REVIEW: Marvel’s Agent Carter sets off on a sun-soaked second season
[The following piece contains plot points from S2 E1 of Marvel’s Agent Carter]
Although a dedicated fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Marvel’s collaborations with Netflix on Daredevil and Jessica Jones, something about the comic publisher’s more family-oriented live action adventure programmes, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and Agent Carter, never grabbed me. Nevertheless, the amount of good will shown towards the first season of Agent Carter convinced me that I must be missing out on something.
Having now watched the show’s second season premiere, I wouldn’t necessarily brand myself an Agent Carter convert. However, I can certainly see why fans find this Hayley Atwell-led series entertaining, in the same way I stayed loyal to the first season of DC’s Gotham in spite of its juvenile character development and wholly predictable story lines. Are you getting the gist of this review yet? If not, here’s what I thought of episode one of Agent Carter season two; “The Lady in the Lake”.
After foiling Black Widow operative Dottie Underwood’s attempt to frame her for a bank heist, the always capable Peggy Carter of the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR) is abruptly sent west to assist the organization’s West Coast branch on the case of a woman found dead in the middle of a mysteriously frozen lake. While we already suspect some connection between the victim’s frosty demise and the LA cop with a cold in the middle of summer, we give the show the benefit of the doubt that surely it couldn’t be that simplistic.
Upon her arrival in the City of Angels, Peggy is greeted by a familiar face from the show’s first season, Edwin Jarvis. Butler to Iron Man’s daddy Howard Stark, we recognise his dutiful British ways to be that of J.A.R.V.I.S; artificial intelligence aide to Tony Stark in the Iron Man and Avengers film franchises. Jarvis and Carter waste no time in celebrating one another’s Englishness by discussing how ghastly L.A is and using such cringe-inducing phrases as “positive as pie”. Is this really what they think of us in the States?! Shock horror.
Anyway, the sudden and indefinite relocation of Peggy to Los Angeles is an obvious grasp to inject new life into Agent Carter, which throughout this episode seems to struggle with the constraints of its temporal setting within the MCU; a story from the past, it should necessarily abide by the future we know is yet to come, unless we’re gonna be getting all ‘alternate universe’ up in here.
Now that we’ve got the exposition out of the way, we can be properly introduced to the case at hand, which we must admit has got our attention.
Somehow, the frozen corpse has managed not only to resist thawing in the LA summer heat, but has also had the effect of deep freezing members of the living who’ve been exposed to her. The mysterious circumstances lead Peggy and the gang to interrogate scientist Jason Wilkes of the ‘Isodyne Energy’ company, who have been experimenting with ‘Zero Matter’; the result of an atomic bomb test that went wrong.
When Wilkes attempts to get Peggy out on a date, our heroine politely refuses, saying she doesn’t socialise with persons of interest. Of course, one would be forgiven for their suspicions of an African American physicist in the 1940s, as there were undoubtedly very few around in that particular social climate. Then again, we are watching a series about a woman of high standing in a government agency, so let’s just throw the issue of historical accuracy to the wayside, shall we?
Wilkes points Carter in the direction of Isodyne Energy owner Calvin Chadwick. When we later meet Chadwick at the races, we learn his wife is actress Whitney Frost, whom Marvel fans may recognise as the villainous ‘Madame Masque’. We can predict that this character hasn’t been introduced incidentally, and will surely be reappearing to have some larger part in the story yet to unfold.
While we can’t reveal much more of the episode without giving the whole game away, we can say that, in spite of its somewhat unsophisticated writing, this first episode of Agent Carter‘s second season was certainly a diverting way to spend forty minutes. Shot with a dreamy, Lana Del Rey-esque West Coast filter, the show’s period costumes and zippy pacing make it perfectly satisfying escapism in the dull winter months. We may not be that hooked by the story to tune in next week, but we equally wouldn’t say no to doing so. Oh, and it stars Chad Michael Murray.
Season two of Marvel’s Agent Carter starts tonight
(Thursday 28th January) at 9pm on FOX UK.