Agent Carter returns for a second season on FOX UK this week – and it’s all change for everyone’s favourite Strategic Scientific Reserve agent. Hayley Atwell’s Peggy is now in Los Angeles. Her adventures span a longer 10 episodes. And after Season 1’s clashes with Leviathan, she’s about to find herself up against a whole new kind of enemy.
What’s in store for the new run of Marvel’s spin-off series? And how will it link up with the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe?
Here are nine things to know about Season 2 of Agent Carter.
For many film fans, 1940s Los Angeles means one thing: noir. And Season 2 is steeped in the stuff, according to Exec Producer Michelle Fazekas.
“It had been something that we talked about a lot,” she told IGN in an interview. “And we started to build a story around that because what’s great about that is you have the glamour and the glitz of Hollywood, and you have crime and corruption right next to each other. And so we just started to say, well, how would we get Peggy to L.A, obviously, is the first question. And how much time has passed between the first season and the second season? And because there’s been a lot of time between the first and the second season airdates, we wanted to sort of show, okay. Time has passed. People are in a little bit of different positions. And things have happened between the seasons that we maybe don’t know about.”
What were the major genre influences upon the visual style? “Chinatown, and we talked about L.A. Confidential, which is more modern noir. But L.A. Confidential was a big touchstone for us, even in the last season.”
2. Things are a bit lighter
Film noir may be everywhere, but Season 2 of Agent Carter is several shades lighter than the first – not least because Peggy has, after the story involving Captain America’s super-human blood, found some closure on the grief that drove Season 1.
“This season, she’s lived through the darkest moments of her grief and she’s more open to the world emotionally and romantically. I think that reflects in the fact that it’s in LA, so there’s a lightness, there’s a blue sky, and sunshine, and palm trees, and her clothes are lighter. In every possible way, the whole thing has just taken a different kind of tone,” Atwell explained to Variety.
3. Peggy’s going to Hollywood
You don’t set a show in 1940s LA without going to Hollywood – and Agent Carter knows it, which is why Season 2 introduces a new player: Whitney Frost, an actress, a scientist and (in the original comics) the villain Madame Masque. SHe’s played by Wynn Everett.
“The way we’re designing Whitney Frost is somewhat based on the real-life actress, Hedy Lamarr who was also sort of this secret scientific genius,” commented Fazekas. “And so we sort of fashioned Whitney Frost after that. And so we have these two women [Peggy and Whitney] who are smart and strong and ended up in very different places in their life. So a lot of what Whitney Frost goes through as an actress and as somebody who’s sort of hiding her genius, in part because society says, well, no one cares about how smart you are. They care about this.”
James D’Arcy fans should be pleased with this second, because there’s a lotta Jarvis on the way. Edwin, butler to Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper), emerged as the BFF nobody expected in this comic book series, with their chemistry not only evident on-screen, but off-screen too, as they became involved in an increasingly elaborate string of Dubsmash videos on set – something that evolved into a battle between the Agent Carter and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. casts.
“I met a lot of fans, I spoke to a lot of them, and even a lot of reviewers, and they love the Jarvis and Peggy dynamic and the showrunners, and the writers, and myself and James listened to that and we love doing it so much,” Atwell added to Variety. “The writers love writing Peggy and Jarvis; James and I love playing that dynamic, so that was kind of a no-brainer, really, that in this season we’d really put them at the centre.”
We even finally have a chance to meet Jarvis’ wife, too: Ana, played by Lotte Verbeek.
5. The show will still be linked to the MCU
Agent Carter’s strength has always been its ability to both connect with the wider MCU and stand on its own. With the introduction of Darkforce, the supernatural element takes the series in the direction of Doctor Strange, but the programme will still keep its distance from Marvel’s big screen outings.
“It touches on Doctor Strange. And all we know is, we’ll write something and just hear ‘It doesn’t conflict with the Doctor Strange script,’ and we’re like, ‘Score!'” noted Fazekas.
“We always want to be true to [the MCU] . We always want to feel like you see us as a piece of it. But because of our time period, we kind of are on our own a little bit,” said Exec Producer Tara Butters.
6. Agent Carter’s getting its science on
If there wasn’t enough science in Agent Carter before, there soon will be, as Season 2 introduces the Marvel energy force known as “Darkforce”, something that the show will approach from a grounded, scientific perspective. They even consulted real scientists to help.
Exec Producer Chris Dingess joked to IGN: “If you ever want to feel dumb, talk about your TV show to an actual physicist. He was amazing… We made him draw pictures on a board so we could understand.”
After Bridget Regan’s Dottie Underwood, Whitney Frost marks a new, decidedly female line-up of antagonists.
“The thing that’s fascinating about both of these characters, Whitney Frost and Dottie Underwood, is that they’re both exceptionally powerful, but they’ve reversed and perverted their power for a force of evil,” commented Atwell. “And because it’s two women, they’re kind of the reverse side of the coin for Peggy. There’s more equal footing between Peggy and them when she fights them both. She also knows how women’s minds work obviously more than she knows how men’s minds work… She can probably identify with their ambition, although hers is a more pure of heart, humanitarian one and theirs is an absolute drive for power and it’s deeply narcissistic. But what I think she has is, ultimately, a respect for the power, and the skill, and tenacity, and the sheer outrageous audacity and boldness of their moves, and it makes for a much more equal nemesis.”
Of Regan, she added: “Every time I’ve worked with Bridget Regan, she really ups my game. She sets the bar very high. She has the discipline of a dancer, so every time she comes in, she plays with the language as if it was a choreography and so her voice and intonation and inflection changes. As an actor working alongside her, you can see the choices that she’s making on every line, and how she chooses to change them on every take, and that’s just thrilling for me to watch.”
8. Sexism isn’t the only inequality being tackled
One thing that made Agent Carter’s first season so rewarding was its tackling of sexism in the workplace, as Peggy tries to make her way in a man’s world. With the action moving to Hollywood, where gender and race imbalances are still evident today, the show isn’t just fighting the one inequality.
“She’s no longer having to fight the direct sexism that’s she coming across in the office at the SSR. She’s a little bit more respected, but then, of course, she’s going to come across new characters that she has to kind of remind of her status and authority and qualifications as an agent,” explained Atwell. “So she’s still fighting that as she goes along, being a woman in a man’s world, but she’s doing it with a little bit more humor, and a little bit more tongue-in-cheek, and that naturally makes her more attractive…”
The show will also introduce Reggie Austin as a scientist called Jason Wilkes, who may or may not wind up as a love interest for Peggy.
“I need to check my facts, but as far as I’m aware, in the comics, Peggy had the first interracial kiss — and I was told that by various people from Marvel, so if that’s a lie, that’s their fault,” added Atwell.
“Since the first season heavily focused on a woman in a man’s world, we’re now going into more diversity and we’re investigating different prejudices within this time and one of them absolutely would have been race, as we all know.”
9. The show is available to watch online for those without pay-TV
Season 2 of Agent Carter has a UK air date of 28th January. It will premiere on FOX UK at 9pm this Thursday, at which point it will also be available to watch live online with NOW TV. Sky’s VOD service gives streaming access to pay-TV channels for those without a pay-TV subscription – which means that you can watch Agent Carter Season 2 live or on-demand for £6.99 a month, with no contract. As well as FOX UK’s other shows (such as The Walking Dead and American Horror Story), the VOD service also includes access to Sky 1 (Arrow, The Flash, Lucky Man) and Sky Atlantic (The Knick, The Affair).
While you wait for 9pm on Thursday, here’s the full Agent Carter vs. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Dubsmash battle – or hit the button below to get ready to watch.
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