While no one can call Agent Carter season 1 bad, the creative renaissance that has occurred in season 2 is remarkable. The characters are crisper, the action more fluid and the plot is much more focused and engaging. Agent Carter is also one of the funniest dramas on TV right now. It could be classified as an hour comedy given the amount of (excellent) jokes are in a given episode.
These aren’t even the best things that Agent Carter has done in season 2. One of the most impressive feats of season 2 is how the series has tackled the dreaded love triangle. Agent Carter has avoided the pratfalls of many other series and actually has created one of the most compelling and interesting love triangle currently on TV.
What a Difference a Season Makes
Romance has always been present on Agent Carter. The series opened on Peggy trying to cope on losing Steve Rogers. As Peggy navigated what it meant to be a female spy in a world full of men, she frequently came up against flirtatious men. For the most part in Agent Carter season 1, romance was a tolerable aspect of the series without ever being a necessary, or even interesting, one. Through the introduction of Jason Wilkes and “revamping” Daniel Sousa, Agent Carter has changed that at all in season 2.
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The best thing that Agent Carter has done in its love triangle is give the audience reasons to care about the two men involved without relying on their connection to Peggy. Daniel Sousa was around in season 1, but his character was never quite as defined or present as he is in season 2. He was the nice guy in the office during season 1 and stood out because he didn’t treat Peggy with ridiculous misogyny. Sousa’s fictional promotion to Chief has meant that he has been much more involved in the missions of Agent Carter and by consequence the audience has gotten to know him better.
Sousa’s “nice guy” persona has been built on and expanded. Sousa’s kind heart is still present but he comes off a lot more smarter and braver than he did in season 1. Season 2 has consistently shown Sousa’s desire to the do the right thing, no matter how difficult for him. The main reason to care about Sousa in season 1 was because he was nice to Peggy. In season 2 it’s because Sousa is a fully fledged character.
Jason is a season 2 creation but the show has been able to do similarly beneficial things for his character. The flirtation and attraction between Peggy and Wilkes was very heavy in the first couple episode of Agent Carter. It could have threatened to consume Wilkes’ entire character.
When Agent Carter made Wilkes into the scientific version of a “ghost” though that changed. Since Jason no longer existed on the same physical plane as Peggy there could be no relationship. Agent Carter was forced to look at Jason outside of the lens of his relationship with Peggy. A kind-hearted, genius but also dorky man was discovered. Wilkes’ race in extremely prejudiced times has always been underlying part of the character. The way this relates to Peggy’s own journey has made the connection between them much stronger than simple physical attraction.
Peggy Always Comes First
Agent Carter has also been able to build on what Peggy found attractive in man established in the first Captain America movie. Neither Wilkes nor Sousa is the “typical” love interest you’d find in a usual female-led action property. Wilkes and Sousa aren’t some hyper-masculine, macho love interests who are wowed into submission by Peggy’s awesomeness. Wilkes and Sousa might both be war veterans but there not as battle ready as Peggy. In both relationships Peggy is allowed to be the muscle and the hero which is so refreshing from the standard action-franchise love triangle fare.
Agent Carter also avoids the mistake of making Wilkes and Sousa polar opposites. It is a typical convention in love triangles that the two love interests couldn’t be more different. The main character is attracted to them both but for very different reasons. A lesser show would have made Sousa more battle-hardened, gruff and action-ready, despite his injury, to contrast on the “nerdy” scientist Wilkes. Agent Carter hasn’t done that at all.
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The reason Peggy is attracted to both Wilkes and Sousa is because of their heart. They are both kind and gentle men. Sousa and Wilkes are definitely different characters, they are far from interchangeable. Peggy isn’t attracted to them for different reasons though making the choice between them unbalanced.
Peggy finds the same admirable qualities in both Sousa and Wilkes. The reason the love triangle exists isn’t because of the differing personalities of both men. It is the circumstances. Peggy, as she tells Jarvis in “Monsters” never meant to gain the affection of both men at the same time. It just happened. This makes the choice between the two not only more realistic but much more captivating and complicated. There is no easy answer because both men would fit perfectly into Peggy’s life.
But what do you think? Is Agent Carter‘s new love triangle one of the best on TV? Are you, as the audience, equally tore between Jason and Daniel? Is there one man you want to see Peggy with more?
Agent Carter season 2 airs Mondays at 9pm on ABC.
(Images courtesy of ABC)