Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you a SECOND Marvel show on Television! A thing which makes me very happy, indeed.
Last night was the two-hour premiere, which apparently is being counted as two episodes airing in sequence, so this may end up being a bit of a lengthy discussion of what all occurred therein. Buckle in, agents!
Pilot / Bridge and Tunnel
Interspersing a lot of flashbacks, we see Agent Carter in her new role at the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR), where she feels woefully under-appreciated and under-utilized. She played a very important role in Captain America’s success, and is now treated like a secretary by seemingly everyone in 1946. It is very clear that she has no real relationships going on right now, and doesn’t seem to get out much, but doesn’t seem to mind. We also find out that the SSR is a somewhat secret organization, since they are using the telephone company as a cover.
The real action starts taking place when we learn that at least 6 pieces of Howard Stark’s technology have fallen into enemy hands or shown up on the Black Market. You’ll remember Howard Stark as the ancestor of the man who will become Iron Man. So his technology is kind of a big thing to fall into enemy control. Stark arranges to meet Agent Carter, albeit in the least effective way possible, and he confides in her: someone tunneled into his vault from the sewer pipes below and stole some of his “bad babies”. He gets in a boat to go find the ones that have made it overseas, and tasks Agent Carter with finding the ones still in America. And, since Stark will still be considered a traitor until the two can prove otherwise, this mission is even more top-secret than everything else the SSR works on. He leaves her with his butler Jarvis (yes, Jarvis), who he instructs to help her in any way.
The first item on the scavenger list: a chemical formula for molecular nitramene – a thing which makes things go “boom” and then sucks everything into a tiny ball of mess. Carter looks over some shoulders and eavesdrops on briefings happening within the SSR, and follows some leads down to a swanky party. Dressed to kill as a blonde with an American accent, she finds herself face-to-face talking with the suspected buyer of Stark’s nitramene formula. Of course, the guy is too easily seduced, and steals a kiss from Agent Carter, who is wearing “night-night” lipstick, so he drops unconscious long enough for her to crack his safe and extract the now-weaponized yellow-glowing bomb capsule.
A quick call to Jarvis for an explanation of how to deactivate the bomb, which she does in her house while the lurky bad person sneaks in and kills her roommate. He attempts to kill Agent Carter, but she’s too awesome, and she throws him out the window.
More spy-work later and she tracks down the Roxxon chemical refinery that is the only logical place this thing can be assembled. She and Jarvis take a road trip and Agent Carter comes face to face with a guy with no voice box who uses a vocoder to tell her about “Leviathan” and warn her about the guy she beat up in her kitchen. “If he’s here, we’re already dead”. He drives off in a milk truck filled with more glowing yellow bombs, but no before throwing one on the ground, starting a 30-second chain delayed chain reaction that Agent Carter barely escapes before the entire building becomes one twisted ball of everything.
She tracks down the milk truck to its drivers home, where she has a run in with the “good?” no-voicebox guy. They take him for drive in the milktruck, still filled with those bombs – until they get attacked by the bad no-voicebox guy. Carter and Jarvis survive, “good?” guy dies after barely etching out a visual clue that looks kind of like a heart with a squiggly line through it, and bad guy goes over the cliff with the truckful of implosives and winds up packed neatly into the same little ball as the rest of the lake, presumably.
I really didn’t have a lot of expectations going into this show. I knew about the character, and I knew that it was all the history of SHIELD before it was SHIELD, but I didn’t have a fix on what kind of show I’d be watching. It ended up being the kind of show I am excited to keep watching, though. I love the big band music throughout the entire show, the fashion, the color grading, all the stuff that makes you watch a show and think “I’m watching something from the 40’s.”
It’s a much less team-oriented show than SHIELD is, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a team forming. Agent Carter as the independent, somewhat over-ambitious lead puts the show on a strong first footing. Jarvis as her slightly squeamish yet oddly calm and capable action-butler provides a nice contrast, and he has some nice comedy of his own that doesn’t come off as too silly. I’m expecting to see a lot more of Agent Sousa, the crutched agent a few desks away from hers. He respects Agent Carter and is willing to cover for her if he can, and I think he’ll prove a useful asset down the line.
They’ve revealed the big baddy for this show: Leviathan, which seems to fit neatly next to Hydra as another giant monster whose name is being applied to some secret organization of evil. This is an organization from the comics, as far as I can tell, but this being an origin story for them in the cinematic universe, there’s a lot of room for play in here.
Agent Carter, as a show, fits in an interesting spot. First of all, it’s all connected. We see this from the numerous clips of Carter and Captain America, sure, and also from a few flashbacks of her dealing with Whitehall back when he was first a problem. Then again, the entirety of her storyline is in the past of all the media we’re currently getting – SHIELD, the upcoming Avengers and Antman movies, etc. So what opportunities will these writers take to make those connections and backstories and hints really come alive? I’m excited to find out. I’m also wondering if Leviathan will be for-real defeated or if it will be pretend-defeated and pop up again in some future production down the line. Looking at you,
Next week we’ll see how this all plays out, which one of Stark’s devices is next to pose a threat, who Leviathan is and what they want, and more!
Until next time, Agents. Geek out.