Agent Carter Life Lesson of the Week: Life of the Party/Monsters

Sorry for the delay in getting this post up and running, friends! I’ve been a little busy getting things ready for the deadline for submissions to The Fan Mail Project (which is February 29 if you’re still interested in writing a letter)!

Agent Carter s2

No one should have to go through difficult things alone, and it’s important to remind others that they have a support system when times get tough. 

Agent Carter started as a show about a woman who felt she was alone in the world. She’d just lost the man she loved, and most of her coworkers kept her on the outside looking in because of her gender. It made sense for her to keep her guard up, to isolate herself, and to pull away from anyone who tried to get too close. It broke my heart to watch it happen, but it made sense.

The beauty of this second season of Agent Carter, though, is that Peggy isn’t alone anymore. She’s slowly learning how to fight battles with people by her side rather than believing (as she did for much of last season) that every battle she fights is her against the world.

The main plot of this pair of episodes involved Peggy teaming up with Dottie Underwood and then trying as hard as she could to find and rescue Dottie when Dottie was left alone and in the clutches of Whitney Frost. Watching Peggy work tirelessly to rescue one of her biggest enemies underscored the idea that this two-hour event was about the ways these characters have grown to support each other and accept support from each other—and what happens when that support gets taken away.

This pair of episodes focused closely on characters seeking each other out in potentially isolating situations. In many instances, these moments of vulnerability were beautiful and led to powerful moments of honest connection, but one example had tragic results. It made me so uncomfortable to watch Whitney genuinely find hope in and feel buoyed by her husband’s support, because I knew there was no way it could end well. All Whitney seems to have ever wanted (even from the time she was a girl) is for someone to believe in her and support her as a scientist, and it finally seemed that’s what Calvin Chadwick was doing. However, it ended up being a lie; his support was a ruse that he hoped would lead to her capture, but it ultimately led to his death. And it emphasized the fact that, while it’s a good thing to let your guard down and lean on people for support when you need it, you have to choose the right people to trust with your most vulnerable self. It turned out that Calvin wasn’t the right person for Whitney to trust, and that had deadly consequences for more than just one person.

Throughout the rest of the episode, it was interesting to see Whitney have small moments of connection with both Dottie and Jason Wilkes. With Jason especially, it was fascinating to watch her remind him that the respect he’s found with Peggy’s team isn’t the norm, to watch her try to forge a bond between them not just based on their connection to Zero Matter but also their place in society. It’s the kind of connection we saw more subtly evoked in the season premiere between him and Peggy, but this was a version of that connection twisted by Whitney’s bitterness.

While Jason fought against Whitney (only to be captured in the end anyway), it was clear in this pair of episodes that he wasn’t feeling as connected to the team—and especially Peggy—as he had been. Jason is going through something terrifying, but he stayed strong for so long because he felt supported. However, as Peggy’s focus became turned toward Dottie (and Daniel—the shot of Jason watching her intimately talk to Daniel broke my heart), it became harder for him to handle his condition. His outburst was completely understandable; he felt like he was alone, like the person he’d chosen to trust didn’t care as much about him anymore.

Thankfully, Jason seemed to have found a new friend and a kind of partner in Ana Jarvis. I love the way this show writes male/female friendships. Not every one needs to be dripping with sexual tension or hinting that it could turn into something more, and Agent Carter respects the idea that sometimes men and women can truly just be friends. Ana and Jason are a great example of that. They developed an easy rapport, and it was nice to see both of them find someone to confide in during a pair of episodes in which both of them were feeling more alone than usual. (Even if it did lead to disaster later on.)

In the same vein as Ana and Jason’s friendship, we have Peggy and Edwin Jarvis’s friendship. Jarvis was the first person to tell Peggy in Season One that she didn’t have to shoulder every burden on her own, and it’s been wonderful to watch him prove that to her time and again. When she couldn’t go on a mission, he was there to keep things with Dottie running as smoothly as possible. When she needed help walking into a trap, he was by her side. And when she needed someone to talk to about her connection to both Daniel and Jason, he was there (even if she didn’t want to talk about it at first). Jarvis is the kind of friend who doesn’t just talk the talk about supporting someone; he walks the walk. No matter who Peggy might end up with romantically, I’d like to think Jarvis will still be at the center of her support system—where he always belongs.

Speaking of who Peggy might end up with romantically, I loved that we were able to see Peggy feel sincerely overwhelmed by both Jason and Daniel having feelings for her. It’s clear she doesn’t want to hurt anyone; she doesn’t want either of those two good, kind men to be left alone and hurt. But I think who Peggy feels a stronger connection to is becoming clearer. This pair of episodes did a wonderful job of adding a new layer of emotional intimacy to Daniel and Peggy’s dynamic. Yes, it was Jason who kissed Peggy when he became tangible again. (And what a kiss it was—those two definitely have chemistry!) But (and this is where I admit to my bias as a Daniel/Peggy “shipper” since about midway through Season One) there seems to be something more intense and intimate developing between her and Daniel at this point.

Peggy’s injury has become an interesting catalyst for the feelings between her and Daniel coming to the surface. In this episode, her initial refusal to admit she was hurting was symbolic of the way she used to push everyone—especially Daniel—away. However, Daniel isn’t a pushover; he’s not afraid to tell Peggy when her stubbornness is getting in the way of her common sense. In this case, she needed that reminder—from someone who has had to deal with physical limitations far more severe than hers—that sometimes you have to trust other people to get the job done when you can’t. And by taking his outstretched hand and allowing him to touch her wound while she told him how it really felt, we saw that the trust between them had reached a new level after last week; she was once again letting herself be vulnerable with him. She was letting him help her, accepting his offer of comfort (however begrudgingly she accepted it at first).

Peggy’s vulnerability and openness with Daniel led to a vulnerable moment for him, too. When he had to admit to his broken engagement, it was interesting to see Peggy immediately jump to his defense—perhaps a little too adamantly. (I’d guess she knew she was the reason for the broken engagement, which made her ramble out of nerves.) And once Daniel told her the truth, he didn’t hold back. He didn’t say, “She thinks I have feelings for you.” He used the word “love.” And in those beats immediately after that confession, Daniel had never looked more vulnerable. But to his credit, he never lied or hid the truth; he didn’t tell Peggy that Violet was wrong. He simply let the truth hang between them, and it was clear on his face that he expected Peggy to respond with pity or to reject him.

However, Peggy isn’t who she was back in New York. She apologized to Daniel, but there was no pity in her voice—it wasn’t an apology for not returning his feelings. It was a sincere apology for messing up the life he was trying to build. And then Peggy covered his hand with hers, reaching for him and his love instead of pulling away like she might have in her past. And when Daniel took a chance and turned his hand over to hold hers, she didn’t let go. Instead, she held on tighter, offering in that gesture the silent promise that he’s not alone. That gesture was enough to ignite a new hope in Daniel, and Enver Gjokaj and Hayley Atwell played that moment of new possibility so beautifully. While their almost-kiss was interrupted, it was a moment that seemed to change everything between them. From then on, there was something deeper running between them, something electrically charged that neither could ignore. Once you take that conscious step away from loneliness and toward intimacy, it’s hard to pretend it didn’t happen, and I can’t wait to see how this change is handled in the coming weeks.

Having a support system this season has made Peggy stronger, and it’s done the same for Daniel. This episode set him up once again as a foil for Jack Thompson, and it’s clear that Jack is looking for inclusion from the wrong kind of people, while Daniel has chosen the right people to connect with. Daniel was basically offered the same thing as Jack: a place of respect among the powerful if he would stop his investigation. And while Jack jumped at the chance to once again be seen as a hero, Daniel—like the woman he loves—knows his value. He knows he’s doing the right thing, and nothing—not even a brutal beating or losing his job—will deter him from his pursuit of justice. I have a feeling we’re going to see these two men go toe-to-toe before the season is done (especially now that Jack is supposed to destroy Peggy to the best of his ability without killing her), and it’s going to be incredible to watch.

But before that can happen, we need at answer this pair of episodes’ most pressing question: Is Ana Jarvis going to be okay? I had a bad feeling about something happening to either Ana or Edwin because of the increased focus on her worrying about him. But that also just served to further the idea that we shouldn’t struggle with our burdens—including our emotional burdens—alone. I really liked that Ana was allowed to tell Jarvis she worried about him without sounding like a nagging wife who was ordering him to stop doing something that made him happy. Instead, she was allowed to be vulnerable, honest, and human. And she was able to do that because her marriage is one of open communication and support. It’s a marriage to be emulated. And that just made it even more painful to see that marriage face its biggest test yet.

Watching Jarvis deal with his wife’s shooting hurt. Kudos to James D’Arcy for making me feel every moment of Jarvis’s desperation. I truly believed this man would become a shell of himself without his vibrant, wonderful wife. And there was something unspeakably touching about that final moment between Jarvis and Peggy, with her holding his hand.

Once again, Peggy offered her hand to someone as a gesture of support, a silent reminder that they’re not alone. And for a woman who once believed being alone was the only option, being the one to remind others that they have a support system in her is a huge sign of character growth.

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13 thoughts on “Agent Carter Life Lesson of the Week: Life of the Party/Monsters

  1. Great stuff here. So you have only yourself to blame for the monster post that follows . . . 🙂

    Whitney Frost is just such a great antagonist. She evokes both sympathy and fear. Like you, Katie, my heart broke to see her misplaced faith in her husband — especially given how much their life is built on her hard work. (I’m not sure what it says to me that I wanted him to support her in her supervilliany. I’m just going to go with the writers are all sorts of fabulous. It’s not me. It’s them. I am not normally a supporter of villainy. Wait, no, don’t go read what I’ve written about Cruella in OUAT . . . that’s a different situation entirely. I just . . . ok, fine. I’m shallow and have soft-spot for snarky villiany.) I loved that in her scene with Jason she continually acts like a scientist asking questions to understand what he’s done and how the dark matter works. You can see that this is her passion — which just underscores the tragedy of what life has dealt her (and the tragedy of how she’s dealt with it).

    I am sooo with you on the male/female relationships. While I love a good romance (and sexy hand holding), I absolutely adore when a show gets a platonic relationship right (along with the supportive hand holding). This is one of the reasons I have undying love for Peggy and Jarvis.

    While we’ve seen Daniel learn from Peggy, it was nice to see that reversed this week as Peggy learned that sometimes you have to trust others to do things. Daniel’s learned to be strong within the parameters of his limitations and has even made it work to his advantage. (I love when he uses his crutch in fight scenes.) This is a hard, hard lesson to learn. Too often people like to pretend like the limitation doesn’t exist.

    I think Peggy is still learning this lesson. I don’t know that she fully comprehends the limitations of her wound. She keeps trying to stiff-upper lip it. This leads me to my pressing question: Did Peggy do the right thing using Dottie? Story-wise, I love it. More Peggy and Dottie? Yes, please. Dottie getting the best of the guys? Oh, yes. Whitney and Dottie? That is just inspired. However, I think Peggy has over-estimated her ability (while wounded) in dealing with Dottie. I can make a good argument either way, so I’m curious what others think.

    It’s lovely have to a show where people talk to each other . . . intelligently and honestly. Your breakdown of the Peggy/Daniel engagement conversation was great. I was also happy to see that Ana Jarvis was insightful enough to see her husband’s need for adventure and supportive of him as he engaged in them. I was downright giddy to see her be open and honest about her need to be concerned for him (without being naggy, needy, or manipulative). There’s a difference between worrying about someone because you thing they’re incompetent and worrying because you care. And yes, Ana Jarvis NEEDS to survive. (Jarvis in worried-husband mode killed me.)

    Random happy moments:
    — Ken Marino’s gangster.
    — The Jarvises react to Jason kissing Peggy.
    — 007 Jarvis. The glasses, the invasion of personal space, the dancing skills.
    — Jarvis wants a weapon pantomiming scene.

    • Yes to what you had to say regarding the tragedy that is Whitney Frost. She has such an amazing brain, and its just so sad to see what becomes of genius that isnt encouraged and supported.

      I dont tend to enjoy watching the villians on shows, but I feel like in the comic book world, most of them tend to be male megalomaniacs that just wont shut up. My tolerance for women villians tends to be much higher, and I think Whitney is a fabulous antagonist. Cant say I feel all that bad for everyone Whitney has killed so far, although what she did to Ana was a low blow.

      • I would just like to say that you are not alone in not feeling bad about Whitney’s kills so far. I might have actually cheered a little when she showed off her powers in that meeting. But also, yes, what she did to Ana was a low blow—but it was probably necessary to remind us that, no matter how compelling and potentially sympathetic she might be, this is a villain we’re dealing with.

        • Good point about the shocking Ana shooting. But kudos to the primary actors all around in how compelling they’ve made these characters. I haven’t seen one fan of the show not raving over Ana Jarvis being shot.

          I wonder though if there is another MCU related reason. There had been no mentions of “Jarvis” being married before Agent Carter, had there? And there had been hints about Jarvis perhaps being a type of father figure to Tony Stark. So I wouldn’t be surprised if there are dire consequences from this episode. Like Ana not being able to have children of her own now or a fatality.

    • I love when you write monster comments! 😉

      You bring up such a good question about Peggy and Dottie. While it was awesome to see the two of the interact—and while it seemed as if Peggy had no other options—I do think she overestimated her ability to control the situation while stuck on the sidelines. It’s going to be interesting to see the repercussions of all of this in the final few episodes.

      Thank you for ending you comment by bringing up the pantomiming scene, because it made me laugh just thinking about it.

  2. I love how these episodes and these posts have just built so perfectly off each other!

    I still cant quite figure out if I like this tendency to air 2-hr episodes. On one hand, in both cases, the episodes definitely didnt feel like they could stand on their own as separate, but on the other, I once again passed out an hour and a half in. I had to go back and rewind to see the remaining 20 minutes when everything went south, and I think that kinda took away from the suspense.

    The interactions between Peggy and everyone else in this episode were once again perfect. Its great that we are seeing the hard part of being a team in such a dangerous high stakes environment. Its great that Peggy has these people in her life now, but it also means that things can happen to them. Vulnerability is hard. I loved the moment between Jarvis and Peggy in the car when Jarvis was trying to get Peggy to open up about her suitors. Her first reaction was of course to deny and avoid talking about it, but I like that she changed her mind. Peggy, who so loves to be in control, admitted to someone she felt completely lost as to what to do. I was really proud of her in that moment, even more so than the wonderful shows of support she gave to both Daniel and Jarvis in this episode. I know for me, its much easier to support someone else than to admit that I am the one in need of support, so yes, very proud of our girl.

    I also think they have done such a great job with the Peggy/Daniel/Jason triangle. Its such a perfect obstacle for Peggy as a character. Its obvious she has feelings for both of them, but you can just see in her head the internal struggle. Being with Jason would be easier and safer (weird corporeal issues aside), and I think Peggy is drawn to that even though deep down its clear she wants to be with Daniel. But if they were together, both of their jobs would be at risk (even more than they already are) and they both love their jobs. As crazy as it sounds when you have two great guys after you, I do not envy Peggy right now. Solution, Peggy and Daniel quit and become a husband/wife crime solving team a la ‘McMillian and Wife’ (Rose would obviously be Mildred in this scenario, with Peggy getting to live and not die in a plane crash because that was stupid 1970s TV show, I am still bitter about that even though I wasnt born yet. Also its clear that Peggy would be the title character on this show with Daniel being ‘and husband’ so he would be the one in danger of getting killed off). Anyway, I would watch that show. And while I still love the chemistry between Peggy and Jason, its quite obvious that Peggy and Daniel need to be together.

    Wow, I had so many feelings I had to start ranting about a long dead TV show I dont think anybody my age or younger has ever even heard of let alone watched. Thanks for putting up with the ranting, haha.

    • First of all, I am TOTALLY claiming you as family. Totally. (I pretend the last season of McMillan doesn’t exist. Plane crash?? Seriously??) I see nothing wrong with this rant. I have similar ones I could pull out. (One season of Ellery Queen? Really?) Second, I would totally watch that show with you. Jarvis could be Sgt Enright . . . Someone get the popcorn.

      The two hour episodes leave me exhausted. I also feel like they’re burning through them rather quickly and part of me wants to make them last . . . but I know they’re running up against the deadline of SHIELD coming back. The gluttonous part of me loves two hours of Peggy and Co.

      Great point about the car convo between Peggy and Jarvis. That was such a great scene.

    • Now you made me want to watch McMillan and Wife! 😉

      I loved what you said about both Jason and Daniel. It is true that Jason would be the safer choice. Being with him would allow her to have a more normal life—as long as they figure out how to make him tangible permanently, of course. 😉 Being with Daniel, I think, raises fears that came up after she lost Steve—this idea that if she loves someone who’s a fighter, she could lose them. But I think overcoming that obstacle—that fear of losing someone again—is going to be one more major piece of development for Peggy before this season is done. We saw her earlier this season battle between the life she thought she wanted and what her heart truly wanted. And I think that battle is coming into play again. However, I do want Jason to be happy. Can he and Violet get together and have kids with really beautiful smiles?

      I’m also with you on feeling torn about the 2-hour episodes. I know why they did it. (They need to air them all before SHIELD comes back.) But it still feels like it’s all going to be over way too soon. And it’s always a lot to process at the end of the night. But it is nice to see that these episodes were all written in a way that allows them to fit well together. These blocks of episodes could highlight inconsistencies, plot holes, and tonal shifts, but instead they flow nicely into each other like a mini movie, which is pretty impressive.

  3. I love this show to bits and I’m gutted that realistically, we only have 3 episodes left. That’s what inspired me to find conversations about it though and I’m adoring your posts and the comments.

    What does it say about fans though that so few watch this Jarvelous show when lesser ones last for tears? Is it because of the “Marvel” appellation? I don’t read comics, follow super heroes and haven’t seen anything else in the MCU. I tuned decided to tune in after hearing good things and seeing the period look. I watched the whole first season in preparation for following S2 live. Agent Carter has style, plot, action and humor. Plus even more importantly, well realized. compelling characters and relationships. All that and it revolves around women! So why don’t at least more women watch?

    • I’m so glad you’re enjoying my posts, and you’re not alone in being very sad that—if we’re being realistic—we probably only have two more weeks of this show left.

      I wish I could explain why more people didn’t watch/aren’t watching. I think ABC has done a pretty lousy job of promoting it—especially this season. I hope that it becomes one of those shows that gains a huge following after it’s off the air. I know that it’s the first show I would recommend to any fangirl looking for something new to watch.

      • Since it does get the critical love (and ours — which really is the most important, yes?), I’m hoping the new head of ABC decides to focus on how to better market/promo it rather than axing it due to ratings. Are you listening ABC? Don’t ditch the quality product — help people find it.

  4. I’d read this on my phone, so now that I’m on my laptop I can properly comment and flail over the beauty you’ve written. First things first, I love the fact that you focused on how much Peggy’s opened up her heart not just to love but to friendships and to letting people support her while she supports them. She’s not bearing the weight of the world on her shoulder and it’s important we all come to the understanding that it’s okay to ask for help. “Once again, Peggy offered her hand to someone as a gesture of support, a silent reminder that they’re not alone. And for a woman who once believed being alone was the only option, being the one to remind others that they have a support system in her is a huge sign of character growth.” THIS a 100x! Just the pow! Perfect way to end the review. Plus, your paragraph on Daniel reminding Peggy sometimes she has to get the job done is just the icing on top of the cake. You wrote about their growth from last week
    wonderfully!

  5. “I love the way this show writes male/female friendships. Not every one needs to be dripping with sexual tension or hinting that it could turn into something more, and Agent Carter respects the idea that sometimes men and women can truly just be friends.”
    THIS. A hundred times this. Even when other shows have purely platonic friendships, there are those who insist on shipping everyone and it drives me nuts. People can be close without having romantic feelings for each other. I wish more people would see that.

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