**This article discusses plot points throughout Agent Carter and as such contains spoilers. If you have not yet seen all of the episodes yet, I highly recommend you complete the season and then return to this article.**
I have been enamored with ABC at 9 p.m. ET the past several weeks. Why? My favorite part of Captain America: The First Avenger, Peggy Carter, has graced my TV screen in her own series. I often have apprehension about female comic characters gracing the big and small screen, but I anticipated Agent Carter‘s debut with much excitement.
This show got so much right that now that it’s over, I can’t wait to revisit it and hopefully drive myself crazy waiting for a second season. (As of this publication, no word has been released yet on whether or not this will be an ongoing season, but the optimist in me says if there weren’t plans for it, they would have said “series finale” instead of “season finale” for this week’s episode.)
If you’re not familiar with Peggy Carter, in the Marvel cinematic universe, she made her debut as Cap’s counterpart in his first film. From the time she steps onscreen, she’s not simply set dressing or the girlfriend. (Yes, there is an element of romance, but Peggy’s purpose in the story isn’t to be Steve Rogers’ girlfriend.) She inspires Steve to be the hero, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t a hero in her own right. In her series, we get to see just how much of a hero she is.
Lead, even if it’s behind the scenes. Agent Carter is a master class in leading behind the scenes. Peggy’s a professional woman in the ’40s, which is no small feat. At the beginning of the series, her male colleagues recognize that she was an integral part of the success of WWII, but they essentially tell her not to worry her pretty little head about trying to be the badass she once was. They see her as a secretary, someone who grabs coffee and lunch, someone who answers the phones or gathers reports. Instead of letting that stop her, she uses that invisibility to her advantage. She conducts an entire investigation into the theft of Howard Stark’s inventions right under the nose of her SSR counterparts. When questioned about how she pulled it off, she sums it up beautifully:
“You think you know me. But I’ve never been more than what each of you has created. To you, I’m a stray kitten left on your doorstep to be protected, the secretary turned damsel in distress, the girl on the pedestal transformed into some daft whore.”
Break through perceptions to be a great leader. Peggy is intelligent, and she doesn’t let the fact that her coworkers see her as a weak link because she’s a woman stop her from getting the job done. We see this perfectly illustrated in her trip to Russia to rendezvous with the Howling Commandos. Agent Thompson doesn’t understand why she’s tagging along because he’s never seen her outside of his perception of her. When she is immediately welcomed by the Commandos, and they’re excited to see that she’s back in action, Thompson is puzzled at first. When she saves his life, he understands why.
Be your own damn hero. Peggy also knows where to find her self-worth. When she saved Thompson’s life, she didn’t gloat or expect him to publicly share that she is far superior an agent to him. She knew once they stepped off the plane back in New York that things would go back to the way they were. In the finale, once Peggy has led the charge to save the day, it is Thompson who receives accolades. She doesn’t let it infuriate her or make her feel she needs to march up to the senator to set the record straight, nor does she allow Sousa to speak for her. Instead, she delivers this amazing quote:
“It really doesn’t bother me…. I don’t need a Congressional Honor. I don’t need Agent Thompson’s approval or the President’s. I know my value. Anyone else’s opinion doesn’t really matter.”
Agent Peggy Carter is a good example of someone who has some pretty hefty obstacles in her way, but still manages to get things done. She is a woman who commands respect on the merit of her accomplishments, and she does so with the utmost of grace and strength. I hope we get to spend more time with her to learn more about being a great leader.