By Josh Axelrod
I’m going to keep my superhero reviews short and sweet. “Arrow” is in flux while Oliver recovers from his duel with Ra’as al Ghul, and “Agent Carter” came out the gate strong and has cooled down a little since. Let’s mix DC and Marvel:
“With My Help, You Might Not End Up Dead”
So Oliver is alive. We’re still not sure how, but he’s definitely alive thanks to Maseo and Tatsu. I have to say, knowing those two end up going separate ways after seeing how hard Maseo fought to get her back in the Hong Kong flashbacks is really sad. Their relationship resonates more than, say, Thea and Roy’s.
Speaking of Thea, I love that she held her ground against Malcolm Merlyn wanting to flee the city. Of course, she doesn’t know that Ra’as al Ghul “killed” her brother and, if he found out she killed Sara, he will bring the wrath of the League of Assassins down on her and all of Starling City. But still, a Thea with conviction is a more engaging Thea than the last two seasons’ angsty Thea. Also, I’m glad this random DJ serves a purpose in the story as a League spy. His hair is still stupid though.
Now onto Laurel. It’s no secret that Laurel Lance isn’t the show’s strongest character, and the decision to have her become the new Black Canary was faithful to the comics, but a possible nonstarter for the show considering how unpopular she is. She’s only had a few months of training with Ted Grant, and it certainly showed in this episode as she got her butt kicked on multiple occasions.
Shockingly though, her first full episode as Black Canary was an overall success. It was good that she wasn’t on Oliver’s level of badassery yet considering her limited skills. But that scene where she blackmailed the one thug in order to get Brick’s location showed an intensity I didn’t know Katie Cassidy had in her. And the final assault on the compound where Brick was holding the aldermen hostage showed her and Roy working as a solid team. Maybe Laurel as Black Canary won’t be so bad after all.
I have to mention how awesome Vinnie Jones is as Brick. After watching him as a knight with a secret heart of gold on “Galavant,” it was fun to see him play a pure villain. Brick is a hulking tough guy with big plans and the ability to quote Shakespeare in a menacing British accent. Oliver would’ve dispatched him weeks ago, so he picked a good time to rise to power in Starling City. He’s a formidable foe for Team Arrow without Oliver, that’s for sure.
Oh, and Felicity’s back, yay! I knew she wouldn’t leave Roy and Diggle for too long. She’s also back working with Ray to perfect the A.T.O.M suit, realizing correctly that his chances of him dying in a street fight go down enormously with her help.
It looks like we’re gearing up for a third terrorist attack on Starling City in three years. First the Glades were leveled. Then Slade’s mirakuru soldiers almost destroyed the city. Now it looks like the League of Assassins are going to bring the heat once they realize Oliver survived, Malcolm Merlyn is still there and Thea was Sara’s unwitting killer. Good stuff “Arrow.” You get no complaints from me.
“No Man Will Ever Consider You an Equal”
“Agent Carter” has, in four episodes, established its world and story admirably. It took “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” over half a full season to get to a point of consistent quality, so kudos to Marvel for learning from its previous TV mistakes. That said, things kind of slowed down this episode as a string of new discoveries really just led to what will hopefully be much bigger discoveries down the road.
Dominic Cooper’s Howard Stark was back, which is always a treat. He’s such a sleaze, which we were reminded of as he slept with at least two women in Peggy’s building while he was supposed to be hiding from the SSR. You can clearly see the apple didn’t fall from the tree with Tony Stark. But it was also great seeing Peggy put him in his place on multiple occasions. After being treated like less than an equal by men all day, slapping one must be pretty cathartic.
This episode dealt with Peggy trying to recover a Stark weapon from the SRR, Dooley taking a trip to Germany to interview a Nazi who might know something about Leviathan, and Sousa trying to do his job without Thompson constantly busting his balls. The latter two stories added to the deeper mystery in that we learned that the two dead Leviathan agents were presumed dead in Russia after a massacre, which was apparently perpetrated by someone other than the Germans. Howard Stark also had some connection to the massacre, which led Dooley to say out loud that they have a conspiracy on their hands.
Peggy’s story was interesting more because of its connection to the larger Marvel universe than anything else. It turned out the weapon Howard had Peggy steal contained a vile of Steve Roger’s (aka Captain America) blood. This elicited a complicated emotional reaction from Peggy, as it should’ve. Seeing your dead boyfriend’s blood in front of you would probably cause some weird feelings too. It also tested her trust in both Howard and Jarvis, who rightly called out his boss on lying to Peggy.
Remember Dottie (Bridget Regan), that random character introduced for three seconds last episode? It turns out she’s a badass ninja who can snap a trained killer’s neck with her legs in one move. The show’s creators confirmed that Dottie was a product of the Soviet’s Black Widow program. That’s right, there were Black Widows before Natasha Romanoff. Her connection to the overall story should be exciting.
I’m definitely liking “Agent Carter,” but an episode like this in an eight-episode season is kind of disappointing. A few significant things happened, but it mostly felt like filler for some more important revelations to come. No episode in a short season should feel like a placeholder, so hopefully this is the last time that happens with “Agent Carter.” This show has so much potential that it would be a shame to see it end on a sour note.