it is still nice to watch them together!

Because this episode was more than just the conclusion to the previous episode: it was the capstone to the whole series. So it not only concluded recent events, it drew back to early ones, like issues with Peggy’s housing, or like the Captain America radio drama. We know what Leviathan was after, and why. We know why the early henchmen had no voicebox. We have confirmation that it was the hypnotist who lured them to Europe. This episode neatly tied up these sorts of lingering questions, while also finishing out the arc on the different characters. We even find out who robbed Stark! And along with all this, we emotionally close the door on Captain America: The First Avenger and turn to the future: and the future is SHIELD.

Agent_Carter_Official_Logo

Recap

The SSR is still reeling from the tragedy they just experienced, and the death of Chief Dooley. But a new case to investigate of course pops up: a theater full of people who killed each other. They are in and investigating, and Sousa finds the nearly empty canister that it all came out of. I say nearly empty as it sprays him with enough of the gas to have him murderous and trying to kill Thompson. Granted, that shouldn’t take too much, but it happens.

We also find out that the gas sears the throat, so Sousa is lucky he didn’t get too much. But this is why the Leviathan agents were the way they were – it marked them as survivors of this gas. Why would Stark make a weapon like this?

Howard Stark shows up at the SSR to clear that up. They move past their desire to arrest him, and listen. It wasn’t a weapon, but was designed as a stimulant for the soldiers, to keep them going. Well, that didn’t turn out at all, instead leading to murderous rage etc. So a general deployed it at Finau, the mysterious World War II battleground that kept coming up, that Chief Dooley had been investigating, which Howard Stark had visited (where he saw what the gas could do – he wasn’t happy), and where the hypnotist (who now has two names I don’t know how to spell so he’s keeping his title) survived in a gas mask, plotting revenge.

Stark says that this gas is called Midnight Oil, and that they likely have ten more canisters of it – enough to make much of New York go mad. They seem to be there with that in mind, to punish Stark by having him see his creation destroy his home city. So Stark offers himself as bait – because then they can control what their opponents are doing.

I want an American cheeseburger, and a press conference. Wait... Found on http://comicbook.com/2015/02/25/agent-carter-season-finale-valediction-recap-with-spoilers/

I want an American cheeseburger, and a press conference. Wait…
Found on http://comicbook.com/2015/02/25/agent-carter-season-finale-valediction-recap-with-spoilers/

Flash to the hypnotist and Dottie, heading into an airfield. Dottie is out procuring them a plane, via violence, and the hypnotist is in a car listening to the radio – where he hears that Stark will be at a press conference. I love the exchange that followed:

“A new opportunity has arisen.”

“Just since I left the car?”

Couple scenes on, they’ve captured Stark, and taken him to a hangar with one of his hidden planes. It was Dottie who robbed his vault! Which is made better by the fact that he can’t remember her name – which does not amuse Dottie nearly as much as it amuses the audience! The hypnotist then uses a different tactic than he has before. Before, he did positive sorts of hypnotism, to befriend the SSR and get away with things. With Stark, it’s a hypnotism of pain: taking him to his greatest failure.

And his greatest failure is not having found Captain America. The one thing he has done that has caused any good to happen.

So he is easily convinced to go flying out, thinking he is hunting for Cap – though he actually has the deadly payload of the Midnight Oil onboard and he’s headed for a large collection of soldiers. It’s V-E Day.

The team shows up, and send out their only pilot to stop Stark – Jarvis. Meanwhile Peggy fights her way past Dottie to the radio, to try to talk Stark out of it. It’s a close thing – Jarvis almost has to shoot Stark out of the sky. However, Peggy connects with Howard over their shared love for Captain America, the best among them.

But seriously, don't mess with her. Found on http://www.themarysue.com/agent-carter-recap-s1-ep8/

But seriously, don’t mess with her.
Found on http://www.themarysue.com/agent-carter-recap-s1-ep8/

The good guys win, the hypnotist is taken into custody, Dottie escaped. Stark gives Peggy and Angie one of his “smaller” homes to live in. And Jarvis has the best gift – stolen from Howard, who thinks it was lost in the struggles with Leviathan. Captain America’s blood. This Peggy takes out and, in an emotional scene, pours it off of what I am pretty sure is the Brooklyn Bridge.

He was just a boy from Brooklyn.

The Biggest Spoiler

It’s time for a lightning round, and first and foremost, the final scene! The hypnotist is in a Hannibal-Lecter-esque face mask, so he can’t speak. However, his cell mate talks enough for both of them.

Arnim-freaking-Zola. And Hydra begins again.

Final Thoughts on Dottie

I’m happy Dottie lived and escaped, because I have to admit her fight scene with Peggy was not satisfying. It was kind of “yay, Peggy won, of course Peggy won, title character.” Of course, she got kicked out a window, so Peggy did a pretty good job of the fight, but still. We’ll be seeing her again.

I also like that we found something that could get under her skin. After how much work she put into creating her cover identity, after brainwashing and being taken apart and rebuilt into a life as a weapon – Stark didn’t remember her. It was such an insult to her. And he keeps guessing names, and getting them wrong! At the end, he thinks he remembers it, and talks about the “steel trap” of his memory – but I doubt that was it either.

Final Thoughts on Agents Thompson & Sousa

While Peggy is headed off to get to the radio and fighting Dottie, Thompson and Sousa are on their way to face off with the hypnotist. And like last week, Thompson has good advice – don’t let him speak.

And like last week, when Dottie kicked Sousa’s butt, Sousa didn’t listen! The hypnotist got the drop on Thompson, and Sousa comes walking in, gun drawn. And lets him start talking! And hypnotizing! SOUSA WHY DON’T YOU EVER LISTEN! And Sousa turns his gun on Thompson! Oh no! And then… oh wait, nope, down goes the hypnotist. Thompson is confused, as are we… until Sousa pulls out his earplugs. Well played, sir.

The other scene of note with these two is towards the end. A Senator comes in to thank the SSR for a job well done, looking for the agent behind it all – looking for Agent Thompson. Obviously. And Thompson pauses a moment, looks back at Carter and Sousa, and then he takes the credit, walking back to talk further with the Senator in the Chief’s office. Likely his new office.

And Sousa turns to Carter and says he is going to march in there and set the record straight. Not even really just for himself, but for Carter. But Peggy smiles and says that she knows her own value, and it doesn’t matter if no one else does. I would add that the final juxtaposition of the two was in this – as it shows that Sousa does not necessarily know his own value, and is still looking for validation from others.

Found on http://news.yahoo.com/recap-agent-carter-not-valediction-152000960.html where they also said "I can’t recall the last time a serialized drama got some [sic] many things right."

Found on http://news.yahoo.com/recap-agent-carter-not-valediction-152000960.html where they also said “I can’t recall the last time a serialized drama got some [sic] many things right.”

Final Thoughts on Howard Stark

Stark, after all that’s happened, wants to destroy all of his inventions – or at least the dangerous ones from the vault. Still in his future are things we know from the movies, like Stark expos, working with Whiplash’s father on the Arc Reactor, hiding secret messages to his son, and getting killed by Hydra. He has a lot of reasons to be paranoid, and we definitely see the beginnings of this here.

Questions

Did it feel “comic book?”

To the last, I would say the show kept from feeling too comic booky. Sure, there was a crazy evil chemical that drives people crazy that was going to be deployed over a whole city… but that’s really just the comic book version of chemical warfare, so it’s not so far from believable. The hypnotist turned out to be just really good at hypnotism – there had been theories that his ring is magic (or alien), but if so then Sousa’s earplugs shouldn’t have worked. Right? It all ended up pretty human. I would even say that Leviathan seems like it might have been a fairly small organization, mainly centered around the hypnotist and his few remaining folks from the Russian war efforts. But maybe there’s more! Hopefully we get a second season to find out…

Did it feel like you needed to have watched the other movies and shows?

This episode was the emotional conclusion to Captain America: The First Avenger. Well, for everyone but Captain America. In the movie, we get to see Cap’s reaction. He breaks out, heads into Times Square, and it brings him up short. He talks to Nick Fury, and he claims he’s good with ending up 70 years in the future. Except… he had a date.

However, for characters like Howard Stark – who we know hunted for Cap – and for Peggy Carter – said date – we didn’t get to see what their future looked like, their life. The rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is happening 70 years later. But this show kept it in the past, kept us with the events that mattered in that time and place, instead of drawing in all the connections for the future continuity. This episode held to that… right up to the end.

Because sure, having Arnim Zola in prison there, waiting, is a follow-up from First Avenger. But it’s also a prequel to Winter Soldier, as we know that one day, Toby Jones will be playing a talking computer – the immortal Herr Zola. Brain in a 1970’s computer. Hydra. This was a huge teaser for what I can only assume is a season 2 which will have much more to do with the rest of the MCU!

Did it matter that it was a female lead?

And finally, the final thoughts on the lead, Agent Peggy Carter. Hayley Atwell has been amazing. She is playing the character who was the equal of Captain America, while also reminding us just how hard a thing that is to be. But in this episode, she gets to be the grieving, vulnerable person just a bit. But in a good way. She gets closure. I think from here, she’s ready to move on, confident, with a purpose, and not giving a damn what the men around her think. I really hope there’s a season 2, because she is a storm that can’t be stopped.

As of this writing, I see no confirmation on a Season 2 yet, but I really see no reason why this is not going to exist! I would say: count on it.

Thank you for reading my series review of Agent Carter! It’s been a fun show to follow. For a different perspective on the show, my wife Holly wrote a review on my main blog, Comparative Geeks. You can find me there after this, geeking out on any number of things!

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Agent Carter Episode Review: The Iron Ceiling, Season 1 Episode 5

You know, I’m not quite sure what they meant by “The Iron Ceiling.” After my discussion last week about Ceilings, I was of course thinking of that… but that’s not really it. There’s also the “Iron Curtain” between the East and the West in the Cold War, and that might be closer to it. This week had us heading to Russia, and drawing a connection between the enigmatic villain group, Leviathan, and the Russians.

Found on http://www.themarysue.com/agent-carter-recap-s1-ep5/ with their episode review!

A young Dottie, her secrets revealed.
Found on The Mary Sue with their episode review!

Indeed, we get to see Dottie’s training here, see her Russian Black-Widow-esque assassin training, learning charm, English, and kick-assery. Not much else with her this episode, except that she snuck in to Peggy’s room – out-spying her – and finds her files of information on the case. However, Peggy Carter is a woman of many secrets! The one we’re most concerned about from last week, the vial of Captain America’s blood, went unfound. Dottie found a secret cubby, and must have assumed she’d found all of the goods. She would be mistaken.

The bulk of the episode had Peggy re-connecting with her life in the SSR, a trip to Eastern Europe, and the legendary Howling Commandos! So on to that!

Peggy Carter: On the Case!

Peggy has kind of been a non-entity around the SSR since the show started. We’ve had scenes of her being shut out of the investigation, or from any real work, by the men. Indeed, we have seen an actual episode where her actual duty was the lunch order. She has also played into this, finding ways to get more time off and out of the office to work on the case where she is actually expected to achieve: working for Howard Stark.

But last episode, that relationship got strained. Thus following from that, Peggy throws herself back into her work. And no better time for that than when a mission is headed to Russia, where she apparently speaks the language – and has been there before, more than the others. She was quite busy during the war!

Agents Carter and Thompson, on the case! Found on http://screencrush.com/agent-carter-the-iron-ceiling-photo-gallery-howling-commandos/

Agents Carter and Thompson, on the case!
Found on ScreenCrush

The captain doesn’t want to send her. As he argues it, if he sends her and she dies, then he’s the idiot who sent a woman out in the field to get killed. If he sends her and someone else dies, then he’s the idiot who sent a woman to defend a man (or some such nonsense). Sure, there’s the chance that the mission is easy and goes off without a hitch, but they’re not expecting that – and rightfully so, as it turns out.

Because infiltrating the East was not an easy prospect, sneaking in, trying to elude the bad guys, and they’re not even expecting young assassin girls to kick their asses. They don’t even have a good way into Russia – it’s not like they have the 107th, the Howling Commandos… oh wait…

Peggy stepping out, making a call, and coming back with a confirmed meeting time and place for the Howling Commandos was awesome. It fills the internal need for her to show her value; fills a show-level need to include the Howling Commandos; and fills an audience desire to see them on-screen once more! When the captain asks for them, it’s like everyone is asking for them. And Peggy delivers.

The Howling Commandos

These are the team that worked with Captain America in the war. They’re from the comics, they’re from Captain America: The First Avenger, they even were teased in the Agent Carter Marvel One-Shot. We knew they were coming, but not when or how. And it’s exciting! We know, for instance, that one of the guys in Agents of SHIELD is a descendent. We know only Bucky died while serving with them (and he didn’t, so they’re just that much more undefeated) and were pretty great. Captain America is great, but he’s a shield, a defender, a leader. He needs a team.

The Howling Commandos from Captain America: The First Avenger. Sorry, Bucky... Found on http://marvel-movies.wikia.com/wiki/Howling_Commandos

The Howling Commandos from Captain America: The First Avenger. Sorry, Bucky…
Found on Wikia

So these are the good guys, the best guys, and so they get to be a strong counterpoint to the SSR guys around Peggy who have treated her like a secretary. With them, they know her, trust her, and respect her. She’s pretty much one of them, but more in a leadership capacity. When someone points out that the Howling Commandos served with Captain America, they point out that Peggy Carter served with him longer.

This episode gave us a lot about Agent Thompson, whose name I finally caught, and who had been left in charge last week. This week he’s leading the mission in Europe, and he also did not want Peggy to come along. Then there’s an awkward scene where there’s only one locker room – expressly a men’s locker room – and Peggy ends up going in to change into her action gear anyway. So Thompson sends Sousa over, for a very awkward moment. Thanks, jerk. But wait, plot point! Sousa sees Peggy’s distinguishing mark, a gunshot wound, and realizes she is indeed the woman he has been chasing who has been working with Stark. We’ll have to see where that goes later!

Sorry, tangent! Okay, so Thompson is there, and he respects the Howling Commandos. But not Peggy. Except he gets to watch the Commandos respecting Peggy, looking up to her. They end up around the campfire one night, telling stories. Thompson is left out of this camaraderie, until Peggy turns to him and asks him for a story. For a specific story, about how he got his Navy Cross. Showing she knows this about him, showing she respects it. And he tells the story, and he is accepted. She shows him respect, even when he doesn’t show her respect – and this seems to finally balance some scales. Later, Peggy also shows him deference when he offers his plan – and he stops and asks what she would do, which she then offers, and he decides to go with that.

Eventually, later in the episode, Thompson spills to her that his medal is a lie, that the people he saw and killed were not soldiers sneaking in, but people coming to surrender. A story he hasn’t told anyone. Opening up to Peggy shows he’s come a long way in his estimation of her. And as Holly put it, we’ve found out that Thompson has a soul.

Found on http://marvel.com/images/gallery/gallery/333/agent_carter_confidential_exclusive_images_from_the_iron_ceiling#0-992011

Found on Marvel.com

Oh, and in-between? In the words of The Boondock Saints, “There was a firefight!!!” Lots of action, a little Black-Widow trained Russian girl kicks their butts, everyone has to save everyone, and some characters die – including a surprising number of Howling Commandos. That made it feel like this would be their one appearance on the show, because you just can’t keep killing them off at that rate…

Questions

Did it feel “comic book?”

Certainly, this is possible. The Howling Commandos have a history in the comics, though they are not actually from the World War II era – they just show up in stories about the WWII era. And like many moments, the training of the Russian girls felt more spy movie to me than comic book – it felt like something you might see in a grittier Bond movie, like a Daniel Craig one.

Found on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sgt._Fury_and_his_Howling_Commandos along with the history!

Found on Wikipedia along with the history!

Did it feel like you needed to have watched the other movies and shows?

This maybe more than feeling the comic book connection. Seeing The First Avenger, in particular, seems fitting. Holly and I re-watched that this last weekend after this episode of Agent Carter, and while we get to see them a lot and they’re awesome, we don’t see them that much… honestly, there’s a lot more of Agent Carter. The Howling Commandos, more than anything, get an action montage. A pretty good one, but it’s not like they have half the movie for screen time.

They come on to the show as this storied, legendary soldier force. Which really is most of what you get about them in the movie. So while if you only watched the show you might feel like you’re missing something, it’s not much. This is, in fact, the reason why it’s so exciting to have them on the show: we haven’t seen enough of them yet!

Did it matter that it was a female lead?

Yes it did. First, back with the SSR, where she finally returns to her starting point: arguing with them about the fact that she is a valuable agent. She lost this thread for a while because rather than arguing, she was off secretly proving it. And then, with Thompson as the audience for it, it mattered that she was a woman being respected by the Howling Commandos. They were totally ready to take her lead, all the way. Indeed, this led to some great quotes I jotted down, so I can end with those:

“You sounded like Captain America there.”

“That’s no bad thing.”

 

“You used to be fun.”

(Pause)

“I miss him too.”

 

“[If Captain America were here] he would say do as Peggy says.”

 

“Not bad for a girl.”

(A glare, and a smirk)

“I hate you all.”

Now is Not the End & Bridge and Tunnel: Agent Carter Season 1, Episodes 1 & 2

Hello, and welcome to the start of my recap series for Agent Carter, season one! While I often write singular reviews of things (like I have for Agent Carter) over on Comparative Geeks, I’ve never done an episode-by-episode review before. I’m usually more one for massive posts dealing in speculation, opinion, and reactions.

But here I am, introducing this series. I didn’t watch these episodes with an intent to do a recap, I watched them with some very specific questions in mind. Then they basically went in a completely different direction and I followed right along with them.

From the Agent Carter one-shot on the Iron Man 3 disc. Found on http://marvel-movies.wikia.com/wiki/Marvel_One-Shot:_Agent_Carter

From the Agent Carter one-shot on the Iron Man 3 disc.
Found on http://marvel-movies.wikia.com/wiki/Marvel_One-Shot:_Agent_Carter

I was also amazed to find that this was, in fact, two episodes, and not just one long one. It transitioned between the two very well, without a big cliffhanger in the middle or even really much of a pause. Although looking back at it… maybe more of a break than I noticed!

The show is great, and I am really excited to bring it to you on a weekly basis. The plan is for the posts about the last episodes on Tuesdays, before the next episode airs. The other thing I plan to do is ask a few ongoing questions of the series, about whether it stands on its own, and whether it matters that it is a female-led hero show. So let me quickly recap the two episodes for you, and then on to the questions!

Now is Not the End

This is a cloak-and-dagger, undercover-agent spy episode. Howard Stark has been branded a traitor, his most powerful technology showing up in the hands of the enemies of the United States. Stark has also disappeared, which looks highly suspicious.

Despite all of this, Agent Peggy Carter, badass-treated-as-a-secretary, doesn’t believe at all that Stark is a traitor, and he apparently expects this – showing up and recruiting her to clear his name. This involves her needing to go behind the back of her fellow SSR agents, but she seems to pull this off no problem, since she is not only a better spy than they are, but they just don’t expect it of her at all.

It also helps that the one weakness that the fence selling Stark’s tech has is for blondes. Agent Carter dresses for the occasion, sneaking in to a party and getting a private audience with the fence. Her knockout lipstick works a little too well – he kisses her before she’s done interrogating him. But his safe is there in his office, and she breaks in – to find that they haven’t been selling Stark’s blueprints, but have actually been building the new technology and selling that. So there’s an implosion grenade.

Carter, with the somewhat unwanted help of Stark’s butler, Jarvis, and the hapless help of the male SSR agents, follows the trail of the implosion grenade and its manufacture to Roxxon Oil. She finds it being produced – and a milk truck full of the things. A fight, a getaway, and a mad dash to escape – as an implosion goes off and destroys Roxxon.

Bridge and Tunnel

So now, the hunt is on: there’s a truck full of unbelievably dangerous weapons out there, and a creepy guy whose voicebox has been cut out claiming to work for a mysterious Leviathan. Hydra, Mark-II? That remains to be seen!

Agent Carter now goes undercover as an inspector, using a very different skillset and attitude. She finds there’s a truck missing, and the man who drives it uses it for his commute – and is out today. Thus begins a hunt, and chase, that ends up with a car chase with a truck full of implosives. Implosives? I’m going with it.

This episode did a lot to further the relationship of Peggy Carter and Jarvis, had the SSR getting a bit closer to finding out who it is that seems to be a step ahead of them – they have pictures of a blond, and now a female footprint. Oh, and a license plate from the Roxxon implosion – from a car belonging to Howard Stark. So it’s going to look even more like Stark destroyed Roxxon, a rival. That’s not going to help things.

Since the two episodes blended together so much, I’m not sure what else stands out particularly about this episode. Their initial leads to Leviathan have both died, and the SSR is getting close to Peggy… so at this point, it’s Leviathan’s move!

Questions

Did it feel “comic book?”

I think this first question is important, because I’ve seen a lot of discussion around people talking about watching, or not watching, super-hero television. For instance, you’ve got someone like me, who would watch this just because it has “Marvel” stamped on it – but having been roped in, I’m sticking around. But were these episodes particularly “comic book” feeling? No. Okay, there’s improbable tech, with the implosion grenades, and there’s spy tech, but I could just as easily be watching a spy story as a comic book one. So is it pulp fiction? Genre fiction? Sure, but it’s meant to be. Do I feel like I’m missing some vital detail by not having read more comics? No, although I’ve never heard of Leviathan before and it sounds like they are from the comics, so we’ll see!

What do you think?

Did it feel like you needed to have watched the other movies and shows?

This one is important too. Can you just watch Agent Carter, or do you need to have watched Agents of SHIELD and all the Marvel movies? My answer here is… kind of. They give you flashes of Captain America: The First Avenger to help give you the context for where she starts the show, emotionally. But seeing that movie, in particular, would help a lot. Luckily, by not being tied up with the creation of SHIELD, or fighting Hydra, they have avoided a need to be keyed in to much else from the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We’ll see if that continues, or if they’ll start branching into the other stories more!

One other thing: they made it so that the details of what Captain America was and did don’t matter as much – instead, they gave us the radio drama, playing up Cap and his fight against the Nazis. Which they then used to offset Agent Carter kicking butt and taking names, just like Cap!

What do you think?

Did it matter that it was a female lead?

And here’s my last question I want to ask every week, because a lot of the excitement factor for this show is that it is a comic-related property with a female lead. She’s smart, she’s strong, she’s independent. I think they said it perfectly in the review on SourceFed Nerd: it doesn’t matter to her that she’s a woman, but it matters to the world around her that she is. I’m paraphrasing, but it’s a good point. She is pretty much over sexism and is off doing what needs to be done, brilliantly. The rest of the world around her is steeped in sexism. It’s oppressive and inescapable. And it means it absolutely mattered that she was a woman from a story standpoint, that the sexism and the historical moment they are exploring and all the rest of it wouldn’t matter, or resonate, or even need to be there. We wouldn’t have needed the show if she weren’t a woman.

What do you think?

Agent Carter: Expectations and Review!

A new show aired last night: Agent Carter, the latest edition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The show is set after the events of Captain America: The First Avenger and after World War 2. It’s the point when SHIELD is first being formed, when all of Hydra’s strange and occult (and alien) toys are being seized. It’s the point when Hydra infiltrates SHIELD and lives on.

I actually thought the show was premiering next week, so the plan was that this week would be my thoughts about the show before it aired. Since the show snuck up on me, there’s really two parts to this post. The first part was written before the show aired on Tuesday evening, and the later part will be a review having seen the initial two-hour premier.

Peggy Carter herself was an addition to the Captain America universe in the 60’s, a creation of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. She is added in flashback scenes mainly as Captain America’s love interest. So the movies have really added to her character, and all in a good way. Fans are excited for this female-led comic-book show, and why not? Well, I have some worries that have nothing to do with Peggy Carter herself, and have everything to do with creating a backstory story in an ongoing film and television universe. So let me fret about the story first, and then on to the episode review!

How Do You Create Tension?

I think this is my main concern with the show. Because it’s going to be SHIELD, and mysterious artifacts, and potentially super-powered foes. So how do you create tension in a prequel story? When the fate of so many characters is already known? Characters like:

  • Peggy Carter herself. We see her in Winter Soldier so we know she survives. In the comic lore, also, Sharon (Agent 13) is a relative and was also in the movie.
  • The Howling Commandos, who were teased for the show. According to the Smithsonian display in Winter Soldier, the only Howling Commando to give their life in service to their country was Bucky Barnes. However, in working for SHIELD, does that not count? Could something happen to them? I would be surprised!
  • Howard Stark. We see him older and giving wisdom to young Tony decades later in Iron Man 2. And of course he has to live long enough to have Tony!
  • Hydra. Not dead and stopped, but living on. We know they get recruited to help, and we know Hydra infiltrates SHIELD. Sure, it can be interesting to watch it happen, but it won’t really be surprising or unexpected.

So my main question is, how do you tell this story when we kind of know what happens? We know the main characters come through largely unscathed, and we know that the bad guys secretly infiltrate – and are never caught in doing so. How do you make an engaging show with the audience already knowing and expecting so much?

One way is with short seasons, and it sounds like that is the plan for Agent Carter. They previewed next week by saying it was going to be a 7-episode series – but I’m getting ahead of myself! How was the premier?

And Now For Something Completely Different

Alright, so I’ve now seen the two-hour premier, which was happily one long episode, instead of two episodes (like ABC did with Galavant on Sunday). The timeframe was after the war, but before SHIELD was a thing. So Agent Carter was still an agent of the SSR, like she was in The First Avenger.

From the Agent Carter one-shot on the Iron Man 3 disc. Found on http://marvel-movies.wikia.com/wiki/Marvel_One-Shot:_Agent_Carter

From the Agent Carter one-shot on the Iron Man 3 disc.
Found on http://marvel-movies.wikia.com/wiki/Marvel_One-Shot:_Agent_Carter

And apparently, the answer to my question about creating suspense and tension, about dealing with known quantities and outcomes, is to approach the issues from an entirely different angle. So this isn’t the story of Peggy Carter, Agent of SHIELD. This is the story of Peggy Carter, top-notch working woman who gets sidelined by male colleagues as they return from World War 2. Treated as a secretary (or less) when she could likely kick any of their butts and take any of their names.

The mystery, then, is centered around Howard Stark, who is being seen as a traitor. Agent Carter knows better, and Howard knows he can trust her: so he pulls on up, and asks her to help clear his name. We as the audience know him too (or think we do?!?) so we’re on their side. Oh, and Jarvis, the real life Jarvis and not an AI, is on the team too.

So it’s Peggy Carter, sneaking around in advance of the SSR, doing the job better, solving the real case. The tension then becomes one not of whether our heroes are in peril – we know she’s not because she’s a badass – but instead it’s a tension about whether or not the boys club that is the SSR catches on to what she’s doing. Because if she’s caught, well, she’s working with a traitor.

Oh, And Sexism.

Have I mentioned the sexism? They definitely are playing this as a period piece, and it’s catching a really specific moment in American history. A moment that really changed everything, though it took time.

They are playing into this motif pretty heavily. Juxtaposed with the scenes of Peggy solving mysteries and kicking butt are narratives from the Captain America radio broadcasts, where a female love interest of Captain America (a miss Carver) is the damsel in distress, and is helpless without Cap to save her. You come to realize this caricature character is supposed to be Carter, and join her in her annoyance at the whole thing. She doesn’t need Cap to help save the day.

But maybe she’s trying too hard. Maybe she can’t do it all alone. The growing partner relationship between Carter and Jarvis is interesting, and definitely something I am hoping to see grow over the course of the series. Because he’s a butler, not a spy; so he’s willing to help, but can’t be the lead. A good partner for her.

One Last Theory

Okay, so one other thing that aired tonight, after the show, was the first teaser for Ant-Man. And it definitely makes it seem like there has been Ant-Man before, like the name, the mantle, has existed before. And we kind of expect this, as Paul Rudd is playing Scott Lang: not the first Ant-Man in the comics, but the second.

Anyway, as to Agent Carter: is there going to be the original Ant-Man, young Hank Pym, in the show? Will they tie it in with the cinematic universe that way? I kind of hope so, as that could definitely be something that will make me more interested in the movie!

Would you like to see more posts about Agent Carter? I would consider doing episode recaps for the season – which isn’t too much of a commitment if it’s really only 7 episodes! Let us know in the comments, or tweet me @CompGeeksDavid!