'Marvel's Agent Carter' S2E1&E2: The Lady in the Lake & A View in the Dark

★ ★ ★ ★

Agent Carter's second season brings on the heat (or cold) with a deeper mystery than the last, and a conspiracy worthy of the Los Angeles backdrop. Now that Captain America's out of the picture (for now), the series gets the opportunity to really display Carter's independent spirit and the drive that's driven her coworkers to awe or envy. Even more intriguing is Carter's creation of an fantastic case with science fiction elements rivaling those in Fringe and The X-Files. The Lady of the Lake may not have bestowed Excalibur, but she gave us a cold and unforgiving tale Stark-ly different from the inventor-centered story last season.

One of the best aspects of Agent Carter is the old comic book-like style it's able to maintain. You can try comparing the tone Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. sets when sending Agent May and Mockingbird to a bank vault to Peggy's fight with Dottie. Agent Carter is old fashioned in a way that's almost refreshing, and a joyful reminder of comic books from that era.

Dorothy Underwood (Bridget Regan) made a surprising comeback to the show. Vanishing after she fell out of a window, the 1940s Black Widow was certainly going to be returning — but she came back far sooner than I expected. Her interrogation scenes with Peggy and Thompson (Chad Michael Murray) go to show just how "tough" Dottie is. She's similar to Agent Ward from S.H.I.E.L.D. in the sense that beneath that hard and deadly upper layer is a very traumatized person.

The new S.S.R. headquarters is simply spectacular. Now a talent agency instead of telephone operators, the new front provides lots of quirky moments to look forward to. It also gives Rose Roberts (Lesley Boone) a bigger role (and thank goodness for that). That's not all, after having carried the torch for Peggy all those years Souza (Enver Gjokaj) found himself a girlfriend (and soon to be fiancé!), Violet (Sarah Bolger). Along with that Jarvis is maintaining the grounds of Stark's west coast home, including several fights with Bernard the Flamingo to look forward to.

Marvel's Agent Carter S2E1&2

But don't get too comfortable in the California sun. Like several things this season, the theme of sexism in the workplace has been adapted to fit in the glitz and glamor of Hollywood. While Peggy has finally found the respect she deserves at the S.S.R., the same can't be said for Whitney Frost (Wynn Everett), an aging actress feeling the strain of the entertainment industry's pressure on women to maintain their youth. It's bonkers to know that this is still an issue today, but it remains to be a fantastic set up for the woman we know becomes Madame Masque. The emphasis Agent Carter takes to note the "faults" (they're not actually there) of her appearance is especially important for this character.

While Souza and Peggy have chemistry, it pales in comparison to what she has with Wilkes (Reggie Austin), though the opposite occurs when you take a look at their respective friendships. Either way, Wilkes' "death" (because come on) has to yield some very interesting results later on if an accident with Zero Matter (or Dark Force as it's known in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) is involved.

Season 2's debut characters hold just as much presence as the old and Ana Jarvis (played by Lotte Verbeek) stands out amongst the bunch. With a personality opposite to Jarvis', it'll be interesting to see how things will play out once Jarvis' involvement in Peggy's spy games gets a little too dangerous for her liking. Then again, the gun holster garter she made for Peggy may be a sign that Ana will hate missing out on all of the fun. Ana's friendship with Peggy is already far more natural than Peggy and Angie's ever was. With no forced plot devices to string them together, Ana works as Jarvis and Peggy's tether to the normal world. Though it's hard to say how long that'll last.

The introduction of the Dark Force to Agent Carter (and the nod to the possibility of other dimensions) will bring dire consequences for Wilkes and Whitney, now both exposed to the mysterious substance. With several unanswered questions and what seems to be the birth of two dangerous villains, Agent Carter seems bound for an interesting and exciting season.

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