The return of Agent Carter was something that I had long looked forward to. It had a very good first series that made me realise that Marvel TV shows were actually capable of being consistently good and not mediocre with occasional flashes of inspiration. Compared to Agents of SHIELD (even series two), Agent Carter was significantly better and I had a great time watching it, to the point where I remembered it as the best Marvel show. However, this was all before Daredevil and Jessica Jones showed me what a good show really looks like. Yet I was sure that ABC would not let themselves be so easily defeated by Netflix, and while they did not seem to try much with Agents of SHIELD I believed that was because the real creative talent was going to be in Agent Carter. Well it looks like it is not. Agent Carter starts its series with an entirely underwhelming episode, which whilst not being bad, just does not work at all and pales in comparison to even the weakest Daredevil episode.
That is not to say that the episode was completely terrible; there were plenty of good aspects to ‘The Lady in the Lake’. The episode’s premise and set up for the series was very good. You had a frozen person in a lake that seemed to contaminate others with some weird thing that made them turn to ice as well. I found that premise really nice. Agent Carter is good at actually building a mystery, and during the episode I had a whole lot of questions that I was interested in seeing answered. What was that pendant that Dottie had tried to steal? Is it important? To whom? What is this weird material being studied at Isodyne? Is it connected to what is freezing everything? All these questions make me want to continue watching the show to find out the answers and that is exactly what a series premiere should aim to do.
I also really enjoyed the new characters being brought on set. The senatorial candidate and his wife seem very interesting. It is clear there is more to them than meets the eye and they clearly had something to do with whatever is freezing people. I wonder whether we are going to end up seeing the Maggia involved in this series. We already had Fisk but maybe we are going to see Count Nefaria. Clearly Chadwick and Whitney have some ability to bribe the cops and an interest in whatever the substance that is freezing people is. In any case this is enough to make me want to watch more. I also really liked Wilkes, who seemed likeable enough but that final scene with him in front of that substance makes me wonder what his motives are. Is he a villain or just some dupe who is set up? Is he really attracted to Peggy or is he trying to find out her vulnerabilities? Maybe he is bad but will his attraction to Peggy will redeem him? I don’t know but I want to find out. However, the best new character is clearly Ana Jarvis. It is great to see that Jarvis married someone who seems to be his polar opposite. Jarvis may act as the straight-laced English butler stereotype, but deep down there is actually more to him. He likes adventure and does not want to settle down. Ana is that for him: someone who always keeps him on his toes, encourages him to be his best and not settle for a boring life. That makes for a fantastic character.
I also really enjoyed the dynamic between Jarvis and Peggy. Jarvis relies on Peggy since she can provide a level of excitement that no one else can. For Stark he is just a butler and for Ana he is a husband and while she encourages him to be his best, she cannot actually give him any adventure. Peggy, on the other hand, is capable of doing so. Their dynamic is a great one because Jarvis can keep her anchored to humanity, reminding her that she is not alone, that while being a strong independent woman in the late 1940s is challenging, there are friends and allies for her. Carter gives him the chance to help out on challenging missions and provides a moral compass, one that Stark is incapable of doing.
However, the one problem I had with this episode was the fact that it did not seem to take itself seriously. This is not a comedy show and while it does not need to be as gritty as Daredevil or Jessica Jones, some of the gags there seemed just a little over the top. The whole scene with the talent auditions at the SSR front was boring and just seemed to be played for laughs, as was the flamingo joke. I understand that the show can be funny, but it needs to draw the line between light-hearted and just goofing off. The whole bank robbery scene where Peggy clobbered Dottie with a sack of coins was so ridiculous that I was surprised they did not put a one-line joke about loose change. I don’t understand for the life of me why they think stupid comedy is a good idea. It did not work in Agents of SHIELD and it does not work here. If we wanted a comedy show we would watch one. It might work in Damage Control which I understand will be a comedy show but here, in a serious spy show which discusses serious issues, goofing off just does not work here.