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)!
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.