'Agent Carter' is a Poor Marvel Story - Nothing More, Nothing Less

Agent Carter Episode 7 - Dooley

[SPOILERS ahead for Agent Carter season 1, episode 7.]


After weeks of side-stepping the SSR at every turn and globe-trotting with the Howling Commandos, it’s now time for the interrogation of Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and all to be revealed. Fortunately, even the hypnotism of Dr. Ivchenko (Ralph Brown) can’t whisk away the confusing conversations on Agent Carter that reveal a hard truth: there’s only one episode left and it doesn't really matter.

Agent Carter has always been a fun and charming journey into Marvel’s supplemental characters, mind you, and for that it’s certainly a success. However, this week’s episode, “Snafu”, written by Being Human scribe Chris Dingess, is a perfect example of the many problems with ABC’s miniseries experiment. Sadly, it all adds up to a poor story being told.

In this week’s episode, the entire cast of Agent Carter shines with their performances, throughout the course of Peggy’s lengthy interrogation. Dooley (Shea Whigham) is able to play the comic relief while maintaining authority; Thompson (Chad Michael Murray) can tap in to his misplaced heroics; and Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) can play the jilted lover. When divided, they help maintain the pace of this seemingly story-less episode, and together provide a solid foundation for this period spy game to exist and flourish outside of the case at hand. There’s even an impressive musical score which accompanies almost every scene, helping to maintain a tone similar to the Carter’s big-budget brothers.

The only thing that it is lacking is, well... content.

Agent Carter Season 1 - Sousa

Even Carter, who generally carries every episode, is weakened as the character is reduced to a heavy-handed plot device - one that needs to fulfill certain requirements before the final episode. Carter is now considered one of the cast; and as such, is simply nothing special, as there’s nothing for her to do — she's just another ornament which “the show's world” can now leverage to maintain some semblance of a story (when there honestly isn’t much of one). There are agents better than the ones at the SSR; assassins more skillful than Peggy; and an ultimate villain who is so exceptional that his reveal can wait until the series’ final moments. It almost feels as if there’s a limited amount of characters each episode is able to service - and unfortunately, Carter didn’t make the list this time.

As far as villains connected to Leviathan are concerned, Dr. Ivchenko is as convenient as you can hope for. There’s no responsibility for him to do anything other than control the scene with hypnotism — which means the writers can simply create a temporary world to entertain viewers in the moment, while failing to service the larger story as a whole. The “hot vest” weapon to close out the episode doesn’t do much to raise the bar of the series much, either. Dooley was one of the strongest characters on the show and his arc wasn’t leveraged for much of anything, even emotion. There’s no way to feel like Dooley’s death should be vindicated because, as of now, anyone and everyone can be behind it, and audiences are expected to care.

Hayley Atwell James D'Arcy Talk Agent Carter

At some point, however, it becomes a challenge to care, thus welcoming the inherent fun of a Marvel-based world. The inhabitants and their powers, which are arguably always fantastical, create said inherent fun, which provides an entertaining viewing experience other franchises are unable to offer. The question: should they?

In 6 weeks we’ve watched Agent Carter attempt to establish itself as more than a haphazard peek into the ever-growing world of Marvel. The cast, characters, and sets are all exceptional, and at another time they can be the basis of a terrific series. What we have now, however, is a semi-interesting character study that any Marvel fan can qualify away purely because American television has few comparisons to it — which is absolutely true. If this were the typical series, one would hope for a season 2; with this miniseries, perhaps its best to hope for another attempt from Marvel.

Agent Carter series finale airs next Tuesday @9pm. You can check out a preview of next week's episode below:

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