When Marvel announced an Agent Carter series, fans were delighted to spend more time with Peggy Carter. As o-ne of the first women to get involved in the action within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Peggy had a lot of fans.
Unfortunately, fans found themselves disappointed when ABC axed her series after two seasons. Those two seasons only had eighteen total episodes, less than even one season for the average network series. Of those 18, most are stellar, but they can’t all be perfect. We’re taking a look back at the best and worst Agent Carter offered.
10 Best: The Iron Ceiling S1E05
The first season built on Peggy’s appearance in Captain America: The First Avenger. As a result, movie fans had a lot of connections to look forward to. In “The Iron Ceiling,” fans got to see Peggy work with Dum Dum Dugan again, a soldier she and Steve fought alongside in World War II.
Peggy proved to the S.S.R. that she could be trusted to take on a mission when she decoded a Russian message and convinced the Howling Commandos to give them a hand. We also got a little Jack Thompson backstory, Dugan-Carter banter, and a look at what the Black Widow program was like in the 30s and 40s. It was a definite crowd pleaser.
9 Worst: Time And Tide S1E03
“Time And Tide” isn’t a bad episode of television. It is, however, an establishing episode, meaning it’s more focused on defining background information than it is moving forward. That’s a hard thing to do successfully when the season is only comprised of eight episodes.
The single worst part of the episode, however, is that just three episodes into the series, all of Peggy’s hard work to be taken seriously vanished with one move. In order to get Jarvis released from S.S.R. questioning, Peggy had to pretend to make a simple mistake. She sacrificed being able to move forward in her career so Jarvis didn’t get implicated as an accessory to the supposed traitor Howard Stark.
8 Best: SNAFU S1E07
“SNAFU” ranks as one of the best episodes because it balances humor and drama so well while moving full speed ahead. Peggy’s real aims in the Stark investigation were revealed to the S.S.R., and the traitor amongst them made himself known.
Though Peggy wound up in S.S.R. interrogation, it provided some great moments for her. She got to relay exactly how she was able to play all of the men around her, and prove that what they saw wasn’t who she really was. The humorous beats of Peggy and Jarvis attempting to break out showed what a great team Hayley Atwell and James D’Arcy made as well. Chief Dooley’s brainwashing and sacrifice set up a huge season finale for the series.
7 Worst: The Blitzkrieg Button S1E04
Like many of the episodes of Agent Carter that rank amongst the worst, “The Blitzkrieg Button” isn’t a horrible hour of television, just not as great as the rest of the series. Here, the audience saw Howard Stark again, but it came at a price in the form of the reveal of the titular object.
When Howard told Peggy the device could take out the whole electrical grid, he lied. Peggy discovered it was actually holding a vial of Steve Rogers’ blood from his Captain America transformation. This reveal is a bit of a head scratcher for fans because immediately after Steve’s transformation, everything was in chaos as the scientist in charge was killed. If Howard had this vial, wouldn’t he have already been experimenting with it? Instead, he waited until the 80s to try to recreate the super soldier serum and ended up on the Winter Soldier’s radar? It didn’t add up.
6 Best: Valediction S1E08
If Agent Carter had ended with the first season, the finale would certainly be the best episode of the series. As it stands, the episode wraps up a chapter of Peggy’s life, but it does it with a whole lot of action.
Peggy confronted Dottie Underwood in a terrific sequence, setting up the proto Black Widow as a strong antagonist for the era. The series also provided a callback to one of Peggy’s most dramatic on screen sequences. Echoing her final scene with Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger, Peggy spoke to Howard via radio while he flew over New York. Even though fans knew how the story would end, they still collectively held their breath, hoping that Howard survived and Peggy received some closure.
5 Worst: Better Angels S2E03
Agent Carter already had a pretty interesting mystery with Whitney Frost and Zero Matter. If season two simply focused on the science fiction, that could have been enough. Instead, this episode introduced a political storyline to muddy the waters.
Jack Thompson made the trip to Los Angeles to get in the way of Peggy and Sousa’s attempts to work a case. His involvement meant the involvement of Vernon Masters and the expanding of the storyline of the Arena Club. (The Arena Club featured a ring with a symbol that appeared on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as one of the Hydra emblems, but the connection was never addressed.) It was an unnecessary addition to an already engaging season.
4 Best: The Lady In The Lake S2E01
Despite season two not being as well received as season one, the season premiere did breathe new life into the show. The series moved from New York to Los Angeles, allowing for film sets and sunshine to appear, literally brightening up the look of Agent Carter.
Before it gave the audience a change of scenery, however, it also gave the audience one of the most fun sequences of robbing a bank on television. Dottie Underwood returned to the show in an homage to the series premiere, right down to Peggy’s iconic hat. Dottie wound up in custody in New York while Peggy traveled to California. The audience knew Dottie wouldn’t be locked up forever.
3 Worst: Smoke And Mirrors S2E04
In the case of “Smoke And Mirrors,” the story of the episode isn’t what makes it one of the lesser hours of Agent Carter. Instead, it’s the pacing.
The episode flashed back and forth from the past to the present, but it also flashed between Whitney Frost and Peggy Carter. As a result, Whitney’s past as Agnes Cully in Oklahoma was explored, as was Peggy’s life before becoming a secret agent. Both women were very different, having to hide certain aspects of their personality to fit in. The episode certainly made fans sympathetic to Whitney’s life, but it took forever to get all of the story points out in the open.
2 Best: Life Of The Party S2E06
Despite its short tenure on television, Agent Carter did give fans one thing they wanted: Peggy teamed up with a Black Widow. Thanks to an injury, this episode had Peggy Carter breaking an old enemy out of jail for a little help.
Peggy convinced Dottie Underwood to help her without very much prodding. The chemistry between Dottie and Peggy was as good, if not better, than that between Peggy and Jarvis. That’s why this episode worked so well. With Peggy and Sousa on the radio and Dottie and Jarvis infiltrating a society party, it was ripe for comedy. If any hour of the show came close to being perfect, it was “Life Of The Party.”
1 Worst: The Atomic Job S2E05
Aside from Peggy sporting a ridiculous disguise to get into Roxxon’s files, this episode in season two is one where the love triangle - or more accurately, square - took over.
One of the things fans loved about season one was watching Peggy move on from heartbreak. The friendship between Peggy and Sousa organically grew to include the possibility of romance. Some fans would agree the same was true of Peggy and Angie. With this episode, the romantic entanglements of the characters grew to overshadow the story as Daniel became engaged, but was forced to admit he still had feelings for Peggy, and Violet wasn’t blind to it. Likewise, Peggy clearly had feelings for Daniel, but spent her time after an injury being comforted by the non-corporeal Jason Wilkes.
The episode felt more like a soap opera.