AGENT CARTER SEASON 2 PREMIERE PLOT SUMMARY:
Following her defeat of Leviathan, the Strategic Scientific Reserve (S.S.R.) transfers Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) to its Los Angeles branch to help solve a peculiar murder mystery. Assisting Carter once again are Edwin Jarvis (James D’Arcy), butler of inventor Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper), and Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj), now head of the Los Angeles branch.
Agent Carter already has two victories under her belt. No, not World War II and her victory in Season 1; I’m talking about her victory in Season 1 and her return to television with Season 2. Despite early talk about how Agent Carter would fill in the winter break for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., it was on the bubble after its season finale. Fortunately for the show, while it could have just been a nice one-off, ABC did eventually decide to renew it.
Those behind the show clearly know what worked well in Season 1, as in a very short amount of time we are reintroduced to Edwin Jarvis, as well as Peggy’s duplicitous former neighbor and proto-Black Widow, Dottie Underwood (Bridget Regan). However, we’re also introduced to some new elements. Instead of New York City, this season takes place in Los Angeles. Also, for the first time, Peggy meets Ana (Lotte Verbeek), Edwin’s wife. She doesn’t do much in terms of the plot, but she adds some variety in the scenes featuring Edwin and Peggy, which are still among the strongest that the series has to offer, continuing the role reversal of what is stereotypically male and female.
The way that these pieces come together doesn’t perhaps feel the most organic, but it doesn’t feel all that forced either; it’s for the betterment of the series. A change of scenery is rarely a bad thing, and they couldn’t have picked an easier location to shoot the show than Hollywood itself. The show continues to nail the look of the time period. Besides, it’s not too hard to believe that Howard Stark (who’s somewhat of a blend of Howard Hughes and Walt Disney) decided to get into motion pictures. His ego is vast. Howard Stark was one of the highlights of last season, and while he does not make in an appearance in the premiere, his presence is felt. Who else would have a special compartment in his car for champagne?
Another notable change this season that’s obvious right off the bat is the overall gender dynamic. In the first season, a big focus was placed on how most of the S.S.R. did not view Carter as a real agent. They demeaned her at seemingly every turn and treated her like a secretary. Now’s she’s the first one in the interrogation room, which is rewarding for viewers to see. Agent Carter proved herself last season, without a doubt. It’s nice that the show isn’t backtracking on that. She’s so competent that her new boss is jealous, hence her reassignment.
Peggy is also showing growth in her relationships. At the end of the Season 1 Finale, she effectively let go of Steve Rogers and accepted that he was never coming back. And while it’s probably still easiest to explain to non-viewers that the show is about Captain America’s girlfriend, Carter has evolved into something more. Steve will always be a part of her, but she’s allowed herself to move on. Unfortunately for her, Sousa didn’t wait for her, as he is now with someone else. I imagine some people watching might groan at the romantic sub-plot, and if that’s not their thing that’s fine. But even male characters usually have some sort of love interest. And believe it or not, there are lots of men who, while they might not watch chick flicks, enjoy a well-written romance.
If there is one aspect that feels maybe a little too familiar, it’s the plot. While the episode starts with a unique premise, a secret experiment gone wrong enters the story rather quickly. Similarly, a clandestine organization is involved, like Leviathan in Season 1. If there’s any saving grace, it appears that this cabal has something to do with Dottie. I highly doubt that they are Leviathan, or even HYDRA. But they definitely link the two seasons in someway. You could argue that her presence is shoehorned, but like I said before, they’re rolling with what worked.
Honestly, it’s too early to tell where exactly this season is going. And while the set-up is kind of derivative, the series’ biggest strength is its characters, as in many of the entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And fortunately for us, Howard Stark is slated to make an appearance sometime in the near future, whether Peggy wants to deal with him or not.
RATING: 7.5 OUT OF 10 (GOOD)
AGENT CARTER AIRS TUESDAYS AT 9PM ON ABC
Aaron Sarnecky is Pop-Break.com’s television editor and covers Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter, among other things. He is a graduate of Rowan University with a degree in Television and Film. He probably remembers that show you forgot existed. Follow him on Twitter: @AaronSarnecky