Blah blah Agent Carter blah. The second episode of the series (which premiered immediately following the first) was fine — but forget that! The Ant-Man teaser debuted during the commercial! Isn’t that so much more exciting?!
This is how I feel sometimes when I’m watching in-universe Marvel stuff, be it Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. or even lesser MCU films like Iron Man 2. Even if the plot at hand is going along smoothly, a heavy-handed mention or knowing wink toward an entirely different Marvel thing places a pothole right in the path. “Bridge and Tunnel” progressed the plot of the pilot episode “Now is Not the End” fairly well, but it had the added obstacle of a teaser for the Ant-Man teaser during every single commercial break. Agent Carter could be one of the most distinct and independent entries in the grander MCU once it gets over the Peggy-and-Cap romance, but not if trailers for trailers and endless winks toward other shows and movies keep getting shoehorned into the middle of it all.
In any event, “Bridge and Tunnel” strengthened the characters of both Carter herself and of James D’Arcy’s butler Jarvis, on loan to Peggy from the Stark Family. Jarvis is sufficiently bumbling, as any good butler should be, but he also clearly wants to be involved in Peggy’s adventures. He dubs himself her “second pair of eyes” and notes when she dismisses him “When you called me I assumed it was because you needed something more than a cab”. More importantly than Jarvis alone, he and Peggy have good chemistry. That’s certainly fitting, as that relationship is set to be one of the central alliances of the show.
It still seems that everyone else is just along for the ride, though, and no real development occurred in any other character besides Jarvis. Joseph Russo, one-half of the Russo Brothers and co-director of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the upcoming threequel Civil War, directed this second episode of Agent Carter. Regardless of whatever lack of character development we shoulder Russo with, he still somehow makes “Bridge and Tunnel” a solid hour of television. Even the aforementioned pandering to Marvel fans by including nods to the Avengers is at least done with some degree of inventiveness, evidenced by “The Captain America Adventure Program!” radio show that Peggy can’t seem to get away from.
I’ll admit that the explosive orange glowing orb plot doesn’t really interest me yet, but it’s probably because Carter is using that as the MacGuffin for the opening episodes until everything is properly established. Again, though, Russo and Co. mine some mundane scenes for drama and action. Peggy’s inspection of dozens of milk trucks could have been as mind-numbingly boring as a milk inspection sounds, but the choice of music and the gusto of Hayley Atwell makes it one of the more exciting sequences in the episode. “Leave that to me”, Peggy says for the second time in as many episodes — an apt catchphrase for a woman fed up with men telling her to step aside.
“Bridge and Tunnel” left enough unanswered questions to warrant a return for next week’s episode. Is Leviathan a person? What was the symbol that Brannis drew in the sand before his death? On a grander scale: when will we see more of Doctor Vanko? And will the SSO begin the transformation into S.H.I.E.L.D. through the events of Agent Carter? Here’s to hoping the spy show trims the fat, keeps the meat, and finds more confident footing in the third hour.