So over the weekend, I finally finished up season two of Marvel’s Agent Carter and honestly I really loved it. Spoilers ahead! This season was set in Los Angeles and the foe was Whitney Frost and the accidental creation of what they called Zero Matter. For one thing, I really loved having a female enemy that was more than a puppet in a man’s revenge plan (cough yes I’m looking at Dottie). There’s substance and depth to Whitney and her actions – through the course of the season, we learn not only about her but of Peggy Carter too.
One of the things I love about the show in general is that it has stuck to a single way of telling a narrative – both seasons are short but focus on an overarching storyline throughout the episodes. A couple of the other shows I watch have gone from single story episodes with a smaller overarching story arc to entire seasons becoming one long movie. Two examples are Agents of SHIELD and Supernatural – both started out having single episodes telling a story with a lingering and less important season long plot. But they strayed from that and I can’t really describe why exactly that bothers me. But enough about my pet peeves of other shows.
I thought that this season of Agent Carter was really well done – the lighter tones fit the setting of Los Angeles and the country moving on from WWII and the costumes were just as wonderful as the first season (oh my goodness A++ to the costume designer). I also really loved that they introduced Ana Jarvis – Jarvis’ much talked about wife but I would have really loved it if she were her own character outside of Edwin. Her existence in season two (and being shot) seemed to be more to give Edwin depth than anything else. Plus, the fact that he kept the fact that she wouldn’t be able to have kids after she was shot from her for a few days really bugged me.
This season was a little better as far as diversity – it at least briefly acknowledges race, something that the first season never even mentioned. However, this season wasn’t perfect as far as diversity, which something that Claire Light mentions over at Nerds of Color. Plus, the season seems to add to the trend in superhero shows of making the only (or at least one of the few) character of color the love interest for the (super)hero. Light also wrote about this, saying that:
Whereas action films used to isolate a single character of color in a field of whiteness as the hero’s sidekick, nowadays superhero tv shows seem to be isolating characters of color in all-white casts — as the hero’s love interest.
Needless to say, it’s no better — although certainly no worse — than the more traditional sidekick of color, since our current crop of tv superhero shows are giving the love interests plenty of skills and agency. But it leaves us back at square two: with a single character of color in an all-white field, completely disconnected from any family or community or context, and fighting racism — or not — without any of the support that real people of color have, and need to succeed in the real world. It’s a profoundly white vision of how people of color move through life, fostered by workplace tokenism and a lack of curiosity and imagination about the lives of Others.
So while the writers and producers seem to have heard the criticisms about the lack of racial diversity in the first season, their attempts in the second season weren’t quite there. But that doesn’t mean that the entire show is horrible – just that it has its problems and has some room to improve if it’s renewed for a third season. And I really hope it’s renewed for a third season.