ORBzine - Agent Carter TV Review

[Season 1 !Season 2 ]

Agent Carter

Season 1

Agent Carter Agent Carter [Season 1, Episode 1] Now is Not the End
Shown 06/Jan/15

Peggy Carter ( Hayley Atwell ) is bored with her new job as a US Federal Agent. During the war she used to fight people, but now she just gets to make the coffee. Her partner, Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj - Dollhouse ), is likewise excluded because he was crippled in the war.

Carter's wartime buddy Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) is facing a HUAC-type Congressional investigation. The Government claims it found some of his technology in the hands of unspecified enemies. He claims he has been framed, so he flees the jurisdiction. He asks Carter to clear his name, and leaves his butler Edwin Jarvis (James D'Arcy - Cloud Atlas ) to help her.

Peggy Carter moonlights from her Secret Agent day-job as a night-time vigilante. She goes undercover in a blonde wig and a cleavage-enhancing dress. She discovers that rent-a-villain James Frain ( The Cape ) copied Bane's plan in Dark Knight Rises , and tunnelled in under the bottom of the hero's secret arsenal.

There is a nasty undercurrent of sexism in this show. It is set in 1946, when war veterans deserved a home fit for heroes. Peggy's room-mate is a Rosie the Rivetter type who is afraid of losing her dangerous blue-collar job to demobbed GIs who risked their lives for their country. The job she loves has given her a serious medical condition, but she is too stubborn to change career to something that involves indoor work with no heavy lifting. Perhaps Rosie should work herself to death paying taxes to support the welfare payments that the heroic warriors would need to survive.

Peggy violently threatens a heroic ex-soldier to defend the honour of gal-pal Angie Martinelli ( Lyndsy Fonseca ) who can barely master the simple skills required for waitressing. Looks like the ladies had the best of both worlds, according to this show. Lots of freedom but no actual responsibility, just like in the 21st Century. Please note, the show is not entirely sexist. The ideal man is presented as being Jarvis himself, a breadwinner who doubles as a home-maker to look after his wife, but also is supportive to a career woman like Agent Carter.

Agent Carter Agent Carter [Season 1, Episode 2] Bridge and Tunnel
Shown 06/Jan/15

Peggy Carter ( Hayley Atwell ) gets a lead on the dealer (James Frain – The Cape ) who took the truck full of secret explosives. She closes in on the suspect, eager to get there before her bosses do. But the mysterious hit-man from the first episode is after the shipment as well.

One suspect is a billionaire rival of Stark’s, Hugh Jones (Ray Wise - Twin Peaks ). Mr Wise unwisely tries flirting with Peggy, although his tone of voice is always flirtatious. Look at how he speaks to his favoured son in Reaper ! Peggy, on the other hand, adopts the aggressive demeanour of Virgil Tibbs. They call me MISTA Carter! she may as well have intoned.

Peggy's workplace is supposed to be sexist, but it looks more like the boss merely allocates staff to their optimal position. The one-legged man is put in charge of photo interpretation. The big dumb guy is given a crowbar and told to dig up some evidence manually. Peggy, as the only woman, gets to search (and presumably to interrogate) female suspects. Naturally, she is frustrated at not being given field assignments, but every agent in the room is a war veteran with the same qualifications and experience as her.

Peggy is still looking for a new place to live. She declines to stay in Howard Stark’s secret love-nest, as it would be seen as compromising her impartiality. Instead she lets Angie the waitress ( Lyndsy Fonseca ) talk her into moving into the Hotel for Young Ladies. This is not Mrs Palmer’s home for young seamstresses, it has a strict code of virginity. Peggy promises the landlady that she will only keep her day-job until she finds a husband. This is ironic, because her goal in life is not to be a home-maker but instead to be a breadwinner ... for a lot of cats!

This may be turning into the new Alias - the female Secret Agent hunts for magical artefacts by day, and hangs out with her gal-pal at night. But Fonseca is more than just a superhero’s love interest from Kick-Ass ... she was a female Secret Agent herself in Nikita. Could there be a surprise twist in the offing? Or will her scenes be the bits when you pop out to put the tea on?

Agent Carter Agent Carter [Season 1, Episode 3] Time and Tide
Shown 13/Jan/15

The SSR discover that a car registered to Howard Stark was at the scene of the implosion in the first episode. Since Stark is unavailable due to his status as a wanted fugitive, they bring in his Chauffeur Jarvis (James D'Arcy - Cloud Atlas ) for questioning instead. Peggy Carter ( Hayley Atwell ) has to sabotage the case by making it look like she is incompetent at paperwork. The problem is that when she goes all Clark Kent with the easy things, such as office work, she makes it so much more difficult for any of her co-workers to respect her.

Carter’s self-appointed mission this week is to track down the rest of the gear that was stolen from Stark’s secret vault. She starts in the vault, travels through the sewers (rather than just look at a nice safe map) and locates the gear on a conveniently located boat. Yes, they just left it sitting there waiting to be found.

Every episode so far has had a brutal hand-to-hand fight between Peggy and a much larger male opponent. This episode is no exception. Strangely, even though she carries a pistol she does not use it in combat. This may be for a political gun control reason, or an attempt by the TV network to lower the amount of violence on-screen. However, Peggy fights dirty – she repeatedly bludgeons her opponents about the head with random objects. This is both realistic (explaining how she can take out men twice her body-weight) but also incredibly brutal for a TV show that children might watch. Easily-imitated violence is one of the things that censors target, of course.

Peggy’s relationship with her co-workers gets further development. We get a brutal reminder that their job is a life-and-death one. The co-workers (and everyone else in society) may exude benevolent sexism but they do so to protect young women like Peggy from brutality and violence. After all, she is the Clark Kent of the office, despite her entitled attitude.

Agent Carter Agent Carter [Season 1, Episode 4] The Blitzkrieg Button
Shown 27/Jan/15

Howard Stark is back in town, thanks to a black-market smuggler named Mr Mink. Stark has Peggy Carter ( Hayley Atwell ) double-cross the double-crosser, but they evidently forget to pay the man altogether because he comes after them for revenge.

Peggy lets Stark hide out the only place he can – her apartment in the chaperoned, ladies-only hotel. He avoids the matron and befriends several of the young ladies. Remember how in the previous episode a young lady was exiled for inviting her boyfriend upstairs? What a nice piece of writing that provides texture to the setting without burdening us with plot-heavy antics. Well, her replacement is still around - and forms a vital part of the plot.

Back in the office, the boss pulls out all the stops to find Walter’s killer. Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj - Dollhouse ), the token cripple (treated like the office gimp) now inherits the work of the dumb Polack. How ironic that a show which seeks to enforce political correctness and undermine negative stereotypes is itself riddled with such stereotypes. In order to undermine them it must first perpetuate them, because it is focused on outmoded gender (and other) roles that modern audiences are unfamiliar with.

The SSR seem to be doing a decent job without Peggy doing any of the actual work. They are shown to have two new methods of interrogation, or rather two variations on a theme. Formerly they only used the stick (quite literally), but now they use the carrot. Sousa the crippled agent interrogates a down-and-out who unknowingly witnessed Peggy’s antics on the boat. The witness had his job stolen by one of the Riveter Rosie types that Peggy championed in the first episode. Unfortunately, the 1940s women seemed keen to play the bread-winner's role but were less willing to allow the man to be the home-maker.

The SSR boss travels to Germany and interrogates a Death Row inmate, a German officer who witnessed the battle of Finau that the two dead Russians were supposedly killed at. Will the American be more honorable than the German, or less so?

In yet another example of blatant sexism, Peggy is the only one in the unit excused from doing overtime. She does not openly protest this, of course, because it works in her favour. Not only can she continue her secret off-the-books investigation, she can cover her tracks to keep her day-job secure.

Peggy learns that she cannot necessarily trust Stark himself. He can certainly do a better job of defending the world than the US Military can, but Peggy is paranoid and patriotic – an unfortunate combination.

Agent Carter Agent Carter [Season 1, Episode 5] The Iron Ceiling
Shown 03/Feb/15

The magic typewriter in the SSR evidence locker receives a message from Leviathan. The US Military cryptographer cannot decipher it, but Peggy Carter ( Hayley Atwell ) was trained at Bletchley Park so she breaks the code. It helps that she is fluent in Russian. The message is a map reference – obviously a trap ...

Peggy blags her way into a mission behind the Iron Curtain, so she can break the glass ceiling. The SSR plan to fly a DC3 with her and three other agents over the Polish border, all the way from NYC. Presumably they stop to refuel en route. Luckily for Peggy it is a case of not what you know but who you know that counts. Thanks to the Old Boys network, she arranges for the Howling Commandos (including Neil MacDonagh - Arrow S4 ) to be there as backup. This excellent piece of name-dropping is enough to get Peggy her foot in the door.

The target facility that the team discovers, from map co-ordinates in a message sent by Leviathan, is a secret base where young girls are trained as Soviet assassins. This is where Peggy’s new neighbour got her fighting skills from, in the same gymnastic style that Black Widow used in Iron Man 2 ... and that Ilsa Faust uses in Mission: Impossible 5: Rogue Nation . It seems to be all the rage now, but one cannot help but feel that the style owes more to US Comedy (Okay, choreographed) wrestling moves than to a mystical martial art of the exotic orient.

Peggy’s co-workers are given some character development too. The cowardly lion has a heart, and the tin-leg man has a brain. Who would have thought it? The others are expendable red-shirts, but who cares?

The SSR boss visits an old pal, journalist Jon Glover ( Smallville ). The boss is softening his ways, and tells Stark’s chauffeur Jarvis (James D'Arcy - Cloud Atlas ) that he is willing to hear Stark’s side of the story.

Agent Carter Agent Carter [Season 1, Episode 6] A Sin to Err
Shown 10/Feb/15

The SSR Chief debriefs the Russian psychiatrist that Carter's team rescued from Leviathan. However, the shrink's skills include the ability to verbally hypnotise people.

After the encounter with the Ruskie hit-girl in the previous episode, Carter works out that Leviathan has deployed one or more female agents. She and Jenkins set out to find the femme fatale who seduced Howard Stark. Mr Stark has had quite a large number of sex partners in the last few months. It is quite shocking to realise that for a man to have an equal access to sexual partners that Agent Carter does, he must be the richest and most powerful man in the world.

While Carter hunts the Ruskie Agent, Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj - Dollhouse ), is closing in on her.

Agent Carter Agent Carter [Season 1, Episode 7] Snafu
Shown 17/Feb/15

Peggy Carter ( Hayley Atwell ) is in custody of the SSR. Jarvis (James D'Arcy - Cloud Atlas ) tries to talk them into letting her go by providing Howard Stark's signed confession. Will Peggy let Stark plead guilty to something he did not do in order to clear her own name?

The SSR's lead field agent tells Peggy he does not want to beat a confession out of her, but that he is willing to do so if the need arises. To her credit, Peggy does not play the victim card and try to weasel her way out.

The Leviathan agents are after a specific item from the SSR lab. Is it Steve Roger's blood, which Peggy has been protecting? Or is it the item that caused the mysterious deaths that the Germans discovered during the war?

Agent Carter Agent Carter [Season 1, Episode 8] Valediction
Shown 24/Feb/15

Peggy Carter ( Hayley Atwell ) and the SSR agents discover that the Leviathan agents have made off with a gas that acts like the steroids in Jacob's Ladder . And it is now VE day, when a hundred thousand civilians are gathered in Time Square ...

An African-American policeman pulls the Leviathan agents over for DWB - Driving While Blonde!

Howard Stark returns to give some much-needed exposition. He could have told Peggy the truth about the Battle of Finau in episode one, but that would have removed all suspense. However, Stark is the villains' target. This makes him the perfect bait for a trap.

Stark is motivated by guilt, deepened by the verbal abuse Peggy heaped on him in their previous encounter. Can she talk him out of a suicide-run on NYC? Will she even bother?

In the final sequence, we discover what happened to the Red Skull's sidekick (Toby Jones - Wayward Pines ).





Agent Carter

Agent Carter Agent Carter [Season 1 , Episode 1 ]
Shown th October 2010 [Wednesday]

Reviewed in our special supplement Agent Carter

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  • Agent Carter

    Season 2

    Agent Carter Agent Carter [Season 2, Episode 1] The Lady in the Lake
    Shown 19 Jan 16

    The ending of the previous Season has been quite profitable for many people. The old boss's favourite has been promoted into his mentor's shoes. Peggy Carter ( Hayley Atwell ) is now the lead field agent, while Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj - Dollhouse ) has been made Chief of the new Los Angeles office. Howard Stark has not only been awarded a major Government contract, he has also decided to diversify his interests and start a studio in Hollywood. His Chauffeur Jarvis (James D'Arcy - Cloud Atlas ) compares him to Cecil B DeMille , while Peggy unflatteringly states he is more like Fatty Arbuckle. The truth is, it is just another Howard Hughes reference.

    Dottie Underwood ( Bridget Regan ) has taken up bank robbery. The SSR ties up her storyline, so she will not be a recurring villain to menace Peggy. The Golden Boy running the office sends Peggy off to LA to help Sousa, so she cannot take all the credit for what is a team effort. However, FBI boss Vernon Masters (Kurtwood Smith - Robocop ) has his own agenda.

    In Los Angeles, Peggy helps Sousa and an LAPD Detective investigate a woman's body that was dumped in a lake. The lake has frozen over, and the body is traced back the lab of a Defence Contractor, a rival of Stark. Peggy infiltrates, and meets the only African American scientist in the building.

    Agent Carter Agent Carter [Season 2, Episode 2] A View In The Dark
    Shown 19 Jan 16

    Peggy Carter ( Hayley Atwell ) befriends Mrs Jarvis ( Lotte Verbeek ), who is attractive enough to distract Jarvis from Peggy ... but they have no chemistry, so she could be his beard. Peggy is disappointed to learn that her crippled co-worker Sousa (Enver Gjokaj - Dollhouse ) has a girlfriend. In fact, he is secretly planning to propose. Peggy befriends the girl, a nurse who is willing to accept Sousa's excuses for cancelling dates and working strange hours. Normally this might be a sign for concern, but Peggy prefers to go get a love interest of her own.

    Peggy goes on a secret meet-up (not a date) with the African American scientist. Jarvis (James D'Arcy - Cloud Atlas ) lends her one of Howard Stark's automobiles. It is pimped-out, so to speak. The gadgets may be reminiscent of James Bond movies, but they are intended to help Stark get laid rather than evade SMERSH agents!

    The Defence Contractor meets with his bosses at a Men-Only Club. They are a committee of millionaires, a real Skull and Bones crowd. Hugh Jones (Ray Wise - Twin Peaks ) is among their number, so hopefully he will get more to do than in Season One. Their plan is increase their political influence by making the Contractor a Senator. But first, they must clean up the evidence at the lab before Peggy can find it.

    Peggy and the Token Black Guy go on the run from the villains' goons. A helpful shopkeeper sees Peggy looking worried and asks her is she is okay. Peggy, ever the Feminist, is resentful of this acknowledgement of her female privilege.

    Agent Carter Agent Carter [Season 2, Episode 3] Better Angels
    Shown 26 Jan 16

    Peggy Carter ( Hayley Atwell ) blames herself for what happened in the previous episode. She delivers her report to the SSR Boss, who is visiting from NYC. What she does not know is that FBI boss Vernon Masters (Kurtwood Smith - Robocop ) is pulling the man's strings. Indeed, it makes one wonder exactly how gullible the SSR boss is. This is not the only suspicious thing going on at the SSR HQ. For some reason the SSR office has a peg-board map of northern Europe that centres on Belgium. Presumably this is yet another mystery that will never be explained.

    Stark is in town, directing a cliched Western movie. Peggy mocks it because it is based on a comic-book, although her own real-life adventures with Captain America: The First Avenger have been turned into a radio show. She gets Stark to help with a couple of things. First, she needs his help infiltrating and bugging the Men-Only Club. Secondly, she needs scientific assistance in sorting out the Zero Matter problem.

    The Contractor's wife, the Hollywood star Whitney Frost ( Wynn Everett ), has adopted the Veronica Lake Peek-a-boo hairstyle to cover her disfigurement, However, she seems to be more closely modelled on an other actress - Hedy Lamarr , who patented the first example of spread-spectrum technology. This makes her the female equivalent of Neville Sinclair in The Rocketeer , who was a thinly-veiled reference to Errol Flynn. Unfortunately, the character is portrayed as a weak-willed victim - hardly a worthy opponent for Peggy Carter!

    Agent Carter Agent Carter [Season 2, Episode 4] Smoke & Mirrors
    Shown 02 Feb 16

    Peggy Carter ( Hayley Atwell ) and the butler Jarvis are out of clues. They abduct the Contractor's henchman, who turns out to be a dishonorably discharged war veteran who survived capture by the Japs. Naturally, Peggy has no respect for a fellow war hero. She gives him a load of guff about your side and my side - ignoring the fact that in the MacCarthyite era they are both on the SAME side. She serves the US Government, which in turn serves the New England Mafia. Her hostage's chain of command is not different from hers, only shorter.

    The Contractor's wife, the Hollywood star Whitney Frost ( Wynn Everett ), has flashbacks to her troubled childhood. She was a nerdy girl, who had no friends and instead retreated into her books. Luckily her mother pointed out that as a young woman she had a get-out-of-work free card - her beauty!

    Peggy has flashbacks of her own. As a child she was a tomboy who wanted to save a Princess, but later on she got engaged ... to a man. She had a nice comfy office job in Bletchley Park, as she aluded to in Season One. However, she was given a chance of transfer to Special Operations Executive. This is strange, because while there were many female field agents in S.O.E. they were all selected for their language skills so they could go undercover in Nazi-occupied Europe.

    Agent Carter Agent Carter [Season 2, Episode 5] The Atomic Job
    Shown 09 Feb 16

    The African American scientist discovers that more dark matter may cure his condition. He sends Peggy Carter ( Hayley Atwell ) and Jarvis to locate the missing girl's body, since that was her cause of death.

    Unfortunately the villains have the same idea. A rich philanderer who wants to be President and his power-crazed wife in a liberal hotbed like Hollywood. Yes, they seem to be based on Bill and Hilary Clinton. And the next stage in their plans is to duplicate the original experiment ... and to do that, they need to steal a nuclear bomb. Our heroes must get to the nukes first!

    Peggy goes undercover to steal the nuke silo key from Hugh Jones (Ray Wise - Twin Peaks ). Unfortunately, she has an hourglass figure, and he never forgets a ... face! Luckily the SSR lab-rats have built a tazer that can give the victim temporary amnesia. Peggy uses it in a typically sadistic manner.

    To penetrate the Atomic Weapons storage depot, Peggy needs a team. The SSR's field agents are loyal to Thompson, so she cannot trust them, She drags Chief Sousa (Enver Gjokaj - Dollhouse ) away from his nurse girlfriend. She also gets a couple of the recurring back-room staff to help. They are presented in a parody of Reservoir Dogs, but their mix of skills makes them more like a precursor to Agents of Shield .

    Whitney has help of her own, courtesy of violent gangster Joseph Manfredi (Ken Marino - Veronica Mars ).

    Agent Carter Agent Carter [Season 2, Episode 6] Life of the Party
    Shown 16 Feb 16

    Peggy Carter ( Hayley Atwell ) is still injured as of last week, so she breaks Dottie Underwood ( Bridget Regan ) out of prison to help her. Presumably the SSR facility was nearer to NYC than to LA, but Peggy and Sousa (Enver Gjokaj - Dollhouse ) managed to make the drive anyway.

    Whitney Frost ( Wynn Everett ) hosts a major gala event at a top-security hotel. FBI boss Vernon Masters (Kurtwood Smith - Robocop ) takes SSR Chief Thompson along, to mix with the top brass. Whitney says she wishes Thompson were a Hollywood co-star, perhaps a reference to Sterling Hayden (Suddenly).

    The gala is an excuse for Whitney to brief the Council, including Hugh Jones (Ray Wise - Twin Peaks ). Dottie manages to discover more than Peggy ever did about their plans. However, everyone underestimates chief Thompson.

    People with long memories will recall that Kurtwood Smith and Ray Wise worked together as gangsters in the 1980s classic, Robocop . It is a pity that they do not get to team up properly in this episode.

    Agent Carter Agent Carter [Season 2, Episode 7] Monsters
    Shown 23 Feb 16

    Dottie Underwood ( Bridget Regan ) is interrogated by Vernon Masters (Kurtwood Smith - Robocop ). Whitney's other minion this week is violent gangster Joseph Manfredi (Ken Marino - Veronica Mars ). However, since Dottie has seen what Whitney Frost ( Wynn Everett ) is capable of she should talk if she knows what is good for her.

    Peggy Carter ( Hayley Atwell ) must get the rest of the Dark Matter so she can save the African-American scientist. This means taking on the other team directly.

    Peggy's refusal to heed Chief Thompson last week has consequences. Sousa (Enver Gjokaj - Dollhouse ) gets given leave, and Masters takes over the LA branch of the SSR directly.

    Agent Carter Agent Carter [Season 2, Episode 8] The Edge Of Mystery
    Shown 23 Feb 16

    Peggy Carter ( Hayley Atwell ) goes to Joseph Manfredi (Ken Marino - Veronica Mars ) with an offer of a deal. Peggy wants the hostage back, while Whitney Frost ( Wynn Everett ) wants the uranium rods. And the butler wants revenge.

    Chief Thompson is back. He gets an English MI6 agent drunk and gets him to steal Peggy's personnel file. Apparently the SOE had details of Peggy's misdemeanors. Is it fake, or is Peggy just a really good bluffer?

    Agent Carter Agent Carter [Season 2, Episode 9] A Little Song and Dance
    Shown 23 Feb 16

    Peggy Carter ( Hayley Atwell ) is still KO'd from last week, so she dreams she is in a Hollywood musical.

    Chief Thompson and Sousa (Enver Gjokaj - Dollhouse ) negotiate a new deal with Vernon Masters (Kurtwood Smith - Robocop ). They have a mutual enemy now. But who will pull a double-cross first?

    Agent Carter Agent Carter [Season 2, Episode 10] Hollywood Ending
    Shown 01 Mar 16

    Peggy Carter ( Hayley Atwell ) does not save the day - she just blunders through. At least Chief Thompson has a plan. However, Peggy gets lucky and everyone manages to escape. This is just a setup for the final showdown.

    Whitney Frost ( Wynn Everett ) is going insane, and wants to reopen the rift somehow to get more X-Matter. Even her boyfriend, violent gangster Joseph Manfredi (Ken Marino - Veronica Mars ), is worried about her. He even makes his own deal with the devil, so to speak. Luckily he is an old friend of Howard Stark. Stark is an easy guy to get along with - after all, he does not get offended by the snide remarks of Peggy and Jarvis concerning what they consider to be his alcoholism and sex addiction.

    This is the final episode, and the show was not renewed for another Season. As a result, the epilogue ties up a few loose ends. Peggy has three potential love interests, and we finally get to see her make her choice. However, one of the fellows is unlucky, so there is a downbeat note to the ending. This is setup for a continuing storyline.