Warning: Full spoilers for Agent Carter: Season 2 below.
As I write this, Agent Carter’s fate is very much up in the air, and despite one recent rumor that it’s a virtual lock for renewal floating out there, the overall consensus is it’s in a tough spot as it fights for a third season. I certainly hope it comes back, that’s for sure (especially after how this season ended on a cliffhanger), but I’m still going to celebrate the fact that we got a Season 2 of this delightful series, should this be the end.
As Agents of SHIELD delves into more and more straight up superhero storylines – albeit mixed with the spy backdrop still – and the Netflix/Marvel series bring the MCU into some much darker corners than any other content they create, Agent Carter once more provided a very different source of entertainment. From its period setting, to its focus on heroes without any sort of superpowers, to its tone, Agent Carter continued to bring something different and appreciated to the Marvel TV landscape and the MCU in general.
Hayley Atwell once more was as captivating and excellent as ever as Peggy Carter, a character she’s come to completely embody over the years. Peggy came into Season 2 with some of the burdens she had in Season 1 off her shoulders – she’d moved past her initial grief over losing Steve Rogers and didn’t have to deal with quite as much oppressive sexism at the SSR (though it certainly hadn’t all magically gone away). But soon enough she found herself dealing with a formidable opponent in Whitney Frost – one whose Darkforce (or “Zero Matter”) supplied powers turned her into a true supervillain.
Wynn Everett was terrific as Whitney, someone who felt compelled to hide and underplay her incredible intelligence thanks to the era she lived in. The episode “Smoke & Mirrors” evocatively showed us moments that defined both Peggy and Whitney as they grew up, forging them into the very different, but equally strong-willed women they were in 1947.
Another great addition was Lotte Verbeek as Ana Jarvis, Edwin Jarvis’ oft-mentioned, never-seen wife in Season 1. I was wary of them introducing Ana at all after the way she was an off-camera presence last year, but she was so likeable and open – and Verbeek did such a great job showing her kindness and spunk – she easily became an endearing part of the show, to the point that it was a bit disappointing when she wasn’t included in several episodes.
Jarvis himself was an interesting element in Season 2. Peggy and Jarvis’ partnership was wonderfully depicted in Season 1 and understandably became a fan favorite element. Season 2 continued that in a big way, and Atwell and James D’Arcy were as amazingly charismatic together as ever.
On the other hand, several episodes went by where Jarvis had little to do that actually was of consequence and sometimes the material with him was one of the examples of Season 2 going a bit too far in the comedy area. It’s such a fine balance, to be sure, and I think the MCU in general has used humor in a really great, accessible manner. And there was always a wit to Agent Carter and it was understandable it might be pushed a bit more as the show continued. But there were also times in Season 2 where it felt just a bit too much. Mileage will vary of course, but sometimes scenes had a few too many notably wacky beats, and in the early episodes, that involved Jarvis quite a few times.
However, later episodes would fix things considerably in this regard. Ana being shot resulted in some very strong moments for Ana herself, Jarvis and the two together – and one hell of a scene for Jarvis and Peggy as well, as the two had a pretty brutal argument, with the two close friends each getting in some cruel jabs in the heat of the moment. D’Arcy rose to the occasion showing “Dark Jarvis,” and I was glad to see some more nuance and layers added to the character.
Reggie Austin was likable as Dr. Jason Wilkes and he and Atwell had a nice rapport as the two enjoyed some early flirtation, though ultimately, the character felt a bit bland – even as he had his own struggle with Dark Matter and his battle to stay corporeal. His would-be romance with Peggy really went nowhere, though the two had a nice scene in the season finale, with a melancholy “what could have been” beat included.
Enver Gjokaj was still easy to root for as Daniel Sousa, and tough I feel bad for his poor fiancé-for-a-second, Violet (a charming Sarah Bolger), it was hard not to be happy for Sousa and Peggy finally getting together in the finale. Chad Michael Murray continued to bring the appropriate smarm as Thompson and while it was frustrating to see him revert so much to not trusting Peggy’s instincts early on – and at times it felt murky whether he was just a straight up villain now or not – the final episodes managed to really pull together an intriguing look at a guy who was such an opportunist and so often hard to like, but ultimately did have noble intentions, albeit often coupled with horrible tactics.
Currie Graham (as Whitney’s in over his head politician husband, Chadwick), Kurtwood Smith (as Thompson’s nasty mentor, Vernon), Ken Marino (as gangster Joseph Manfredi) and the returning Ray Wise (as Roxxon Oil head Hugh Jones) all added to the proceedings as characters who came into Peggy’s orbit, while Dominic Cooper was as fun and entertaining as ever in his two appearances as Howard Stark. And a special nod has to go to Bridget Regan, who was oh-so dynamic and engaging as the badass – and Peggy-obsessed — Dottie, Season 1’s surprise Black Widow, who ended up being reluctantly recruited by an injured Peggy.