Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) strong arms her way onto the Russian mission as Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) makes a startling discovery.
Let’s bitch it out…
We’re into the back half of Agent Carter‘s first season, so it’s only natural that our awesome lady spy would begin making headway in her relationship with her male colleagues. ‘The Iron Ceiling’ offers the most significant improvement yet, though Peggy’s change of fortune is entirely dependent on her ability to convince Dooley (Shea Whigham), her skeptical SSR boss, to let her go on the mission to intercept the Leviathan drop. Even her intimate knowledge of European survival skills isn’t enough to satisfy Dooley or Jack Thompson (Chad Michael Murray), forcing her to bring in the big guns: her friendship with the Howling Commandos.
The experiences on the mission do a great deal to bring Peggy and Jack closer, which in all (unfortunate) likelihood signals that these two will end up together by the end of the eight episodes. It begins with her helpful suggestions for overcoming nerves dropping into enemy airspace, evolves into confessional war stories around the campfire and crescendos when she literally pulls his ass out of danger after he freezes in the line of fire. It’s not the easiest series of events by which to earn respect, but by episode’s end Thompson invites her out for drinks with the boys, which suggests that she’s earned a begrudging respect (Side Note: Of course, Thompson only invites her after he’s been turned down by Sousa)
The Russian adventure also offers a glimpse into Dottie’s (Bridget Regan) childhood as a member of the Black Widow program. It’s a picturesque upbringing just this side of The Sound of Music: Dottie was one of a number of skinny young girls who grew up orphanage-style, shackled to her bed at night, learning English via subliminal Disney films and killing her bunk mate in combat practice. No wonder the poor bottle blonde just wants to spend some time kicking around NY and visiting the Statue of Liberty; she probably hasn’t had a day off from killing people and engaging in mild bondage in ages! Of course we still have no idea what she plans to do to Peggy – besides, you know, kill her – but at least now we have a slightly better idea of what Leviathan plans. They’ve somehow managed to get a hold of Stark’s blueprints for a large scale weapon, as well as some kidnapped scientists (with poor social skills), including Dr. Ivchenko (Ralph Brown) who eventually joins the good guys in exchange for clemency and a bottle of Bourbon after disposing of his more problematic counterpart.
There’s not much more to the adventure than that. It’s great to see the Commando boys again, especially in a more substantial capacity. Their brief appearance earlier on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. simply wasn’t enough and Neal McDonough in particular is clearly having a blast as Dum-Dum Dougan; he manages to make the most of the ludicrous mustache and catch phrases to endear me to any future appearance by the character. If nothing else, the Commandos’ presence provides a kind of relief for Peggy. It’s a pleasure to see her interact with men who respect and even admire her for a change. Although she turns down their offer to stay with them and work on the front lines, here’s hoping this isn’t the last we see of the WWII vets on either this series or (if the worst happens and the eight episodes mark the end of Agent Carter) elsewhere in the Marvel universe.
- The other major development is that Sousa connects Carter to the photo of the blonde taken from the nightclub murder in the premiere. It’s kind of shocking that it has taken this long for this plot point to return, and even more surprising that Sousa doesn’t immediately blow the whistle on Peggy when she returns from Russia. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that he saw her half-naked in the boy’s change room before the mission? His eyes didn’t just see those two gunshot scars, if you know what I’m saying <makes childish kissing noises to indicate Sousa’s sexual interest>
- Back home Dooley attempts to apologize (kinda…sorta) to Jarvis (James D’Arcy) but in truth I don’t care much. Without Peggy to keep him involved in the central plot, Jarvis has effectively been sidelined for the last two episodes. I expect that he’ll become more significant next week, given the content of the promos. I’ll care about him again then.
- After discovering pictures of Stark’s bad babies in a secret compartment, Dottie sits at Peggy’s dressing table, tries on Peggy’s lipstick and impersonates her accent. Is Dottie just trying to get into Carter’s head space, or does her plan somehow involve impersonating/replacing her? I doubt it is the latter (this isn’t Mission:Impossible or anything), but how cool would it be to see Dottie try to take Peggy’s place and end up dead?
- I thought that I recognized Buffy‘s Leonard Roberts as Happy Sam Sawyer, one of the Howling Commandos. According to IMDb this is his first appearance as the character but the Whedon alum fits right into the Marvel universe with his surly disapproval of nick names. I would say Junior Jupiter (James Austin Kerr) also makes an impression, but considering he is killed by a 12 year old Russian girl, it might not be the right kind of impression.
- How do we feel about Jack’s confession that he shot surrendering enemies, lied about it, was awarded a medal and is consumed by guilt? I think that this is supposed to bring him and Carter closer together, but from my pov this just makes him even worse. Rat him out, Peggy! He’s an a-hole!
- Finally, I know that the show is on a budget, but man did some of those forest exteriors look fake. Agent Carter drinking game for the episode: drink when your wooden furniture looks more realistic than the trees. FALL DOWN DRUNK.
- Junior Jupiter (when Peggy asks if a shiver has gone up anyone’s knickers): “I would if I wore knickers.”
- Peggy (after Doogan enters with a series of woo-hoos): “Stop woo-hooing and help.”
- Peggy (after Doogan nicknames her Miss Union Jack): “Never speak again.”
Your turn: what did you think of Peggy’s adventures in the field? Are you excited or sad that Sousa knows she’s been untruthful? Surprised about Jack’s confession? Glad to see the Commandos? Miss Jarvis? Intrigued by Dottie’s upbringing? Sound off below.
Marvel’s Agent Carter airs Tuesdays at 9pm EST on ABC. Here’s a preview for next week: