Week of February 5, 2023:

A View in the Dark (Agent Carter s2 e2) released January 19, 2016 (where to watch)
Better Angels (Agent Carter s2 e3) released January 26, 2016
Erik Bates | March 22, 2023

For a show that (I thought) was trying to show the struggles of a woman in a man’s world, I don’t like that we’re relying on an unrequited love interest trope. Can’t Peggy be a badass without actively trying to fail the Bechdel test?

I can’t believe it took me until 10 minutes into this episode to realize what that symbol was on the pin that Dottie stole.

Also, I noticed it was in box 143. I’m guessing that it doesn’t have anything to do with Mr. Rogers.

I get a kick out of how BAD everyone is at spycraft in this series. Open conversations in bars, loudly announcing “fingers on triggers! Shoot anything that moves!” as you sneak up on the people you’re trying to kill. Is it bad writing, or is it just trying to emphasize how far we’ve come?

Erik Bates | March 22, 2023
This comment contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame. Reveal it.

Erik Bates | March 22, 2023

Better Angels

Meta humor. Oy

I’m having a hard time with this show. I just don’t find it compelling. Practically every male character is insufferable to the point of being caricatures of themselves.

You’ve got Jack, the macho chauvinistic asshole. Howard, the playboy chauvinistic asshole. Sousa, the lovable because he uses crutches forlorn love interest.

They make an attempt at giving the women some sort of depth, but it just feels like they’re trying too hard.

And more meta humor from Jarvis. Double oy.

Also, is the stained glass behind Stark as he leaves to find Abner Brody reminiscent of Iron Man’s arc reactor to anyone else?

So Agnes Cully is Hedy Lamar?

Perhaps I spoke too soon about Jack. I’m taking these notes in real-time. Still not convinced that he’s going to turn out good, though.

Scott Hardie | March 28, 2023

A View in the Dark: Jarvis pinning Carter in the pool-side sparring scene was weird and uncomfortable. Was it intended to show off James D'Arcy's physique, or to build some sexual chemistry between Jarvis and Carter, or to establish Mrs. Jarvis's libertine attitude towards other women, or to comment on Los Angeles's laissez-faire attitude towards marriage, or what? I like my Carter doing the pinning, and my Jarvis constantly embarrassed by other people's forwardness.

You can't help but feel for Frost when she hears that she's too old to star in the movie that she's actively shooting. The actress was 37 and that scene must not have been easy for her, either. I appreciate that as with Underwood last season, sexism is sadly what the good and evil women have in common on this series. (A neat aside about that same scene: I read online that the show's production staff were given 1940s clothing to wear on that day of filming, so that when the camera pans back from Frost's close-up to reveal the film set, that's the show's real production staff in the shot.)

Echo Park Lake! Griffith Observatory! The Mount Hollywood Tunnel! This show has a checklist of classic Hollywood filming locations and damn it all, it's going to use every last one! I demand to see Angels Flight, the Bradbury Building, and Vasquez Rocks by episode five or I'm out.

When Wilkes was zapped away in the explosion, my first thought was in the voice of a old-timey radio announcer: "Will Peggy Carter *ever* get laid? Tune in next week!"

Poor Violet, Souza's would-be fiancée, who has never seen a TV cop show before and believes him when he promises to make it up to her. If this man actually goes through with marrying her, she will have decades of disappointment, always pleading with him not to obsess any more about his biggest unsolved case and not to run out the door to chase another killer in the middle of the night, culminating with him dying in the line of duty just one day before retirement. (6/10)

Better Angels: Wilkes being revealed by Stark's spraying was genuinely surprising and exciting to me. His development as a character was rushed and his arc seemed complete—yes, it seemed like reverse-fridging, killing a male love interest to motivate a female character—so I didn't expect to see him again, and the visual effect was well-designed. "Zero matter" is especially uninteresting as MacGuffins go, but it does inspire some neat visuals, including the oil-like black goo leaking out of Frost (which is reminiscent of The X Files).

The Kid Colt scene on Stark's film set was a treat, too. If you're unfamiliar: After WWII ended, enthusiasm for superhero comics dried up until Stan Lee revived it in 1962 with Fantastic Four. Timely Comics, which became Marvel, spent the intervening years publishing in other genres instead, like horror and adventure and teen romance/comedy (which is where Patsy Walker originated in an Archie-like series, and I assume that's what Jessica Jones was doing with the embarrassing "It's Patsy" show from her past). Timely's Western comics sold well, and outlaw cowboy Kid Colt was their most popular character. Lately there seems to have been a resurgence of interest in the character that baffles me. (Why him and why now?) Stark said that the film character was "based on a real historical figure," so I guess that makes Kid Colt MCU canon now?

I will wait to judge Thompson's arc until I know where it's going. I certainly didn't like the early scene where he forced Carter and Souza to drop their investigation and even forged Carter's signature in front of her (I didn't think he was that much of a dick), but the rest of the episode showed his growing discomfort with aiding in Vernon Masters's corruption. I fear that he's doomed to repeat Chief Dooley's arc from last season. I also trust that Masters will have a larger role to play later on this show, since you don't hire an actor as good as Kurtwood Smith and give him so little to do each week.

If the final scene (Frost's director tries to initiate a sexual relationship, she resists and winds up obliterating him, but at the cost of injury to herself) was intended as a metaphor for the blowback that women get for resisting and reporting sexual harassment, then I'm impressed. I also like the connection between Frost and Hedy Lamarr, which I should have seen coming. I love stories set in this time and place that integrate real history (such as L.A. Confidential and L.A. Noire), so I have a very good feeling about the rest of this season. And I laughed out loud at the use of stock footage of 1940s film studios as the establishing shot just before Carter questions Frost in her dressing room. (7/10)

Scott Hardie | March 28, 2023
This comment contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame. Reveal it.

Scott Hardie | April 1, 2023
This comment contains spoilers for Agent Carter. Reveal it.

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