Show: Agent Carter Season 1
Stars: Hayley Atwell, James D’Arcy, Chad Michael Murray, Enver Gjokaj, Shea Whigham, Lyndsy Fonseca, Dominic Cooper
The MCU gave us a wonderful present in the form of Agent Carter. As I said before, I was not a big fan of Steve Rodgers, but I love Peggy Carter and Howard Stark. Giving us fans a show featuring those characters and taking the best parts of Captain America (the Howling Commandos, the 40’s time set, cheeky references to future plots and characters) felt like a great Christmas gift (that came in January). To make the series even better, they surrounded the two wonderful characters with other enjoyable characters to tell us the story of the beginnings of the S.S.R. and its transition into S.H.I.E.L.D. UberApe and I are big fans of Boardwalk Empire so there was much joy and big sadness in seeing Eli Thompson in charge. I love Gjokaj and I think he should be cast in everything. The man just knows how to transform himself into any character, just watch him in Dollhouse.
Easily the best character (outside of Peggy) is Edwin Jarvis (D’Arcy) the butler to Howard Stark and the other half of Team Exonerate Stark. I didn’t know until very recently that in the comics J.A.R.V.I.S. from the Iron Man movies is not a computer program, but a real human person. I don’t know why they changed him from human to computer and frankly I don’t care, it works in the movies. Bringing him back to human as the butler for Howard Stark actually humanizes Tony Stark more. Tony said in Iron Man 2 that his father didn’t really pay attention to him and sent him off to boarding school. Most likely growing up, the human Jarvis looked after Tony and had a hand in raising him, even after his father’s death. This makes the dry humored, British voiced, smart-assed computer runs Tony’s house, suit, and lab a show of sentimentality that Tony claims to not have. He modeled the program after the human Jarvis. Another bonus is Jarvis is married to a woman he loves and this does not create a romantic tension between Jarvis and Peggy. Given the fact that Peggy is still in love with Rodgers and is reeling from his “death,” she does not need a love story jammed into the fray. Peggy and Jarvis have amazing chemistry together as more of a brother/sister type (much like the chemistry she has with Howard) that would have been ruined by a love plot.
Again Dominic Cooper hits it out of the park as Howard Stark. The senate committee hearings in the first episode mirror the ones from Iron Man 2 nicely and continue to show how a man like Tony Stark came to be. Howard is not nearly as flashy and loud as Tony, though being on the run from the government would have been a hindrance to the loud and flashy ways of Howard, but the womanizing is well intact. I do think that the times Howard Stark lived in (WWII and the Cold War) kept him from being as nearly as narcissistic and isolated as his son becomes in later more self-centric times. In later episodes, we do see that Howard uses this behavior as a cover for coming from a poor background and breaking his way into the upper class world. The need to be deceptive and charismatic helped him to navigate the sharks up top and fit in with them. This behavior leads to strains with Peggy, but it is if at times she can see through the vail. She gets moments were the façade cracks for us to see, but we also see how the façade takes over and erases the man that he was before. The story of how Howard Stark goes from the likable, brilliant, cad we see in Captain America and Agent Carter and turns into the uncaring, aloof father Tony Stark describes will be interesting to watch in (fingers crossed) future seasons.
It perplexed me that the men in Peggy’s office would disrespect her in that high of a manner. I do get that it was the 40’s and women had just earned the right to vote less than two decades before, but the aggressive disregard for her still confuses me. She was in the front lines with the S.S.R. during the war (and was there before Rodgers) and she probably came to the S.S.R. field office with a recommendation from Colonel Phillips for her work in the war and with the Howling Commandos. Okay, so maybe with her male co-workers, I’m not nearly as confused. They probably don’t know all this stuff and just see her as the liaison to Rodgers, but her boss would have seen her record and treated her a little better. I think the producers of the show played up the disregard and disrespect a bit too much for the plot of the show. Also the immediate trusting of Dr. Ivchenko when they found him in Russia seemed too convenient for the plot as well.
There are plenty of references to established MCU plots and people in the show. Dr. Vanko (Ivan Vanko’s father) appears in the first episode working at Stark Industries. Dotty’s beginnings and training in the program where Black Widow received her fun set of skills (a plot twist I did not see coming). The early development of Dr. Arnim Zola working against the S.S.R. and the brain washing program used in future plot lines (more on that in another posting). Some of Howard Stark’s inventions as precursors to Tony Stark’s inventions. In season two, Dr. Vanko and the fall out with Howard would be great to explore as well as the training program Dottie and Black Widow came from. We know this is going to be explored in Age of Ultron, but I think it is going to be more about Black Widow. There were many women who came from this program and they are probably loyal to Leviathan. I do hope the writers don’t jump too fast in getting Peggy a new love interest. She works really well as a single woman in a man’s world at this time and there is no need to rush to change that. There is no doubt season two will explore how Hydra prevailed after the death of Red Skull and how the others got involved, but hopefully that is a B or C plot line (again, I will talk more about that later).
Did you love Agent Carter? What are your hopes for a season two (fingers crossed)? Up next, The Avengers! Till next time, stay nerdy!