By Joe Strange
So with Agents of SHIELD ending their mid season with a huge revelation about one of the main characters, the natural thing for Marvel to do is take an extra 8 weeks off of their show that’s finally found its sea legs.
But it’s not all doom and gloom because ABC and Marvel have given us Agent Carter, a one off season set after the events of Captain America, which sees the founding members of SHIELD beginning their work to make the world a safer place.
The 2 episode premier tackled one story arch, which has set the show up nicely for a monster (or weapon) of the week style series, which is a natural step for a first season. We start off with Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper reprising his role from Cap 1) asking Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) to help him track down secret weapons that have been stolen from his vault and are being sold on the black market. He’d do it himself but he’s kind of wanted for treason because the government think he’s in on it. He enlists his Butler, Edwin Jarvis ( the well mannered James D’Arcy) to help her out, but mostly to driver her about.
The two leads in D’Arcy and Atwell are delightful to watch, Jarvis’s stiff upper lip, routine and courtesy is a fantastic foil to Carter’s more impulsive, energetic and often, because of her position, exasperated demeanour.
The first two episodes really focus on one of the major reasons I was excited for this show, the portrayal of Peggy Carter, an independent, competent and confident female character in an exceptionally patriarchal time. We get a lot of references to Carter being seen as lesser than her, often times less competent colleagues, which could be why she has little trouble flying under the radar and working for Stark.
Likewise we get to see her holding her own not only in the action scenes, but in conversation and disputes with her superiors. While Peggy is a lot of things, one thing she isn’t is foolish, she plays her cards smartly, often telling people what they want to hear instead of being arrogant and foolhardy, instead backing away completely, letting people think she’s been beat. Frankly this kind of protagonist is refreshing, the medium is full to the brim of headstrong and brash characters who seem to want everyone to know just the kind of person they are, and Peggy isn’t like that, I suppose you don’t get far in espionage if you act that way.
There’s a lot of intrigue in the first two episodes, along with a bunch of Marvel easter eggs and references, and it’s a stronger start to the series than Agents of SHIELD, with a likeable main character who isn’t without her flaws in a point in time where she’s not respected, appreciated or even welcome. I’ll be tuning in over the next few weeks in part to see how it ties in with the great MCU story, but also to revel in the charmingly fun period adventure with an absolutely kick ass leading couple.
If you’re invested in the Marvel Universe already, this show is a must see, it’s a fun, easy watching outing that doesn’t seem to be taking itself too seriously. I won’t say you don’t have to have some idea of what’s going on in the MCU to enjoy it, because it always helps, but it’s enjoyable nonetheless.
ABC’s Agent Carter airs on Tuesdays at 8.