I’ve heard countless times from countless people how we are currently living in the Golden Age of Television. (That’s not actually a thing – to my knowledge, anyway – but it seems like it’d deserve to be italicized, doesn’t it?)
And with all the new and impressive technology, apps, and streaming options, it really does feel like it, doesn’t it?
Sometimes it feels as though with all these new and exciting shows cropping up on all these different platforms and channels, it’s hard to keep up with the movies. After all, why bother paying for overpriced tickets at the movie theater when you can watch something that’s easy and convenient on your couch in the comfort of your own home? Then, sometimes it’s even harder to find something to watch on TV at all – not because there’s nothing on, but because there’s almost too much on. There are just so many options to choose from, because everyone is saying we’re in the golden age of TV, therefore everyone is making a show for just about everything, and no one is stopping anytime soon. Sometimes their shows are good and quality, sometimes – well, not so much.
Marvel’s ‘Agent Carter,’ the season (and possibly series) finale of which aired on ABC a week ago (yes, I know that I’m late) at 9/8c, falls somewhere in the middle. At least, particularly for the show’s second season (the first one personally ranks at a solid 9.5/10 for me, because while nothing and no one is perfect, Hayley Atwell’s portrayal of Agent Peggy Carter comes pretty close. I left off 0.5 just because the male characters on the show often make me want to pull out all of my eyebrow hairs one by one – with the exceptions of Edwin Jarvis (James D’Arcy) and Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper).)
This is my first proper review of an episode of this show, despite the fact that I’ve been watching since the first episode of the first season aired, and despite the fact that the second season started up again once I’d already had my blog. To be completely honest, I’m nervous to even write this; I love this show, though I already know of more than a few things I can’t help but be critical of. I think part of me put off writing about and especially reviewing ‘Agent Carter’ because I hoped it would develop into something better than what it has been lately, or that we might get a glimpse of – or even altogether return to – the feel of season 1.
- Plot: 7.5/10 – I want to give it an 8, I really do – but I keep remembering how well the season 1 finale was executed, and I honestly don’t believe season 2 lived up to that standard. The overall plot of the season took at least, if not more than, the first half of the episodes to set up properly, and while I obviously found it interesting enough to keep watching week after week, Whitney Frost’s insatiable lust for power felt like a walk in the park compared to season 1’s intense weekly build on who and what Leviathan was. Last season seemed to give fans little clues along the way, which encouraged them to work out theories of their own until the next week’s reveal – while this season seemed like it’d been thrown together in a hurry. Sometimes I felt like I missed a connection somewhere, when in reality, there’d just been no build up. However, I do think “Hollywood Ending” was the best episode of the season.
- Characters: 7.5/10 – I might have rated this lower had it been any other episode – as it is, this season I found that I really only felt attached to Peggy (no surprise there), Jarvis, Howard, Ana (my favorite new addition), and Dottie, with a touch of Rose and Whitney. I felt like they were allowed the most development, whereas characters like Sousa, Thompson, and Wilkes fell flat as their intent seemed only to work as plot devices or parts of a love triangle that felt too tired the second it became clear that was the direction they’d chosen to go in. This finale felt like a nod to the original trio – Peggy, Jarvis and Howard – and I personally always enjoy their interactions, as you can easily tell the three just seem to have so much fun together and therefore, generally seem to have that much more chemistry with one another. I appreciated that throughout the season, the show seemed the most intent on developing and exploring the relationships between characters, though it wasn’t until the finale that the Peggy vs. Jack story line gained some intrigue, and of course, I’m always open to more Rose. Whitney was insane in the best way, but Dottie – who didn’t even make an appearance – takes the cake for me, as I’m still wondering where she escaped to episodes after the fact.
- Music: 8/10 – Praise Christopher Lennertz, that’s all.
- Cinematography: 8/10 – I love the aesthetic of this show, for all its coloring and use of lighting and shadows (a few scenes that come to mind: Peggy and Jack’s confrontations in the Stark living room, Peggy and Sousa’s last scene together, any scene with Dottie involved). There’s a slight dream-like quality to the images – I don’t want to say ‘fuzzy,’ but if you watch, you either understand what I mean or you’ll be able to see right away – which lends itself to the time period the show is set in, but also gives me the feeling like we’re almost reliving a memory with each episode, a peek into Peggy’s life before S.H.I.E.L.D.
- Editing/SFX: 7/10 – The rip to the world of zero matter was interesting, to say the least. I wasn’t expecting a blockbuster level budget for the special effects, but something about the zero matter generally fell flat to me – I understood that the characters were terrified of it, but I never felt that. Mostly because it just looked like that bottled water they ‘infuse with minerals’ (read: dye black) and sell in stores to fool you into drinking, well, water. Besides that though, the editing for the episode was great – it usually always is – but the scene in which the team tried to close the black hole stands out in my mind.
- Theme: 8/10 – Last season, I might have given every episode anywhere between an 8.5 to a 9.5 or more, because I felt as though the focus was more or less on Peggy – as it should be. Not that Jarvis or Howard or any other characters aren’t amazing and empowering in their own right, but last season was about overcoming obstacles and others’ perceptions, as well as, of course, knowing your own value. This season, and this episode moreover, felt a tiny bit like a cop out. While any material with Peggy Carter at the forefront will likely never not be empowering, the finale tied everything up in nice, neat little bows that really just felt unnecessary. Spoiler: we don’t need reassurances that Peggy gets a happy ending, we know she does (in some ways, anyway). The message this time around felt a little underwhelming, and unfortunately, some nuances they tried to fit into the story might have worked if only they’d been in another capacity.
- Public Reception: 8/10 – While many of the other reviews I’ve read have praised this episode/season/show for the most part, the response – compared to other Marvel shows, i.e. ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,’ ‘Daredevil,’ and ‘Jessica Jones’ – seems as underwhelming as the episode. The majority believe the show’s chances for a renewal are slim, if the hashtag ‘#RenewAgentCarter’ is anything to go by – but then again, that same group seems relatively satisfied by the ending, if a little relieved that the season is finally over.
While I do hope that ‘Agent Carter’ is renewed for a third season come May, I also hope a season 3 would bring more to the table than the underwhelming (that’ll be the third time I’ve used the word, and counting) predictability of season 2. There was just enough sass and class from Peggy and one-liners by Howard and Jarvis to keep my overall rating from dipping below a 7, or even a 6, but unfortunately, not even that cliffhanger ending tempted me to raise my numbers – although I have my own theories about that. Remind you of anything? (Hint: it’s season 1.)
Anyway, here’s to season 3!