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REVIEW: Agent Carter 2X01 “The Lady in the Lake”

She’s baaaaaaaaaaaack!!!!!

As someone whose favorite show on television at the moment is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., I can say with complete sincerity that the absolute ONLY thing that could make its obscenely long hiatus bearable is Peggy Carter.

Even better?

The fact that Agent Carter’s second season looks as though it will serve as more than just S.H.I.E.L.D’s placeholder this year. Like all television shows, Agent Carter had its fair share of bumps and bruises last season but, after watching a mere one episode of Season 2, it looks to me as though cast and crew alike have made it their mission to take note of what did and didn’t work, focusing on the former and ridding itself of the latter.

Agent Carter’s inaugural season was very much focused on the repercussions of the war, Peggy’s reintegration into a society that has very little respect for women in the workplace, as well as her grieving over the loss of former-love Steve Rogers. All of the above was certainly necessary in a new show, serving as explanatory information for new viewers, but much of it meant that, though certainly there was a fair amount of levity, Agent Carter’s first season had a certain bleak melancholia surrounding it.

Season 2 does not have such an aura, instead transitioning Peggy from the grey scale New York to a bright and glamorous Hollywood and making it clear that the show’s sophomore episodes won’t have quite as much doom and gloom as their predecessors. This largely stems from the fact that, arguably the biggest plot of last season (the general sexism and similar BS that Peggy had to deal with) isn’t much of a factor thus far in Season 2.

She’s established herself as a more than competent agent, proved herself time and time again in Season 1, and her general prowess and capability seems to have been finally accepted by her male counterparts. There’s far less doubt directed towards Peggy (her male counterparts are convinced she’s the only one capable of cracking recently captured Dottie Underwood), something that’s refreshing considering viewers have always been aware that she is kickass in terms of both intelligence and physicality. And happily it seems as though the other characters (minus Thompson who’s still kind of a jealous d!ck) in Agent Carter have finally caught up with us and realized as much.

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As mentioned, everyone’s favorite agent finds herself in sunny California when newly appointed Chief Sousa is in need of an extra pair of hands to help him in the SSR’s west coast office. Thompson is all too happy to get Peggy (who’s killing it btw) out of New York, and doesn’t hesitate to schlep her off to Los Angeles. After the body of a woman is found in a frozen block of ice in the middle of a California lake, the SSR becomes involved in a case that has remained unsolved for over two years. Certainly odd but it’s the fact that the deceased glows in the dark that makes the crime particularly intriguing.

After realizing that the supernatural glow is the result of Jane Doe being in close proximity to a particle accelerator, Peggy, Sousa, and LAPD’s Detective Henry find themselves at Isodyne Energy. Peggy is unsurprisingly undeterred by the eager woman at the front desk demanding to see a warrant, and sneaks into the Isodyne labs where she meets Doctor Wilkes, who informs her that Jane Doe is actually Jane Scott, an employee who was having an affair with Isodyne owner Calvin Chadwick. This naturally leads Peggy and Jarvis to a horse race where the former interrogates Chadwick while the latter does his best to distract Mrs. Chadwick.

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Not much is gleaned from this fun little jaunt, but when Peggy and Sousa return to the morgue to check in on the progress of Jane Scott’s defrosting, they find the mortician frozen solid before he crumbles into a thousand pieces.

Not a good way to go.

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What’s worse is the fact that we soon learn that it’s Detective Henry who’s responsible for both Jane Scott being found in the lake and the mysterious freezing that’s been taking place. He kidnaps Dr. Wilkes, knocks out poor Mr. Jarvis, and hightails it to (where else) a random bridge underpass. He reveals that he didn’t kill Jane, he merely took care of her body for the person who did, and can’t control his frostiness. Hence his kidnapping of Wilkes, he hopes the good Doctor can help, “fix,” him and rid him of the freezing powers he’s somehow acquired.

There’s a brief standoff between Henry and the SSR that ends with a random cop shooting the detective, causing him to explode into a bajillion pieces since, you know, he was partially frozen. Of course, said random cop then ominously says, “The job is done,” to Mr. and Mrs. Chadwick so… that’s a couple that we clearly need to keep an eye on.

Meanwhile, in New York, Jack is trying to prove he’s better than Peggy even when she’s X-thousand miles away. He tries the ol’, “tough as nails,” routine on Dottie, who doesn’t buy it for a second and instead kicks his ass without so much as smudging her red lipstick. It’s pretty funny because even Dottie thinks Thompson is a joke compared to Peggy and, apparently so does the FBI because they swoop in and take Dottie into their custody. Except the FBI dude that comes to steal his thunder is actually a family friend and seems as though he might soon give Thompson an offer he won’t be able to refuse.

“The Lady in the Lake,” was a superb start to what looks to be an equally fun season, due large in part to the already established character dynamics *cough Jarvis and Peggy* that we’ve grown to love as well as the fresh faces that have been introduced. Ana Jarvis was in a few scant minutes of this episode but oh man I can already tell that she’s is going to be a heck of a lot of fun… particularly when she and Peggy team up against the still uptight Jarvis. Here’s hoping that we see the women of Agent Carter interacting as much as possible this season. That includes Dottie Underwood because her quick exchanges with Peggy at the start of the episode exemplified the fact that she might be Agent Carter’s only real equal where work and wry wit are concerned.

Episode Grade: A-

Episode Highs:

  • Hollywood. The transition to the golden state was surprisingly wonderful and the glitz and glamor of old-school Hollywood has already become a character in its own right.
  • The cinematography. Whether it’s due to the show’s change of setting, or behind the scenes changes that I’m unaware of, so far Season 2 of Agent Carter is beyond on point where aesthetics are concerned. The dreariness of last season’s neutral New York has been offset by a brightness this season that makes the visuals that much easier to appreciate.
  • Ana Jarvis. Peggy Carter has been Marvel’s established female role model since first appearing in Captain America: First Avenger, but our favorite SSR agent has mostly been surrounded by men since her introduction. It’s nice to see another female, in the form of Mrs. Jarvis, who is just as quick and witty as Peggy because it makes for a great new dynamic. Also, having Jarvis’ work wife and actual wife team up against him will be oh so fun to watch.
  • Forget Howard and Tony, Bernard is without question my favorite Stark. I’m sorry, there were so many great things in this episode but how can any of them truly stack up next to a pet flamingo? I have a feeling good ol’ Bernard is going to be a fan-favorite where Agent Carter is concerned.

Episode Lows:

  • Still not really into Thompson in any capacity. He’s clearly being set up for something where the FBI is concerned so hopefully the storyline will be intriguing enough to make Jack an interesting character rather than just the douchey man in power who still refuses to take Peggy seriously.

Additional Thoughts:

  • Obviously not everyone could make the move to Hollywood… but it is kind of odd that Peggy’s fan-favorite BFF Angie didn’t make the cut. Did it really make more sense for Thompson of all people to be such a focus over a character who is an aspiring actress? Aspiring actress. Angie might have been the only character for whom it would make legitimate sense to move out west.

What did you think of Part I of Agent Carter’s second season premiere? Sound off in the comments below or over on Twitter!

About the author

Silje Falck-Pedersen