Peggy [played by Haley Atwell] was designed and executed as a self-contained, ultimately-capable, highly-intelligent and supremely-dedicated individual who could. not. fail. - not because she was stronger or smarter than anyone else, but because she would will herself to succeed when greater powers were attempting to bring her down.
Season One Exemplified The Glory of Peggy
Peggy was "relegated" to obscurity (fetching coffee, taking lunch orders, answering the phone, etc.) by her superiors at the SSR (the Strategic Scientific Reserve – the precursor to S.H.I.E.L.D. from which S.H.I.E.L.D. was spun and which, ultimately, was absorbed back into its spun-off child). The relegation of position didn't bother Peggy (other than just being irksome).
Peggy knew her value. She knew what was her worth in comparison to her "peers". She knew she could do the job better than anyone else and she ghosted on the periphery of the Agency knowing she could operate without anyone knowing she was “operating”.
She identified allies (Howard Stark [Dominic Cooper] and his “man”, Edwin Jarvis [James D’Arcy]), the Howling Commandos and whatever agents she could finagle (Agents Daniel Sousa [Enver Gjokaj] and Jack Thompson [Chad Michael Murray]) ultimately winning over everyone she encountered – including her boss, Roger Dooley [Shea Wigham].
Season Two Lost Focus and Broke Peggy
It is bad enough when you take such a hero and make her pander to her more animalistic instincts. Sure, she respected Agent Sousa and that respect might have been leading to a relationship, but the writers were way off-base setting up a love triangle when the fulcrum of the object was someone as solid and self-contained as our beloved Peggy!
Peggy was always able to operate as a loner. She knew the meaning of her relationships and she didn't weave them without careful consideration. Now, she was pandering after, not one, but two different men who could make her... whole? That's not Peggy Carter.
Lover Number One
The Sousa-running-off-to-California-to-get-married-to-a-manufactured-who-the-heck-is-she new love was... poorly executed. But, it still could have worked. We weren’t really given a sense of how long he had been in LA prior to Peggy’s arrival there. If we had – and, had that time been enough – it might have worked. I guess.
But, it felt like he just ran out and went and bagged a stand-in at the first bar into which he would have heart-brokenly stumbled. The fact she was a nurse? An attempt at gaining our sympathy? I could, I think, have lived with that… it was the apparent short period of time that jarred me.
Lover Number Two
Then, there was this scientist who immediately trusted someone who was breaking into his offices and trying to steal a device or some contrivance to which he was desperately devoted. Granted, he didn’t trust his employers any further than he could toss his left arm, but his acceptance of Peggy and the SSR was a bit quick. It still worked, to some, minimal, extent.
But, to write it so that he almost immediately became Peggy’s great, new love so soon after she had (a) just relinquished (she thought) her most recent love, Agent Sousa, and (b) with both Jason and Daniel following in the steps of Captain Freaking America… !
It was a non-starter.
Peggy only barely knew the guy. Did she compare him up against her brother? To, even, her fiancé who ditched her when she chose to go into the military at the start of WWII? To Steve Rogers? There were some pretty high bars with which she would be measuring!
The Writers Wrote for Themselves
Rather Than For Their Audience
Who likes “period pieces”? Well, generally, they will be older. Kids are more fascinated by Star Wars, Star Trek and The AVENGERS!!! BRING ON THE FLIGHT SUITS!!!
People who still fantasize about World War II generally heard stories about the war told to them by (and about) their dads and uncles. They heard stories about how it affected their families from their moms and aunts. The most ardent of Peggy's fans would be people who still have vivid memories about how things were in the 1950s and 1960s.
And, “our” writers pandered to the PC crowd and brought in a black lover providing him cover as being a man trapped in his job by his skin color and his desire to be a scientist driving him to subvert his own morals to work for people he could not trust!
Well, that was fine. And, it worked. But, the lover part?
I think that is where Marvel disconnected itself from its viewership.
How Could It Have Worked?
Our nation is a narrative of inclusion, diversity and social homogeneity. Bringing in two lovers of different backgrounds is something that should be done. And, if it is done correctly, you get “Romeo & Juliet”. If you just throw a blathering of different colors on a sheet of paper and call it art, you get Season Two of “Marvel’s Agent Carter”.
That wasn’t art.
Jason Wilkes [Reggie Austin] was a very engaging fellow. The actor portrayed him brilliantly. But, the writing failed to “blend” the disparate historical agencies so that they felt appropriate. Most older people don’t like to be made uncomfortable so will tune out rather than continue on with a problematic story line.
The relationship was rushed into existence without creating any semblance of synergy between the two characters other than both of their overwhelming desires to save the world from The Great Disaster that was about to be unleashed upon it. And, even that was never fully defined other than the writers expecting that everyone would simply understand the gravity of the situation.
To have a relationship like theirs would have taken Peggy and Jason more than a couple of episodes. It would have taken, probably, more than a couple of seasons! It needed to be observed, nurtured and devised in such a way the audience would eventually demand that they be together.
A carefully crafted story is how you capture the imaginations of the youth and draw them into your audience.
Peggy Ceased Being That Paragon We Trusted
Because Peggy was so quick to “jump into bed” with Jason Wilkes after she had so disaffectedly disassociated with Daniel Sousa was too much of a dichotomy. It broke all the rules of any type of engagement between individuals – especially between individuals of integrity and character. It was contrived. It was rushed. And, it failed at every level.
Marvel: Please bring back our Peggy.
And, when you do, bring us different writers or educate those who so tragically destroyed the Favored Lady of the MCU so that we get a story that flows and has the magic we saw in Season One.
Update (07/27/2016): Netflix boss, Ted Sarandos, stated there are complications with distributorship of the show overseas. Until Netflix can gain exclusive rights to distribute the show (i.e. those overseas rights expire), they don't want to touch it. So, if Netflix is going to get involved, it won't be in the next year or so...