Agent Carter: S02E01&02 – The Lady in the Lake & A View in the Dark
Agent Carter is a show you should be watching. Mark will be reviewing the entire second season week to week. Follow along with him as he explores one of Marvel’s best shows.
With a colorful display of its signature sleek style and a flashy, hard-hitting action scene, Agent Carter returned to our TVs this week and we’re all the better for it. If you’re wondering what I mean by that, you should check out my introductory editorial on the show. Suffice to say, with so many Marvel and DC shows popping up left and right, it’s easy to miss this, arguably the best of the lot.
We start with a pseudo two-parter that thrusts us head on into the plot of the season. For some reason we’re in Los Angeles. Evidently it was too attractive of a setting for the producers to care that it felt completely forced. All of Peggy Carter’s surrounding friends and colleagues from last season still appear, with some minor contrivances for happening to be in LA right when Carter gets sent there on assignment. Though it was a rushed set up, an intriguing new atmosphere develops for Carter.
Where last season showed Carter battling against the cultural chauvinism of the post- war 1940s, now that she has risen above that to a great degree, we get to see what she does on a more equal footing. Gender roles are more muted, feeling outdated rather than oppressive. In fact, many of the typical gender roles have been deliberately reversed- Carter now “everybody’s favorite agent,” the silver screen siren Whitney Frost actually being a brilliant scientist and our ultimate villain. This show is the literal interpretation of the Bechdel Test. And that’s important, because it makes the stakes of a science fiction-heavy plot that much greater.
So we have this thing called zero matter. It’s capable of all sorts of sciency mumbo jumbo. It’s dangerous, for sure, but why do we care? Well, it’s good to see that once again the show isn’t afraid of killing characters who get in the crossfire. If Jason Wilkes is really gone, then we know no one is safe. More so, the stakes feel organic because of the nature of the character relationships and roles.
There are a lot of reasons why the biblical template of “one body, many parts” works far greater than the template of gender roles. One of the greatest reasons is strength. A community that values individuality and comes together as one is far stronger than any other marginalized version of society. When the stakes are high, valuing the variety of gifts in the body produces greater results. Gender roles are toxic when they are used as a tool of oppression. It allows for the gifts of the body to be repressed or marginalized.
Agent Carter dealt with the consequences of that last season. Ultimately she became a great leader because of it. Though they face a far more volatile weapon this season, the team’s stronger sense of equality and community make them more capable of facing it. And thankfully, we’ll get to see her kick a few heads in along the way.
Next week on Agent Carter: Hail Hydra? The “FBI” intervention in the Dottie case is obviously fishy. Let’s not forget we’re watching the origins of the current Marvel cinematic universe. Peggy Carter helps set up S.H.I.E.L.D. which means Hydra isn’t far behind. Apparently we’re in for a blockbuster ending. Let’s hope it doesn’t forget to mean something to our characters.