As with Gotham and The Flash, I’ll start my first Agent Carter review with a quick series synopsis for anyone who isn’t watching this show. And be watching it you should.
Agent Carter, like Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., is a tv series that is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As in Iron Man, Thor, The Avengers, and of course Captain America, which is where this show ties in. Peggy Carter worked with Steve Rogers and Howard Stark in the film “Captain America; The First Avenger”, where she was a complete BAMF who earned the legitimate respect of everyone she worked with, including Steve, with whom she was romantically connected. At the end of the film, Steve seemingly died before they could act on their feelings, and this series picks up after the war has ended, and Peggy is now an agent of the Strategic Scientific Reserve, the precursor to S.H.I.E.L.D. in the modern-day era of the MCU. The problem is without the war, she’s just another woman to her sexist male co-workers, who have relegated her to the position of glorified secretary. They ignore her ideas and suggestions, send her for coffee and lunch orders, have her answer phones, and believe she was little more than a secretary to Captain America and Howard Stark because, after all, she’s just a broad right?
(This series simultaneously makes me grateful for how far women’s’ rights have come and at the same time depressed at how little progress we’ve actually made).
Peggy gets a chance to shine when her old friend Howard Stark is charged with High Treason after some of his more dangerous inventions end up on the black market, the SSR believing he sold them to America’s enemies out of greed. But Stark secretly contacts Peggy and asks her to help his butler Edwin Jarvis recover his stolen tech and clear his name. The series follows her attempts to do exactly that.
Agent Carter 01×07 – “Snafu” Review
Here There Be Spoilers!
When we last left our intrepid Agent Carter, she had just been arrested by her idiot male co-workers.
Okay, a little backstory. The major players of the SSR that Peggy has to put up with and work around are
- it’s Chief, Roger Dooley, a gruff asshole who’s been sleeping at the office and taking his anger over his crumbling marriage out on his team,
- Agent Jack Thompson, a smug smarmy douchebag who’s hiding a deep secret shame behind his intentionally douchey swagger that he uses like a mask, and,
- Agent Daniel Sousa, who has a not so secret crush on Peggy and who, due to losing a leg in the war and needing a crutch to walk, is only barely treated as slightly higher on the pole than Peggy.
Over the course of the series so far, Dooley began convinced of Stark’s guilt, but over time began to realize a few of the pieces didn’t fit. Thompson treated Peggy like most men treated women in the 40’s, only worse, and we found out why after Carter forced him to take her seriously by saving his life being her BAMF self on a mission to Russia, after which he revealed to her that the incident he was awarded a medal for and named a war hero over, (he had supposedly saved his entire unit from being murdered in their sleep by some Japanese soldiers who were poking at his commander by shooting them before anyone else even woke up), was a lie, (the Japanese were carrying a white flag but he panicked and didn’t see it until it was too late, and disposed of it before anyone in his unit saw it), and that he was a fraud. Sousa meanwhile did some actual police work and figured out that it was Peggy who was the mysterious woman involved with several incidents connected to their investigation of Stark.
The last episode ended with her being arrested just as Russian Sleeper Assassin “Dottie” had been about to murder her.
So we open in the interrogation room, and we rotate between her being interviewed by each man. Dooley treats her like she was one of Stark’s conquests duped into helping him, Thompson knows something isn’t right but still offers her crap deals to turn on Stark, and Sousa screams at her like an angry child as if she did all of this just to hurt his tender feefees. All while she’;s bluntly telling them they’re being complete idiots and pretty shitty cops. And she’s right. Even Thompson who has seen how badass she is, isn’t listening to her.
Luckily Jarvis comes to “the Phone Company” and one of the operators nervously reaches for a hidden gun while a nervous British man insists on seeing Dooley and she awkwardly tries to play the “WHAT secret spy agency office heh heh heh oh you silly person!” card. Sh relents when he claims to have Howard Stark’s confession.
Peggy is uncuffed and fired from the SSR by Dooley, who says when they have Stark in custody, she’s free to go and never come back. Jarvis confesses that he forged the confession to try and give Peggy some time to hatch a plan, and she scolds him for being a bigger idiot than the SSR boys, given that his plan is doomed to failure when Stark fails to show up.
But then she notices the Russian Psychiatric she and Thompson has rescued on the afore-mentioned Russia mission is tapping out Morse code to someone on the windowsill of Dooley’s office, and she realizes he’s a plant that she was tricked into rescuing.
Peggy gathers the boys into the office, rats out Jarvis’ shitty plan, and tells them all the full truth about her side investigation that they were refusing to listen to before. When Dooley asks why he’s supposed to believe she was able TO carry out her own investigation without any of them knowing, she gives them all an EPIC “The Reason You Suck” speech, (TV Tropes is your friend kids!), pointing out how they never listen to her unless she’s giving them phone messages, never talk to her unless it’s to give her the lunch orders, and never notice her unless she’s carrying coffee. How they all treat her like she’s invisible. She never actually SAYS it out loud, but the implication of this speech is “If you three sexist twonks hadn’t just assumed I’m useless because I have tits none of us would be so bloody screwed right now!”.
All three men give her a sheepish guilty look. Thompson and Sousa believe her, because now they’ve both watched her beat the crap out of the dozen men sent to arrest her and know she’s TOTES right about them underestimating her. Dooley still doesn’t trust her, but begrudgingly agrees to send the boys and a few other red shirted agents across the street to check the building Carter says the Russian Shrink was communicating with.
Sousa does indeed find Dottie there, but she overpowers him, gets past Thompson, and murders the red shirt at the bottom of the stairwell she basically AssCreeds down. Meanwhile Russian Shrink uses his ring that hypnotizes people when he turns it on his finger BECAUSE SHUT UP THAT’S HOW IT WORKS!!! Dooley is his slave, and traps Peggy and Jarvis in an interrogation room handcuffed to a table, then helps Evil Hypno Shrink recover one of Stark’s toys. He leaves Dooley with a strange vest, then leaves and is picked up in a car by Dottie, who says they’ve been made. He calmly replies knows but isn’t fussed, and denies her query about if they should evac, saying they need to test whatever Stark Toy he just stole.
Thompson and Sousa get back in time to uncuff Peggy and Jarvis after they use the table to smash the two-way mirror. Then they find Chief Dooley in his office trapped in a fantasy about reconciling with his wife. When they pull him out of it they realize the vest he was given to put on is a flawed Stark prototype heating vest for soldiers to wear in winter environments, except the power source isn’t perfected yet and has an unfortunate tendency to explode and f**k shit up.
Dooley, realizing Peggy was right about everything and that he’s just screwed them all over, warns them that Russian Shrink is somehow able to hypnotize people and to not let him talk when they find him or else he’ll be inside their head. He then tells Thompson to tell his wife he’s sorry he won’t make it to dinner.
Then he shoots open a window and jumps out of it just in time to explode 4 stories up, and the only real damage to the SSR s some blown out windows.
Meanwhile Dottie tests the device, which emits some kind of gas, in a movie theatre. The gas makes everyone in the theatre go into a violent rage, and they literally start ripping each other to shreds while laughing and screaming. And now we the viewers know the horrible truth behind a mass death during the war, that included women and children, that has been frequently brought up over the course of the series where over a hundred butchered mangled bodies were found and NO ONE WANTED TO CLAIM CREDIT FOR IT. Not even Hydra or the Nazis. It was THAT brutal a slaughter. And we the viewers thus now also know that Howard Stark is at least partially responsible for all those deaths. And next week Peggy will know that too.
All in all, another excellent episode. I can’t find anything to really complain about that isn’t an intentional part of the story. I hate the rampant sexism, but I’m SUPPOSED to. It isn’t sexism on the part of the writers or showrunners, it’s part of the story, part of the period setting. And Peggy is overcoming it beautifully without the “Sexism is idiotic” message being preachy or used like a blunt instrument. Where this show could have easily been lazy and made Peggy a Straw Feminist and just painted all the men as completely inept idiots who magically realize suddenly Peggy was right all along, she actually struggles to bite her tongue about their BS so she can keep being invisible to them and actually get shit DONE, and the men, while certainly bullheaded and ignorant, are all very human characters with flaws, but also who display intelligence and skill while showing redeeming qualities. They all come to realize the error of their treatment of Peggy logically over time in a way that makes sense. A+
Tags: Agent Carter, Hayley Atwell, Marvel, MCU