Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Superhero Media: Agent Carter - Season 2

Broken record on this one, but why is there only two seasons of Agent Carter? It's a much better programme than Agents of SHIELD and Arrow, both of which have enjoyed much longer runs. Peggy Carter is back, forcibly placed on leave when she doesn't back down from the Dottie Underwood case from season one. Heading out to California, Peggy is reunited with Jarvis and Agent Sousa and quickly drawn in to a conspiracy involving illegal experiments and wealthy political donors. As always, the set design, costumes and music are excellent, with Carter and Jarvis looking perfect for the period, plenty of vintage cars and great old Hollywood locations to shoot in. As well as the snappy 'gal-Friday' dialog, Agent Carter brings in elements of post-war racist backlash and bigotry, with Sousa still being passed over due to his bad leg, despite having been injured at Monte Cassino, and being awarded a Purple Heart and new character Jason Wilkes coming under suspicion merely for being black. 

The villain is once again female, in Whitney Frost (aka Madame Masque), who, sick of being put upon by men who think of her of 'lesser', wants to harness the power of the mysterious dark matter to raise herself up. This version of Whitney was a child genius who worked on the Manhattan Project, but was bounced after the war and forced to take up a career as an actor. The scenes in which Whitney bamboozles the men around her with her scientific acumen are brilliant, with the actors making a real show of things. The tone is a little camp at times, but that has the air of being more around the style[s] of the era in which it is set than a dumbing down of any kind. The second-to-last episode opens with a big, glam musical number reminiscent of Gene Kelly, which I love and wish there could have been more episodes where that device was used. 

Howard Stark returns for a few episodes, and the introduction of Ana Jarvis (Edwin's wife) round out the core cast nicely, allowing the existing members of the team to grow as characters. Agent Carter is probably the second or third best MCU television production, and yes, I'm including Netflix in that one. The cast is excellent, the look is classic, it's basically MCU Mad Men, but no one ever really talks about it, or has really seen it. Two of the writers of this programme went on to work on Thor Ragnarok, which tells you how good they are, I truly am rather upset that this ended after two seasons. Agent Carter is clever, slick and a hell of a lot of fun, but is gone too soon, and we may never see either the programme or titular agent back. That's a damn shame. Get the DVDs and set some time aside and get to grips with this great series. 

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