Kevin watches the entire MCU - Agent Carter Season Two
Peggy Carter's adventures continue after a move to LA. Does it help or hurt the show?
Agent Carter Season Two
1/19/16-3/1/16 | Creators: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely | Rotten Tomatoes: 76% | Episodes: 8 | Platform: Hulu
Stop number three on this trek through the Marvel Cinematic Universe kept me in the 1940s for season two of Agent Carter. This time around, we followed Peggy Carter as she moved across the nation to join Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) in California. That, combined with the focus on an element known as zero matter, gave this a much different feel from the first season. Was that a good thing, or did it drag down a fun show?
Like the first season and Captain America: The First Avenger, Hayley Atwell continued to be wonderful as Peggy Carter. She gets her character in a way that is almost unmatched. We’re talking on the level of how Chris Evans and Robert Downy Jr. fully embody Steve Rogers and Tony Stark. She’s that good. The rest of the cast continued to play well off her and were mostly strong. Her back and forth with Enver Gjokaj and James D’Arcy (Jarvis) remained a highlight. However, I did have a few issues related to the cast this time around.
One of the best aspects of season one was the arc of Chad Michael Murray’s Jack Thompson. He went from a cliché chauvinist to accepting of Peggy, while still remaining his opportunistic self. It was a polar opposite to Sousa and both characters were interesting because of it. Here, Murray felt very underutilized. He doesn’t seem to do much until the final few episodes and by then, you’ve realized how much you missed him. There was also a severe lack of Lyndsy Fonseca (Angie) and Dominic Cooper (Howard Stark). Angie was a light character who brought energy and fun to each scene she was in. Howard wasn’t a main cast member, but had a ton to do with the overall story and his scenes with Peggy were always a blast. Having these two characters limited to just one episode each, and Angie just one scene, came across as a major disappointment. The show was missing these elements.
To replace those three characters, a few were added. Some hit and some missed. Reggie Austin (Dr. Wilkes) didn’t seem to connect too well with most of the cast and dragged things down a bit. I did enjoy the comedic aspect of Lesley Boone (Rose Roberts) and Matt Braunger (Aloyslus Samberly) together. Bringing back Bridget Regan (Dottie Underwood) was a good move. Ken Marino (Joseph Manfredi) looked to be having a blast in his role. I mentioned on Twitter that he was a weird addition, mostly because I always see him as his character from Wet Hot American Summer, and he kind of roasted me in return. It was really cool. The real highlight was showcasing Jarvis’ wife, Ana (Lotte Verbeek) as most of her scenes were enjoyable and packed an emotional punch. I said I’d discuss villains in these write-ups. Whitney Frost (Wynn Everett) was a good one. She got enough background information that showed us how she was kind of Peggy’s opposite. The powers made her a formidable foe, but she didn’t get enough time battling the heroes. The way she eventually gets defeated is rather lackluster and the special effects during that scene are jarringly bad. It’s some of the lesser MCU SFX.
The first half of the season seemed to take a while to get going. They weren’t bad, they just felt slower than what I was accustomed to on the show. They also didn’t feel like Agent Carter. One of the things that made the first season stand out was how grounded in reality it was. The rest of the MCU involves superpowers, otherworldly beings, etc. The fact that this show had none of that was endearing and set it apart. Throwing in the element of zero matter this season made it so it felt like a completely different series. As if season one and season two weren’t in the same world other than having a few of the same characters.
This season also lacked major MCU references. Instead of cool moments like the Black Widow program and the Howling Commandos, we really only got the zero matter and several references to Roxxon. It is difficult to be so connected to the rest of the MCU when you take place some 70 years before most of the movies and other shows, but there didn’t seem to be any effort to that this time around. Despite these last few paragraphs discussing what the show lacked, I don’t want this to feel like a negative review, because it was actually another solid season.
The back half of the episodes were top notch. I worried about the idea of giving Peggy a romantic interest, since we always associate her with Cap. Dr. Wilkes never clicked for me, so the episodes focusing on those two weren’t my favorites. When Sousa and Peggy got to ignite their feelings for one another, the romantic angle worked better. Their chemistry is strong, it never felt forced, and their eventual kiss was earned, so it meant a lot more. As noted, Peggy and Jarvis continued to be another home run together. There was an especially tremendous scene in the penultimate episode where they argued in the desert. It’s probably the best acting in the show’s history.
With seemingly out of place aspects in the plot, and underused key characters, there were reasons this disappointed. However, Atwell and the rest of the cast we got were mostly great, the emotional impact of a lot of scenes worked, the villain was strong, and it was mostly fun to watch. It would've been great to get another season, especially with the cliffhanger this one ended on with Thompson getting shot. Alas, this is where it ends other than a short film, which is what I'm reviewing next time around.
Next Up: Agent Carter One Shot