New season, new coast, new adventures, Agent Carter is back, and in Los Angeles to aid the west coast branch of S.H.I.E.L.D. precursor the Strategic Scientific Reserve. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on the first episode of this second season, “The Lady in the Lake.”
As we begin this season, I can’t tell you how happy I was to see the all-too-brief opening as Agent Peggy Carter’s distinctive red hat walks against the flow of the drab gray male foot traffic on the sidewalk. Symbolically it’s what this series of another time is all about. In an era where women are second class citizens, Carter makes her own way, quietly, but determinedly.
Unfortunately, it’s not Peggy Carter we’re seeing. It’s Dottie Underwood, the Black Widow prototype from last season, just pretending to be Peggy. As she and her cohorts rob a bank, they find its all a trap set by Carter and the SSR. The fight between Peggy and Dottie in the bank vault is one that would make both Mockingbird and the Cavalry proud, and we finally see a loose end from last season tied up nicely. We waited almost a year to see Dottie get justice, and it happened with a bang. Awesome.
The Lady of the Lake
To the tune of Gene Autry’s “Don’t Fence Me In,” we next drop in on Agent Daniel Sousa (now chief of the new west coast bureau) in Los Angeles investigating the Lady in the Lake murders for the SSR. Why the SSR? Well, the killer’s latest victim seems to have frozen over the lake. When Sousa requests help from New York, in typical SSR mismanagement, they send Agent Carter.
The old movie buff in me loves the name drop of the Lady in the Lake. For those who don’t know, Lady in the Lake is a classic 1947 film noir directed by and starring Robert Montgomery, based on Raymond Chandler’s novel. The film is not only a great example of film noir of the era, but of LA as well, and was uniquely shot from the point of view of the main character, Philip Marlowe, with no soundtrack. Brilliant film, and highly recommended.
Howard Stark’s butler, and Peggy’s partner-in-crime last season, Edwin Jarvis meets our heroine at the airport. Their chemistry is a bit shaky at first, as if the writer knew Jarvis had to be in this but was unsure of how to make this relationship work. The flamingo running joke did not help one bit. We also meet Jarvis’ wife, who is bubbly and fun, but she doesn’t help either, very awkward.
Although, not as awkward as the reunion with Daniel Sousa, the almost-romance of last season. This awkwardness however is choreographed and on point. The words “Another time” echo from last season when he finally got up the nerve to ask Peggy out. She is definitely the reason he took a position on the other side of the country. We find later in the episode that he already has a girlfriend, after Peggy finally thinks it’s time for “another time.” Sad.
New Friends and Foes
Carter, Sousa, and police detective Henry begin to investigate the frozen lake case, with many questions in the air. Are the body and the frozen lake related? Did the lake freeze the body or did the body freeze the lake? Why does it glow? Clues lead them to Isodyne Energy, a new entity unique to the Marvel Cinematic (and Television) Universe, and like last season’s Roxxon Corporation, apparently evil at its core.
There, Carter meets physicist Dr. Wilkes, who it appears may be this season possible love interest. How this will go over in 1947, when interracial relationships, even in liberal Los Angeles, are not the norm, and even reason for derision and violence? The show is fully aware of the era and the perceptions of the time. Even another character refers to African-American Wilkes as a janitor as opposed to a physicist.
After the coroner is frozen trying to perform an autopsy on the body, things get dicey. As it always is in these shows, if it’s not a trusted main character, it’s a suspect – Detective Henry is not what he seems, but a cog in a conspiracy to make it look as if the Lady in the Lake killer was at work. Isodyne is hiding something big, and as we see in the last moments of the episode, could it be The Monolith from “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.“??
Meanwhile Back in New York
Meanwhile back in New York, Dottie isn’t proving to be as easy to interrogate as Chief Jack Thompson thought it would be. Unfortunately, Peggy was the man, ahem, woman for the job, but he sent her off to the opposite coast. By the end of last season, I had thought Thompson had worked out all his ‘jerk’ tendencies, but apparently not. Luckily he doesn’t have to contend with Dottie much longer, as the FBI comes in to take her into their custody.
The custody is headed up by Vernon Masters, Thompson’s mentor. Played by Kurtwood Smith, I’m sure we will be seeing lots more of him, and probably not in the nicest way. Sorry, but Smith has a rep and a habit of being typecast. It’s his suggestion to Thompson that the SSR will be phased out with the after-war restructuring of the War Department. Maybe Thompson would be better served with them than the SSR. We have obviously not seen the last of Dottie either…
We’re off to a great start, despite the low ratings, but it was a mean night for nerd culture last night. Between “The Flash” last night, this and the second episode of “Agent Carter,” and specials about Captain America, Justice League and Suicide Squad, and “Legends of Tomorrow”– I’m sure everyone’s DVR got a hard work out.
Speaking of DVRs and the second episode of “Marvel’s Agent Carter from last night, my DVR seems to have had a breakdown and neglected to record it. Yeah, thanks, Comcast. So I will be back in a day or so with that review. Same SSR channel, same SSR time, see you then…