The Kick-Ass Evolution of Agent Carter

By  · Published on February 25th, 2015

ABC Television

We’re still mourning the abrupt end of Agent Carter’s short-lived first season after last night’s finale but, for only eight episodes, it was one hell of a ride. Agent Carter, led by actress Hayley Atwell, took us back to life in New York City after WWII, when nationalism was riding high and international crime was still very much in play. It was a world cautiously embracing peace while the undercurrent of political rivalries was still churning. And in the middle of it all stood a beacon of bravery, feminine savvy, and power – her name was Peggy Carter.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.

Let’s take a look back at what made this season of Agent Carter so kick-ass.

A Big Middle Finger to Sexism

This show is taking place in 1946 with Peggy employed by the secret American spy taskforce SSR. There’s a lot of jabs about having a woman in the office coupled with incessant “Can you get me some coffee, sugar?” and “You want a woman on this job, boss?!” Peggy picks and chooses her office battles wisely (but also, Peggy, get yourself to HR and file some sexual assault charges, geez) but defiantly earns her place with some equally as cutting verbal jabs. She’s not in it to play the game like the boys. She’s going to play it like a girl.

Which brings me to…

Peggy Carter Is Violent

Let me be clear here: I am not advocating for violence in any world outside of fantasy. But in a world where violence in dramatized or, heck, even celebrated? I am so thankful to see a female character be downright ruthless. In the vein of characters like Uma Thurman’s The Bride from the Kill Bill series, Peggy Carter will lay a serious beat down.

Some season highlights would be: stabbing a guy through the wrist, affixing him to a table; kicking a woman out a window to fall 20 feet into an airplane hanger; and cold cocking a nefarious accomplice while in the midst of volatile explosives.

But She’s Not Heartless

There’s always a caveat. Peggy is still very much nursing a broken heart, after having said good-bye only a year before to her boyfriend Captain America as his plane crashed in the Arctic. It’s an ache that Carter can’t quite separate herself from. While this makes her human, it does not make her overly vulnerable and it’s profoundly welcome to see a female character exist with so many facets.

The Gadgets

This season of Agent Carter centered around a heist that left Peggy scrambling to find Howard Stark, Tony Stark’s father and creator of Stark Industries for those Iron Man fans, dangerous inventions before they fell into the hands of the wrong Russian villain. And seeing those inventions at play was imaginative and often times outright fun.

Suck a whole building up into a black hole via a powerful magnet? Pen with a camera embedded into it? Lipstick that knocks people out when you kiss them? Sure, why not.

Peggy and Jarvis: BFF

And who better to join Peggy on the escapade to find the lost inventions than Edwin Jarvis, Howard Stark’s faithful butler. While both characters are great on their own, together, they are witty and sarcastic, dynamic and bold. Jarvis, played by James D’Arcy, acts as an astute foil for Stark’s arrogance and the naïve trust of Carter. He’s a great ally to Peggy and ultimately offers her the singular source of closure that she’s been looking for all season.

The Reframing of Heroism

Heroics are often loud, intense displays with a definitive winner and sorely denounced loser. Not here. In one of the last lines of the finale, when her co-worker Agent Sousa hotly responds that Carter deserves to be acknowledged for her hard work, Peggy responds rather simply, “I know my worth.”

Fans excitedly tuned in week after week to see that mantra play out. Now it’s just a matter of whether ABC can estimate how valuable Agent Carter would be with a second season.