Agent Carter is back with another double header. With one more episode under way, ABC managed to keep Season 2 at a seven week time frame while making me pull double duty on the review front. But, I’m still keeping this down to five thoughts, so let’s break down what we got out of tonight’s double-feature.
1. Jarvis Rising
The biggest thing from both episodes that we got out of these two episodes was the chance for Edwin Jarvis / James D’Arcy to move beyond sidekick/wet blanket to Actual Human Boy. With the accident that befell his wife, a character that had been fleshed out to a decent degree now gets to actually showcase his own humanity in a way that acts as a nice counter balance to Peggy; their fight in the second episode is the key to this, as Peggy breaks down that to Jarvis, all of this was just a lark and now he’s faced with cold hard reality. Conversely, Jarvis reminds Peggy of her own humanity, and that there are aspects to this she can’t hide from anymore.
2. The Flipping of Wilkes
As predicted from the first episode, we got to spend all of our time wondering if Wilkes was good or bad — and that stays consistent throughout. In the first episode we see Wilkes as a selfish villain, but in the second episode now he’s back to caring about Peggy and other people. This is both interesting and frustrating; it’s nice to have someone who doesn’t fit into a specific, overly-defined role as Hero or Villain, but at the same time I’m beginning to get whiplash from the amount of times we have to change our opinions on him. At this point, in the second episode where Wilkes is back to being tortured, I honestly just want the arc to be over with so that we can stop hopping around so much; let Whitney be the villain and just go from there.
3. A Little Song and Dance
The second episode opened with a musical number, and I’m conflicted on it. On the one hand, it’s brave for this show — which is admittedly struggling against the other programs — to just go all out with a sequence that is otherwise disruptive / unusual. That being said, it was fairly disruptive and ultimately not that useful to getting any additional insight into the show; while it began with a slightly Twin Peaks vibe, quickly devolving into a relationship-fueled dance number lost me. I can appreciate that the show is trying to get Carter to decide if she’s a soldier or a person is a running theme, Season 1 succeeded at letting Peggy move on from being defined by her relationship (ie Steve Rogers). They can’t fall back on that because romance builds drama.
4. That was a Bit Finale-y
The curious thing about last night’s double-feature is that, while both episodes ended on notes that very much played off cliffhangers, the overall vibe of the episode was in a way that seemed key to wrapping things up. From re-opening the gateway to Zero Matter to having the final moments of rallying against Wilkes and Frost in a race against time, this very much had a “we’re ending now” vibe to it. To that extent, I’m personally wondering if the additional two episodes that we got out in this season provided too much value; I like BBC programs because they’re short and direct, and not a lot of room for over-drawn out moments. American television suffers from that, and while there are things that are nice in this show — the return of Sad Michael Murray, the introduction of new ancillary characters like Samberly or even the development of Rose — a lot of time is spent just talking about doing things rather than actually doing things. For two episodes that had so many closing moments, it’s clear they’re drawn out by that talking.
5. One Outing Left
Next week brings the second season of Peggy Carter’s adventures to a close, and it’s safe to say that the show has set up a lot of things to play out and be resolved if we’re going to see this season as a successful cohesive unit. There’s the Council still in play and how it will exist going forward (and its relationship to HYDRA), there’s the question of what Zero Matter is and what the voice that was speaking to Whitney was (let alone what Wilkes became possessed by), there’s the question of if Whitney will become Madame Masque as we know her in the comics, and there’s wondering how the SSR will see the various shake-ups we’ve had throughout the season — between Vernon Masters’ insurrection, to Jack’s faulty leadership, to the fact that we know that one day Peggy is in charge. Last season was a bit more direct in the plot, but this season is more interested in multi-tasking various elements. I have my reservations as to how much we’ll get by the end (I’m going to bet that we don’t have much resolution on the Zero Matter front), but I suppose we’ll find out next week.