Agent Carter is a show you should be watching. Mark will be reviewing the entire second season week to week. Follow along with him as he explores one of Marvel’s best shows.
It’s safe to say we’re far enough into this season of Agent Carter that we can start to form an overall consensus about it. We expected that it wouldn’t quite match the first season, and had already come to terms with that. True enough, it hasn’t. But it’s still an entertaining ride with a lot more to say than most shows on network TV these days. The primary issue hindering this season most is what I like to call the Batman problem.
There’s nothing wrong with Batman. At all. He’s the greatest superhero ever. His movies, however, have some serious issues. All four of the first Batman movies suffered from the same problem- they weren’t about Batman. Of course, Batman was there with some increasingly contrived gadgets and menacing glare amidst his rubber suit. But it was always the villains that came off as far more interesting. Jack Nicholson’s Joker, Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman, Jim Carrey’s Riddler- all were more fully focused upon in each film than the guy on the marquee, who we of course finally found out in the film Batman Begins was more interesting anyway.
Peggy Carter is Batman this season- relegated to some admittedly great one liners, flashy action sequences, and the obligatory love triangle. Not much has progressed with her character, despite having a prime set up to explore it. Even a small side track into her origin didn’t give us much more than what we knew. Instead, our narrative eye is transfixed on Whitney Frost and what zero matter is capable of. There just isn’t enough thematic counter focus on our hero to really make the events amount to something.
Yet since we’re focusing on enemies, new and old, it’s a good time to remember that despite how we feel about our own enemies, as Christians we are called to love them. There is historical debate ongoing about the degrees to which we are called to love them, what it means to love an enemy yet defend yourself, and even how to classify someone as an enemy. But the one thing that isn’t up for debate is that we are to love them. The deeper question is- why?
Chief Sousa: “Sometimes you have to put your faith in others to get the job done.”
Thanks, Chief. We see a prime example of why we should love our enemies in this week’s set of episodes. Dottie Underwood becomes a vital asset to the SSR team, and she couldn’t have played the part without a show of love by Carter towards her. Love is a funny word. Peggy isn’t about to go holding hands or handing out hugs to Dottie or Whitney Frost. Love can be many things. It is patient and kind, doesn’t envy or boast. And in this case for Peggy, it is showing forgiveness to Dottie. It is this forgiving love that saves the necks of Peggy and her team. At least temporarily.
I firmly believe you can love an enemy and still defend yourself against their attacks. That’s an ongoing theological debate to be sure, but I think we can at least it is possible. Jesus loved his enemies but he still evaded capture from them until the time was right. Certainly loving our enemies doesn’t dictate we destroy them, but defense can be many things. After all, Peggy’s capture of Dottie last season and subsequent extension of an olive branch for her aid may be the one thing that brings about redemption in Dottie. Again, the enemies here are more interesting than our hero this season.
Which brings us to Whitney Frost. How are you supposed to love an enemy that has the power to destroy not just you but many people? It’s not easy. Can we defend ourselves against them? And if so, how? Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but there isn’t a perfect little answer. But I don’t think Agent Carter is out to destroy Frost. Sure, Frost will probably end up destroyed, but it’s looking like it will be by her own hand. Her power is growing out of control, and seems likely to consume her.
If, however, Carter were given the choice, would she pull the trigger and end Frost’s life? I’m not sure I know the answer. She didn’t set out to kill Dottie Underwood, and Dottie ended up being an asset. The enemy became an ally. Which is something we can at least say is more complex and more interesting than any of the first few Batman villains.
Next Week on Agent Carter: back to back week? That doesn’t excite me, because it sure feels like ABC is trying to dump the show as fast as it can. Plus, we get more villain focus and more love triangle clunkiness. We had a strong start, so I’m still hoping for a strong finish. But it isn’t looking positive.