January 20, 2016

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Premiere Review: “Agent Carter”



Under showrunners Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas, the second season of ABC/Marvel’s retro comic book adventure AGENT CARTER, at least in the early going, makes a less strenuous effort to fit into the larger Marvel universe, and the result is more streamlined and smoother than Season 1.

The 2-hour season premiere (Hour 1 written by Supervising Producer Brant Englestein, Hour 2 by Executive Story Editor Eric Pearson and Story Editor Lindsey Allen; both directed by Laurence Trilling) took the action to 1947 Los Angeles, where Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) was transferred from New York to help solve the mysterious murder of a young woman whose body was found in a block of ice during a heatwave.  Naturally enough, before long the crime was linked to a dark conspiracy and some evil black goop that looks like the interdimensional portal stuff in Agents of SHIELD but apparently hails from the Doctor Strange part of the Marvel-verse (no coincidence, since the Doctor Strange movie is coming up), along with Senate candidate Calvin Chadwick (Currie Graham) and his aging movie star wife Whitney Frost (Wynn Everett).

With her transport to LA, Peggy left behind the SSR office politics that took up much of Season 1, as well as most of the original cast and her pining after the (seemingly) late Captain America.  Apart from Atwell, only factotum and Howard Stark (so far unseen) butler Jarvis (James D’Arcy) and Peggy’s not-quite love interest Daniel Sousa (Enver Ghokaj) remain as regulars, although we’ve already been clued in that the new cabal is linked with Peggy’s old nemesis, Russian spy Dottie Underwood (Bridget Regan), who’s still in New York with SSR bureau boss Thompson (Chad Michael Murray) and a probably up-to-no-good FBI official played by Kurtwood Smith.  The arrivals include Jarvis’ engaging wife Ana (Lotte Verbeek) and scientist Jason Wilkes (Reggie Austin), who may become Peggy’s new romance, since Daniel now has an almost-fiancee in nurse Violet (Sarah Bolger)–unless the goop has already done something terrible to Jason.

Agent Carter always had a strong lead going for it in Atwell, and in its revised form, it feels more confident, less looking over its shoulder at the rest of the Marvel mythology.  The period detail is once again lavish, and the social commentary is a bit softer this time around, with fewer characters ridiculing the idea of a mere woman being a competent government agent.  (On the other hand, it was a bit odd that Peggy, even as a forward-thinking heroine, would be naive enough not to realize in 1947 that an interracial relationship would be considered out of the ordinary.)

As female-driven Marvel sagas go, Agent Carter isn’t in a league with Netflix’s remarkable (and remarkably dark) Jessica Jones, but it’s a fun hour, well-positioned as the placeholder for Agents of SHIELD‘s midseason hiatus, with a brisk 10-episode order and a less self-serious tone than the show it displaces.  While its ratings were nothing to get excited about last season, few network shows these days have much in the way of ratings super-powers, and it’s a series that serves a purpose, building the brand for its network and studio.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."