The end of season one saw a lot of changes for Marvel’s Agent Carter. Jack Thompson (Chad Michael Murray) was promoted to head of the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR) after the death of Chief Dooley (Shea Whigham), Soviet trained assassin Dottie Underwood (Bridget Regan) escaped, Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) finally asked Peggy on a date (to no avail), and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) saved the day (without recognition) and finally let go of Captain America/Steve Rogers (well, his blood anyway). Season two brings an even bigger change: the action is moving from New York City to Los Angeles. On a visit to the set of season two, we spoke with the cast and showrunners about what to expect in the new season.
This season’s move to Los Angeles opened up the possibility of incorporating the city into the show. Showrunners Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters loved the freedom of shooting wide shots. Fazekas explained, “You’ll see the Griffith Observatory and you’ll see some beautiful shots of driving through Los Angeles. I think it’s been a real huge benefit to the show. I mean there’s some beautiful shots down at the L.A. river and I mean, just really kind of iconic L.A.” “There’s nothing that says L.A. more than pulling a body out of the L.A. River,” added Butters.
In season one we saw Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) on the run, with his valet Edwin Jarvis (James D’Arcy) helping Peggy Carter anyway he can to clear Stark’s name. As the action moves to Los Angeles, so does Peggy and Jarvis’ relationship. On their partnership, D’Arcy said, “Peggy knows that Jarvis is someone that she can trust and a confidant — whilst not necessarily being the number one draft pick for going on missions. You know, I think she quite likes torturing him as well. So there’s a sort of a glee in her face as she makes me do things I don’t want to do. And god bless Jarvis; he’s game and ineffective for the most part.”
In an early episode of the season Peggy and Jarvis have to deal with one of Stark’s newest acquisitions — a real live flamingo. According to D’Arcy, “There were four flamingos ranging in aggressive natures from quite mild to psychotic. And the nicest one was called Simon. And then the one that was a menace to society was called Cannibal. I had to do this scene where I had to chase the flamingo around and maybe be chased by the flamingo. And it all looked very funny on paper, then I sort of arrived and said ‘Just checking, it’s not dangerous with a… I mean, it’s a flamingo, right? It’s not dangerous?’ And they went, ‘Oh yah. Oh yah, cowboy, that thing will peck your eyes out,’ and I was like, ‘Okay?!’ And then the handlers kept calling me ‘cowboy,’ which did not inspire confidence. And so the girl put her arm out and Cannibal just went to town — he’s pecking away like a maniac. So I thought, ‘This is worrying.’ And then — and THEN — it turned out that flamingos, that Cannibal really liked me. And Cannibal sort of refused to peck me, or chase me, or be chased by me. Cannibal just wanted a hug. But as soon as the handlers came back in, Cannibal went nuts again. So we had to have them stand off camera, so that they would either run away or towards them. Poor Cannibal. I think he was pretty happy when his day was over.”
When we first met Dottie, she seemed like just another working woman living in Peggy Carter’s boarding hotel, but as season one progressed, it was revealed that Dottie was actually a Soviet assassin — one who always managed to escape. On working with Regan again for season two, Atwell said, “This is a different relationship, in some ways. Without spoiling anything, I need her. And I also get to have scenes with her which are like a chess game. As an actor, that’s incredibly exhilarating, because a lot of the scenes between us are so filled with subtext, and yet, on the surface, she’s got this very soft spoken elegant voice. And yet, you know she’s an assassin.”
Although in season one the sexual tension between Sousa and Peggy was not a main plot point, it was there, and the season ended with Peggy turning him down for a date. When asked whether that would come into play in season two, Gjokaj said, “When season two starts, we don’t know what’s happened, but something has passed between them. Such that Daniel decides to start his life over again in L.A., running the West Coast Bureau [of the SSR]. Chad’s character, Jack Thompson, decides that it would be really, really funny when I ask some for back up to send out Peggy.”
New to season two, Jason Wilkes (Reggie Austin) is a scientist helping Peggy throughout the season. Austin said of the two characters, “When they meet, each of them instantly sees something in the other. Peggy is rising through the ranks and as a woman working in the SSR trying to make a name for herself, and stand on her own, of her own accord, and Jason Wilkes is working as a scientist, one of the top scientists in his field, but he’s had to work hard to get there. So it’s the similar sort of struggle of an African-American and a woman in the 1940s trying to succeed. I think that they sort of both see that in one another.”
Another set of new characters introduced in season two are actress Whitney Frost (Wynn Everett) and her husband, senatorial candidate Calvin Chadwick (Currie Graham). Of their relationship, actor Graham said, “We’re a power couple to sort of make it short. Think of Bill and Hillary. It’s that kind of thing. It’s that kind of relationship. I think that Chadwick was attracted to her because of her beauty and she’s obviously a very smart woman, very successful, also very type A, and so we really strive — both of us, I think — for greatness.”
On the character of Whitney Frost, who was inspired in part by Hedy Lamarr, Everett said that although she is a famous actress, she’s “also a scientist, and in the history of the comics includes a certain alter ego. So just the prospect of maybe one day getting to play that alter ego was beyond exciting.”
Whitney Frost in the comics is also known as villain Madame Masque.
Although showrunners Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters insist the show is still very much theirs creatively, they will be adding more from the Marvel comics this season, including Dark Force, which they will be calling Zero Matter. Butters elaborated, “It’s 1947. They don’t know, they don’t call it Dark Force, they don’t know where it comes from.”
Writer and Executive Producer Chris Dingess added, “When we were talking about Los Angeles, we started talking about the city. Then we started talking about the desert and what was going on in the desert. It was all the scientific exploration that was starting to take place in Los Angeles with JPL, and then just different types of testing that was going on in the desert. That lead us to talking about Area 51 and the sci-fi of it all, and the movies that were born from the ’40s into the ’50s and stuff like that. And so we started talking about sci-fi elements and that led us towards Dark Force.”
There will also be more “Easter eggs” and tie-ins to the Marvel Cinematic Universe throughout the season. On the introduction of Dark Force, Butters added, “Certainly with Dark Force, it touches on Dr. Strange.”
The two-hour season premiere of Marvel’s Agent Carter airs on January 19th at 9PM on ABC.