Agent Carter delivers its version of a “bottle episode” that sets the stage for the miniseries’ dramatic confrontation.
Let’s bitch it out…After last week’s apprehension of Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) by the SSR, ‘Snafu’ focuses almost exclusively on her desperate attempts to first clear her name and then warn her colleagues about the impending Leviathan threat.
It’s a slow episode in comparison to the others we’ve seen, but it is an important one. Not only do we need to see how Leviathan gathers the necessary ingredient for what appears to be a murder-prompting mist; we need to clear the air between Carter and her misogynist co-workers. She has toiled under them, sticking to the sidelines except to get coffee or lunch, which is how she explains both her willingness to turn double agent and how she was able to fool them for so long. It’s a nice moment of audience surrogacy as she airs both hers and our grievances, even if it doesn’t exactly excuse her actions.
The confessional element play an integral element in ‘Snafu.’ Aside from Peggy’s decision to confide in her colleagues about her Stark-related missions (in order to convince them the Leviathan threat is real) the episode features both a character building flashback and confessional visions. The episode begins with another flashback explaining how the Russians came to be the people they are. This time it’s Dr. Ivchenko’s (Ralph Brown) turn as we learn more about the hypnotic abilities he demonstrated last week. Naturally his real target is Dooley (Shea Whigham), but the flashback clarifies how he does his work (and partially tries to suggest that he’s not a bad man as he helps his countryman survive an amputation sans anesthetic). Of course, that was back in 1943 and this is the present and Ivchenko is a different man: he’s unafraid to use his abilities to hurt rather than heal, which puts Dooley in danger almost immediately. It’s clearly, however, that in order for the hypnosis to work, Ivchenko has to have a susceptible mind and wishful memories to play off. As we quickly learn, Dooley’s insecurities over the end of his marriage provide ample fodder for the Russian agent.
In some ways Dooley’s demise (courtesy of Stark’s heat activated bomb vest) feels both inevitable and mostly satisfactory. Dooley has always been portrayed as a bit of an idiot (exhibit A: his attempt to pull Ivchenko away from the window is immediately discovered because Dooley is too dumb to fool anyone), so it’s admirable that the writers give him both a sympathetic backstory, as well as a moment of heroism when he martyrs himself to save the SSR. Of course, all this requires us to overlook the fact that if Dooley hadn’t been so gullible and trusted Ivchenko so readily, this whole affair might have been avoided. Let the be a lesson to you, kids: don’t trust Russian spies less than 48 hours after meeting them.
I’ll admit that I initially thought that the whole building would explode since both Thompson (Chad Michael Murray) and Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) had left to investigate Ivchenko’s partner across the street: Dottie (Bridget Regan). (Side Note: I anticipated that as our heroes Peggy and Jarvis would have little difficulty escaping their predicament). Everything about the episode suggested that at least one Agent would die, and as soon as Dottie spotted Sousa’s shadow waiting for her in the hall, I dreaded their confrontation because I feared it would be the war vet. Colour me surprised that he manages to hold his own against the perky Russian, even if he doesn’t quite take Thompson’s suggestion to shoot first and ask questions later. Things would be much easier if everyone stopped playing so damn nice!
Naturally the Ruskies both get away to live another day and, as the destruction at the theatre suggests, they’ve got one heck of a weapon ready to unleash upon the world. Only Peggy Carter can stop them now!
- Jarvis’ entrance into the SSR via the protective telephone ladies, all the way up to his “panicked” explanation of how the signed Stark confession came about, is comedy gold. D’Arcy truly is such fun.
- With so much Dooley / Ivchenko action, Peggy actually gets less to do than most weeks, so it’s nice that she ends up with all of the best lines.
- Armed with the knowledge that either Sousa or Thompson will likely become Peggy’s husband, I tried to figure out if she responds more tenderly or apologetically to one or the other during the interrogation. Unfortunately the way the editing works, it’s never entirely clear which one she is responding to (although Thompson plays the nice cop to Sousa’s wounded hard cop so he comes off as the more agreeable of the two).
- Breathe a sigh of relief: Steve’s blood is still safe. If Agent Carter comes back for a second season (unlikely due to the numbers *le sigh*), I could see this item become a new season’s focal point.
- Finally, if last week Ivchenko told Dottie (via Morse code) to kill Carter, then why doesn’t he have Dooley do it under hypnosis this week instead of simply locking her in an interrogation room? Did I miss the part that explains that you can’t make someone kill under hypnosis?
- Peggy (when Thompson suggests she knows what he’s capable of): “And you know what I’m capable of.”
- Peggy (after Jarvis admits he has never been hanged): “It is quite unpleasant.”
- Peggy (after she and Jarvis smash the interrogation room glass): “I’ve just thought of something: we are still attached to a table.”
Your turn: are you saddened by Dooley’s death or do you care? Were you worried about Sousa? Is the murder gas exciting or too familiar to be threatening? (Side Note: anyone who saw Kingsman: The Secret Service may be experiencing some deja vu). Will Carter and Jarvis be able to thwart Dottie and Ivchenko’s plot? (A: Yes). And finally, who does Peggy marry? Sound off below.
Marvel’s Agent Carter airs Tuesdays at 9pm EST on ABC. Next week it looks like things come to a head at an iconic NY landmark.