Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) is attacked on multiple fronts as she learns the truth behind Leviathan.
Let’s bitch it out…I’d be lying if I said that ‘A Sin To Err’ was my favourite episode thus far of the retro spy drama’s freshman season. There’s nothing significantly wrong with it, but a lot of what happens feels inevitable, so we spend most of the hour just waiting for the hammer to drop on poor Peggy. This isn’t overly enjoyable.
We’ve watched Souza (Enver Gjokaj) slowly unravel the mystery of the nightclub blonde from the pilot for several weeks and last week‘s brief glimpse of her shoulder scars pretty much sealed her fate. In the early episodes there was a suggestion that these two might become an item since they’re both outsiders in the SRS and that suggestion lives on when Souza lets her go in the alleyway. Unlike Thompson (Chad Michael Murray) who talks a big game and then drops like a three dollar suitcase, Souza doesn’t even pretend to be on her level. He’s just disappointed that she is apparently everything he hoped she wouldn’t be. Of course, we know her rationale for committing this double cross, and when the truth comes out it is inevitable that Peggy’s colleagues will revisit these circumstances in a new light. For now, however, the super spy is in a bad state under the interrogation lights heading into next week’s penultimate episode.
How she got there is a little far-fetched, mind you. We’ve seen Peggy escape from some pretty dicey circumstances in the last five weeks, which only makes ‘A Sin To Err’s big showdown with her colleagues that much more disappointing. While her fight scene at the diner with Jarvis (James D’Arcy) is a total delight, the overly lengthy escapades at the Griffith prove mostly the opposite. Are we really meant to believe that Peggy wouldn’t be able to find a more suitable escape route than through Angie’s (Lyndsy Fonseca) room? She’s only on the third floor, for crying out loud! In the first episode we saw a man climb up a drain pipe for some late night nookie with another girl. If a random perv can do it, then surely Peggy can, too.
Of course, the complaint is moot because Peggy’s escape is less about expediency and more about the writers staging a pre-emptive run-in with Dottie (Bridget Regan). I say pre-emptive because this was never going to be the main event between the Leviathan agent and our girl. With only two episodes left, that battle is clearly being withheld until the finale. As it is, the hallway smooch between ladies is brief enough that it doesn’t completely smack of sensational lesbianism (gotta get those ratings up somehow!), although I could have done without the boys inadvertently rescuing Peggy at the last minute from Dottie’s knife. These “just in time” narrative ploys may have worked in the spy serials that played in theatres when Agent Carter is set, but here it just feels a little too convenient.
- The opening scene clarifies how Dr. Ivchenko (Ralph Brown) was indoctrinated into Leviathan back in Russia. If you’re paying attention, this should remove any doubt that he is in danger when Dottie fixes him in her sniper sights later in the episode (we can assume his family remains at risk). The sequence in the police station when they communicate using Morse code works because of our anticipation that he’ll be killed. It’s arguably the strongest sequence of the episode because it explicitly goes against our expectations.
- Compare this to Angie’s performance at the diner, which exists solely to remind us that she’s an actress so that she can use her talent later to fool Thompson and Souza when they come for Peggy. Yes, it also speaks to Ivchenko’s observation that women are overlooked and therefore make good agents, but it’s pretty obvious. There’s no subtext in the suggestion that men find female histrionics so uncomfortable that they’ll overlook the fact that an actress spontaneously bursts into tears as they draw near the window. It’s pretty much all there on the surface. Meh.
- A middle example is Dooley’s (Shea Whigham) near miss with Ivchenko’s efforts to hypnotize him. Naturally the moronic chief would prove to be a susceptible target, and it’s tantalizing to anticipate that he might be bumped off so easily. When he’s spared by Souza’s interruption, however, this just means that the never-before-seen-new-guy takes the fall instead, just as we knew he would the minute Thompson treated him badly. RIP new guy.
- Also: RIP skanky dentist (or not). I appreciate how Dottie’s handiwork with the drill gives way to an aural match-on cut with the drill on the street. It’s a cute little moment.
- FYI: Stark gives each of his many women a diamond encrusted gold bracelet as a parting gift when their time together has come to an end. As one does.
- I did chuckle at the sequence in which Jarvis falls victim to the wrath of his boss’ jilted lovers. It has an entertaining slapstick notion to it, even though he (and we) know it was coming a mile off.
- Finally, if this is the last of her that we see, I will confess that I’ll miss Meagen Fay’s Miss Fry, the snooty, rule abiding mistress at the Griffith. Her dialogue occasionally felt a bit heavy handed, but she was a larger than life character among assassins and I appreciated that.
- Peggy (when Jarvis confirms they’ll narrow Stark’s entertaining to the western hemisphere): “Oh please”
- Jarvis (when Peggy is aghast at the number of Stark lovers there are): “Well the Academy awards are a very busy time”
- Jarvis (describing Ginger Rogers’ eyes when he escorted her from Stark’s villa): “The darkest gates of the abyss”
Your turn: were you surprised by any of the events that led to Peggy’s arrest? Does she have a future with Souza? Was Angie’s performance believable or are the men just that gullible? Should Peggy have been able to find another exit out of the Griffith? Is the series building to a Peggy vs Dottie showdown? Do you wish Dooley had been mesmerized instead? And which of Stark’s bad buddies does Leviathan want? Sound off below
Marvel’s Agent Carter airs Tuesday at 9pm EST on ABC. Next week the interrogation begins as Dottie makes her move.