This was an especially eventful two hours of Agent Carter, featuring the return of Dottie Underwood, quite a few near-death experiences, and one very serious talk in a surveillance van. There was a lot to love in these episodes, but the thing I keep coming back to is that they once against proved how committed the show is to portraying all different types of women, women who have made completely different choices in their lives, yet all share a conviction and respect for one another.
We have Peggy, of course: fiercely good at her job, idealistic (sometimes to a fault, as Dottie and Jack pointed out), but unafraid to be vulnerable, to humanly pursue love. That was something she showed in these episodes in particular, torn between Sousa and Wilkes, a dilemma that Jarvis was more than willing to comment on in that rather hilarious car scene. In Wilkes, Peggy has what one might call the safer choice, but these episodes showed a side of him that I wasn’t all that keen on and hinted that he doesn’t share Peggy’s complete and total sense of honor. I know the dark matter is affecting him, but his suggestion that they kill Dottie instead of rescuing her was in direct contrast to Peggy’s feeling that you never leave a woman behind, despite how you may feel about her, a disparity that I don’t think Peggy can, or should, get past. To Wilkes’ credit, he did turn down Whitney’s offer for world domination at the end of the hour (despite how she tried to coax him with talk of shared experiences), but it wasn’t enough to make me truly root for the guy.
On the other side of the coin is Sousa who, I’ll be honest, I’m almost ridiculously in favor of. Peggy and Daniel share a conviction, an unwavering sense of right and wrong that, while not unlike what she had with Steve, is a unique and (I may get some flack for this) more realized relationship. In these episodes, Daniel stood up to Vernon Masters as Peggy stood up to Jack, both losing their jobs in the process. Sousa was even cruelly beaten for his stance (a low, but not all that surprising, blow on Masters’ part). As much as I’ve hated seeing Sousa, Peggy, and Ana injured in the last few episodes, it has made the stakes much higher than they were in season one, something that’s only increased my investment in the characters. It was also refreshing that the ramifications of Peggy’s injury were shown in this episode (unlike 99% of TV dramas, where a main character is grievously injured and back kicking butt the next week), especially because it led to that great, great scene with Peggy and Sousa in the surveillance van.
That scene showed that Daniel and Peggy are partners in every sense of the word. Here, he sympathized with her situation, calling on his own experience, but also pulled her back when she needed him to, making her see that she simply wasn’t up for saving that day, much as she wanted to. Agreeing with him showed how much she trusts him and values his opinion. It also led to the most swoon-worthy part of the episode, with Daniel coming clean about Violet. Like Violet confronting Daniel last week, I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly Peggy got the whole story, from broken engagement to Daniel being in love with her. It made their interrupted kiss less frustrating than it could have been. I’m also a sucker for a romantic handhold, so that aspect of their conversation certainly didn’t hurt. All I want is for these crazy kids to make it work, something that I really hope we see come season finale.
One of my favorite characters, Dottie, made her return in last night’s episodes, and she’s another example of a layered, unique, well-written female character, something that this show does so, so well. A highlight of the first episode was her prison scene with Peggy, from her absolute delight at seeing her favorite agent again, to their sparring over what exactly would transpire after Peggy helped her escape. Bridget Regan plays Dottie’s deep (and sometimes creepy) love of Peggy so deliciously, and she has a fun chemistry with Hayley Atwell that makes their scenes together a real treat. Dottie’s actions in this episode also showed that, despite having chosen a vastly different path than Peggy, like the other awesome female characters on this show, they share a similar conviction. Dottie showed this by retrieving the sample as promised, albeit having some unnecessary fun along the way. She also showed her surprisingly keen understanding of Peggy’s morality once again, knowing without a doubt that Peggy would feel obligated to rescue and return her to prison unharmed, even if it didn’t come to fruition in last night’s episodes.
That takes us to Whitney, who ended up with Dottie in her trunk, something that just cannot lead anywhere good. However, it does increases my hope that we’ll get a scene with Peggy, Dottie, and Whitney before the season is up, because I really need to see those three kick butt ladies in one frame. Like Dottie, Whitney’s choices have been far more questionable than Peggy’s, but I also can’t help but root for her a tiny bit, especially considering her difficult backstory. At the very least, I rooted for her against the council members, taking control from her husband and the other leaders who silenced her voice and many others for far too long. I was weirdly impressed by the terribly misguided and murderous agency she showed there, even though I know I shouldn’t have been, which goes to show what a fantastically complex character she is. She also revealed another interesting layer through her behavior at the Stark house. As I mentioned before, instead of killing Jason she first suggested that they work together, indicating that she really only wants to kill people whom she believes deserve it. Similarly, I don’t think she wanted to hurt Ana, as she was ready to leave her unharmed until she saw Jarvis, Peggy, and Dottie approach and saw no other option.
As for Ana, we got to know her quite a bit more in these two episodes, making her shooting at the end that much more heartbreaking. I’m so impressed by what a fully realized character she already is, despite her rather short amount of time on-screen. She’s strong, kind, and fiercely protective of her loved ones and friends, which is why, despite being far outmatched by Whitney, she couldn’t let her leave with Jason. It’s also why she couldn’t help but worry about Jarvis, but still let him go, knowing how important his adventures are to him and how much Peggy needs him in the field. After all, he shares that same protectiveness, something that he’s shown with Peggy before and showed with his dear wife here. Picking up that gun and driving like a maniac to help Ana showed the depth of their love, no surprise considering how wonderfully their marriage has been portrayed thus far. It’s one of equals, of two people who love and respect one another immensely, and I would expect no other from a show as excellent as Agent Carter.