Today is Tuesday, which means that the second season of Agent Carter premieres today! Let’s take a look back at season one to refresh your memory.
Agent Carter, of course, follows Peggy Carter, the love interest and fan favorite from Captain America: The First Avenger. Peggy is one of the most prominent characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, appearing in four movies, two television series, and a short film, not including the upcoming Captain America: Civil War.
It’s 1946, after World War II and the events of Captain America: The First Avenger, and Peggy is fighting her greatest foe yet – 1940’s sexism. She has returned to work for the Strategic Scientific Reserve (S.S.R.) after a brief HYDRA-crushing tour of Europe with Cap’s old buddies, the Howling Commandos (as seen in certain Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. flashbacks). Unlike her time in the war, Peggy is not respected as a soldier, agent (or a human being, really).
Howard Stark, daddy of Iron Man and where Tony got his engineering skills and womanizing charm, is accused of selling dangerous weaponized or weaponizable inventions to enemies of the United States, and the S.S.R. is tasked with bringing him to justice. Knowing he can trust his old friend, Howard tells Peggy that he was robbed and is innocent, and asks her to help work against the S.S.R. to clear his name. He entrusts her with the care of his butler, Edwin Jarvis (Tony Stark’s childhood caretaker and inspiration for J.A.R.V.I.S.), who is eager but not the most skilled at espionage. Stark tells Peggy that one of his most dangerous inventions, nitramene, is going to hit the market, before sailing overseas to try and steal some inventions back.
Secretly following a lead from her fellow agents, the kind crippled war veteran Daniel Sousa and the chauvinistic and arrogant interrogator Jack Thompson, Peggy sneaks into a club in disguise to steal the nitramene from a fence, only to find the formula has already been sold and weaponized. As Thompson arrives a step late, a mysterious man with his voicebox removed has already killed the fence, followed Peggy home, and killed her roommate Colleen. Peggy fights and injures the man, who escapes. Peggy and Jarvis learn from Howard Stark’s partner and Whiplash from Iron Man 2’s daddy that the weapon was created at the Roxxon refinery, so they go to check it out.
At the refinery, they run into the buyer Leet Brannis, who also has his voicebox removed. After loading a milk truck with nitramene bombs, he warns Peggy that “Leviathan in coming” through his electrolarynx before throwing a bomb at the ground, imploding the entire factory with just enough time for Peggy and Jarvis to escape.
Peggy refuses an offer to move in with her waitress friend Angie Martinelli, not wanting to get her involved, and goes undercover again to the Daisy Clover Dairy company to find out which of the milk trucks was stolen, learning the name of the driver. Back at the S.S.R., Chief Roger Dooley and Agent Ray Krzeminski are trying to sift through the compact cube of garbage that once was an entire Roxxon Oil refinery, while Thompson and Sousa visit the CEO of Roxxon, Hugh Jones, who is convinced his business rival Howard Stark is involved.
During a radiation screening test to determine which of the Roxxon employees assisted in the inside job, Peggy recognizes one of the scientists from the crime scene. He is arrested and interrogated by Thompson, until he reveals the name and location of the milk truck driver. Peggy is also on her way to find the driver with Jarvis – as is the mysterious mute, who is trying to find and kill his fellow mute Leet Brannis.
Peggy beats up the driver to an excellent Captain America radioplay and steals the milk truck, with Brannis inside. They are attacked by the mute, who wounds Brannis, and Jarvis decides to drive the implosive truck into a lake, killing the mute but allowing himself to escape, alongside Peggy and Brannis. Leet Brannis warns Peggy by drawing a symbol in the dirt and dies, and Peggy and Jarvis flee the scene. Alerted by the implosion, the S.S.R. shows up, finding the body, the mute’s hotel key, and a woman’s footprints.
After a heart-to-heart with Jarvis, Peggy agrees to move into Angie’s strict women-only boarding house. Meanwhile, Krzeminski is digging through the implosion rubble and finds the license plate of Peggy and Jarvis’ getaway car – belonging to Howard Stark. Searching the mute’s room, Dooley finds a long range transmitting typewriter and confiscates it, while Thompson finds confusing evidence that their pair of mutes died years earlier in a World War II battle in Russia.
The S.S.R. takes in Jarvis for interrogation, suspecting his knowledge of where the license plate came from. As Thompson almost gets Jarvis to crack, bringing up the fact that Jarvis was dishonorably discharged for treason and threatening to have Jarvis and his wife Anna deported, Peggy makes a dumb paperwork mistake (on purpose) to get Jarvis released, immediately losing the sliver of respect her male co-workers had for her.
While exploring the thief Brannis’ tunnel below Stark’s weapons vault, Jarvis admits that he was discharged for forging his general’s signature on paperwork to save his Jewish wife Anna from prosecution, fleeing to America with the help of Howard. Jarvis and Peggy find Leet’s ship, which he used to store the stolen inventions, so Jarvis anonymously calls the S.S.R. while Peggy fights off a bodyguard.
The S.S.R. shows up and Krzeminski takes the bodyguard into custody, but an mysterious shadowy figure kills both the agent and the criminal before he can talk. Dooley resolves to catch Howard Stark before more agents die.
Peggy and Jarvis smuggle Howard back into America, and Howard gives Peggy a camera pen so he can study the stolen inventions, which were confiscated by the S.S.R. from the ship. Peggy hides Howard in her all-female boarding house.
Meanwhile, Dooley is visiting a Nazi colonel on death row, asking about the Battle of Finow in Russia. The colonel reveals that no Russians died at German hands; the Russians were already dead when the Nazis arrived. At the S.S.R., Sousa and Thompson interrogate a witness and find out that a man and woman were seen at the docks.
Viewing the photographs Peggy took, Howard makes her liberate the “Blitzkrieg Button”, which he claims can shut off the power for all of New York. It is revealed that it actually contained a vial of Steve Rogers blood for research purposes, which makes Peggy furious that Howard and Jarvis both kept it and lied to her about it. Peggy hides it in a makeshift wallsafe.
The head smuggler, having a bone to pick with Peggy, attempts to break in Peggy’s new place to assassinate her – however, her new roommate Dottie Underwood promptly and acrobatically kills him for his unique gun. Back at the S.S.R., the typewriter receives a transmission from Leviathan.
Via flashback (and using some context clues), we learn that Dottie is a Black Widow, trained by Leviathan in the Red Room program. They realize it is Russian coded coordinates, so the S.S.R. decides to send Thompson to Russia with some agents. Peggy convinces Dooley to let her go as well, because she knows the area and can call in the Howling Commandos.
The crew meets up with the Commandos – “Dum Dum” Dugan from Captain America: The First Avenger, with a group of new soldiers: “Pinky” Pinkerton, “Happy” Sam Sawyer and “Junior” Juniper. They swap bourbon and war stories. The energy with Peggy and her war buddies is much different, and Thompson notices it. He tells the brave story of him earning the Navy Cross.
They infiltrate the Leviathan base, and find the Red Room where young Black Widows are trained. There is a lone young girl there, who seems harmless before stabbing Dum Dum, killing Junior and escaping. The rest of the team finds two prisoners – an engineer forced to create Stark weaponry, and a psychiatrist tasked with keeping him sane. They rescue them and escape, before getting caught in a deadly firefight with Leviathan agents. The engineer Nikola tries to negotiate with Happy Sam’s life on the line, so the psychiatrist Ivchenko sadly kills his partner when Thompson freezes up.
The group parts ways, with the Commandos staying and the S.S.R. agents taking Ivchenko back to America. Back in the States, Dottie goes through Peggy’s room and steals valuable information, Sousa finds evidence that Peggy has been working against the S.S.R., and Dooley finds evidence on the Battle of Finow that Stark was involved in the coverup. On the plane Thompson reveals that his Navy Cross story was a lie and that he is not a war hero.
Arriving home, Peggy and Jarvis realize that the “inside man” was a female Leviathan agent, and decide to visit the lengthy list of women from recent affairs Howard Stark has had. Meanwhile, Sousa reveals his proof that Peggy is a traitor, and all agents are tasked with finding her and bringing her to justice. Dooley starks seeking psychological advice from Ivchenko, who is secretly a Leviathan agent and master hypnotist working with Dottie and communicating with her via morse code.
As Peggy single-handledly fights off the S.S.R., Ivchenko hypnotizes an agent into revealing how to access Stark’s weapons, and makes him kill himself. Peggy sneaks back to her apartment to retrieve Steve’s blood, and is able to escape through the acting chops of Angie – who doesn’t know what is going on, but is willing to help. As Peggy makes her escape, she is knocked out by Dottie, who is about to kill her before the S.S.R. shows up and arrests Peggy.
In the S.S.R., Peggy is resisting interrogation, before Jarvis shows up with a (forged) signed confession from Howard Stark, stating the condition is that Peggy is released. Peggy tells her team the truth of her personal investigation to gain their trust, and how her and Jarvis have seen Ivchenko communicating via Morse code. Dooley, who believes Ivchenko is here to help with his failing marriage, refuses to believe this last part, but sends Thompson and Sousa to investigate the office Dottie is communicating from – before Ivchenko hypnotizes him into helping him steal a deadly invention called “Midnight Oil” and makes him strap himself into an explosive vest. Realizing there is no way to deactivate it, Dooley jumps out the window and detonates, killing himself and saving everyone else.
Dottie and Ivchenko test the “Midnight Oil”, a gas that forces people to become enraged and tear eachother apart, in a movie theater. Howard Stark returns and reveals that he invented it to help soldiers stay awake, but it had terrible side effects. The army decided to use it anyway, causing the “Battle” of Finow, which they promptly covered up. Howard decided to cut all ties with the military. He believes that Johann Fennhoff, one of the surviving victims using the alias Dr. Ivchenko, is planning on using the gas on New York and blaming Howard Stark, whom he believes is responsible for the Battle.
The S.S.R. uses Stark as bait, but this plan goes wrong when Fennhoff brainwashes Stark into flying a plane and gassing the city himself, believing he’s on a mission to rescue Steve Rogers. While Peggy fights with and seriously injures Dottie in Stark’s private hangar, Sousa captures Fennhoff. Stark, however, is still on his way to Times Square. Jarvis takes a plane to the skies with the intention of shooting down Howard’s plane if necessary.
In an emotion scene reminiscent of the finale of Captain America: The FIrst Avenger, Peggy tearfully asks Howard to return. She is able to successfully convince him to snap back to consciousness, moments before a terrified Jarvis was to fire. Back at the S.S.R., new chief Jack Thompson receives all the praise. Sousa is upset by this, but Peggy doesn’t mind. After Sousa asks her out and she refuses, she dumps her vial of Steve’s blood into the river, to move on. Howard Stark invites Peggy and Angie to live in his mansion indefinitely.
Finally, in jail, a muzzled Fennhoff is introduced to his fellow inmate – HYDRA’s Arnim Zola, outing these two as the eventual masterminds behind the Winter Soldier project.
Whew! Sorry for the long messy recap. It’s hard to condense an entire, complicated season – especially one from a year ago! I give this season a 8/10 – it is a fantastic show that gets better with each viewing. On to season two!