Marvel's Agent Carter - Episode 1 "Now is Not the End" Review

Written By: Chris Bucca Taylor

Hayley Atwell reprises her Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) role as Agent Peggy Carter. The show picks up after Captain America: The First Avenger which they cut back to whenever Peggy daydreams about Steve Rogers, who everyone believes to be and might as well be dead. The beginning of the pilot has her working at the Strategic Science Reserve in New York City in 1946, where she has to look into Howard Stark and if he’s been selling weapons to the bad guys. Agent Carter is certainly a refreshing break from the absurd Agents of SHIELD, although Kyle McLaughlin's overacting has been a lot fun and getting me excited for more Twin Peaks!

Agent Carter goes undercover as a blonde and uses her sexiness to find the buyers for Stark's molecular nitramene bomb, which is the object everyone is seeking throughout the episode; an object clearly important to the plot, but could be anything, hence why they don’t even name in in the “Previously on” before Episode 2. Now Peggy using her beauty may anger some for being sexist, but this disguise leads to her colleagues, who won't give her a shot at anything due to it being 1944 and her being a woman, through a red herring trail looking for a blonde suspect. In a way she's between the law and crime, almost a female Jack Bauer.

If there was any actor that was more deserving of his own show or even his own Marvel film from Joss Whedon's stable of actors, it's Enver Gjokaj, who portrayed Victor the Doll on Dollhouse. Here he plays Agent Daniel Sousa. Interestingly Enver played “Young Cop” (His character’s official name according to IMDb) in The Avengers, he even had a line. Could Agent Sousa be the best grandfather to “Young Cop”? Chad Michael Murray does a good job as Detective Jack Thompson, once my "raised on The WB Network" brain calmed down. He's very believable as a 1940s male, makes me think he may have actually been good in The Lone Ranger pilot he shot for The WB Network in 2003 (if I ever find this, I'll review this). Shay Whigham portrays Detective Roger Dooley whose two parts 1940s chauvinist and one part smart-ass detective. The banter between Dooley and Thompson make for some fun television.

Jarvis makes his first Marvel Cinematic Universe physical, organic appearance and he's not Paul Bettany. James D'Arcy portrays Howard Stark's butler Edwin Jarvis, and in pure Marvel fashion it's a precursor to Avenger: Age of Ultron, where Tony Stark's digital butler goes full Lawnmower Man (or it's 2014 reboot, goes full Transcendence). Is Edwin the father or grandfather to a Paul Bettany Jarvis who died and became Tony's digital Jarvis? Is James D’Arcy’s, much cheaper, Edwin Jarvis the one who ultimately transcends and becomes digital Jarvis, albeit with Mr. Bethany's much more expensive film star voice? We'll find out once Avengers 2 hits theaters. Within this show, Jarvis becomes Agent Carter’s sidekick, her Watson, complete with British accent. James D’Arcy’s energy was a little low for me throughout the pilot, a complaint I’ve had with Martin Freeman’s Watson on BBC’s excellent Sherlock. Maybe both characters are too “properly British” for me, but I had problems hearing Jarvis’ dialogue throughout the Agent Carter due to this low energy.

James Urbaniak is in the episode, billed as Scientist Miles Van Ert. He can luckily talk, unlike some of the bad guys who have cut out their voice box or something to that effect. Still though James only has a couple lines in this first episode, strange for someone known as the lead voice actor, Dr. Rusty Venture in Venture Bros. By the end of the episode Agent Carter and Jarvis find the Roxxon Oil Refinery where Scientist Van Ert and Scientist “Mute” create an entire milk truck full of Howard Stark’s molecular nitramene bombs. Peggy attempts to save the day, but it’s too late, the mute scientist activates one of the bombs and as everyone escapes, the entire refinery exploded and then implodes into a ball that could fit on the back of a tow truck… and even though it’s a full tightly packed oil refinery, it somehow doesn’t crush the truck beneath it.

Overall Agent Carter was extremely entertaining. Perhaps I’m just relieved that it isn’t terrible like Agents of SHIELD has been; perhaps the show is truly wonderful. Honestly it’s somewhere in the between, while this show is no Sopranos or The Wire, I mean afterall it is a network procedural at heart, it lets us back into the MCUniverse and does so with a fun narrative and entertaining characters. There’s something stale and boring about AoS that Agent Carter avoids wholeheartedly. I think it’s because I’ve always wanted to know what happened to Peggy between the events of Cap 1 and Cap 2, while I didn’t care that Agent Coulson came back to life and was even angry they brought him back, regardless of how much “Whedon diagetic justification” was implanted into the storyark of the show. Agent Carter is off to a promising start!

Marvel's Agent Carter - Episode 1 "Now is Not the End": 8.25/10

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