Avengers-Peggy in cafe

I'm rewatching Agent Carter season one

And I watched the first episode tonight. (My comments as I go through these episodes will contain spoilers for the whole series, including season two.)

Don't expect anything particularly insightful, just random natterings.


I was so surprised the first time I watched this episode when they killed her roommate Colleen! I knew there was going to be a major female character who was a friend of Peggy, and I spent most of the episode thinking Colleen was that person and not realizing it was Angie, so her death was a total shock -- and since Angie was only in that one early scene (and then a brief cameo at the end), I thought the "friend" character would be a new character in the next episode. Basically I did not see the Angie-Peggy friendship coming at all. It was nicely played; I really liked that.

REALLY, Howard (and Jarvis) ... could you two have made your approach to Peggy in the alley any more sinister? You're lucky she didn't shoot both of you. Howard's "buddy" dynamic with Peggy is so great, though.

I totally forgot how much the early Peggy-Jarvis dynamic made me think of the dynamic between the leads on the '80s show Remington Steele. It really shouldn't be at all the same (in particular, it's not sexually charged in the same way), and yet there is something about them, especially in the Roxxon scenes, that really makes me think of those two. I think it's the contrast between the female action hero, and the guy who's suave and handsome and basically useless at action-heroing. (Pretty sure Remington Steele was also a playful throwback to 1940s/50s detective movies, which this show to some extent also is, so that might be part of it, too.)

... on a shallow note, somehow early season one Jarvis is hotter than season two Jarvis, and I can't figure out why?? It's like there's something different in the way he holds his face, or like he gets very slightly Flanderized and is more butlery in later episodes or ... something? I'm not really sure.

Also, in season two, getting to see the Ana-Jarvis side of the Peggy-Jarvis phone conversation in this episode was a really neat callback; it's interesting to go back and see the original version here.

Awww, Dooley, I miss you. I like how, in spite of sidelining Peggy and the gratuitous nastiness of his "liaison" comment in the meeting, he is already starting to catch onto Peggy even at this early stage -- but she manages to derail him with the "ladies' things" remark.

So much fun seeing Sousa and Thompson's first appearances! Awww, babies, you have so far to go. And the show gets across so much about the characters (all of them, really) in just the few scenes that each of them get. They're all so solidly established by the episode's end.

I also remember how pleasantly surprised I was, the first time around, that the male agents were not just sexist caricatures for Peggy to knock down, but well-developed, competent characters in their own right ... while still being sexist jerks (most of them). That was really one of the first things that sold me on the show -- that it wasn't just The Peggy Show (as great as Peggy is). Her entire world was so fleshed out and real, and all the supporting characters had their own lives too.

I sometimes hear people criticize the show as, basically, a feminist caricature -- that it's just Peggy being absurdly competent vs. a bunch of sexist strawmen -- and ... I just ... that's so entirely not the show at all! PEOPLE ARE VERY WRONG ON THE INTERNET.

(Everyone should be smoking constantly, though. This show does SUCH a good job of nailing the 1940s -- the feel of it, the way the characters talk and think -- in all ways but that. There should be ashtrays on every table in the diner; I even remember that from when I was a kid in the '80s.)

Getting back to the characters ... sheron and I have been talking about Jack a lot in email, and one thing she pointed out is that even in their early interactions, he and Peggy banter. As much as he is obviously a) condescending to Peggy in their first scene together, and b) pissing her off, he actually does ask nicely (as opposed to just ordering her to do his files for him like Krzeminski does later) and her response is cutting but also ... it's sort of like the thing I was talking about awhile back, how Daniel and Jack banter even when they don't actually like each other yet. Peggy and Jack do it too.

Sheron also pointed out that the first thing Jack does after they find out about the Roxxon explosion is ask if anyone's hurt. I mean, he's still a total jerk at this point? But he's also good at his job and a basically decent guy. He's insufferable and yet, everything he becomes later doesn't come out of nowhere. That's the person he is here, too; it's just that the insufferable-jerk side is ascendant.

And it's interesting to think about Daniel's "got his personality shot off in Iwo Jima" comment (obviously it's a pretty common postwar joke, but it's also sort of true) and the exchange between him and Dooley about "how you did things in Okinawa", in light of later developments.

SPEAKING OF DANIEL. LET'S TALK ABOUT DANIEL. OH DARLING. He looks really startled when Dooley orders him out to the Roxxon explosion site. Oh baby, you don't get to go in the field hardly at all yet, do you? I still love the way he knocks his crutch against the shelves to let Peggy know he's there so she isn't caught in an awkward moment, and uses his own trauma to try to cheer her up. His reaction to her telling him he's one of the lucky ones (survivors in the war) breaks my heart all over again -- but it's another "oh, how far you've come" moment. (This episode was full of those.)

I was also thinking about Peggy telling him that she doesn't do this often, and what that defensiveness implies about her life at this point. She lost the man she loves ... but because of the rumors about them, and her desire to be taken seriously as an agent, she has to hide her grief, put on a brave face, and go on about her life as if nothing has happened. She can't even be caught privately grieving in a storeroom. OH PEGGY.

All the Leviathan stuff and the automated typewriter and the guys without voiceboxes was sooooo creepy the first time around. This time around is considerably less so, knowing what's going on. Still nicely done, though. All the 1940s spy-tech gadgets are so great.

I love Peggy's leather jacket in the scene where she blows up Roxxon! That's the only time we ever see her wearing anything like that. It may be anachronistic, but I would love to see her in something like that again.

I also can't believe how much they pack into any given episode of this show. Finding clips from season one was always interesting because I could remember scenes, but had trouble figuring out which episode they were in, especially in the early episodes -- there was just so much.

I loved rewatching this, and I'm looking forward to getting to the rest of the episodes!

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It's a great series and I'm hoping that it gets renewed.

Your comments are great and I look forward to more.
Thank you! :D Yeah, I'm enjoying it SO much. Fingers very much crossed for another season!
I was also thinking about Peggy telling him that she doesn't do this often, and what that defensiveness implies about her life at this point. She lost the man she loves ... but because of the rumors about them, and her desire to be taken seriously as an agent, she has to hide her grief, put on a brave face, and go on about her life as if nothing has happened. She can't even be caught privately grieving in a storeroom. OH PEGGY.

This. It's always startling to me when I go back to S1 (as I've done...a few times... *shifty*) how much sadder Peggy is. She truly has tried to move on and live her life in S2, but Steve was such an important part of it that it's heartbreaking to watch her try to move on. Colleen's death really hits her hard, which I appreciated as well.

As for Jack and Peggy bantering, I just love how low-key Jack's sexism is in this episode. Oh, he's donig her a favour letting her file those reports. You jerk! XD

I pretty much shipped Peggy/Daniel from the moment Daniel stood up to his superiors to defend her. Sure, she doesn't need it, but it's sweet and so very Daniel. <3
Yeah, the mood in season one is very different from season two. I love how season one is about moving on from tragedy and destruction (for most of the protagonists, really, though of course Peggy is the viewpoint character, so hers is the main POV we get). And then in season two, things are so much brighter, and she and Daniel are both so much happier; it's great. I have been thinking about Peggy's general character journey over the course of the series so far (including the movies) and have been thinking about making a post about it ...

Jack is definitely at the "could theoretically be worse, but basically still terrible" point in these episodes, heh.
This is somewhat pulled out of my butt and only slightly informed, but I wonder if the smoking decision was made partly for budgetary / production reasons? Because here's some behind-the-scenes stuff from movies:

* The type of cigarettes they use for acting varies. There are fake ones that don't expel real smoke, but I've only seen them used for theatre -- they're probably not realistic enough for film. On film I've seen them use varieties of herbal cigarettes, but that's still, you know, *smoke,* which many of the actors (and crew!) may be uncomfortable with in this day and age. Or real cigarettes, which has the same problem but more so.

* Actors have to get paid more for smoke conditions. I'm not sure how this applies to a set that's smoky from cigarettes only (usually it's applied to things like fire scenes), but I also have no trouble believing the regulars would ask to be paid a lot more if they're expected to smoke and are non-smokers. Often if a role requires smoking these days it will be advertised for that way off that bat so they can hire a smoker, but that's a rather limiting requirement to apply to your entire regular cast.

* Cigarettes are hard to match shot-to-shot because they burn down. This doesn't matter so much for extras, but for main characters it can become a huge pain very fast. The smoke also may make lighting more complicated, although that's something I don't know as much about.

* There's always the possibility of CGI, but VFX are way more expensive than most people think. CGI'ing in smoke and burning ends of cigarettes in every single scene would be an enormous expense the show probably doesn't have the budget for!

And of course there are all the political reasons shows don't want to show smoking in a positive light, which I'm less sympathetic to. But I don't have a problem believing some variation of a conversation went down that went like this: Production Designer: "We should talk about the smoking stuff. How heavy do we want to go on that? Technically it should be everywhere--" One of the producers: "The network won't like it. Can't we just leave it out?" Production Designer: "Well, it's anachronistic." Line Producer, another producer, or one of the ADs: "Consider that you're going to have all these other problems, though..." Producer: "And the network won't like it." Production Designer: "Okay, okay, noted. We'll have a fake 1940s with no smoking." Heeheehee.

Someone over in the DW comments said that it's a Disneywide policy - they don't allow smoking in any of their productions. Which ... sounds like Disney.

Buuut! I'm sure practical considerations are ALSO a reason, and I'm really glad you posted this, because it is FASCINATING (I love this kind of behind-the-scenes stuff) and I had never thought about any of this stuff, especially the difficulty of trying to match a cigarette burning down in different shots. You're right, that must be a giant pain in the ass, and I can definitely also see the hazard/difficulty of having the actors working with actual smoking objects in every shot.

So it's nice to have some actual, practical reasons for not doing it. I think the moral panic about smoking is OTT to the point of being somewhat ridiculous - I mean, it's not like I can't see why because, yes, cigarettes ARE dangerous, they were (and in some markets still are) marketed irresponsibly and immorally for many years, and I'm glad not to have to put up with cigarette smoke everywhere I go anymore. It is a very American thing to be as worried as we are about it, though (at least as far as I can tell from other countries' media).

(Although, on a genuinely terrible side note - and not a bad moral justification for not showing it - one of my husband's grad students is from India, and he apparently got the idea before he moved here that Americans smoke constantly, from American media*, so he TRAINED HIMSELF TO SMOKE before moving here to help with making friends. And then of course got here and discovered that smoking is banned campuswide ...)

*Though I can't help wondering what exactly was he watching, anyway, since I don't think characters have been allowed to smoke on American TV, except in very rare scenes or really adult stuff, in anything made in the last 10-15 years ...

Edited at 2016-04-03 06:08 am (UTC)
Oh, OF COURSE Disney. Ha!

Yeah, I too think the moral panic is silly. But then, when I think about how much media *does* influence people and how tobacco companies really *do* still do evil things the world over to get people hooked... (Did you see the John Oliver on this? It's FASCINATING.) I have to say I don't feel so strongly about the silliness that I'd go to bat for it; I generally like historical accuracy, but as misrepresentations go I guess I feel it's really low on the scale of hurting people here in the present. ;)

That's really sobering and interesting about the poor student of your husband. Maybe it's what particular shows have gotten popular in India? Idk, some particular segments of the American market end up way more or less popular other places, but that's just a shot in the dark! I can't think of any modern shows that show lots of smoking either, except *maybe* Mad Men, but that's only my impression of it as I haven't actually watched any of it! Maybe shows like Sons of Anarchy or Boardwalk Empire or Weeds? I don't watch any of those shows either, though, so I'm really pulling things out of the air now!
I have to say I don't feel so strongly about the silliness that I'd go to bat for it; I generally like historical accuracy, but as misrepresentations go I guess I feel it's really low on the scale of hurting people here in the present.

*nodnod* Yeah, that's exactly how I feel. I know it's inaccurate, but I really don't care; and I appreciate the occasional show or movie that does go the extra mile to incorporate some of those little historical touches, but I also think there's a moral case to be made for not showing it, so ... eh. I think I might have stronger opinions if it was literally banned, but it's definitely not; it's just creators voluntarily choosing not to show it, and I'm fine with that.