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Monday, 13 July 2015

Agent Carter: Now Is Not the End


Better late than never, after Channel 4 dropped the ball, Fox has finally picked it up and we get to see (about six months behind the States), the adventures of Peggy Carter...

A brilliant cocktail of period pulp sensibilities and more modern comic book aesthetics, the breathless pacing and slightly heightened sense of reality gives the spy-fi antics of Marvel's Agent Carter a feel all of its own.

It's 1946 and Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) is suffering under the sexism of the age in her job with the Strategic Scientific Reserve - the precursor to S.H.I.E.L.D. - being reduced to manning the phones and filing reports.

At the same time Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) is being investigated over alleged sale of weapons tech to 'enemies of the state'. Because of their wartime connection, he approaches Peggy and asks her to help clear his name.

Stark claims his secure vault was raided and a number of his "bad babies" (highly dangerous inventions) were stolen and have subsequently started appearing on the black market..

While Stark heads off to follow one lead, he leaves her with his very proper butler Edwin Jarvis (James D'Arcy).

Now Is Not The End is brimming with Easter Eggs (e.g. Jarvis, himself, and Roxxon) and wonderful weird technology (from knockout lipstick and Peggy's stun gun to a safe-cracking watch, Vita Rays and a radio-typewriter that reminded me of Fringe).

As this was the first episode of the show, there were also plenty of references to Captain America, with a slew of flashbacks to Peggy/Cap moments from The First Avenger.

While the show clearly belongs to the titular Agent Carter and her 'batman', Edwin Jarvis, a number of solid character actors stand out in the large cast - such as Peggy's only real friend at the SSR, the war-wounded Daniel Sousa (Dollhouse's Enver Gjokaj) and SSR chief Roger Dooley (Boardwalk Empire's Shea Whigham).

The script by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, the show's creators, has that 1940's banter down pat, with the dialogue singing along like they've been lifted from His Girl Friday.

Opposing Carter, at this stage, were a couple of creepy, nameless, mute gunsels (including the ever-reliable James Frain) and the first mention of the season's presumed Big Bad, an organisation called Leviathan.

We may have had to wait a painfully long time to catch up with the States, but the wait was worth it given what a cracking start to the series this episode was.

If Agent Carter can maintain this pace and caliber for its remaining seven episodes this season, then it looks like Marvel's TV arm has another winner on its hands.

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