The first season of Agent Carter was exactly what it set out to be. A lighthearted adventure that perfectly realized a marriage between the ‘golden age’ of post-war espionage and the struggle of women in the workplace. It was a occasionally a little narrow in its focus but stellar performances from leads Hayley Atwell and James D’Arcy made it easy to enjoy.
The series’ unlikely second season is rare case of a show absorbing all the criticisms leveled at it and improving on almost every front as a result. Agent Carter returns as a show that’s different but altogether more assured in the strengths. There are maybe some moments when it all feels a little too zany and eccentric for its own good but the endearing chemistry between the cast does a fantastic job of winning you over.
The most visible change here sees Peggy and company move to Los Angeles to investigate a particularly-strange murder case. Enver Gjokaj, Chad Michael Murray, Dominic Cooper Bridget Regan and others reprise their roles from the first season alongside some great additions to the cast, including Lotte Verbeek as Jarvis’ wife and Reggie Austin as Professor Jason Wilkes. Wynn Everett also does a phenomenal job the season’s big bad.
It’d be easy to compare Agent Carter to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. but there’s a spark to the writing in the show that keeps things fun and funny. The stakes are never too high and although there are plenty of references to the greater Marvel universe, the show always feels like the center of its own universe. There’s a style and flavor to Agent Carter that feels wholeheartedly its own.
Agent Carter goes through some pretty big changes in Season 2 and emerges a much stronger show. The series continues to be a fascinating period drama exploring gender and racial issues in post-war America and while it’s never as earthshatteringly melodramatic as the film it’s main character is spun out of, its always easy to root for Peggy Carter.
Review score: THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)