If you’re unfamiliar with the show Agent Carter, it’s a Marvel-based TV show that’s a sequel to the movie Captain America: The First Avenger and a prequel for the show Agents of SHIELD. It follows the eponymous Peggy Carter as she navigates the difficulties of being the only female field agent for the fictional Strategic Scientific Reserve, a joint United States/United Kingdom agency to support the Allied war effort in World War II, and specifically counter Hydra, the Nazi’s own special science division.
Post-WWII, with Hydra supposedly beaten, the SSR is effectively reduced to being “science police,” investigating and containing dangerous advances in technology. In doing so, the show cheerfully borrows from the pulp adventures of that period, mixing historical accuracy with “world of tomorrow” inventions. These devices might seem a bit silly today, but the charm of the setting and the feel of an almost-there history, coupled with how the characters take it all seriously, helps sell the differences. It’s Foyle’s War meets The Avengers* with a dash of James Bond, set in the United States.
(* That’s the British sci-fi/spy thriller show, not the Marvel superhero team.)
The series got off to a bit of a rocky start, though not from it being uninteresting. Far from it, in fact; the show was quite popular, and simply suffered from a controversy regarding the portrayal of 1940s sexism in the show. I gave a detailed analysis of the issue on my writing/review blog Novel Ninja last year, noting ways that the writers could have handled this issue better. Many of the issues faded into the background by the season’s end, and I had high hopes for the second installment.
Well, the second season of Agent Carter started last week, and I watched and reviewed the first two episodes. You can find my full opinion here. If you haven’t seen the first season, the first part of the review will contain spoilers. If you have, but haven’t watched this season, then you’ll be fine until you get to the spoiler-warning graphic.
The short, spoiler-free version? This season looks excellent, with no hint of turning into messagefic, while still showing some of the obstacles of 1940s attitudes toward women and blacks. Actually, the latter is significantly toned-down, but probably for the best; I’ve noticed some people surprised at the (very mild for the period) racism portrayed in these two episodes. If you read my review, you’ll start to understand how that’s just a drop in the bucket.
I’ll be watching the rest of the season; it looks to be our best bet at a good Marvel show until the next season of Daredevil hits Netflix.