The fact that Peggy was able to successfully take on a mission meant for 3 to 5 agents. She is definitely a One-Woman Army.
After finishing the mission and collecting the 'Zodiac', Peggy gets a talking to by Agent Flynn who chastises her for doing the mission alone and claims they don't need her in the agency. Seconds after this, Flynn gets a call from Howard Stark who tells him that Peggy's being promoted to co-running SHIELD with him, and that when Flynn tells her this, he's to tell her how honored he is to do so.
Flynn offers to carry her stuff. Peggy's response could not be better:
Peggy:[calmly] Thank you, Agent Flynn, but as has always been the case, I do not require your help.
Now is Not the End
Agent Peggy Carter infiltrates a nightclub in disguise so she can retrieve Howard Stark's formula for molecular nitramene in an effort to clear his name. It's just as amazing as it sounds.
Peggy Carter defused a nitramene bomb. In her bathroom. Using her perfume atomizer, some kitchen products (a solution of sodium hydrogen carbonate and acetate... baking soda and vinegar), and a bottle of whiskey.
Agent Carter sneaking inside Roxxon in an effort to find out more about Leviathan while Howard's butler Edwin Jarvis is her backup, per his orders. Only Jarvis. Peggy Carter is practically a One-Woman Army.
Peggy's in a hurry to escape Roxxon, so instead of having Jarvis stop the car, she jumps on top of it while it's in motion.
Peggy threatens the sexist, Jerkass customer at the diner where Angie works after he insults (and goes as far as groping) Angie one too many times by taking a fork to him, making it very clear that she's having none of it before telling him to find another place to eat at.
And leave a very generous tip.
Bridge and Tunnel
Peggy's disguise skills at the dairy plant, pretending to be an inspector. Not only is she snappy enough to make all the workers comply with her, but she also demonstrates an impeccable American accent.
When scanning Roxxon employees for vita-radiation, Peggy recognizes Dr. Van Ert, the scientist she fought the night before. When he scans negative, he thinks he's in the clear, until she points out that he may have changed his clothes to hide their radiation traces. Immediately, Van Ert bolts and while her coworkers chase after him, Peggy just casually takes the stairs, borrows a briefcase, waits around the corner, then knocks his footing off with the briefcase and sends him faceplanting into the floor.
Peggy: May I be of any further assistance?
Jarvis himself gets a unexpected moment when he contradicts Peggy's orders and decides to help her even if she doesn't want to. His aid proves to be invaluable to Peggy, even though she won't admit it.
Peggy's fight with Sheldon, beautifully intercut with the production of a fight scene on the Captain America radio show.
Peggy (yet again) dealing with a sexist idiot:
Hugh Jones: I didn't know our government had such good taste in secretaries. What's your name, darling?
Peggy Carter: Agent.
Time and Tide
When being questioned by the SSR, Thompson mentions he could have Jarvis and his wife deported. Jarvis in mode of Tranquil Fury curtly remarks "leave my wife out of this".
Peggy beating up the thug on the Heartbreak and finishing him off with the Constrictor.
Peggy: I think you're a man out for his own gain, no matter who you're charging. You are constantly finding holes to slither your way into, in the hope of finding loose change, only to cry when you're bitten by another snake. You are a man who says "I love you" whilst looking over a woman's shoulder into the mirror. Steve Rogers dedicated his mind, his body, his life, to the SSR and to this country, not to your bank account. I made the same pledge, but Im not as good as Steve was. I forgot my pledge running around for you like a corporate spy. So thank you, Howard, for reminding me who Steve was, and what I aspire to be. For all I know, you did steal your inventions.
Dooley convincing a Nazi war criminal that a breath mint is a cyanide pill to let him escape his long and public execution the next day, which gets him to spill a huge secret.
Thompson, of all people, gets a pretty smart moment where he gets a homeless man that Sousa is having no luck on interrogating to nigh-immediately spill the beans. How? Offering him a scotch and a lunch. "Not everyone wants a hug" indeed.
Peggy being able to crack the code in under a minute that the official decoder couldn't in a day.
And then, Peggy using the fact that she is good at code-breaking to convince Dooley to let her join the field mission to Russia.
During the same argument with Dooley and Thompson, she demonstrates some of the survival skills she picked up by being on the ground during the war - like how smelling herring on the wind means you're about to have a Russian snowstorm and have less than thirty minutes to get to cover or freeze to death.
When Dooley says, somewhat sarcastically, that Peggy can join the field mission to Russia if she manages to get the Howling Commandos to join them, she steps out of the office, calls them up, and gets the Howling Commandos to join them, forcing Dooley to keep to his word and let her go on the mission.
Peggy insisting that Dugan escape before she does:
Dugan: Peggy! Go! Go!
Peggy: You go!
Dugan: What would Cap say if I left his best girl behind?
Peggy: He would say "Do as Peggy says!"
In a twisted way, the fight between the two little girls. Those are nine-year-olds fighting brutally and very effectively.
Jarvis tries to persuade Peggy to keep being a double agent, but after he and Howard lied to her, she's having none of it.
Jarvis: And what does the SSR have in you?
Peggy: I am a federal agent, Mr Jarvis.
Jarvis: Yes, finely trained and skilled in the art of fetching coffee. These men you call your colleagues, they don't respect you, they don't even see you. Do you honestly expect they'll change their minds?
Peggy: I expect I will make them.
During the mission in Russia, Thompson gives orders to the team that includes some of the Commandos. Instead of immediately obeying, they turn to Peggy to check for her orders. These are some of the most famous, respected, badass soldiers from the war, and Peggy has their respect as an ally, a friend, and as a commander.
And when she suggests a different plan, for the first time on the show, Thompson listens, and from there on she pretty much runs the op.
Dooley: You're telling me one woman took out an entire team of highly trained government agents?
And going back to the Griffith afterwards just to recover Steve's blood, even knowing there was a big chance she'd get caught.
Also, Peggy quickly realizing that she's being isolated in the automat by SSR agents, even though before that scene, she had no idea that the SSR was onto her.
Angie pretending to cry and distracting the SSR agents. That whole scene was gold.
And having figured out these guys are the "fathead male co-workers" Peggy always complains about, she takes the opportunity to let them know that's how Peggy sees them while appearing to be oblivious to what she's really saying.
Peggy cleverly maneuvering her interrogators in the first several minutes.
Peggy: You think you know me. But Ive never been more than what each of you has created. To you [Dooley] Im a stray kitten left on your doorstep to be protected. [Thompson] The secretary turned damsel in distress. [Sousa] The girl on the pedestal, transformed into some daft whore. You're all acting like children. Whats worse, whats far worse, is that this is shoddy police work.
Also, Peggy's response when Sousa asks her why she didn't ask anyone at the SSR for help rather than doing her own investigations:
Peggy: I conducted my own investigations because no one listens to me. I got away with it because no one looks at me. Because unless I have your reports, your coffee, or your lunch, I am invisible.
Jarvis tricking his way into the SSR office by convincing the phone gals that he has Howard Stark's written confession.
One of them is also secretly preparing a gun, thinking Jarvis is an enemy. This implies all of the phone gals may actually be armed with guns by SSR, which makes sense since their workplace is a Covert Group with Mundane Front.
Dottie, escaping the agents by jumping down a stairwell.
Chief Dooley's Heroic Sacrifice — after being hypnotically compelled into putting on what's effectively a bomb vest that can't be removed in time, he makes a final dash towards the window, firing his gun to shatter it, and throws himself out of the office in order to save his agents.
The entirety of Peggy and Dottie's fight.
Sousa defeating Fennhoff by the simple expedient of putting in some earplugs before confronting him.
And the fact he managed to do it while trolling Thompson and scaring the hell out of him.
Peggy's response after Jack takes credit for the success of stopping the attack on Times Square:
Peggy: I know my value. Anyone else's opinion doesn't really matter.
Though taking credit from the senator was a dick move on Thompson's part, the rest of the office truly appreciates Carter now, with the standing ovation she got from all the other SSR personnel when she entered the office.
The Lady in the Lake
The whole sting operation to capture Dottie, executed flawlessly by Peggy and the SSR New York office. Dottie herself goes down hard after Peggy wallops her in the back of the head with a coin bag to end the fight they had inside the bank vault, treating us to a slow-mow shot of the coins scattering out of the bag.
When Peggy uses the excuse of a bathroom run to sneak into Isodyne Energy, Sousa figures out what she's up to and starts distracting the secretary so that Peggy will have the opening she needs before she makes it halfway across the room.
A View in the Dark
Jarvis actually managing to take down Peggy for a little while during their sparring session.
Peggy demolishing the mooks doing the cleanup at Isodyne Energy.
Peggy gets in another nice "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Thompson, calling him a coward who only wants personal success regardless of what actual good he does, complete with a veiled reference to the shady war activities he confided in her last season.
Peggy and Jarvis fighting off the assassin sent after her.
Whitney Frost proving that she's the real brains in her marriage, effortlessly manipulating her husband into making the risky move of sending a hitman after Peggy.
Credit should also be given to Howard basically busting into the Arena Clubnote think the Diogenes Club from Sherlock Holmes and any other old boys' club, only with more stringent and misogynistic rules with a harem to distract everyone (which allows Peggy to infiltrate the Council of Nine's premises undetected). When he employs Refuge in Audacity and Awesome Ego at work, it's really nice to see it produce results.
Smoke and Mirrors
A pretty dark one. As a little girl, famous movie star Whitney Frost dreamt to be a scientist, but she later found out that no one cared about her genius, and she could only exploit her pretty face. She discovers that even that is threatened by the emergence of a superpower like none other. What's her reaction ? Experiment, take control of her powers and use them to get rid of someone who threatened her, her husband and their dream, running the risk to be disfigured. In that scene, after taking out the enemy, she just turns around, elated that she succeeded, and revealing her enlarged infection mark. Turns out after giving up her dream career a first time, she loves not being just a pretty face.
Calvin: What was that?
Whitney: That was me... taking care of another one of your problems.
Calvin: What are you?
Whitney: Whatever I want.
We learn Sousa lost his leg at Bastogne (a week-long siege that took place during the famous "Battle of the Bulge").
The Atomic Job
Rose proving herself as not just a receptionist but a very capable field agent. She helps out by keeping people calm during the initial sting to take out the electric fence and the guards, then takes out a mob strong man and gets his knife, looking none the worse for wear afterwards and even tossing a quip before taking him down. She even returns to help Sousa with getting Jarvis out of the room and then escorts everybody (sans Sousa and Peggy) out of the facility and back to base to secure the rods.
Edwin Jarvis, a butler with no scientific knowledge and very scant combat training prone to high-strung emotions, manages to hold it together long enough to extract two uranium explosives and secure them, while in a building under siege from Whitney Frost and her men.
A Little Song and Dance
The epic musical number that opens the episode, including a cameo from Angie.
After getting back from the desert, Peggy simply storms right into Masters' office and starts beating the holy hell out of him. A great way to let her have the showdown with him she deserved before his plot-mandated death elsewhere.
After a season of being manipulated, Thompson starts manipulating others himself just so he can take down Masters and Whitney and for the most part was quite effective.
When the Zero Matter portal has to be shut down manually, every single one of the heroes steps up to volunteer for the Heroic Sacrifice. Except Sousa, because he just heads right over and does it while the others are arguing. Even Howard Stark, who's often portrayed as a narcisist and a egoist, is ready to sacrifice his life without the slightest hesitation.
First of all, the fact that Peggy Carter is effectively the first leading lady in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is an awesome moment in and of itself, both for Marvel and for Hayley Atwell for portraying her in a way that's seriously resonated with people.
Not only does the series pass The Bechdel Test in the show's very first conversation (not counting the opening flashback), but it passes numerous other tests with flying colors, including the Mako Mori Testnote female character with arc not based around supporting a man, the Oracle Testnote disabled character whose narrative does not revolve around their handicap, and fortunately fails the Sexy Lamp Testnote Character can be replaced with a coveted lamp without changing the story. Best of all, the show doesn't pass them just by virtue of starring Peggy, but through other nuanced characters like Angie, Sousa, and Jarvis.
"Peggy spent so long trying to find a way to make her colleagues respect her, but what she realized was that you dont need validation from others to feel important. Peggy Carter is such an impressive role model for girls to watch on television. She even rejected Sousas offer for a date, opting to move in with Angie instead (I can hear the Cartinelli shippers cheering from here). Its a fantastic ending that completely challenged the way we wanted the story to go. Regardless, we know she eventually gets her due, going down in history as one of the greatest agents in SHIELD history."
The show getting renewed for a second season despite its meager ratings.
Another has to go to critical reception. Agent Carter scored a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. Until Daredevil premiered in April on Netflix, Agent Carter was the most critically acclaimed production Marvel put out, beating out Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Iron Man, The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy. It should also be noted that Daredevil only beat out Agent Carter by 1 percentage point, which speaks volumes about how well Agent Carter was regarded by critics.
Although some disliked the changes to Madame Masque's character, there's something almost inspiring in the way the writers transformed Whitney Frost. The original character is complex and has a decades-spanning HeelFace Revolving Door status, but her turns always motivated by her love for a man, mostly in the context of romantic relationships or the fear of not having them after her accident makes her (in her opinion) less desirable. Agent Carter's Whitney Frost loves the power that comes with her disfigurement and doesn't care about her appearance, which was a way to make a living using guillible men at best and a curse that stood in the way of the credibility she craved to obtain at worst.