Continuing on from our previous recap and review of the 1st half Agent Carter: Now is Not the End (click the link to see that review and get the detailed synopsis in case you missed it) this review will focus on what happens next and how Agent Carter continues to grow and develop.
One good thing that I probably didn’t mention or focus on in my previous review … Marvel and Disney have not seen the need to provide a whole backstory and history of Peggy Carter or Howard Stark. Most TV shows spend the initial half of the season introducing the characters and why they are doing what they are doing. Thankfully this is not the case in Agent Carter as I think they’ve rightly realized only people familiar with the characters and universe would be watching in the first place … they’ve provided some flashbacks off course, but it isn’t painful in any way and doesn’t feel forced. For this I must say a heartfelt Thank You!
Now a really quick recap of what happened in the first half of this double-pilot episode if you don’t have time to read my previous post.
The war is over and the men who fought are back in the USA. These men have the typical attitudes towards women of that era and many women are now relegated back to a “women’s role” v.s. the work they were previously doing. Peggy while an agent at the SSR (Strategic Science Reserve). is also typecast by the men as nothing more than a glorified secretary and they further imply that the only reason she is in the position that she is in is due to the man (Captain America) that she had a relationship with. When Howard Stark is wrongly accused of selling secrets to the enemy and is forced to flee the country, he requests Peggy’s help in clearing his name and in stopping the use and sale of his inventions. Peggy investigates and finds that a nefarious group called Leviathan is behind the theft but before she can apprehend the villain he manages to escape destroying the Roxxon oil refinery in the process.
Episode 2 Recap
If you recall from the previous episode, there seem to be two people working for Leviathan – Leet Brannis who we heard speak at the Roxxon refinery and who destroyed it, and someone else … the man in the green suit that Peggy fought and who killed her roommate. Well this episode starts with the man in the green suit getting instructions from Leviathan to track down Leet Brannis and do whatever is necessary to retrieve the merchandise. As we already know, he’s no stranger to death and he quickly leaves a trail of bodies in his wake as he searches for Brannis.
Meanwhile, Peggy goes to the dairy plant that the truck (from the previous episode that Leet used to transport the nitramene) is from disguised as a health official and while she’s unable to find the truck, she does learn that one of the drivers has been sick for a couple of days and that he uses his truck to commute.
SSR also is continuing their investigation and while they may be behind Peggy, they are fortunately not complete dullards! Chief Dooley, and Agents Thompson and Krzeminski check out the remains of the Roxxon factory – one giant ball of fused metal, wood, and concrete. Dooley thinks Howard Stark is behind the destruction, and takes Thompson with him to Roxxon while leaving behind Krzeminski to pick apart the remains of the factory for clues.
Back at the office, Peggy learns of the investigation and also that SSR has access to photos of the mysterious blonde from the nightclub – Peggy fearing that her secret will be known quickly tells Jarvis to ditch the car used in their escape from Roxxon as its been bathed in Vita-Rays which can be tracked down. Called to the Roxxon factory she helps Chief Dooley and Thompson scan the employees for Vita-Rays also to see if anyone was involved in the explosion at the factory. Realizing by testing herself that Vita-Rays can be washed off and will only stay on metal objects or clothing for a small amount of time, she identifies the scientist Miles Van Ert whom she saw previously helping Leet Brannis. While he’s not initially implicated in the incident, Peggy “innocently” states that they should scan the employees’ clothes in the locker room vs the employees themselves. Realizing that he is caught Van Ert tries to escape but is quickly caught (requisite comedy scene here, where the other agents chase Van Ert but the “smarter” Peggy simply walks down the stairs and knocks Van Ert down before he can escape the building). At the SSR HQ, Thompson “interrogates” (lets be honest … brutally beats is more accurate) Van Ert and manages to get the name – Leet Brannis – from him.
Carter and Jarvis set off in the evening to find the sick driver (Sheldon McFee), but both the man in the green suit and the SSR team are hot on their tail also. Carter sneaks into McFee’s house and while he tries to subdue her, she easily bests him and proceeds to tie him to a chair. While she’s tying him up, she hears a car starting outside, and pulls a man out of McFee’s milk truck. It’s the same person from the factory, Leet Brannis. Peggy puts a gun to his head, and wants information out of him. Once she offers him protection, he tells her that Leviathan is his former employer, and they tasked him with stealing the Nitramene from Stark’s vault … Brannis however decided to double-cross Leviathan and sell Stark’s inventions to the highest bidder instead (hence the orders to the man in the green suit). Carter takes Brannis and the truck full of Nitramene back to SSR, but before they get too far, the man in the green suit jumps onto the truck … he proceeds to shoot and incapacitate Brannis, but is in in turn disabled when Peggy nails his hand to the roof of the car with his knife. As the truck careens out of control, Brannis and Jarvis jump to safety and the truck explodes (does the green suited man escape???) in the Atlantic as the dozens of Nitramene devices on board go off at once.
Brannis however is critically wounded and manages to draw a funny heart shaped symbol in the dirt before he dies. Carter and Jarvis make their escape moments before the SSR agents arrive and find Brannis’ body as well as some other clues. Back at the SSR HQ, Peggy sees the group going through the photo’s from the nightclub, but fortunately none of them portray her face and she feels safer … Krzeminski however finds the license plate to Stark’s car in the ruins of the Roxxon refinery.
Episode 2 Review
As mentioned in my previous review, Marvel and Disney definitely do not try to sugar coat the role of women and women’s rights in the 1940’s in the USA. They are perhaps a bit heavy handed in their treatment, but to a large extent I’m sure that is how it was … a very male dominated society where a woman had to prove themselves at all times. I guess the only thing I would say or disagree with is that Peggy has proven herself in the war. Regardless of what some of these “agents” might think of her, you’d think there would be enough positive information and resources available to prove that she is more than just another skirt. That might be my logical left brain talking but I’ve always treated people by their actions and not just by their skin color or sex and you would think that logical minded individuals at that time would too. I know that’s a very naive point of view but by portraying all of the men of that era (especially the ones she works with) as narrow minded misogynistic chauvinists, it takes away from the freedom and respect that Peggy properly received during WWII and makes her less brilliant than she really is.
Some of the key points of this episode however are that Jarvis too is marginalized – this time by Peggy herself. When Peggy insists that Jarvis merely drive her there and then return home to safety, he disobeys! This is quite a good and subtle twist and perhaps something that Peggy will herself realize & hopefully correct in future episodes?
For her part, Hayley Atwell’s performance is wonderful and the limited combat she gets to perform on screen – it seems each episode (so far anyways) will have her do some hand-to-hand combat, proving how much of a badass she is! – she executes with aplomb even when standing in high heels. On the personal side, she is forced to reach out to the waitress (Angela) as she searches for a new place to live after the death of her former roommate.
One bit of humor is the Captain America radio show. It’s quite a nice way of bringing some of the back story to life and perhaps in some ways it goes to the way in which Peggy is perceived and treated by the men in her life, as the recording portrays the character of Peggy as nothing more than a damsel in distress. However as the radio show plays during the penultimate scene on top of the truck as Peggy is fighting the man in the green suit, you can visualize her in the persona of Captain America, because Captain America is less about being Steve Rogers, skinny kid from Brooklyn with a chip the side of Alaska on his shoulder, and more about stepping up to do what is right – regardless of who you are!