Kevin watches the entire MCU - Agent Carter Season One
We remain in the 1940s to follow Peggy Carter's adventures.
Agent Carter Season One
1/16/15 - 2/24/15 | Creators: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely | Rotten Tomatoes: 96% | Episodes: 8 | Platform: Hulu
Continuing my trip through the MCU, Captain America: The First Avenger is directly follows by the short-lived Agent Carter series. The show followed Agent Peggy Carter in the 1940s and her work as a member of the SSR. Though it takes place far away from every MCU property outside of First Avenger, there are plenty of references to make sure it feels like it’s part of the universe.
Any talk about this show needs to begin with Hayley Atwell. She was very good as Peggy Carter in the first Captain America film, playing well off Chris Evans. Even without Evans, she more than carries this show on her shoulders. She had chemistry with every cast member, continuing to nail the balancing act of being a tough woman but also one who is struggling to gain acceptance in her line of work. In fact, for the first three or so episodes, that’s clear. Nobody takes her seriously. Honestly though, that’s where the show struggled. It wasn’t bad, but her co-workers all felt like clichéd chauvinists. It wasn't until episode five that everything picked up and it just so happens that’s when the MCU references started heating up.
That fifth episode, “The Iron Ceiling,” brought back the Howling Commandos. For those unfamiliar, they worked with Captain America and Peggy in The First Avenger. Though only Dum Dum Dugan returned for the show, having them around helped in a big way. It wasn’t just bringing a character back for the sake of it, either. They were used to help cement Peggy as a legitimate agent in front of her co-workers. The episode also did wonders to build on Carter’s relationship with Agent Thompson (Chad Michael Murray). I loved how he opened to her about the secrets behind his accolades and it truly fleshed him out more as a character. The fact that it came at the same time as Agent Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) suspecting her for something is great because it flips the script on her relationships with both characters.
As noted, Atwell is great with almost every person she shares the screen with. For example, Dominic Cooper (Howard Stark) has a playful banter with her that stems from the film and it works in all three of his appearances. James D’Arcy (Edwin Jarvis) makes for a fun partner for Carter. Plus, the fact that he’s kind of the Jarvis that Vision eventually gets named for is cool. Lyndsy Fonseca (Angie Martinelli) didn’t get to play some badass role, but was always a delight with Atwell. The scene where she finds out that Carter is more than a phone operator is one of the better ones all season. I’m also really happy there was no romantic angle for Peggy. Cap was still fresh in her mind and fans wouldn’t really accept anyone else in his place.
Back to the MCU references, there are two that stood out. The first was the quick appearance of Dr. Vanko. For those who don’t pay attention, it could’ve been overlooked. However, Dr. Vanko is the father of the villain that Mikey Rourke plays come Iron Man 2. The bigger reference involved Dottie (Bridget Regan). At first, she just seems like a shady neighbor. But, in the fifth episode, we find out that she’s been trained as a Black Widow. Getting to see the Black Widow training, knowing what Natasha Romanoff goes on to become in the MCU was fantastic. They didn’t have to do it, but they did.
There were two problems that did hurt the show. One issue came from the action scenes. None of them ever really worked. They felt amateurish, especially for a Marvel production. For all the working character moments and scenes, almost anything involving action was either truly lacking or completely uninteresting. The other was the lack of a compelling villain. Dottie was formidable and the Black Widow stuff ruled, but she was more of a hired gun. Meanwhile, the doctor was a fine idea, just not a memorable one. Also, his hypnotism thing was cheesy. That’s where the short, eight episode format hurt things. It’s hard to truly establish an antagonist in that short period. The same thing happened in The Defenders (though that show had a plethora of other problems). On the flip side, the short format allowed the show to move along quickly and nothing felt like it overstayed its welcome.
Unlike the MCU films, I’d never seen this show before doing this watch. Considering it’s the only MCU property to not feature someone with some kind of superpower, there was a chance it could feel boring. Instead, they managed to craft a compelling show with suspenseful episodes, great character moments, and relied on the chemistry among the cast. The MCU bits thrown in throughout proved to be a nice touch that made it extra fun. I’m looking forward to watching season two.
Up Next: Agent Carter Season Two