Marvel’s Agent Carter, S1 Ep01/02 – Now is Not the End/Bridge and Tunnel

Marvel’s Agent Carter finally makes its way onto the small screen with a two-hour premiere event on ABC, taking Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s timeslot while that series remains on break. Captain America co-star Hayley Atwell returns and shines in the titular role of Agent Peggy Carter, with Dominic Cooper guest starring as Howard Stark in the first episode. Atwell’s Carter is joined by her misogynistic male co-workers and fellow agents Jack Thompson, Roger Dooley, and Ray Krzeminski, played by Chad Michael Murray, Shea Whigham, and Kyle Bornheimer, respectively. Additionally, Dollhouse alum Enver Gjokaj co-stars as Daniel Sousa, one of Carter’s few respectful fellow agents, and Lyndsy Fonseca as Angie Martinelli, a dear of friend of Carter’s. The only one to shine nearly as bright as Atwell’s Agent Carter is Edwin Jarvis, played James D’Arcy.

Hayley Atwell returns as Agent Carter

When Howard Stark is accused of being a traitor to his nation and his most powerful weapons have been stolen, it’s up to Agent Carter to crack the case and clear Stark’s name without her agency discovering her involvement. Fortunately for her Stark provides some assistance with his charismatic butler Edwin Jarvis, who future Iron Man Tony Stark probably names his household A.I., J.A.R.V.I.S., after. Jarvis and Carter’s platonic relationship and chemistry may be one of the series’ finest aspects. That and Agent Carter herself. We get to see the character kick serious butt in some well choreographed fight sequences, and go undercover pulling off a believable American accent in both episodes. Overall she’s tough, stern, and compassionate when she needs to be. Everything we’ve come to expect after seeing her in Captain America: The First Avenger and Marvel’s previously released Agent Carter One-Shot.

Marvel’s Agent Carter even works well as a direct sequel to The First Avenger in some ways. We continue to see Marvel build on their universe post World War II as Agent Carter takes place in 1946 New York City. The sets, music, and clothing are all appropriately reminiscent of the era, and are a nice change of pace from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The first episode may have been a little heavy on the Captain America references, as it felt like they were constantly reminding us Agent Carter had a thing with Steve Rogers through flashback to scenes from The First Avenger. This is a small complaint though, as the rest of the episode fleshed out Carter a bit more in her post-Cap age.

The second episode, entitled “Bridge and Tunnel”, dropped the Captain America references very cleverly as we get to see and hear an ongoing radio show about the character himself. At one point we hear Captain America fight evildoers on the radio while Agent Carter herself beats down a suspect.

Both episodes see Agent Carter try and track down Stark’s weapons leading her to a swanky nightclub, a Roxxon oil factory, and eventually, a fight scene on a speeding milk truck filled with explosives! We learn of Leviathan, who may be this mini-series’ main antagonists. One Leviathan member even blows up the Roxxon factory with one of Stark’s grenades, leading to an amazingly elaborate explosion whic that Carter and Jarvis have to speed away from. Not much information is given about Leviathan except for the fact that they are up to no good. Also, their henchmen communicate to their headquarters through the use of a typewriter, which reminds me a lot of Fringe. Those who watched Fringe may remember the typewriters used to communicate across alternate dimensions.

    Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark

Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark

The story for Agent Carter is pretty straightforward, but the ongoing threat of Carter’s agency discovering her actions and the idea that Stark is hiding something from Carter himself make this series compelling enough to continue watching. The second episode ends with Agent Krzeminski discovering the bumper to Stark’s car in the wreckage of the Roxxon oil factory. This can lead to the further incrimination of Howard Stark and/or Jarvis and Carter being discovered.

What really makes Marvel’s Agent Carter stand out from Marvel’s previous projects is something pretty obvious. Agent Carter is indeed their first female-led project. Not only is it female-led, but the era in which it takes place allows the series to tackle a lot of sexism issues in the workplace and in society, some of which are still apparent today. Additionally, Carter is very much a super hero in her own right, keeping secrets from friends and not knowing whether to keep a friend too close to the point that their lives are at risk. She also wears different costumes.

As stated previously, Marvel has released an Agent Carter short film that was featured on the blu-ray release of Iron Man 3. While I loved that short, which ended with Stark recruiting Carter to start S.H.I.E.L.D., this latest series has me wondering whether or not that short is still canonical in the Marvel cinematic universe. It’s possible that short may have only served as a blueprint for Marvel’s Agent Carter as the series is very similar in tone and format. Or that short may be where Agent Carter intends to eventually lead to.

Overall, Agent Carter‘s two-hour premiere was satisfying. The dialogue and stories are well-written and the series features a decent ensemble cast, including Enver Gjokaj who I enjoyed watching on Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse. Hayley Atwell shines bright in the titular role, making us remember why we loved her so much in Captain America: The First Avenger. The inclusion of Jarvis is surprisingly pleasing, contrasting well against Carter’s sometimes tough exterior. Going forth I would just like to see less Captain America references. Let Agent Carter grow as her own character that’s not bogged down by the events concerning her former love interest. These first two episodes prove she’s strong enough to stand on her own.

What did you think of the first two episodes of Marvel’s Agent Carter? Feel free to let us know in the comments.