25 Inimitable Men 18/25
Daniel Sousa (Agent Carter)
He has the kindest eyes to exist, and probably smells like Mahogany Teakwood mixed with gentleness, courage, and unyielding compassion. Agent Carter’s Daniel Sousa is the character none of us imagined to fall so hard for, but through every episode, he proved that he’s in fact remarkably inimitable. There are a number of fantastic characters that go through far more darkness than they deserve to, and some of them allow it to consume while others rise from it. Characters who are torn down and ridiculed but instead of letting the words govern their actions, they use them as fuel to become better, stronger, and kinder. Irish band The Script have a song that’s essentially written for Daniel Sousa and Peggy Carter — you cannot convince me otherwise. “Superheroes.”
In the first season we’re introduced to a man whose physical disability is used against him tirelessly in the work place completely undermining the fight he pulled through in order to stand strong today. And that alone allows viewers to understand that often times, there’s a clear mistreatment towards war veterans upon their return home. But that’s not something that darkens Daniel’s heart, for in the midst of all the ridicule he faces from his coworkers, he’s the only man who’s willing to defend Peggy Carter’s honor to the sexist employees of S.S.R. Agent Daniel Sousa is the only one who recognizes that a person’s value isn’t measured by their gender or physical capabilities but rather their heart and the willingness to fight the good fight. And because of this belief, Daniel Sousa saw straight through Peggy Carter choosing to treat her as the honorable, strong woman that she is. And as a result of his steadfast kindness towards her, we were able to see straight through his heart. We were able to understand that this is a man who’s gone through his fair share of darkness and post traumatic stress disorder, but chosen to allow the tragedies in his life to strengthen him.
Daniel’s gentle spirit in spite of the hardships he’s faced continues to make him indescribably special, but most importantly, deserving to be praised for his hard work. Daniel Sousa isn’t afraid of a fight as long as he knows it’s one he could risk, but where need be, he’s gentle and warm. And by no means do I intend to turn this into a post regarding his relationship with Peggy Carter, but considering we don’t know much about his family, she is the only real connection we have to distinguishing what a kind soul he is. (Even with Violet, he was absolutely precious.)
Arguments have often been made by people on-screen and off that Daniel Sousa just isn’t suited to be the man standing by her side, but the reality is the exact opposite. We must not forget that the Steve Rogers Peggy Carter fell in love with wasn’t infused with super serum or known to the world as Captain America just yet. She’s the kind of woman who admires bravery and goodness above everything else, and the two men she’s had profound attachments to have possessed those qualities acutely. And because of the compassion Daniel has shown to her when everyone else doubted her abilities, he’s proven to be the kindred spirit deserving to stand by her side. When I was writing Agent Carter reviews, talking about Daniel’s similarities to Steve became a favorite topic of discussion because if we recall, in the first season, Agent Krzeminski states that no woman would trade the red, white, and blue for an aluminum crutch without realizing that Peggy Carter fell in love with the man behind the shield.
“Daniel Sousa is a hero in every sense of the word, but he doesn’t try to be. He fights the honorable battles in front of him despite the physical limitation. Captain America may be the hero the world knows, but in the end, it all comes down to Steve Rogers’ choices. For instance, when the group is arguing over who should manually turn off the rift machine, Daniel makes the choice to quietly go for it while everyone else decides. And that kind of bravery is to be commended for in the end, he made the heroic choice without a second thought. He chose to be selfless” (Hollywood Ending). In spite of his disability, Daniel’s irrevocably brave — he may no longer be in combat, but there’s still a soldier inside of him and that soldier will do anything in his power to save the day. In spite of the way he’s perceived by his coworkers, Daniel Sousa operates just like a soldier — fighting honorably and diligently. He’s a man who’s steadfast to his word no matter the consequences, for if he believes something is just, even if his subordinates tell him otherwise, he’ll follow the path he believes is most noble. He promised to stand by Peggy’s side and he did so to the very end, siding with her, consoling her, and being the strength she needed when she was at her weakest.
Daniel’s goodness is a direct result of his transparency — the choice to be both vulnerable and brave. The choice to be sincere in whatever task he’s assigned and the choice to remind viewers that our bodies need to be taken care of. As someone who’ll never be able to walk without a crutch, he knows what it’s like to have gratitude for the little things, and when Peggy’s body gives out on her, he’s there to remind her that rest is vital. As an agent, it’s hard for someone like Peggy to slow down, but Daniel is proof of the fact that sometimes, in order to make it to the end, we need to listen to our bodies when they speak. Additionally, when it comes to Peggy, Daniel’s choice to always respect her agency spoke incredibly highly of his character, for in a world where people bossed her around for lunch orders, he was the one to validate her choices. He was the one to remind her of the fact that he’s always on her side, but at the same time, he’s there to look after her and he needs her to occasionally look after herself. Cue the tears every time I remember him declaring that he’d sleep better if she stopped pushing him away when it came down to their missions. Daniel Sousa is a man who’s never shied away from his emotions or the truth behind his actions — he took every opportunity he could to be honest with a woman very few regard as significant because he understood that human beings deserved rightful treatment at all times. And his transparency was even present through his jokes, the choice to consistently treat people as equals in spite of his status as a Chief, whether it was Peggy or any of her friends, Daniel Sousa was good to them all by showing respect and resilience where it was needed.
Daniel’s disability could’ve broken him, but instead he continued down an honorable path towards greatness eventually landing him in a position to run his own operation in Los Angeles. At the end of the day, his heart was his greatest asset, and his honor was his strength. No man in S.S.R could match his level of prominence, for instead of viewing people with kindness and dignity, they undermined them. Furthermore, we can’t possibly end this review without giving a hearty round of applause to Enver Gjokaj whose performances were excellent on every level. Gjokaj’s expressions easily spoke a thousand words ceaselessly reminding us of the profound adoration that runs through Daniel’s veins, and when he wasn’t engulfed with worry or admiration for the girl of his dreams, he was charming in his humorous approach to life threatening matters. Gjokaj brought endless life to the character, and I’m certain that if the series continued, we’d see him grow even more remarkably as an actor.
There are a number of things that Agent Carter has done right and its authentic portrayal of real characters, with real human emotions was one of those things. And Daniel Sousa was one of those characters. He was flawed, he was broken, he was kind, he could be vulnerable, he could be brave, he could be filled with absolute rage, and he could be filled with profound love. Through Sousa’s eyes we were able to see unwavering kindness — it’s an ongoing thing between my friends and I, but his kind eyes won us over from the very first episode. The sincerity in his expressions and vulnerability that managed to bring light back into Peggy’s life. Daniel Sousa was captivating and compassionate while carrying a great deal on his shoulders as he smiled his way through life. A scarred soldier who’s so much more than the missing limb or broken spirit — he’s a martyr. He’s a superhero — a man who’s silently improving the lives around him through empathy and innate sincerity. Day by day doing everything in his might to showcase the gratitude permanently embedded within him for the fact that he’s been given the chance to live beyond the battles.