This week’s episode of Marvel’s Agent Carter finds Peggy and Jarvis working together to recover Stark’s stolen inventions that are now on the black market. We get the sense that some time has passed since the previous episode ‘Time and Tide’ – fitting since the viewers got a two week break as well. The recovery missions aren’t the only thing Agent Carter has to contend with as Howard Stark (the always dashing Dominic Cooper) shows up back in New York City hot on the trail of a more serious threat, his aptly titled doomsday device called the “Blitzkrieg Button”. Seriously, this guy needs to take up knitting or something.
This episode is really a two-parter in disguise, as with much of these miniseries thus far. On the one hand it’s Peggy and her misadventures as a British woman in Post-WWII NYC just trying to make her way in the big city a’la The Mary Tyler Moore Show. This includes late night harrumphs at the soda fountain, business casual suit skirts and a women’s apartment complex that feels very Bosom Buddies. On the other hand it’s Peggy dodging death, conducting extremely dangerous covert missions as a double agent, and slowly uncovering the layers of conspiracy both inside and out of the SSR. All in a sensible heel, people.
Clearly the SSR is on the trail of Stark, so Carter decides to sneak him into her apartment. You know, the one with all the women and the apartment manager who is intent on saving virtue? Hijinks ensue because patriarchy. The writers really milk these scenes since Stark basically a sex addict, but Carter wants to keep him close just in case. What they’re after is far more destructive than premarital sex – a bomb that could knock out all the power in the tri-state area. That’s right people, an EMP in the 1940s! Stark isn’t the only one who’s hot on the trail, as we learn from cross-cutting to blond German assassins with automatic pistols. Oh and just to complicate everything, the EMP is in the SSR labs.
Stark convinces Carter to break into the labs and steal back the device, after a round of surveillance with a nifty camera-pen. Seriously, there’s someone out there right now writing Howard Stark/Bond-Q slash fiction. Jarvis takes Carter to the SSR to retrieve the device, and along the way Carter gently presses Jarvis about the nature of the device. He gives her a line, but she is NOT buying it. Her suspicions pay off when she realizes that this supposed EMP is actually… SPOILERS OMG OMG … a vial of blood inside a Pokemon trainer ball. Talk about fan fiction!
When Carter confronts Stark about the Pokemon ball, he says what we’re all thinking – “it’s Steve’s blood.” Duh, why else would Stan Lee chose this episode to cameo if there wasn’t a big reveal you guys? Of course it’s super soldier blood, but that isn’t why Carter punches him in the face with enough contempt to break bone. He played Carter. He used her, and then put her away when he was done. Stark tries to explain, that because he came up from the streets, he had to learn to lie and withhold in order to succeed. But Peggy reads him for filth – Howard is just like all the other guys who constantly underestimate her ability, and systematically shut her out. Meanwhile Peggy’s neighbor Dottie goes all Black Widow on Peggy’s would-be German assassin and plots to kill Carter herself, or so we’re led to believe. We then see Peggy bury Captain America’s blood in her wall behind a painting aka the super spy hope chest. Cut. Print. Fin.
One of things that is really great about Marvel’s Agent Carter is it’s ability to dance across this fine line between classic 1940s serial and Post-WWII/Cold War spy show. It’s doing the work of two genre’s and it’s kicking butt at both, especially when it breaks away from the tropes of superhero storytelling. The on screen chemistry between Carter (Hayley Atwell) and Jarvis (James D’Arcy) is delightful, and begs the question of when we’ll see Sousa get into the mix as Enver Gjokaj was one of the best things about Dollhouse (the other being Sierra aka Dichen Lachman who recently played Daisy’s mom in Agents of SHIELD). This is of course if anyone’s left alive. There’s still the matter of the whole German assassin, the creepy Russians with holes in their throats, and the mysterious self-typing typewriters from Fringe.
Next week Carter gets the band back together for a little trip to Russia! That’s right, The Howling Commandos return on Tuesday, February 3rd at 9/8 central on ABC!