Just Call Her “Agent” – Agent Carter Recap & ReviewJanuary 7, 2015
Peggy Carter leaves the glass ceiling a glittering mess in her wake. The two-hour premiere of Agent Carter proved that it is possible to have a female-led action show, without sacrificing any of the components that make this genre great. Here is a recap of each episode and a light review at the end.
Episode 1 – Now is Not the End
It is a year after the end of World War II and the death of Captain America, which is observed in a flashback as a sorrow-filled memory for Peggy Carter. The show wastes no time setting up the current predicament Peggy finds herself in. While she is working for the SSR, she is continuously disrespected and stuck in a low ranking position. It is only because she knows Howard Stark that she recruited to help investigate Howard Stark – who has been accused of selling his weapons and weapon technology to enemies.
Later that night, Peggy is whisked away by Stark and his butler Edwin Jarvis. Stark convinces Peggy that he needs her to clear his name for him and loans her the aide of his butler, Jarvis.
At work the next day, Peggy listens in to a conversation between Agent Thompson and Chief Dooley that talks about a party someone who may have Stark’s weapons will be at. Peggy dons a blonde wig and an American accent to the party and knocks Spider Raymond out with her lipstick. She opens a safe in his office and finds a gem-like object, a bomb. She sneaks back to her apartment and under the instructions Jarvis gives her on the phone, diffuses the molecular nitramene bomb in her bathroom. When she comes back out she sees her roommate has been killed and then attacked by a man in a green suit. She manages to toss him out a window, but instead of dying from the fall, the man in the green suit has disappeared.
Peggy unloads on Jarvis about the death of her roommate and relays her fears that keeping people close to her gets them killed. Together, Peggy and Jarvis head to see one of Stark’s scientists, Dr. Anton Vanko, who determines the bomb material is vita rays.
The name is familiar to Peggy and she checks out the SSR file for Project Rebirth at her office the next day. Vita rays were used in Dr. Erksine’s formula to turn scrawny Steve Rogers to brawny Steve Rogers.
With a tip from Dr. Vanko, Peggy and Jarvis’ next adventure is to a Roxxon Refinery, except when Peggy enters she finds a truck filled with more of the molecular nitramene bombs. For the truck driver to get away he sets off one of the bombs, sending Peggy reeling to get back to Jarvis before it explodes. Once the bomb does, there is a gust of fire that takes off the bumper of their car, but it is sucked back into as an implosion, and the factory becomes a giant twisted metal ball.
In the closing moments of this episode, Agent Thompson shares that he has heard wind that a blonde woman was seen with Spider Raymond, who was found later dead by the hands of the man in the green suit. Thompson says he’s contacted a society photographer and is expecting the pictures from the party shortly. At the very end, Jarvis is on the phone with Stark and confirms to him that Peggy has no suspicions of them.
Episode 2 – Bridge and Tunnel
The second episode reminds us that in the 1940’s, your home entertainment system rested in the radio as we watch the performance of the Captain America Adventure Program. This radio program runs throughout the episode and constantly pops up to annoy Peggy as a character named Betty Carver is constantly being saved by Captain America. It offers subversion to Peggy’s storyline.
Peggy begins this episode looking for a new place to live in the wake of her roommates Colleen’s murder. She tours the Stark mansion to which Jarvis offers it upon Stark’s request. She’s hesitant to accept but decides to try it out.
It becomes known that the man in the green suit is looking for a man named Leet Brannis who is apparently a thief. The man in the green suit is also instructed via a communicating typewriter to locate the next nitramene buyer. Another word, Leviathan is also dropped into the transmission.
Peggy uses her mastery of disguise to pose as a health inspector at a Daisy Clover milk distribution facility and notices one of the trucks is missing. While she is doing this, the other SSR agents investigate the Roxxon factory remains and believe it to be the work of Stark.
Back at the SSR office, Peggy asks Agent Sousa, the only agent who treats her as an equal, to cover her as she has personal business to attend to. As she is about to leave, the photos from the party are placed on Sousa’s desk and immediately she changes her mind to volunteer to look through them. Another agent, Agent Krzeminiski calls Sousa away to help him sift through the Roxxon wreckage; Sousa leaves, but locks the pictures in a drawer.
It suddenly hits Peggy that the vita rays leave a trace on the people it comes into contact with, and on a secure line in the office, Peggy tells Jarvis to immediately dispose of the car since it was damaged in the implosion. She is then called to help Chief Dooley and Agent Thompson scan Roxxon employees for the same radiation.
After testing the scanner on herself in the bathroom she removes a watch that contains traces of the radiation. While helping Agent Thompson scan Roxxon employees, she recognizes one she saw before the implosion, a man named Van Ert. He doesn’t recognize her due to the fact she temporarily blinded him. The scanner doesn’t go off on him and Peggy realizes the radiation wouldn’t cling to a human body as well as clothes and she brings this up to the other agents. This causes Van Ert to run and while Agent Thompson and Chief Dooley follow, Peggy takes a shortcut down the steps and cuts him off with a whack to the stomach with a briefcase.
Dooley and then Thompson interrogate Van Ert in a good cop/bad cop routine. Dooley dismisses Peggy saying she shouldn’t see this kind of action, as it is inappropriate for a woman. She leaves and meets up with Jarvis who head out to the house of the man who drives the missing Roxxon truck, Sheldon McFee.
Simultaneously, the other agents discover the link between Sheldon McFee and Leet Brannis and also head out. Peggy finds McFee at home and after a fight, she handcuffs him to a chair. A disturbance outside leads Peggy to find the man named Leet Brannis trying to steal the truck with the vita ray bombs. She apprehends him as well and interrogates him to find what Leviathan is. Not getting any further in the investigation, Peggy forces Brannis to drive the milk truck. A man jumps onto the truck and firing rounds into it soon intercepts them. Peggy climbs atop and gets the upper hand when she stabs the mans hand, nailing him down to the truck. With Brannis shot, Jarvis heads the truck to a cliff and informs Peggy that one of the bombs will be going off. Peggy, Jarvis, and Brannis escape before it falls. In his dying moments, Brannis draws a heart-like symbol into the ground.
Agent Thompson and the other SSR agents find Sheldon McFee trudging down the road still handcuffed to a chair and picks him up. They head towards the implosion and find Brannis dead, but also notice female footprints and a key to the Hotel Cosmopolitan that had dropped.
Peggy is stitched up by Jarvis who tells her how much Captain America needed her support. It helps Peggy realize that Jarvis wants to help her and doesn’t just want to be the chauffeur.
The next day, Peggy goes with her waitress friend Angie to be interviewed for an apartment in her all-female complex. A strict ruling landlord named Miriam accepts her for the apartment.
The next time Peggy is in the office, the SSR agents are looking over the party photos and remark how the blonde woman was very good at avoiding the camera, the photographer only ever got her back. She’s relieved.
The end scene of the episode shows Agent Krzeminiski looking through a pile of the Roxxon wreckage when he discovers a bumper and license plate, both belonging to Howard Stark’s car Jarvis had been driving.
Overall, Agent Carter comes out of the gate as a firmly footed show. Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter has a powerful presence. Peggy is unapologetic and her storyline subverts common female character tropes. There are interesting relationships burgeoning between her and Jarvis (James D’Arcy) who takes on a sidekick role and also Agent Sousa, who tries to defend her but is reminded that she does not need it. It will also be interesting to see how the storyline plays in to the bigger Marvel schematic. Leviathan, Roxxon, and even Leet Brannis have all been part of the comic books and entertaining just to see how the show runs with these well-established and not so well-established components.
The early verdict is if Agent Carter continues down its strongly written path, we want more, more, more.