Mar 18, 2016

[TV] Marvel's Agent Carter: Season 2

The first season of Marvel's Agent Carter was quite a hit when it first came out. I don't think any of us could have fully predicted what sort of a show would have resulted based on her character in the first Captain America movie, but man the end result was beyond great. Peggy Carter quickly became the poster girl for the sort of fully-fleshed female characters that we need to see more in movies and television today.

So we there was a lot of excitement for the second season of Agent Carter, especially given how the first season was a meager 8 episodes. The show is still more of an off-season sort of production when Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is on mid-season hiatus, hence the shorter episode runs. But at least this second season goes for a 10 episodes and I think they made a decent run with the two extra episodes.

But man, suddenly we have Peggy in Los Angeles and a whole separate branch of S.S.R. to bring into the mix plus a new plot that's also somewhat related to the transdimensional adventures of our modern-day S.H.I.E.L.D. agents? Yeah, a lot of good stuff going on.

Synopsis: Marvel's Agent Carter is a US drama series created by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely based on the Captain America movies. This second season lasted 10 episodes.

As mentioned above, the season pretty much begins with agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) being loaned to the Los Angeles branch of SSR to aid with an investigation there shortly after finally capturing Soviet spy Dottie Underwood (Bridget Regan). The LA branch is under the command of the recently promoted Chief Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj), who clearly had some feelings for Peggy in the past. But now he's seeing someone else and so their reunion is less than ideal.

But the larger investigation calls all of their attention and so there's not much time for drama. What starts with a frozen woman in the lake leads to a larger conspiracy involving a mysterious new energy source and forces far beyond the control of man. We also have a large corporation that's actually built on the genius of a woman, whom everyone knows to be a Hollywood actress. And then we have a secret conspiracy that's trying to pull the strings of SSR to get them to stop looking into their affairs.

Hayley Atwell is as brilliant as always and I don't think I'll ever get tired of watching her as Peggy. She's a woman of grit but also delicate poise when needed. She's never going to be the strongest agent but she'll never shy from a fight and will use her wits and her skills to overcome stereotypically larger foes. And she's insanely driven and so it's easy to see how she has gotten as far as she has. And Atwell manages to convey all these nuances when she portrays the character on-screen time and time again making each episode a delight.

I was rather surprised by Whitney Frost (Wynn Everett), although not quite in her full Madame Masque persona from the comics. She's still an intriguing antagonist as season as she is both brilliant but also trapped by the rampant sexism of the time period. The show really shines in how it manages to capture the faults of this time period but still use is as a vehicle for more storytelling. Yes, it's annoying that women do not get all the respect that they deserve but then we are shown various female characters on both sides of the law who show us what they think of such limitations.

Despite the seemingly advanced nature of any transdimensional travel and related technologies, the show managed to make the most of the technology of the time period in order to get the plot moving forward. You get a lot of steampunk-style gadgets or other exotic creations that feel like they jumped right out of some old magazine speculating about the future in a grand way.

I'm really glad that a lot of characters got a lot of development in this season, so it was more than just episode after episode focused on the plot. Instead we got a lot of moments to develop the stories of both the good guys and the bad guys at the same time. Plus we got a little musical number, too!

I really wish that Marvel's Agent Carter was more than just a mid-season series shown while Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. goes on break. But despite that, the folks behind the  show do a great job of making the most of their limited airtime and they come up with some pretty focused storytelling. Thus the second season get a full 5 exotic applications of zero matter out of a possible 5.

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