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As Marvel’s Phase 2 comes to an end this year, Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron sets off the summer blockbusters as one has come to expect from the franchise. There are CGI sequences, political commentary, superhero banter, and fiery explosions all set to a swelling score on an international backdrop. While we see familiar themes and characters throughout the film, it is the new faces, questions and challenges set forth for the Avengers that ultimately allow for a narrative shift that has me looking forward to Phase 3.

Some (vague) spoilers ahead, Sweetie!

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S01xE08: “Valediction”

After weeks of working on her own against Leviathan, Peggy Carter has finally become part of the team at the SSR. She has fought for the respect of her peers, worked to prove her ability and consistently points her coworkers in the direction of the proper baddies time and time again. It seems that finally, her rebellion will gain meaning as Dottie and Dr. Ivchenko attempt to use Howard Stark’s inventions to destroy New York City with Peggy poised to stop them. But, while the perceptions of Peggy Carter have shifted, the Patriarchy will not unravel at the bidding of a single woman. Even as Peggy saves the day once again, we are reminded of the confines within which she operates, and of the value placed on gender biases by the society she lives in.

spoilers ahead, sweetie…

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S01xE07: “Snafu”

The misconceptions, assumptions and sheer ignorance of her abilities as a spy have forced Peggy to articulate her issues with the Patriarchy, which may be exactly what is necessary for her team to move forward in the fight to eliminate Leviathan as a security threat. There is great power in words–Dr. Ivchenko uses language to manipulate SSR agents, The Howling Commandoes voice respect for Peggy, which shifts Thompson’s preception of her and then Thompson speaks his secret of killing surrendering soldiers in order to break that secret’s hold over him. Words contain power and Peggy has decided to voice the truths about her treatment–at the SSR and within 1940s culture in  general–in order to regain control of her own identity and remain on her heroic path.

spoilers ahead, sweetie...

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S01xE06: “A Sin to Err”

Throughout this season of Agent Carter, fellow SSR agents have continuously err’d in their perceptions of Peggy Carter, which she has used to her advantage, until now. While she was previously acknowledged for her bravery and tactical skills during the op with the Commandoes in Russia, the SSR is beginning to discover they have underestimated Peggy Carter and what she is capable of. Her deception and “double agent” status started out as a necessary evil because of a clear refusal from her male coworkers to allow her to give her expertise to their investigations. Peggy’s femaleness has barred her from being treated as an equal member of the SSR staff and his underestimation has led to a break within the SSR that can only be fixed if those around her are able to reconcile Peggy’s abilities and intentions along with her femaleness. For Peggy, this may mean being treated as harshly as any traitor would, as her peers discover the secrets she’s been keeping from them.

spoilers ahead, sweetie…

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S01xE05: The Iron Ceiling

This week, Agent Carter addresses the value of women and the power they wield, even in a society which doesn’t fully acknowledge that they possess it. While sneaking across the “Iron Curtain” is easy for Peggy, breaking the “glass ceiling” at the SSR isn’t as simple. Gender limits Peggy to “suitable” office work and is a means of discrimination and abuse at the whims of her coworkers. For Peggy to succeed at the SSR, she must not only excel at her job, but also gain the support and acceptance of her male coworkers.

Spoilers Ahead, Sweetie…

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S01xE04: “The Blitzkrieg Button”

So far in Agent Carter, we have explored expectations of women in 1950s society, especially how Peggy navigates through the stereotypes placed on her because of gender. While some reviewers seem to have gotten tired of being reminded of Peggy’s feminism, I find it refreshing that Marvel has taken the realities of discrimination and brought them to the forefront of this hero’s tale. Peggy cannot escape her female-ness, nor should she want to. In addition to sexism, the show also addresses disability discrimination within the character of Daniel Sousa. Regardless of the acts of valor he committed to earn his war wounds, Sousa cannot reverse his disability and the stigma that it holds. Although these two agents (as viewers can note) are closest to solving the mysteries of Stark and Leviathan, they are both berated, disregarded and disrespected in the workplace. This treatment of Peggy and Sousa within the “normal” masculine sphere allows viewers a glimpse into the misogynistic value system that allows for acceptable societal discrimination and harassment.

Spoilers Ahead, Sweetie…

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S01xE03: “Time and Tide”

Agent Carter premiered its third episode to lower-than-usual second week ratings, but the heroic journey of Peggy Carter continues to grow in terms of intricacies, revealing new characters and relationships of interest. With the mysterious “Leviathan” organization pushing the narrative forward, Peggy continues to navigate between life as an under-appreciated superspy and neighbor/friend to those who do not know her secret. While helping Howard Stark find his missing weapons and giving all the credit to the boys at the SSR is a disappointing circumstance for the woman who helped Captain America “defeat” Hydra, Peggy’s journey is less about recognition and more focused on breaking stereotypes placed upon her by the patriarchy.

Spoilers Ahead, Sweetie…