ABC’s Agent Carter Now Is Not The End and Bridge And Tunnel TV Show Review. Agent Carter: Season 1: Episodes 1 and 2: This Is The End and Bridge And Tunnel made their television debut to far lower expectations than the shows Marvel cousin, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (AOS) did just over a year ago. AOS began its television life cycle as a series that was trying to be too many things to too many people, resulting in a shallow and unfocused mess of a show. During the back end of AOS’s first season run, the show figured out what it wanted to be, forged its own identity and started producing an entertaining hour of television week after week. Unfortunately for Marvel, the initial stink associated with AOS’s early run destroyed a lot of its fan’s good will toward the Marvel brand on television, leaving Marvel’s Agent Carter (MAC) in the unenviable position of having to fight to reclaim the fan’s trust.
While it took AOS the first half of season one to figure out what type of narrative structure works best for the show, MAC has a clear idea of what kind of show it is and hits the ground running. AOS is an ongoing series consisting of 22 episode seasons that ABC could stretch out for several years. With its limited run of 8 episodes MAC is more in line with anthology series such as True Detective and Fargo. Having fewer episodes allows the writers to form a fully fleshed out story with a clear-cut beginning, middle and end before they go into production. Mac’s short season allows for a tighter script with less meandering and no wasted time spent on events and characters that that don’t contribute to moving the story toward its conclusion.
The series kicks off with the eponymous Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) loading a gun while engaging in trivial girl talk with her room-mate in such a sly and nonchalant manor that indicates to us that she is a woman that doesn’t like the rules of the game but certainly knows how to play by them. Peggy secretly works for the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR) which is a precursor to S.H.I.E.L.D.. Relegated to desk duty since the end of the war, Peggy spends her days suffering to get through her boring and inconsequential job, a task that is made even worse by the fact that her co-workers regard her as an inferior. Even though the blatant sexism of the era is clearly an issue that must be addressed, the way that Peggy’s co-workers treat her despite her skill set and experience is laughable. The offenses would have carried more weight if the SSR men used Peggy’s impressive skills to make their jobs easier while hoarding all the credit and praise that should be directed at her.
In a scene reminiscent of the McCarthy witch-hunts, former American patriot Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) is under investigation for selling his advanced technology to enemies of the United States. When Stark suspiciously disappears the SSR is sent in to investigate. Stark, being one of the few people who understands and appreciates Peggy’s abilities, covertly recruits her (along with the help of his trusted butler Jarvis (James D’Arcy) to clear his name by tracking down the arms dealer peddling his technology. Peggy and Jarvis begin working together so that they can prevent a weaponized version of Stark’s “explosion formula” from falling into the wrong hands.
Allowing Peggy to secretly work for the man she is supposed to be tracking down positions her as is a kind of double agent and having Peggy operating against SSR’s interests is the perfect set up for some entertaining television. As the least respected member of the SSR, Peggy is able to investigate the Stark case right under her co-workers noses without arousing any suspicion which leads to all kinds of hi-jinks. Also, having Peggy being the only one to side with Stark and going “lone-wolf” while her less intelligent and overmatched SSR teammates chase down the wrong guy is quite similar to Molly Solverson’s thrilling cat and mouse pursuit of Lorne Malvo in last year’s impressive Fargo series.
Hayley Atwell plays Carter with the enthusiasm of a kid that always has a scrapped knee and a bloody nose from their never-ending, bombastic playground adventures. For Atwell’s Carter, no task is ever too daunting. James Darcy’s Edwin Jarvis is the sort of man that would be aghast at someone for using a salad fork to eat a steak, but wouldn’t flinch while stitching up a gruesome bullet wound. Just a couple of episodes in and the two of them already work off each other wonderfully. Both are characters who would quickly irritate us if we found them working at the desk beside us in real life, so it is fortunate that both actors show enough charm to reel us in and make us care. I’m looking forward to seeing the kind of bond that forms between them over the next several episodes. The first M.A.C. episode provided enough action, drama and intrigue to lure me back for more and It was a bit of a treat to be able to roll straight into episode two.
Episode two continues episodes one’s not subtle at all way of letting us know that Peggy lives in a man’s world by starting off with a “propaganda-ish” radio broadcast depicting Captain America saving a damsel in distress. Even though episode two was just as in your face with the, “your just a silly girl Peggy” rhetoric, it worked much better thematically than the previous episode. Although the plot of the episode was about Peggy tracking down the voiceless foreign agents from episode one, episode two focused more on Peggy breaking down the three main barriers that she has built around herself to help her navigate through her complicated life.
Barrier 1 FRIENDSHIP Peggy is aware that the dangerous life that she leads can threaten the safety of the people that she cares about. Still carrying the guilt for her roommate’s murder, Peggy would rather shack up in Howard Stark’s love lair (the refuge of a man she is supposed to be hunting) than invest in a possible friendship by moving in close to Angie (Lyndsy Fonseca).
Barrier 2 TEAMWORK Peggy spends so much time trying to prove herself to the men around her that she started to believe accepting help is a sign of weakness. Peggy would much rather send Jarvis home than have his expertise available on her mission of hunting down dangerous criminals.
Barrier 3 LOVE It seems that Peggy will have to come to terms with her feelings for Captain America before she can let another man in to her heart (possibly Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj)). History has shown us that it will happen and it’s up to the remaining episodes to tell us how.
Jarvis is clever enough to see through Peggy’s, “I can do this on my own” act and inserts himself into the action and in the end, even she cannot make a case for him staying out of the fray. Jarvis’s sober advice help’s Peggy realize that she needs to work on breaking down the barriers that she has put up around her. His, “you can’t remove yourself from the world that you are supposed to protect” line changes Peggy’s mind about letting Angie into her life as a friend. Peggy also had no legitimate argument for Jarvis sticking around and lending a hand in the evening’s caper. Although she is accustomed to working alone, Jarvis proved himself as a loyal and competent ally, and it looks like she won’t be so hesitant to request his assistance in the future.
Marvel’s Agents Of Shield started out feeling like a show tacked on to a cool idea where as Marvel’s Agent Carter feels like a cool idea integrated into a well thought out show. The first two episodes offered cohesive and entertaining stories that provided us with a solid if unspectacular entry into the series. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what episode 3 has in store.
Although Marvel’s core audience is familiar with the character the episode begins with a Peggy’s greatest hits (figuratively and literally) montage that gets the audience up to speed on how much of a badass Agent Carter is.
After telling her room-mate that she works for the “phone company”, I had to wonder if Peggy is the only Marvel cinematic universe character that puts any effort into maintaining a double life?
How cool was the fight on top of the moving milk truck?
I’m looking forward to seeing Peggy bring her unique brand of “Debauchery, temptation and mischief”, up past the first floor of the Griffith Hotel.
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