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TV Review: Agent Carter Pilot - "Now Is Not The End/Bridge and Tunnel"

01.07.2015

Join us each week as we review the latest episode of AGENT CARTER. Warning: the following review contains major spoilers for the newest episode of the show.

Episode 1 and 2: "Now Is Not The End" / "Bridge and Tunnel"

Synopsis: In 1946, Peggy Carter must balance the routine office work she does for the Strategic Scientific Reserve while secretly assisting Howard Stark, who finds himself framed for supplying deadly weapons to the top bidder. Carter is assisted by Stark's butler, Edwin Jarvis, to find those responsible and dispose of the weapons

Recap: The first foray for the Marvel Cinematic Universe on the small screen, AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D., has improved over time but lost a lot of fans with an uneven first season.  Now, Marvel wants to see if they can change that by taking a much different approach with the retro AGENT CARTER.  Does this limited series have life in it beyond this first eight episode run or will it end up on ice much like Captain America?

The first episode opens with a series of excerpts from CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER, just in case you forgot who the heck Peggy Carter was or her relationship with Steve Rogers and Howard Stark.  These are interspersed with new scenes from the series.  We know Hayley Atwell clearly still fits the role even if the world has moved on since the end of World War II.  Now living in New York City, Carter is a glorified secretary in the eyes of her SSR colleagues.  Her boss, Roger Dooley, is the typical male leader character who doesn't see the benefit to having a female agent on staff.  The other SSR agents, played by Chad Michael Murray, Enver Gjokaj, and Kyle Bornheimer, all convey that same retro, chauvanistic demeanor that stereotypes men from the 1950s.  Or, at least, the movie idea of men from the 1950s.  The SSR scenes play like a cheap knock-off of MAD MEN, which is a shame.

It takes about halfway through the pilot for AGENT CARTER to really start moving.  Howard Stark appears and teams Peggy up with his butler/manservant, Edwin Jarvis.  After meeting with Stark, who asks Peggy to help clear his name, we now get what made the Marvel One-Shot featuring the Atwell's character so intriguing.  Peggy goes undercover and gets involved with a suspect who may be a part of the conspiracy against Stark.  We get our first look at the always creepy James Frain as Leet Brannis as well as the pleasure of seeing Atwell in a blonde wig and sexy evening dress.

The ensuing action includes a cat and mouse chase through a nightclub, defusing a weapon made from Stark's chemical formula, and a fight with a henchman in Carter's apartment.  Things go as well as possible but Carter's roommate is killed in the process, giving her a moment to break down into tears.  She tells Jarvis she may not be ready for this, which we of course know is not true.  As much as the series wants to present Peggy Carter as an equal to the boys, was it really necessary to have her break down into tears?

At the end of the pilot, we know Brannis and the mustachioed hitman known as Green Suit were part of some villainous group, but is it the same one?  Both have scars on their necks and speak through a voice box and cites a potential mastermind he reports to.  Green Suit answers to a self-typing typewriter very reminiscent of a similar effect on FRINGE with a code name cited as Leviathan.  Both are teases at something bigger coming, but with only seven episodes, will we get an answer or a cliffhanger?

The second hour, directed by CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER helmer Joe Russo, picks up the story without skipping a beat.  We get a chance to see Peggy don another disguise, this time as an inspector as she tries to find Leet Brannis and the dairy truck he hauled the nitramene weapon seen at the end of the pilot.  Whether the nitramene will be a plot device all season or just to start is unknown, but AGENT CARTER already feels like it knows where it is going better than AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. did at the outset.

The second episode gives Shea Whigham and Chad Michael Murray a little more to do than the pilot did and each seems to have potential as characters.  Whigham seems to be playing a slight variation on his BOARDWALK EMPIRE character but with less alcohol consumption.  Murray is adept at playing smarmy douchebags and he clearly is one here.  We also see more from Lyndsey Fonseca as Peggy's soon to be neighbor and friend.  If anything, the second episode shows consistent visual style and pacing will be expected throughout the run of AGENT CARTER.

The second episode concludes with a well choregraphed car chase followed by the reveal of a mysterious symbol tied to the coming of Leviathan.  Is this a variation of HYDRA?  A new foe?  That remains to be seen over the course of the next six episodes of AGENT CARTER's first(?) season.

Marvel Cinematic Universe References: The first episode gives us a ton of callbacks to CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER in the form of clips from the film and the appearance of Howard Stark as well as the real Jarvis.  We also meet Stark Industries scientist Anton Vanko, father of IRON MAN 2 villain Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), who will be a recurring asset for Carter.  Dr. Erskine and his Vita Rays also play an integral part to the first episodes.  Captain America radio plays are a recurring peeve for Peggy through episode two.

Review: Despite a heavy-handed opening, AGENT CARTER definitely picks up steam through the second episode.  The developing conspiracy and loads of Marvel references feel very similar to what AGENTS OF S,H.I.E.L.D. developed over it's first season, but AGENT CARTER is brimming with the same retro fun that made CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER so much fun.  What works best in this show is Atwell who brings the same fire and excitement that made her a fan favorite leading up to this series.  Her chemistry with James D'Arcy as Jarvis may be the best aspect of this show and presents something far more interesting than anything SSR related so far.

AGENT CARTER should be compared to AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. only in the category as to which series better integrates into the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole.  So far, AGENT CARTER has direct ties to both CAPTAIN AMERICA and IRON MAN, for obvious reasons, but does not shy away from directly relating those characters to the stories they want to tell.  Personally, this series feels much more organic than AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. if not a bit heavy handed in places.  So far, it feels like a hell of a fun show and I look forward to what comes next.

Episode Grade: 8/10 SSR Badges

Next on AGENT CARTER: "Time and Tide" airs January 13th, 2015: As Agent Carter closes in on Howard Stark’s stolen technology, Peggy’s secret mission could unravel when the SSR arrests Jarvis and a secret is revealed.

Source: JoBlo.com

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11:20PM on 01/07/2015

Like the show

In response to this: "Whether the nitramene will be a plot device all season or just to start is unknown,", I believe the idea was that all the nitramene was onboard the milk truck, and was summarily destroyed in the explosion. The preview of next week makes it look like they're moving on to finding more of Stark's 'bad babies', so I think the nitramene threat is over.
In response to this: "Whether the nitramene will be a plot device all season or just to start is unknown,", I believe the idea was that all the nitramene was onboard the milk truck, and was summarily destroyed in the explosion. The preview of next week makes it look like they're moving on to finding more of Stark's 'bad babies', so I think the nitramene threat is over.
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3:54PM on 01/07/2015

Really enjoyed the show.

I really wanted to like Shield, but it lost me after the season one mid season break. I was really enjoying this show.
I really wanted to like Shield, but it lost me after the season one mid season break. I was really enjoying this show.
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2:46PM on 01/07/2015
I loved the 1st Captain America movie and was a fan of the Agent Carter character, but I could not get into this show last night. The first episode bored me, and I fell asleep halfway through the second one. I'd be surprised if this gets renewed for next season. The villain is ridiculous and so uninteresting. The fact that they are doing the same story where they allude to a "main villain", who, most likely, won't be revealed until the end of the season has been done to death by Marvel and
I loved the 1st Captain America movie and was a fan of the Agent Carter character, but I could not get into this show last night. The first episode bored me, and I fell asleep halfway through the second one. I'd be surprised if this gets renewed for next season. The villain is ridiculous and so uninteresting. The fact that they are doing the same story where they allude to a "main villain", who, most likely, won't be revealed until the end of the season has been done to death by Marvel and shows no imagination. We've already seen this in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Captain America: Winter Soldier, and Iron Man 3. This show could be good as a spy show especially with the time period being the beginning of the Cold War where a lot of spy activity took place, but I'm sure they will reveal at the end of the year that Agent Carter's dad is the villain and she will suddenly gain superpowers or something.
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12:32PM on 01/07/2015
i enjoyed the hell out of this tv show and its always great to have more tough female characters
i enjoyed the hell out of this tv show and its always great to have more tough female characters
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11:15AM on 01/07/2015

Show is amazing

This is coming from someone who HATES SHIELD and Gotham.

I really think I could get into this show. The acting is great and the talented cast comes from very prestigious backgrounds (Boardwalk Empire...)

I love how they aren't making this all about sex appeal and are making Agent Carter a full bodied action star. Sure she has emotions and doesn't smoke, but it doesn't take anything away from the show.

I think this is easily the best show based in a comic world that has nothing to do
This is coming from someone who HATES SHIELD and Gotham.

I really think I could get into this show. The acting is great and the talented cast comes from very prestigious backgrounds (Boardwalk Empire...)

I love how they aren't making this all about sex appeal and are making Agent Carter a full bodied action star. Sure she has emotions and doesn't smoke, but it doesn't take anything away from the show.

I think this is easily the best show based in a comic world that has nothing to do with heroes. Gotham has absolutely no point to it and SHIELD is nothing but a stupid show for kids that name drops waaaay too much and doesn't show us the goods. Shield has a horrible cast of untalented dipsticks who are all so annoying to look at.
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2:04PM on 01/07/2015
Agree about Gotham. It's absolute shit at this point. I gave it a few chances to get good, but there's honestly no point to it whatsoever.
Agree about Gotham. It's absolute shit at this point. I gave it a few chances to get good, but there's honestly no point to it whatsoever.
2:07PM on 01/07/2015
Bummer. I haven't started it yet. Waiting for the season to finish and will binge it - perhaps not to the end if it's that bad.
Bummer. I haven't started it yet. Waiting for the season to finish and will binge it - perhaps not to the end if it's that bad.
4:57PM on 01/07/2015
Most of AOS season 1 I'd agree with your comment. AOS season two has been pretty damn good in my mind anyway. Hey they are introducing and now featuring a movie storyline a few years from now. I can't complain about them now featuring Inhumans in the series. They've finally begun to add what everyone has asked for. As for Gotham, sadly I agree. I wanted to love it, tried to love it, honestly hate it. There is no point, it goes no where, and half the time is boring doing it. Carter however was a
Most of AOS season 1 I'd agree with your comment. AOS season two has been pretty damn good in my mind anyway. Hey they are introducing and now featuring a movie storyline a few years from now. I can't complain about them now featuring Inhumans in the series. They've finally begun to add what everyone has asked for. As for Gotham, sadly I agree. I wanted to love it, tried to love it, honestly hate it. There is no point, it goes no where, and half the time is boring doing it. Carter however was a gem to watch. It was a surprisingly fun show. Its "slow" start was a whopping half an hour and then it got up to speed. Cannot complain about that.
10:59AM on 01/07/2015
I haven't watched the episodes yet, but someone on another site pointed out that there is no cigarette smoking at all. This would be pretty false according history. I know that's not a reason to focus on, but I found the comment interesting. Otherwise, I'm looking forward to watching this show.
I haven't watched the episodes yet, but someone on another site pointed out that there is no cigarette smoking at all. This would be pretty false according history. I know that's not a reason to focus on, but I found the comment interesting. Otherwise, I'm looking forward to watching this show.
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2:17PM on 01/07/2015
I made notes while watching last night. One was "characters do not act like '40s people; they have awfully progressive social attitudes." Of course, ABC is probably not going for historical accuracy. The network wants a program to which 2014 audiences relate. However, I agree with your comment. Fiction should not be so fictional as to be "fakey"--especially for political reasons.
I made notes while watching last night. One was "characters do not act like '40s people; they have awfully progressive social attitudes." Of course, ABC is probably not going for historical accuracy. The network wants a program to which 2014 audiences relate. However, I agree with your comment. Fiction should not be so fictional as to be "fakey"--especially for political reasons.
4:53PM on 01/07/2015
They were not smoking, but Grelber37 its not political reasons why. The FCC doesn't allow smoking to my knowledge on standard tv before a certain time I believe. Its why Constantine isn't a chain smoker on his show, or at least not shown to be. I know its avoided as much as possible regardless of time, hell even the MPAA rates differently because of it.
They were not smoking, but Grelber37 its not political reasons why. The FCC doesn't allow smoking to my knowledge on standard tv before a certain time I believe. Its why Constantine isn't a chain smoker on his show, or at least not shown to be. I know its avoided as much as possible regardless of time, hell even the MPAA rates differently because of it.
10:36AM on 01/07/2015
Kind of wish it wasn't a mini-series
Kind of wish it wasn't a mini-series
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11:19AM on 01/07/2015
I know 8 episodes isn't a lot but they are feeling the waters with this show. It isn't really like anything else out there right now (a 1940s set espionage show?? Lead by a female, non the less)

I bet when it comes back for season 2 it will be about 12 episodes (or more!)

I like this miniseries concept though. I think Gotham and Shield would do a lot better in a miniseries than the shit they are splurging out now. Agent Carter has an actual plot, it isn't full of love triangles and it
I know 8 episodes isn't a lot but they are feeling the waters with this show. It isn't really like anything else out there right now (a 1940s set espionage show?? Lead by a female, non the less)

I bet when it comes back for season 2 it will be about 12 episodes (or more!)

I like this miniseries concept though. I think Gotham and Shield would do a lot better in a miniseries than the shit they are splurging out now. Agent Carter has an actual plot, it isn't full of love triangles and it knows it has limited time to conclude its season instead of filling up 20 episodes of crap.
2:05PM on 01/07/2015
I have to admit I hope they keep the seasons short. For me it can be a sign that they have a tighter story to tell.
I have to admit I hope they keep the seasons short. For me it can be a sign that they have a tighter story to tell.
8:26AM on 01/07/2015
Had a lot of fun with the first two episodes. The show had the right balance of action and humor mixed in and was very entertaining. Atwell is a treat to watch as Agent Carter and I really enjoyed the the scenes with Jarvis in them as well.

I'm a huge fan of Alias and this reminds me a lot of that show and if it's that the case, then I will be watching every week.

Really solid premiere and can't wait for more. Certainly a lot better and enjoyable then Agents of Shield.
Had a lot of fun with the first two episodes. The show had the right balance of action and humor mixed in and was very entertaining. Atwell is a treat to watch as Agent Carter and I really enjoyed the the scenes with Jarvis in them as well.

I'm a huge fan of Alias and this reminds me a lot of that show and if it's that the case, then I will be watching every week.

Really solid premiere and can't wait for more. Certainly a lot better and enjoyable then Agents of Shield.
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11:13AM on 01/07/2015
Are you still watching Agents of Shield? I'm never too sure - I thought you gave up on it during season one but you're always putting it down as if you're still watching it even though you don't like it.
Are you still watching Agents of Shield? I'm never too sure - I thought you gave up on it during season one but you're always putting it down as if you're still watching it even though you don't like it.
11:19AM on 01/07/2015
Totally agree with you!
Totally agree with you!
2:03PM on 01/07/2015
I am still watching Agents of Shield. It's gotten better, but sometimes it's still difficult to sit through.
I am still watching Agents of Shield. It's gotten better, but sometimes it's still difficult to sit through.
2:03PM on 01/07/2015
Agree with Riz-man with regard to AOS. Took a bit too long tonfindnits feet but once it DoD I found it to be really great entertaiment.
Agree with Riz-man with regard to AOS. Took a bit too long tonfindnits feet but once it DoD I found it to be really great entertaiment.
2:42PM on 01/07/2015
Have yet to see Carter but Marvel are definitely doing much better by Agents of Shield now that they're fully embracing the world in which it belongs. It's why Arrow and Flash are so good. It also helps that they're utilsing the talents of people like Paxton and Kyle MacLachlan.
Have yet to see Carter but Marvel are definitely doing much better by Agents of Shield now that they're fully embracing the world in which it belongs. It's why Arrow and Flash are so good. It also helps that they're utilsing the talents of people like Paxton and Kyle MacLachlan.
+1
7:45AM on 01/07/2015

Agreed.....

This show is so much better than other comic based series at their start. I don't know if it has a place to go (and her athletic skills other than a punch are really shaky), but these two episodes were fun and made me want to come back for next week. Atwell is great at her part, and I disagree.....her crying showed that she has more depth than most male ("They made a noble sacrifice") characters. She feels the pain of her choices, which makes her feel real, instead of the normal macho BS.
This show is so much better than other comic based series at their start. I don't know if it has a place to go (and her athletic skills other than a punch are really shaky), but these two episodes were fun and made me want to come back for next week. Atwell is great at her part, and I disagree.....her crying showed that she has more depth than most male ("They made a noble sacrifice") characters. She feels the pain of her choices, which makes her feel real, instead of the normal macho BS.

She's an absolute gem and if the series finds a way to keep her arc smooth, will carry this as far as they want to take it.
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4:46AM on 01/07/2015
I'll be honest, I wasn't a huge supporter of this show early on. I didn't see the need. Sure she is hot as all hell so complaining about her being on my TV didn't happen much, but I saw no need for the show. I will say was wrong, I thought the show was fun. You are right the first episode was slow to start off, but not AOS slow. 20-30 minutes in until the end of the second episode went by in a flash. I look forward to seeing where this goes. It might not advance the current MCU storyline much,
I'll be honest, I wasn't a huge supporter of this show early on. I didn't see the need. Sure she is hot as all hell so complaining about her being on my TV didn't happen much, but I saw no need for the show. I will say was wrong, I thought the show was fun. You are right the first episode was slow to start off, but not AOS slow. 20-30 minutes in until the end of the second episode went by in a flash. I look forward to seeing where this goes. It might not advance the current MCU storyline much, but it is a decidedly fun genre piece. I was entertained and can't ask for much more than that.



***SEMI-SPOILERS***

Leviathan huh. Interesting group to bring out to the forefront in the show. It was a Hydra like group but saying it was on the down low would be an understatement. They're a B List and underused honestly. It got into a 3way war with Hydra and Shield at one point. It could be interesting if they build up Leviathan in this series and then have the modern version come into play in AOS. Though they might have their hands full with the Inhumans storyline.
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