11:00pm PT by Sydney Bucksbaum
'Agent Carter' Bosses Discuss How 'Doctor Strange' Tie-In Impacts Peggy's Love Life
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the season two premiere of Agent Carter, "A View in the Dark."]
Just when Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) takes one step forward in her love life, something out of her control pushes her two steps back on Agent Carter.
After grieving her first love Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) aka Captain America all throughout the first season of the Marvel period drama, Peggy was finally ready to move on in season two. While she hoped to take things to the next level with her fellow SSR agent Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj), when she arrived in LA she quickly learned he was moving on with someone new. Instead of dwelling, she moved on herself with the handsome and charming scientist Jason Wilkes (Reggie Austin).
Unfortunately, by the end of the super-sized season two premiere, Jason was missing in action after an explosion with zero matter (which Marvel fans will recognize as dark matter from the Doctor Strange universe). So what does this mean for Peggy's love life?
The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Agent Carter showrunners Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters about just that, as well as the "complicated" love triangle between Peggy, Sousa and his new girlfriend.
Why did you choose to incorporate the Doctor Strange zero matter/darkforce mythology into this season?
Fazekas: We knew that we had wanted to get into a little bit more of the Marvel universe as far as having superpowers. The cool thing about darkforce when you look into it is, in the comic book universe, it's this very versatile thing. It can be a gas, a solid, a liquid. It gives people superpowers, it makes people villains. It can kill you. We liked all of that and how we could mold it into the story we wanted to tell. We knew that we wanted Jason Wilkes to be afflicted by it and by the end of the second episode, both he and Whitney Frost are exposed to it. It's going to have very different results for both of them. It accomplished a lot of things with one cool, simple element. It's also fun because, because we're in 1947, people don't know what they've come upon. That's why they named it zero matter. They don't know what it is or where it comes from. You're seeing the very beginnings of people trying to figure out what this is.
Seeing as how both Jason and Whitney were affected by the zero matter, is that going to change them both physically and psychologically moving forward?
Butters: It's going to be both. It's impossible to go through such a physical alteration and not have that affect you mentally. It definitely does take its toll.
Fazekas: You see at the end of the second episode how it affects Whitney. She has this little crack on her forehead. The way we designed that is it should look like a crack in porcelain. It's not how skin would normally react. There's already something weird about that. We'll get to see moving forward how it affects Whitney and with Jason, a bit of a spoiler, we will see him again. Although he will be quite different when we do.
How will those changes affect his blossoming relationship with Peggy?
Butters: It definitely makes it more interesting.
Fazekas: It's a bit of a barrier. (Laughs). In many ways.
Introducing Jason to the show gave Peggy the chance to comment on racism in that time period, just like she also speaks her mind on sexism. Are we going to see her continue to do that throughout the whole season?
Fazekas: In the first season, we dealt with a lot of sexism during that time period. When we introduce a character who is African-American, we didn't want to do it and just pretend there's no racism in 1947 and everything's pretty. We wanted to be careful about addressing that and addressing this interracial relationship. He's an African-American man who is a scientist and the way they connect in addition to having a nice chemistry, and he's very handsome and charismatic, he's used to people looking at him and making judgments about him based on what he looks like. And so is Peggy. They connect on that level. And that gives Peggy the chance to confront racism, and she deals with it the way you would expect her to deal with it. It becomes a part of the story and the decisions he makes down the line, it's all informed in part by that.
Butters: We didn't want to just have an African-American character and not talk about that. That would have been very inauthentic.
Sousa is planning on proposing to his new girlfriend, but it's clear that he still loves Peggy. Complicating matters even more is the fact that his girlfriend and Peggy are actually becoming friends. How is that messy love triangle is going to play out over the course of the season?
Fazekas: Sousa has tried to move on with this new relationship. And we didn't want to do the old trope where the two girls don't like each other. And honestly, we felt the same way about Ana Jarvis. We didn't want to fall into that trap of, oh they're two women, so they're obviously not going to like each other. We're huge Moonlighting fans, and when they introduced Mark Harmon as a love interest, the fans of the show automatically thought they would hate this guy. He was getting in between the two characters we were shipping. But he was a really good guy. You can't help but like him. Even Bruce Willis' character liked him. So we took a page from that.
Butters: We made her a good person and somebody who, of course Sousa would fall for her. She's cool. Sarah Bolger who plays her is just adorable. It makes it messier and more complicated. If you hated her, it would be easy and lame. I like that she's likeable. I like that Peggy likes her. You can't fault Sousa for falling for her.
The Hydra lapel pin has been spotted twice so far, first when Dottie (Bridget Regan) was trying to steal it from the SSR and then second when Peggy finds one in the car of the men who were chasing her –
Butters: That's actually not Hydra.
Fazekas: It's a pin, but it's not Hydra.
Interesting. It looked like the same symbol from Agents of SHIELD this season coinciding with the Hydra/NASA program.
Butters: It's actually an "A."
Fazekas: We will unpack what that means but it's not Hydra.
Butters: It's actually from the Marvel Universe. You'll find out that there's this thing called the Secret Empire. In the Marvel comic book universe, it's the Council of Nine, or sometimes the Council of 12. It's basically a group of rich white guys who control everything. (Laughs.) But it's not Hydra.
Are we going to see Dottie again now that she's in FBI custody?
Fazekas: Yes, in a really fun way. We all love writing for her. And Bridget Regan loves being on this show. There's a dance number coming up with some of the dancers from Dancing With the Stars. It's a dream sequence. I will say Bridget Regan was a professional ballroom dancer. When she found out we were doing a dance number, she was calling and tweeting everyone, "Please let me be in this!"
Butters: She was like, "I'll even do it for free!" (Laughs.)
Fazekas: That's going to be really fun. We're very proud of this season as a whole. It was nice to have 10 episodes to really explore these characters and have fun doing it. Bringing the show to Old Hollywood also was a great way to refresh the show. It looks beautiful. And while Hayley looks good in everything, boy does LA look really nice on her.
Agent Carter airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on ABC.