TV REVIEW: Agent Carter “Bridge and Tunnel” | FanboysInc

TV REVIEW: Agent Carter “Bridge and Tunnel”

By Mike Sains

The second hour of Agent Carter’s premiere opens with a hilariously bad radio show about the overly cheesy exploits of Captain America, complete with its own damsel in distress, Ms. Betty Carver. It’s less subtle than a song and dance number and significantly less entertaining. But just as Farva from Supertroopers was the mascot for pig-headed men of the late 1940’s, The Captain America Adventure Hour is the loud and proud mascot for the Great American Patriarchy. Betty Carver isn’t Peggy Carter’s stand-in. No, she’s a weepy triage nurse who needs to be rescued at every turn by her big, muscly Captain America.

As the radio show fades away Peggy laments with her new-found friend at the L&L, Angie the waitress. She’s a spunky girl with a lot of heart who clearly wants nothing more than to be Peggy’s best friend. She has a great new place for Peggy to live, now that Colleen and the old apartment are out of the question which just so happens to be down the hall from her own place. Without detailing too much of a theory I’m working on, I have a feeling Angie is going to be a very important character in the coming weeks. But that’s all I can say right now.

After Peggy politely rejects Angie’s offer to stay at her apartment building she heads off to meet Jarvis at one of Howard Stark’s many palatial homes in the city, which Peggy first rejects staying, as well. That is until she sees the master bedroom. Starks have always seemed to have the most fantastic taste in living quarters, to which I say again, like father like son.

The pair of Jarvis and Carter try to narrow down how to find their would-be assassin and his turncoat friend, both who bear the same throat scars, but to no avail, as medical records in the city lead to nothing. So at least we know that the Scar Bros are foreign operators. But from where remains to be seen, as no one has any information on Leviathan, not the government nor otherwise. Fans have already begun to speculate, but personally I’m going with Hydra. According to Captain America: The Winter Soldier Hydra infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. from the very beginning, so I’d say the smart money is on that. Wildcard would be the Russians that then somehow lead to The Winter Soldier.

 

TV REVIEW: Agent Carter "Bridge and Tunnel"

(Deadly Assassin Sounds)

But what the large majority of the episode focuses on from here is finding the milk truck used to steal the nitramene and who helped Leet Brannis get away with all of this thievery. This means Peggy gets to go undercover again, this time though instead of a blonde wig, she’s a New York State Heath Inspector. It’s a cute little bit of visual TV, but it’s also a legitimate excuse to scan all of the local milk trucks with her vita-radiation scanner. Remember, the nitramene emits vita-rays after the explosion, so it’s all a matter of finding the truck and then the people who make her little scanner sing.

Meanwhile the SSR is busy pulling apart the giant hunk of debris that used to be Roxxon Chemical, the plant that blew up in the pilot episode. Roxxon is a direct competitor to Stark Industries and the head of the company is an arrogant man played by resident TV arrogant man, Ray Wise. He’s convinced that Howard Stark blew up his building to eliminate competition while simultaneously ego-checking Roxxon about an old affair Howard had with his wife. It’s a harsh allegation and personally I think Mr. Innocent Husband and Businessman is most likely in on the whole thing, himself. How he’s involved has yet to be seen. But really, it’s Ray Wise. Who trusts Ray Wise?

TV REVIEW: Agent Carter "Bridge and Tunnel"

Let’s be friends

 

One thing that we see a bit too much of in this episode is the reliance on sight gags. When Peggy isn’t mugging and marching in costume as the Health Inspector she’s crawling around the SSR to get info about the case before they do, or she’s comically scanning herself for vita-rays in the bathroom to a kooky big band number. It’s a fine gag once or twice. But three times is really pushing it for me. I hate to be the one who says things like “don’t get cute” but, come on. Don’t get cute. I would have understood that the sound the scanner makes means Van Ert is the guilty party without the gag in the bathroom. I also would have just remembered him from the shootout because the show also reminded me about that very thing in the form of a flashback.

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But that scene, Van Ert getting found out, that’s great TV. The tension is well played and all of the actors make it work well. It also highlights to the SSR that Agent Carter is worth her weight in gold, if only they’d just give her some damn props. She’s smart and she’s a bad-ass who doesn’t run. She takes the stairs and gets there before you, smiling as she takes your man down. That’s good stuff. The best part of the show, however, has yet to be seen.

Back at the SSR Shae Whigham makes a meal out of every scene he has the most lines in and the quid-pro-quo between he and Van Ert is classic Whigham. The carrot and the stick was a weird visual gag and I’ll need someone to explain that to me. But the bit of 40’s justice that follows – aka SANCTIONED TORTURE – was more than a little jarring. To see a Marvel / Disney project essentially co-sign the act was even stranger. But all of that served a larger purpose, finding out the name and location of the truck driver who sold the nitramene to Leet Brannis. It’s too bad for the SSR Peggy is one step ahead of them, once again.

It is during this final confrontation that we get to see the best action sequence so far on the show: an open road gun fight between the assassin and Carter and company, all while surrounded by a massive, moving bomb. The action is tightly framed and the pacing is high-speed. Peggy literally takes some shots in the process, but man, is she ever a bad-ass in this sequence. The editing trick of splicing that fast-paced action with the ho-hum activities of the SSR boys works so well it almost made me laugh.

In that fray Brannis gets eighty-sixed and Peggy leaves a room key to Howard Stark’s palatial apartment for the SSR to find; it’s a sloppy end but it goes out with a bang. As a quick aside, I’d like to say that James Frain is a great utility actor and his deadpan Leet Brannis was no exception. He will be missed.

But before he croaked, Brannis left Jarvis and Carter with one last clue: a mysterious symbol that’s somewhere between a heart and an infinity symbol. What that means or where it takes them is still a mystery. But it’s something. For now Peggy’s busy getting moved in with Angie – possible sleeper agent or key player in disguise – and dealing with her new schoolmarm landlady.

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The Verdict:

If you had any doubts about Agent Carter, “Bridge and Tunnel” puts them all to bed. There’s great action, great fun, and some genuinely awesome thrills. While there are a few problems with heavy-handed allegories or the occasional excessive cutesy gag or two, this is a show that knows what it is doing. If this is what the two-hour premiere is like, I can only imagine where we’re going in the weeks to come.

Agent Carter “Bridge and Tunnel” earns a well-deserved 9.7/10

 

Mike Sains

Mike Sains is a writer, editor, and podcaster for FanBoysInc.com and other outlets online. When he isn't writing, editing, or podcasting, he's collecting comic books, Funko Pop and Hikari Sofubi figures, and vinyl records of all kinds. He also likes free stuff. 😉 Follow him on twitter @MikeSains

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