It seems clear now that this season of Agent Carter would have been better served by following the eight-episode arc of the first season. This one often felt contrived and dragged on without much payoff. For a grand finale that wasn’t so grand, I can at least say that I wasn’t bored. This was primarily thanks to the necessary wrapping up of things that comes with a finale. Thankfully, the resolution was satisfying enough and we can move on hoping for better in the future, if indeed there is a future for the show.
In case we don’t get more Agent Carter, however, I want to dig a little more into why this show, and particularly this character, was so important. The plot of this season handles itself. Things happened, the world was saved, and it all passed by in pretty generic fashion. But the Marvel-esque plots were never what was great about the show. You can read in my Agent Carter Introductory article more about what I believe the show did in championing strong female characters, but the reason it was able to champion these characters is because of its approach to the humanity of every character, no matter how small of a role they play.
Peggy Carter: “You’re a good man, Jack. I know that.”
This moment is all you need for proof that this show stands as far outside the cultural norm as it’s main character. It is an echo of show’s heart for people. There was a beautiful moment in this episode where Carter got to flip the social status tables on Jack and made him get the dinner order for the team. It was a light yet satisfying moment for the character journey we’ve been on with Carter. She has always seen the truth of her own nature despite what others have tried to force on her- be it enemies or friends. The fulfillment of that journey came, quite surprisingly, in her rocky relationship with Jack.
This moment with Jack is indicative that Carter doesn’t just see the truth in herself, she sees it in others. All season long she pushed back at Jack when he repeatedly threatened her. Plenty of times she could have left him to his own devices or taken him down if she wanted, but she hung in there for him. She held onto his true nature, and it was that very thing that set him free of Vernon’s manipulations.
I feel like most shows, even good ones, stop at the hero’s victories. They don’t often champion the victories of other characters. I know I am generalizing, but it seems like there are more often characters who simply feel more like a distraction than human. Jack Thompson seemed destined for the part-player role as he was the main holder of the “idiot ball” for the entire season. Rather than simply forget him, the show followed through with him, able to do this entirely because of the complexity of Peggy Carter.
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” – Matthew 5:44
There are so many small examples like this in the show that exhibit what a Christ-like nature really is. I believe in Christ because that’s my faith born through testing and searching. But I seek to act like Christ because it has and always will be what brings out the best in myself and everyone else. We could cast aside our enemies, but we are called to love them. Why? Because it’s the only thing that will free us from the conflict. The only way to change our hearts is to let our natures be known. Only then can we work to move forward.
Authentic community remains central to this show. Last season was a journey for Carter to be brought into the fold of the “men’s only” SSR leadership. This season was more a journey for the men around Carter to be led by her, brought under her wing. If she had given Jack his comeuppance, let Wilkes bring about his own demise, or let Jarvis descend into revenge, she would have failed not just them but herself. Instead, she persisted, knowing their hearts and working to bring that back out of them. It’s truly a unique approach on the television screen right now.
To conclude this season, I believe we can observe a lesson here regarding our current culture. We have an ongoing campaign of chaos swirling about us in the form of politics. We can easily spend our time turning people into enemies, tossing them into little boxes and closing the lid tight. If we do that, we’ll never get anywhere. There’s no sinister alien force trying to consume us. The world is not so black and white as that. Rather, there is something far more dangerous we must face- hate.
Humans do a much greater job of consuming each other than any malicious dark matter could do. At the risk of sounding trite, we simply must, like our heroine Agent Peggy Carter, fight to bring out the hearts of those around us. Community is our weapon against bigotry and hubris. And if one little TV show based on a comic book can promote just a little bit more of that, then we’re all better off for it.