Episode: ‘Pilot’ & ‘Bridge And Tunnel’
Original Airdate: 1-6-15
‘Agent Carter’ is (so far at least) a one shot mini series that expands on the Marvel Cinematic Universe from the movies with stories that act as a prequel. The show is an 8 episode mini series that focuses on a character first introduced in ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ as Steve Rogers‘ love interest, Agent Peggy Carter played brilliantly by Haley Atwell.
‘Agent Carter’ is set right after World War II and deals with Carter’s life post the death of Captain America, a scene that is recapped in the opening of the ‘Pilot’. It’s an effective scene that reminds us immediately who Carter is and why she’s important in this world. It also quickly reintroduces us to Howard Stark, Iron Man Tony Stark’s father, who serves as a major plot point of mini-series.
The ‘Pilot’ and 2nd episode titled ‘Bridge And Tunnell’ aired in a 2 hour series premiere which did not disappoint. Set in a time when women had little rights and were treated as delicate flowers, Carter is a badass lady who is anything but, and the show doesn’t shy away from showcasing those elements of that era. Majority of the male characters, Carter’s colleagues in the Strategic Scientific Reserve, (S.S.R.), the organization that will eventually become S.H.I.E.L.D., are condescending to her and don’t allow her to take part in missions, despite her contributions during the war with Captain America. This forces Carter to embark on her own mission when contacted by Howard Stark, now a suspected traitor, to try to clear his name.
Stark’s futuristic weapons have been stolen and sold to enemies of the US of A, causing him to seek out Carter while on the run from the law, to ask her help in investigating the matter on his behalf with his trusty sidekick Jarvis, the inspiration of Tony Stark’s artificial intelligence JARVIS seen in the Iron Man movies. Thus sets up the premise of ‘Agent Carter’: Carter on a wild goose chase to save Howard, uncovering conspiracies to use advanced tech by mysterious villain(s), all the while deceiving her own colleagues in an awesome retro spy adventure that also has the added incentive of being connected to the massive world of superheroes existing in their own cinematic universe.
‘Agent Carter’ works on various levels sets the groundwork for a pretty good series while keeping it all entrenched as a period piece. The 1940’s setting is further punctuated with the juxtaposition of an over the top cheesy radio play about Captain America overlaying scenes of Carter kicking ass, even further distinguishing the character from others of that era. Apparently the show won’t shy away from the sci-fi elements of being a comic book spin-off either, referencing the Vita-Rays which played a big hand in creating Captain America himself. The premiere dealt with Carter & Jarvis attempting to retrieve and neutralize one of Stark’s formulas which can be a weapon of mass destruction. So one can’t help but be excited for what more, out of this world stuff, is yet to come.
The dynamic between the two lead characters of Carter and Jarvis is also a unique spin on the buddy comedy concept. After witnessing Butlers who are handy and capable like the new Alfred in ‘Gotham’, it’s great to see one who is as typically meek and mild mannered as expected, having to be scolded by Carter to prioritize their mission over linens in the wash. As strong, charming and surprisingly capable during action scenes as Hayley Atwell is, James D’Arcy is just as good playing Jarvis as the inept yet humourous Brit who is totally out of his elment.
Some complaints from the debut would be a kind of out of place comedy sequence of Carter trying to infiltrate a co-worker’s drawer, which seemed forced as best in a show where the rest of the humour thus far have been pretty dry and witty. There is also the matter of the mysterious bad guy, communicating to his henchmen using a typewriter, invisibly typing out instructions as if from another dimension, which seems directly lifted from ‘Fringe’. Hopefully in context the gimmick may set it self apart slightly, but that remains to be seen.
While ‘Agent Carter’ is by no means innovative television, existing in the MCU being its biggest selling point. But on its own, it does create an interesting enough series to return to week after week. And with only an 8 episode arc, even if terrible, it can be allowed to play out for the audience without losing too many viewers on a week by week basis.
You can currently watch Agent Carter for free in the US on Hulu