Marvel’s Agent Carter: Zero Matter Is Good For Business

In the first season, Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) must balance doing clerical work with…quite frankly…being a badass by kicking the arses that need kicking and catching bad people who are a threat to the world. She does this in the form of helping her associate and friend Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) on top-secret missions as well as trying to live as a single woman in 1940s America (post World War II) which is a man’s world after all. It’s set in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), sharing continuity with movies of the same franchise including both Captain America movies and Ant-Man, but shares continuity with Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD as well. In season one, Carter has to clear Howard Stark’s name when he is accused of selling weapons to the enemies of the United States. Before SHIELD, we had the SSR (Strategic Scientific Reserve) and Peggy worked for this organization. The SSR were investigating Howard Stark (founder of Stark Industries) and Peggy worked against her employers from the inside to help out a friend.

With each episode, Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD is making more headway into their storylines about powered people amidst the backdrop of espionage. The Marvel-Netflix collaboration is exploring the dark corners of Hell’s Kitchen with Daredevil and Jessica Jones but also with Luke Cage coming in September which is going to be set in Harlem and Iron Fist coming soon after. Netflix’s Defenders series will commence filming soon as it’s been said that it will start filming in late 2016. Agent Carter provides an alternate side to these series. It’s not so fluffy and sparkly as the movies in the MCU but it’s very different to Agents Of SHIELD. It’s a period spy show and focuses on heroes who don’t have superpowers or any form of genetic mutation. Marvel’s Agent Carter brings a much-needed breath of fresh air and its aura is something in the middle of the MCU movies and the goings-on in Hell’s Kitchen.

Peggy takes aim (Agent Carter, Marvel Entertainment, ABC Studios)

Peggy takes aim
(Agent Carter, Marvel Television, ABC Studios)

The second season of this comic book television series is set in Los Angeles as Peggy has to move there to work another case of an inhuman origin. She has to deal with new threats in the wake of The Second World War. Captain America is no longer the strangest thing made from science. She gains new allies, friends and makes new enemies. Hayley Atwell (Captain America: The First Avenger), is once more entrancing as the silver-tongued and witty British agent, a role she’s completely nailed with each appearance on the small screen as well as the big screen.

She comes into the second season free of the emotional baggage of the first season and she’s gotten over the loss of her boyfriend and leading Avenger Captain America (Chris Evans). She’s proven herself as an agent from her actions in the last season so she isn’t subject to so much sexist abuse from her work colleagues. Life isn’t peachy forever and soon enough, a new adversary arrives called Whitney Frost. She’s the only character in the series with superpowers in the form of Zero Matter. As viewers, this isn’t our first encounter with the substance as viewers of this series are more than likely going to be viewers of Agents Of SHIELD and all the Inhuman shenanigans going on in the future. The only difference being, that in Agents Of SHIELD we are seeing a more evolved form of the zero matter.

(Zero Matter, Marvel Entertainment, ABC Studios)

Zero Matter (Agent Carter, Marvel Television, ABC Studios)

Wyn Everett plays a superb Whitney Frost and truly epitomizes the sexist culture and society of 1940s Hollywood. But this show represents the sociocultural ideologies of 1940s male American thinking towards their female counterparts too. She downplays her intelligence to fit into the “smile and be beautiful dear” stereotype that women had to fit into at this time. Women were to be seen on the husband’s arms smiling. In reality, they were commodity items of a man’s world. There’s an episode where we are witness to flashback scenes of Peggy and Whitney which shows how they become what they are. It shows us the experiences that they had endure. This sculpted them into the strong, powerful and determined women they are today. The episode is called Smoke & Mirrors and it was a wonderfully written, directed and acted episode.

The rapport between Jarvis and Peggy is truly phenomenal. The two British characters and actors bounce off each other like watching a tennis match. Jarvis is Peggy’s John Watson with the his plucky demeanour, wit, charm and his humourous one liners. Plus, he embodies the British stereotypes of always being clumsy and his poshness, but also his name is Jarvis and he’s Howard Stark’s butler. Jarvis to Howard Stark is what Alfred Pennyworth is to Bruce Wayne. The relationship between Peggy and Jarvis is depicted really well and the relationship between Stark and Jarvis is shown to an even better degree. There’s a scene towards the end of the season where Howard is hitting golf balls into a portal opened by the zero matter. Rather than stopping Howard, Jarvis advises him to change his golf club to better his stroke. Jarvis is just so out-of-place in many situations. It shouldn’t work but it does. At times, he seems like a child that has lost his parents and it’s truly marvellous.

Agent Carter (Hayley Atwell) and Edwin Jarvis (James D'Arcy) blending in.  (Agent Carter, Marvel Entertainment, ABC Studios)

Agent Carter (Hayley Atwell) and Edwin Jarvis (James D’Arcy) blending in.
(Agent Carter, Marvel Television, ABC Studios)

The show also uses quite relatable themes like romance in the form of Agent Carter’s love interest Jason Wilkes as well as more serious themes like corruption inside the SSR itself. But the introduction of Jarvis’ much talked about wife, Ana Jarvis showed Jarvis’ darker side to the wise cracking and bumbling butler. When she’s shot, it shows the nature and how dangerous his work with Peggy can be. It shows that you can’t afford to have relationships when taking on the bad guys. Jarvis knows he’s not cut out to be an agent but he likes helping Peggy out, even if it is just being her getaway guy. The maiming of Ana showed that there was more to his character that hasn’t been revealed yet.

Agent Carter is full of easter eggs to the MCU including Captain America, Agents Of SHIELD but most notably Doctor Strange. We were witness to the first teaser trailer for Doctor Strange starring Benedict Cumberbatch a few days ago and Agent Carter gave us a reference to the sorcerer supreme in the second episode of season two. We have found out that zero matter was in play, long before Coulson’s team found it in Agents Of SHIELD. Wilkes calls it extraterrestrial and then “extra-dimensional” thus referencing Doctor Strange.

Doctor Strange is magician and an expert in the mystic arts hence having the ability to bend dimensions and reality. Hopefully, the time stone may pop up in Doctor Strange (November 2016) due to the fourth dimension being time. If anything is to be taken from that first trailer, it’s that my was completely dazzled from it and that Marvel are breaking newground due to throwing in a wildcard. Doctor Strange will be bending time before you know it. I truly hope that the time stone is safeguarded inside the famous Eye Of Agamotto.

Agent Carter and Doctor Strange (Marvel Entertainment, ABC Studios)

Agent Carter and Doctor Strange (Marvel Studios, ABC Studios)

This is a great spy show and I think it deserves a season three which should be its final season to tie up loose ends. It should be a shorter season of 6-8 episodes where she establishes SHIELD with Howard Stark and it should end with the death of Howard Stark at the hands of Hydra.

In conclusion, I think season two was better constructed than season one. Season one was excellent but season two is even better. It has a grand blend of acting prowess, Marvel’s renowned comedic devices, great writing as well as the great construction of the episodes. I also love the links to other parts of the MCU. This is well-made show with interesting characters, great action scenes with dark, serious and relevant premise.

A great period spy series that depicts the origins of the MCU’s most controversial espionage agency