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Very Important Binge: Agent Carter
Welcome to Very Important Binge (VIB), where SYFY FANGRRLS tells you how to navigate your favorite TV shows.
After Captain America's apparent death, Agent Peggy Carter didn't spend much time in mourning before she went right back to her work as a secret agent, busting heads and taking names. The Agent Carter TV series picked up right where Captain America: The First Avenger left off, with Hayley Atwell returning in the role as Carter.
Agent Carter is definitely a series that left this earth too soon. Only 18 episodes of the series exist, meaning you can definitely watch the whole hecking thing in one particularly industrious TV-binging day if you really wanted to. In fact, we recommend that. Watching 18 episodes of Agent Carter all in a row is about all we need to know of Heaven, so definitely go do that right now if it sounds at all appealing to you. If you aren't totally ready to jump all the way in, or if you just want to reminisce with us about our favorite episodes, we've pulled together some of Agent Carter's greatest hits.
Episode 4: The Blitzkrieg Button
The premise of the first season is that Howard Stark comes under fire as a traitor to his country for apparently selling weapons to Russia. Carter's employers at the SSR are given the task of hunting him down while Peggy attempts to run interference and clear Stark's name — the biggest obstacle in her path being, of course, Howard Stark himself.
One of the major highlights of Agent Carter was Dominic Cooper's turn as Howard Stark, which infuses a lot of classic Clark Gable energy into the series. The complicated friendship between Carter and Stark is on display throughout this episode as she hides him in her all-women apartment building and is subsequently disgusted by his womanizing. At a certain point, he admits to lying to her about keeping a vial of Captain America's blood "for medical purposes," and she chews him out and punches him square in the jaw. Watching Stark get his lights punched out is definitely a highlight of the whole series, but Peggy's loyalty to the truth is also subtly highlighted.
Episode 5: The Iron Ceiling
This episode kicks off with an introduction to the truly miserable childhood of Dottie Underwood, who goes on to be one of the major villains of the series. In the present time, we see that she has moved in next to Peggy in order to spy on her, something that an overworked Peggy doesn't realize until later in the season.
Meanwhile, at her job, Peggy continues to struggle to get assignments that match her level of experience. Professional jerk Agent Thompson argues that he doesn't want to take her along on a mission to Russia, but Peggy throws her weight around by calling in the Howling Commandos for a hand. There is a lot of great action in this episode, but the highlight is the tender conversation between Carter and Dugan as they sadly reminisce about how much they both miss Steve.
Episode 9: The Lady in the Lake
The first season ends with Peggy becoming finally at least slightly more respected by her male co-workers after she saves NYC almost single-handedly from destruction. Season 2 kicks of with a classic noir murder mystery set-up in Los Angeles. Peggy goes to work with the recurring character Agent Sousa, who transferred to L.A. A frozen woman is found in Echo Park Lake and they must deduce how and why this occurred while navigating their attraction to each other.
Beyond setting up the entire second season's premise, this also gives us a lot of classic British bantering between Agent Carter and Stark's butler Mr. Jarvis. We meet Lady Jarvis, one of the best characters introduced in Season 2, who happily gushes over her nerdy but amazing husband. Scientist John Wilkes is also introduced — he doesn't quite get his due in this series but his smooth dialogue is a delight. And of course, there's the season's primary villain, Whitney Frost, a new take on the comic book villain Madame Masque. Agent Carter puts her in the role of a politician's wife and Hollywood actor with a secret tendency towards inventing massively destructive properties. This includes the discovery of Zero Matter, which is what killed the lady in the lake.
Episode 13: The Atomic Job
This episode mostly continues the strange saga of Zero Matter, but the emphasis on Whitney Frost increases as she struggles to contain the Zero Matter that she has absorbed as it causes a large, ever-growing crack in her forehead.
Whitney Frost begins as what could be a lightweight villain, so her turn to becoming absolutely terrifying in this episode raises the stakes for the whole show. Her husband Cal struggles as he watches her violence increase. She takes him to talk with her ex, an exceptionally violent mobster who beats someone nearly to death for looking at her for too long at the dinner table. When the mysterious "Council" attempts to take Whitney out, she turns the tables entirely, and of course, Cal is killed immediately. This is a series with an exceptional cast and watching Wynn Everett fully step into her role as a villain is both chilling and delightful.
Episode 14: The Life of the Party
If you were ever going to doubt Peggy's decision-making skills, this is the episode to do it, as she breaks her nemesis Dottie Underwood out of prison to run interference for her at a social event. Peggy is hanging by a thread for a lot of this season after sustaining massive injuries and struggling to understand her conflicted emotions towards both Wilkes and Sousa, all the while trying to save yet another city from destruction.
Again, though there is no arguing with the greatness of the central cast, the recurring characters are what make this episode. Dottie is one of the most interesting characters created for the series, and her interest in Carter goes mostly unexplained besides the fact that Carter is the only person that seems capable of besting her in a fight. This is her last real appearance, which is a shame because Bridget Regan does great work with the character. Meanwhile, Rose, a worker for the SSR who was woefully underused, finally gets her chance to shine as she gets her own dynamic fight scene.
These characters were extremely fun and they will be missed.