I’m going to be honest, after the ousting and takeover at ABC and the slew of renewals that were announced last week – not to mention the far from fantastic ratings – I’m pretty nervous for the fate of Agent Carter. Until I know if it’s been renewed or (gulp!) canceled, I’m going to be anxiously scanning the headlines every time I visit a site like TVLine or Entertainment Weekly. It’s never going to be a hit, but it’s an enjoyable little placeholder during the winter hiatuses of ABC’s bigger shows. I hope it sticks around.
I so enjoyed the first season that I was a little worried they wouldn’t be able to recreate the excitement as well as tell a fresh story (isn’t that always the worry for a second season?), but I was not disappointed. There were some bumps along the way for sure, but ultimately I quite enjoyed the ride.
1. An Abundance of Ladies
As much as I enjoyed the first season, there was one glaring issue I had with it. The show was touted from its first inception as this beacon of feminism, a show that talked openly about not just violent misogyny, but everyday, casual sexism. And so I thought it was odd that this super feminist show only starred one woman. All the series regular characters besides Peggy were men. And while there were a few female recurring characters, there weren’t many. There was pretty much just Angie, Dottie, and the landlady. This season stepped up their game in a big way, and we were treated to not just several women, but several different kinds of women: Peggy, Dottie, Whitney, Ana, Rose, and Violet all were whole people, all had stories to tell, and all endured at the hands of men.
2. Jason Wilkes
Jason was a great addition to the team. He offered support, he offered intelligence, he offered conflict. He was clearly a response to the complaints of Season One being too white, and he was a welcome response: a black character who was prominent and whole, who had purpose in the story and life outside of it, who’s racial makeup informed his character – making sure not to simply gloss over the real difficulties and struggles of being a professional, black scientist in 1940’s America – but was not his whole character. If we are treated to a Season Three, I hope he makes an appearance.
3. Peggy and Jarvis’ Relationship
Peggy and Jarvis and their relationship is what makes this show. Let’s make that very clear. They are everything. And it’s fantastic that there’s never once been any kind of romantic overtones, never even a hint of attraction. Ana met Peggy and showed not one iota of jealousy because she knew there was no need. Peggy and Jarvis truly love one another, but it is a purely platonic love.
Their relationship became deeper this season. As much fun as it is to see the two Brits driving around LA in a red convertible making snappy comments about their hatred for California and all its sunshine, their fight in the desert was the best part of the entire season. The cruelty, the anger, the hurt, the fear – there was just an incredible depth of emotion from the two of them as the tried to make sense of what had happened to Ana and the dangers they continued to face.
4. The Daniel/Peggy/Jason Love Triangle
I don’t ever expect to think of love triangles as particularly bright spots of any tv show, but somehow this one had me. I appreciated that while it was there – Daniel and Peggy still needing to deal with their leftover feelings from working together in New York and Peggy and Jason’s instant attraction and affection – it never over powered the story. It take over or away from any more important aspect of the story. It certainly informed aspects of the story – Jason choosing the threaten to shoot Peggy because he knew Daniel would cave, for instance – but it never became the forefront. Instead, it was a simple, romantic backdrop for the real action.
I also appreciated that both men aren’t stereotypical leading man/love interest material – one being a man of color, the other a man with a disability. And that both men were throughout the whole season considered viable options. Though she realized herself to be in love with Daniel in the end, Peggy clearly was attracted to Jason and cared for him greatly. Jason wasn’t just thrown in to cause a few waves.
5. Peggy vs Whitney
One of the best things the season did, in my opinion, was to show the dichotomy of Peggy’s feminism and Whitney’s. Peggy has had to work incredibly hard for what she has and the respect she deserves, I absolutely don’t want to say that she hasn’t. But she comes from wealth and social status. And Whitney absolutely didn’t. And there lives were very different because of it. Doors were open for Peggy because of that wealth, because of her connection to her brother, that absolutely were never open to Whitney. Peggy has had opportunities and support Whitney never did. Peggy could afford to choose between marriage and joining the war effort. Whitney had to find a husband to help pull her up. If a man told Peggy to smile more, she could clock him and move on. Whitney just had to smile.
Whitney became a villain because of what she had been denied. Imagine who she could have become if she’d had just a few more opportunities like Peggy.
The Not So Good
1. The Big Move
While changing the setting to LA made sense in that Whitney was a Hollywood star and they were close to some nuclear test sites, moving the whole gang to LA seemed a little…weird? Everyone managed to make it across the country to LA all at the same time: from Peggy to Howard and Jarvis even on down to Dottie, who was locked up and being interrogated back in New York until she was conveniently needed for a moment of espionage. Oh, everyone that is except for Angie, the girl who wanted to be an actress. After developing such a good relationship between Peggy and Angie, did she really need to be left behind? Everyone else made the trek, no matter how ridiculous. Including Angie should have been a snap.
2. The Peggy/Daniel/Violet Love Triangle
All the things done well with Daniel/Peggy/Jason seemed to unravel when it came to throwing Violet in the mix. By the time we met Violet, she and Daniel were already at engagements. We didn’t get a lot of time to actually get to know her, or her relationship with Daniel. And outside of being Daniel’s (rebound) financee, there wasn’t anything else to her character. As soon as Violet broke off their engagement because of Daniel’s feelings for Peggy, she was done. Totally dropped. Never heard from again. I always struggle with characters who have no person-hood beyond “love interest.” Whereas Jason was involved in the overall plot and was much more than his attraction to Peggy, Violet was just a bump in the road to Peggy and Daniel – someone to run over as quickly as possible. When we met her, I was pretty sure she and Daniel wouldn’t last through the season, but I still wanted her to be someone. Instead, she turned out to be pretty expendable. Which was a bummer.
Then there’s the fact that Daniel was moving onto Peggy almost immediately following the break up. Clearly he wasn’t too broken up about it. Which always leaves a little bit of a bad taste in my mouth. I mean, he was a heartbeat away from marrying this girl. I’m left seriously questioning his judgement.
Hopes for Next Season
At this point, I’m just hoping there is a next season.