After solidifying its place at the box office, Marvel Studios turned to the small screen to continue its expansive universe, launching the wildly popular “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” in 2013. With “S.H.I.E.L.D.” thriving, Marvel debuted another series, “Marvel’s Agent Carter,” in 2015 which kicked off to a warm critical reception. Unlike the present-day “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” “Agent Carter” picks up in the 1940’s, following the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR), a precursor to the eventual S.H.I.E.L.D. Season two of “Agent Carter” aired on Jan. 19, 2016, and it’s every bit as charming and marvelous as season one.
“Agent Carter’s” second season run plunged straight into action with a quick-paced doubleheader of “The Lady in the Lake,” and “A View in the Dark.” Despite its two hour run time, the back-to-back show premiere felt much shorter, testament to its immersive narrative. Season two benefits greatly from the previous season, lending the second installment to forge ahead, eschewing a backstory.
However, “Agent Carter,” despite its fast stride, isn’t a generic action adventure. There’s quite a bit of complexity packed within the series. Living up to the Marvel mantra “it’s all connected,” “Agent Carter” follows a few key Marvel characters who appeared in past films, notably SSR Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper). Both were influential in the founding of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The plot of season one ties into the overarching Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in several ways. The Red Room, a key component of Black Widow’s past is introduced and explored, and Hyrda rears one of its many heads in the season one finale “Valediction” with the appearance of Arnim Zola (Toby Jones). Accordingly, season two continues the inter-connectivity, with a new backdrop no less. The New York skyline is replaced with sunny LA, where Carter, joined by West Coast SSR Chief Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj), and Stark’s butler/Peggy’s frequent sidekick Edwin Jarvis (James D’Arcy), investigates unusual happenings.
A body found frozen in a lake in the midst of a heat wave leads Peggy back to Isodyne Energy, where she meets Dr. Jason Wilkes (Reggie Austin), Isodyne owner Calvin Chadwick (Currie Graham), and his wife, actress Whitney Frost (Wynn Everett). According to Comic Book Resources, Frost is the MCU’s iteration of Madame Masque. The extra-dimensional energy Darkforce isn’t new, but it plays prominently into the plot of “Agent Carter” season 2. Darkforce first appeared in “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” episode “The Only Light in the Darkness,” and it seems “Agent Carter” will further pursue this mysterious substance.
What further enhances “Agent Carter” is the onus on character development, as well as history. Under the sci-fi and fantasy underpinnings are touches of reality, keeping the show grounded. Season one explored women’s treatment in 1940’s workplaces, still a running theme. The second season has introduced race relations, with a romance between Peggy Carter, and African-American scientist Jason Wilkes. The pair meet at the Dunbar Hotel, which as per an article on Starcasm, was a real location where both African-American and Caucasian patrons could mingle and listen to Jazz. Actress Hayley Atwell spoke to Variety about season two developments, and noted that racism would be a visible theme.
Fast-paced, connected to the MCU, and grounded in relatable material, “Marvel’s Agent Carter” is one of television’s hottest shows. In the wake of 2015’s critically-acclaimed first run, season two ups the ante with a hearty dose of Marvel lore, period drama, and a welcome dash of humor.
“Marvel’s Agent Carter” airs Tuesdays at 9 PM on ABC.