Two things struck me as I was watching this week’s installment of Agent Carter. The first (and Den of Geek editor Mike Cecchini shares the sentiment) is that I want everyone involved in this series to get to work on a Dick Tracy project. Seriously, think about that. Secondly, this series evokes two different sets of Avengers.
The first is obviously Marvel’s Greatest Heroes. You know, Cap, Iron Man, Hulk—those guys. But the second is this great John Steed and Emma Peel quality between Peggy and Jarvis. Just the classy way they go about their business and their eminently professional and respectful, and very British interactions. Agent Carter is thus the only series that takes story cues from two different Avengers.
But how was the episode you ask? Solid. Restrained. Delightful. But a bit uneventful till the end. We get no more insight to Leviathan or any progress in solving who stole Howard Stark’s weapons. In fact, we didn’t get a Howard Stark appearance at all. What we did get is a deep look into the inner workings of the SSR and a painful loss of one of the SSR operatives.
Ray Krzeminski was cast in the role of the office bully. The Flash Thompson, Steve Lombard character that acted as a sort of foil to our Ms. Carter. A loudmouth, chauvinistic, slovenly brute who stood as the antithesis of everything Peggy stands for.
Yet, his surprising death at the hands of Leviathan (?) had impact. He was still a man with a wife (and a girlfriend) who for all his shortcomings didn’t deserve to die on a lonely street, a victim of a vast conspiracy bigger than his simple place in the world. Viewers didn’t really get to know Krzeminski well, but the sobbing operators at the front of SSR HQ really drove home the loss of a flawed and human character.
While we are discussing the SSR, we have to mention the understated performance of Shea Whigham as SSR Roger Dooley. I freakin’ loved Whigham as Eli Thompson in Boardwalk Empire, and he carries the same weight and class in Agent Carter. You have to wonder though: is Whigham a dude that is going to wear a fedora in everything he appears in? Come to think of it, he would make a killer Flattop in that Dick Tracy film I’ve been casting in my head all night.
We didn’t get to see a great deal of the home for ladies in which Peggy now lives, but the bit we did see worked really well with one of her housemates getting the boot for having her GI boyfriend over after hours. The home really gives everything a good sense of the era with old-fashioned morals and gender roles contrasting the kick-ass world of Peggy Carter.
And kick ass she did with good battle sequence aboard a ship that contained Stark’s stolen weapons. Massive kudos to the fight choreography, as Carter seemed completely overwhelmed by her brutish opponent’s mass and used her sudden striking skills and her speed to stand against her foe. Sadly, her victory and the anonymous tip she had Jarvis leave led to the assassination of Krzeminski.
I was also glad to see them not have Carter go the seduction route this episode. Last week, we saw Carter don a blond wig to shimmy her way through a mission. I feared we would have to endure this Alias (not Jessica Jones, the other one) riff every week, but it seems to just have been a one-and-done for the pilot. The series just has too much class to go that route on a regular basis.
Again there was not much going on in terms of unraveling the main plot; the episode’s strength was the developing partnership between Carter and Jarvis. Jarvis is just so awesome. Seriously, between him and Alfred over on Gotham, we are being treated to the golden age of comic book butlers. This episode revealed a great deal of Jarvis’ past. It seems he was brought up on treason charges for helping a Jewish Hungarian woman escape the Nazis during the War, a mess Howard Stark helped him escape. He ended up marrying the Hungarian, which goes a long way in explaining his loyalty to Stark. This gratitude probably extended to any children Stark had, oh, say a child who would go on to name an advanced AI after his family’s loyal servant. They are finding some depth in Jarvis and telling stories with him that the comics never did, so props for that.
It’s too early for it to become a great concern, but the lack of a villain did make me raise an eyebrow. The first season of Agents of SHIELD really suffered from a lack of a concrete antagonist until Ward made the heel turn, so hopefully Agent Carter will have a big bad that we can dig our claws into before too long. Perhaps the assassin that shot Krzeminski?
Overall, it’s the world and the characters that so far have made this series appointment television, and while this episode didn’t do much in terms of story advancement, it did flesh out our cast a great deal.
Retro Marvel Moments
Nothing really except for the revelation that the dead Leviathan operative was Russian, which connects this version of the shadow organization to the one in the comics. As I mentioned last week, Leviathan is an offshoot of Communist Russia in the same way that HYDRA was an offshoot of the Third Reich.
Marc Buxton will now write some fan fic of Dick Tracy teaming with Captain America to take down the Red Skull and Prune Face. It will be epic.