I’m going to admit something up front: I hated the first “Captain America” movie, and have therefore blocked most of it from my memory. Luckily, Agent Carter doesn’t require any knowledge of Captain America, which is just one of the things to love about it.
Agent Carter herself is the other thing to love about this show. Everyone talks about “strong female role models” on television but quite frankly, just making a woman a doctor or a lawyer who can handle herself in the boardroom and the bedroom does not an impressive female character make. Peggy Carter is the only woman in the SSR, she is cool and confident in the face of continual, blatant sexism. She is constantly treated like a secretary, and she always lets it roll off her back. In the opening scene of the first episode, Carter’s boss tells her to handle the phones while the men go into the conference room. Peggy tells the receptionist to forward the calls to the conference room, then lets her boss know the phones are handled. She doesn’t take any of this sexism home with her. Granted, she spends more than a little bit of time moping over her lost Captain America, but it isn’t excessive and it doesn’t get in the way of her job.
I also appreciate that Peggy doesn’t have any problem using this sexism to her advantage. When three agents are having need-to-know meeting to discuss the details of a black market deal, Peggy enters with a tray of coffee for the boys. One of the agents stops the conversation when Peggy enters, but another waves it off, figuring she’s just a harmless skirt. Of course, she is in there long enough to get the info she needs, then asks for the day off due to “lady problems,” which her boss is more than happy to give her without further questioning.
Let’s jump into a brief recap of the first two episodes, which were strung together for a two-hour premiere.
Some of Howard Stark’s more dangerous inventions have gone missing. Congress brings him in for hearings, but when he doesn’t show up on the last day, the SSR jumps to the conclusion that they have been eager to get to: that Stark is selling his own weapons on the black market. Yeah, because he doesn’t have enough money as it is. But Stark finds Carter and explains his side of things. His crazy-hardcore-reinforced vault was broken into when he was in Monaco, and he won’t go to the authorities because he knows they are after him anyway. He is off to check up on the inventions being sold in Europe, and wants Carter to chase down leads Stateside. He leaves his butler, Jarvis, to help her. Her first mission is Nitramene, an implosive chemical that could flatten a city in seconds. Actually it is just the formula for Nitramene, but as Carter soon discovers, someone has already proven the formula accurate and is producing the chemical with the preternatural glow.
Carter finds out through SSR that the sale for the nitramene is going down at a nightclub. She gets dolled up in a glamorous dress, blonde wig, and American accent, and flirts her way up to Spider Raymond’s office. Spider, the club owner, just bought the Nitramene, and Carter uses her feminine wiles to plant a kiss on Spider with tainted lipstick that knocks him out. She finds the Nitramene in the safe and sneaks it out of the club in her purse before the other SSR agents even have a chance of making it up to Spider’s office.
Carter returns home with the Nitramene and whips up a quick formula to neutralize it. She hears a noise and discovers her roommate dead. There is someone else after the Nitramene, the man in the green suit. He is waiting for Carter, and the two fight before she throws him out the window. He survives the fall and runs off into the night.
According to a scientist at Stark Labs, the Nitramene is still active, but not volatile. There aren’t many places that could create the Nitramene, and they narrow it down to the Roxxon Oil Refinery. Carter grabs the vita-radiation scanner from the Project Rebirth file and Jarvis drives her down there. She finds Leet Brannis and Dr. Van Ert producing the Nitramene. She knocks out Van Ert with a flash bang, and catches up with Brannis as he adds the Nitramene to a dairy truck that is stocked with hundreds of vials of the stuff. Brannis has a scar on his throat, the same one the man in the green suit has, signaling their voice boxes have been removed. He throws one of the vials, and warns her she has 30 seconds to vacate. Brannis hops in the truck and Carter runs, meeting Jarvis in the alley. They just barely make it out of the refinery before the whole thing blows up. The fire is literally licking at the car bumper before the explosion turns into an implosion. The car loses its bumper, but Carter and Jarvis are fine.
In one final “twist,” Jarvis is talking to Stark. On a car phone. This is the part that I find strange, not what he says to Stark: “Peggy is an excellent choice. She won’t suspect at all.”
In the second episode…
Green Suit is looking for Leet Brannis and leaves a swath of corpses in his search.
Carter is looking for the dairy truck. She poses as a health inspector and discovers the truck is driven by Sheldon McFee, who uses it to commute to and from work. She has a few odds and ends to clean up (making sure Jarvis dumps the car in case it has any radiation on it; making sure her photo doesn’t turn up among the photos snapped at the club) before she can head out to McFee’s house.
One other thing: she is asked to bring the vita-radiation scanner to Roxxon HQ, where she is asked to stay and scan the female employees. She scans herself and finds she is clean except for her watch, which she dumps. While doing the scans, she recognizes Van Ert, but he passes the scan. Carter suggests they scan everyone’s clothing – not the uniforms they change into – and he realizes he has been found out. Van Ert runs, is caught by Peggy, and is brought down to SSR where the agents beat the information on Sheldon McFee out of him.
Carter knows she doesn’t have much time, so she and Jarvis race out to McFee’s house. They find the truck and with it, Brannis. He wants protection from Leviathan before he tells her where the rest of Stark’s stolen inventions are. Leviathan is – or was – his employer. He double-crossed them. Carter throws him and Jarvis in the truck and they drive. Unfortunately, Green Suit has found them and jumps on the roof of the truck. Carter maneuvers up there to fight him. They keep shooting – one bullet hits Brannis; another knocks the Nitramene loose.
With options running thin, Carter stabs Green Suit through the hand, tacking him to the roof. She, Jarvis, and Brannis bail, and the truck goes over the cliff, exploding into a blinding flash of white light before imploding into darkness. Carter goes to Brannis, desperate for his help in stopping Leviathan. Brannis draws a symbol into the dirt, a heart with a wavy line through it, and he dies. With the SSR agents closing in, Carter wipes the symbol away and runs off with Jarvis.
As SSR goes through the Rexxon wreckage, they find the bumper from Stark’s car, complete with license plate.
You can check out the promo for episode 3 of “Marvel’s Agent Carter” in the player below. Titled “Time and Tide,” the episode is officially described as follows:
“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.”
“Time and Tide” is set to air January 13. “Marvel’s Agent Carter” airs Tuesdays at 9 P.M. EST.