Agent Carter Episode Review: SNAFU, Season 1 Episode 7

I honestly don’t know that I have much to say about this episode. It’s the penultimate episode, and like how the first two episodes aired together in one evening, I kind of feel like this episode and the last episode should have aired together. It definitely left me wanting to see where it all ends up, because this was definitely not a complete thought!

What this episode also showed was that it’s not Peggy Carter who has a lot of development to do as a character – it’s the “fathead male coworkers” (as Angie put it last week) who have growing and development to do. This episode culminated and showed a lot of that, up to and including a heart-wrenching sacrifice. So it’s these male characters, Sousa, Thompson, and especially Chief Dooley that will be more of a focus this week!

Nice job getting all the important players into one shot, directors. Found on the review from http://www.themarysue.com/agent-carter-recap-s1-ep7/

Nice job getting all the important players into one shot, directors.
Found on the review from The Mary Sue.

Note: I found some great clips from the episode directly from ABC, but they don’t embed well in WordPress. You should be able to click them to get to the video no problem!

Questioning Agent Carter

At the start of the episode, we pick up where we ended before – with Peggy Carter in custody and being questioned by Agents Sousa and Thompson. It goes pretty much as you would expect – she tells the truth, they don’t believe it. She is calm in the face of it, because she believes that what she has done is right.

Meaning that she mainly reacts when they accuse her of the assassination of their fellow agent – she regrets that the most, but also was not the direct cause of it happening.

The agents go back and forth on believing her. She had built up some trust and respect from them in recent episodes, but not enough to withstand the evidence against her. So when Jarvis, traipsing in to save the damsel in distress, presents a story of a Peggy Carter who gave in to Howard Stark and his charms, well, they fall for it pretty quickly. Peggy, however, is disgusted with this and tells them as soon as possible that it’s a fake confession – rejecting that she needs saving and sticking with her story.

It helps that, as Chief Dooley tells her, they had begun entertaining the idea that Stark wasn’t behind it all – that they had finally reached the point that she wasn’t the only one who believed that. The things she uncovered in her investigation definitely helped get them to that point, though.

Leviathan Attacks!

They never really get a chance to work through the back-and-forth, the questions of what to believe and whether to still blame her – though it does seem like her being kicked out of the SSR was pretty final. Because Peggy wasn’t the only one in the hot seat after the end of last episode – Dottie knows that her cover has been blown. Indeed, Peggy spends time trying to tell them, if they’ll listen, that it’s Dottie they should be concerned with, and not herself.

And, sitting in custody (but near a window) Peggy also gets to see the Leviathan hypnotist sending a message – she finds out he’s a bad guy! Too bad no one is inclined to believe her at that point. Well, and too bad that the psychiatrist did his best to become best friends with Chief Dooley, working to solve his personal problems.

But there’s not much to lose by following Peggy’s hunch, and Sousa and Thompson head over across the street to investigate. Here’s where we see Thompson being less of a “fathead” – he tells Sousa to shoot first if they find Dottie. After seeing the young Russian assassin in Europe, Thompson understands what they might be up against, and he doesn’t like it.

This also gives them a chance to talk about how they had really been growing to trust Peggy, and how they’re conflicted. They can’t deny the fact that she’s outwitted them and beaten them up, but they can still doubt her motives.

Dottie escapes, of course, when Sousa doesn’t shoot. Listen to Thompson! Don’t give her a chance! Ah, he’s not listening as I shout at the screen…

Chief Dooley!

Found on http://www.themarysue.com/agent-carter-recap-s1-ep7/

Found on The Mary Sue.

Meanwhile at headquarters, the hypnotist makes his move. He hypnotizes the chief, using him to break into the lab he couldn’t get to last episode. There, he gets the Stark invention that has been the object of the whole season – which we see at the end, is apparently a gas to make people hyper aggressive? I feel like I just read that in Kingsman

Anyway, the hypnotist also uses the chief to lock up Peggy and Jarvis again, and to grab some other tech – mainly, a vest of Stark’s design which is self-powered, self-heating body armor. Impervious, but unstable. This goes on the chief as a distraction.

And it’s through the chief’s scenes that, for one thing, they finally made me pay attention and catch the chief’s name. That’s happened with several of the male characters, and I’ve slowly caught Sousa’s name, then Thompson’s, and now Dooley’s. Last episode we started getting to him, but this episode we really got a look into his life. Into his broken marriage, and how he has allowed the job to consume him. But really, what he would want is a second chance with his wife, his kids.

Which ends up tough with an overheating armor vest strapped on. The scientists have no ideas, Jarvis has no ideas, and even our eponymous Miss Carter doesn’t have any ideas. But at the last moment, the chief does, and he runs, jumps out the window, and just in time, as the vest explodes midair.

Dooley! Found on http://betweenscreens.com/2015/02/22/agent-carter-season-1-episode-7-snafu/

Dooley! NO!
Found on Between Screens.

The show has a lot of older prejudices and sexism in it, but they did a good job with Chief Dooley of bringing us back to an understanding that he was still good at his job. That he was trying to live up to the male-half of the equation, of being the good provider, and in doing so lost touch with what he was trying to provide for. But hey, he was good enough at the job that he, too, had figured out that Stark wasn’t behind all of this – hopefully everyone else picked up on that as well.

I’ll miss him!

What Peggy and Jarvis spent most of the episode doing…

Being locked up. Peggy and Jarvis were pretty much just locked in a room for the episode. However, this did not stop them from having one of the funniest scenes from the entire show. They are handcuffed together, and to the table in the interrogation room. And, well… this happens.

Sadly, they close the clip before the punchline. They realize something – they are in fact still attached to the table.

Questions

Did it feel “comic book?”

Last week I had concerns about the hypnotist, about how he seemed to be a bit too powerful – in other words, he was kind of comic book. They addressed this a bit this week by going all-in with him. The opening scene is of him during the war, using his hypnotism in place of anesthetic for someone undergoing amputation. In other words, they’re trying to say, “yes, he’s just that good.” At this point, we’re definitely just supposed to accept it… but it is pretty comic book.

I also mentioned how the eventual reveal of what we assume is the Stark tech – which turned everyone against each other – reminded me of a something I just read in a comic. Oh, and the overheating armor, from the father of Iron Man? Yeah, there were some comic-book feeling elements this week, some over-the-top elements.

However, Peggy got kicked out of the SSR this episode, and we’re reminded that there are risks and dangers in this fictional world that are greater than a bit of investigating can handle. There’s ridiculous stuff out there too. And the world is going to need SHIELD to handle these threats!

Did it feel like you needed to have watched the other movies and shows?

No, they kept all of the technology as a new idea, not as something we’ve seen in one of the movies or in Agents of SHIELD. They could as easily of relied on something we already knew from the rest of the Cinematic Universe, but they didn’t.

Did it matter that it was a female lead?

I’ll let Peggy answer this one…

Next week I will have the last episode review for Agent Carter! Can’t believe the season is over so soon, but that’s what 8 episodes gets you. For more of my brand of geekery, you can check me out over on Comparative Geeks, or on Twitter @CompGeeksDavid.

Agent Carter Episode Review: Time and Tide, Season 1 Episode 3

Though it’s the third episode of Marvel’s Agent Carter, it’s only the second week, and as such it has to continue on the story they’ve started. It’s the week of truth: was the pilot a fluke or have they created a show with its own life that will work? Are there interesting characters we want to know more about? It doesn’t have to be a great episode on its own; but it does have to prove something.

Agent_Carter_Official_LogoAnd I was worried a bit at the beginning. They created a pretty long intro for the show, pulling scenes from the pilot episodes and with the main character narrating along. It’s a pretty good intro, but how long it was, and covering so much, made me a bit worried. However, the episode we got after that was solid – some good detective work, some good action, and some good character development. So I’ll walk through the episode to highlight these aspects, and then I’ll ask my three questions about the show to spark discussion!

The Griffith Home for Women

At the end of the premier, Peggy Carter needed a new apartment, and her female friend from her favorite diner had a recommendation: her place, a women’s boarding house. So we open there and have several scenes there. While I don’t have much to say about the scenes there, I can theorize a few things.

First is a story element. The landlady describes the home as impenetrable. This serves a couple of purposes. One is that, as Peggy Carter says, nowhere is impenetrable. This is her inspiration moment from normal life, a standard trope in mystery TV: it gives her a new way to investigate the Stark case, by wondering how they broke in to the “impenetrable” vault and stole the secrets. However, the second purpose this serves is something I can only guess at. There is a new girl who moves in, and they make a point of introducing her to Peggy. Will she turn out to be an enemy agent? Is she a fellow spy? After all, how do you break in to the impenetrable building where only women can go upstairs? As a woman.

The other theory I have is a larger one, about the structure of the show. The place gives them an opportunity to have domestic-like scenes with only women as the characters. This is a show where it matters that it’s a female hero, and the Griffith gives them a chance to have every episode pass the Bechdel test, even though when Peggy goes to work, it’s almost all men. In other words, a chance for the female characters to have more to do in life than be expressly female characters – they can just be characters.

Backstory Time! Jarvis

Found on the Mary Sue episode recap, which read very differently from my post here!

Found on the Mary Sue episode recap, which read very differently from my post here!

I made the claim that Jarvis was just a butler, but this episode gives us some background on him. Whoops! Former soldier.

We learned a lot about Jarvis in this episode. Like his weak point: his wife. His wife he met, as a soldier, in Eastern Europe. His Jewish wife, before World War II. His wife he got into a world of trouble saving – trouble he got out of because of Howard Stark.

So we learn something about Stark here, too. There’s still the selfish angle, where helping Jarvis gets him a loyal ally, sure. But it still did a lot of good to help. Oh, and the blatant disregard for the way that the rules or law works.

Feigned Incompetence

Jarvis is picked up by the SSR, as they follow up their lead of the license plate from Stark’s car. And honestly, they were pretty well right in their accusations: Jarvis was indeed the getaway driver of that very car, as the Roxxon factory exploded. Maybe not for the reasons they suspect, but they are right.

They reach a point, during a pretty solid interrogation of Jarvis, where they believe they are about to break him. He’s going to give up the secrets. And while they think the secrets are about Stark, Peggy knows the secrets are actually about her. Thinking quickly on her feet, she figures out what it is they are lying to Jarvis about, and find a moment to reveal this to Jarvis. Knowing they have nothing against him, Jarvis goes.

But Peggy can’t just go, she’s at work, her real work where she’s useless because she’s undervalued. Her real work where she had already been late that morning – because she had stopped to see Jarvis first about the real case (and had seen him arrested). So she has to go with incompetence as her explanation, that she “didn’t think what would happen” by mentioning anything.

And her boss comes down on her hard. And his point is not “it’s because you’re a woman,” but he does say that it’s stuff like this that is the reason she doesn’t get any real cases. While we might be able to say “yeah, right, or it’s because she’s a woman,” that wasn’t the focus in the scene. Instead, the focus was on what she was having to sacrifice to clear Stark’s name: her reputation, her pride.

From the Shadows

And it is to this point that the episode concludes. After concluding their business with the SSR, Jarvis and Peggy Carter are able to crack the case – following her detective’s intuition from earlier – and find the stolen Stark technology. Peggy is ready to call it in, to take credit for finding it. But Jarvis stops her.

How would she explain it? How could she? How could anyone? Working against her fellow agents, secretly working a case for a man accused of treason. As she points out, she’s potentially being treasonous herself – meaning she very clearly must trust the fact that Stark is innocent.

Jarvis says that they are going to have to clear Stark’s name from the shadows, that they can’t do it out in the open. That she can’t be the one to have the credit, to have it known she’s done it. Again, the hit to her reputation, the hit to her pride. But he’s right, and they call it in for the SSR to find… which also ends up with an agent being killed, by the mysterious figure who was watching over the stolen tech. Was this the thief? Leviathan again? Time will tell!

No one will know just how much she kicked this guy's ass. From the EW recap.

No one will ever know just how much she kicked this guy’s ass. From the EW recap.

Conclusion

So did this episode present us with a compelling ongoing world? I think it did! It presented us with some ongoing life moments. It gave us characters and their world and life. There wasn’t a big heist or a villain for the week: with a lack of these sorts of leads they had to come up with an investigative angle themselves.

What I am loving with this show is that there are two cases going on. One is the “real” case, Agent Carter working with Jarvis to clear Howard Stark’s name. This is the case that drew us in, as the audience, with the known characters.

The second case, though, is the case the SSR is working, the case against Howard Stark. And in this case, Peggy Carter isn’t the good guy in that case: she’s the perpetrator, she’s the bad guy. She’s going behind their backs, she’s completely disagreeing with them…

This all leads to the formation of SHIELD, part-founded by Peggy Carter, and built to work in the shadows. We’re definitely moving that way, even if it’s not directly related to what’s happening in the show!

Did it feel “comic book?”

This didn’t feel at all comic book – though it certainly felt like a mystery show! Really the only thing that felt like anything was what they found in the Stark tech – the Constrictor, the name of a Marvel villain. If they ever do him in the shows or movies, he’ll be using this Stark tech.

Did it feel like you needed to have watched the other movies and shows?

Nope! Didn’t even need to have seen any Captain America movies, really. In fact, with the long intro, you barely even needed to see the premier. It’s like, after good press, they were expecting a larger audience this week. This is a show we may have come to because it’s part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – but that we stay for because it’s a genuinely good show!

Did it matter that it was a female lead?

I talked a bit about the Griffith home, and I suppose for this it mattered that Peggy was a woman. But it’s also just a case of putting the character into her historical context. And at work, with the SSR, it mattered in the premier that she was a woman. This week, that was less of a focus, and more personalized to her and the way that she bucks the system and argues with authority, and then, to all they know, acts incompetently. So my answer this week is, somewhat, but not completely.

Like the discussion at the end, with Jarvis: they have to keep what they are doing a secret not because she is a woman, but because she is working against the SSR. And it’s against the SSR not because she’s a woman and they won’t believe her that Stark is good, but more because it really does look bad for Stark. So what do you think? Let me know in the comments below, about this or any of the questions!

Now is Not the End & Bridge and Tunnel: Agent Carter Season 1, Episodes 1 & 2

Hello, and welcome to the start of my recap series for Agent Carter, season one! While I often write singular reviews of things (like I have for Agent Carter) over on Comparative Geeks, I’ve never done an episode-by-episode review before. I’m usually more one for massive posts dealing in speculation, opinion, and reactions.

But here I am, introducing this series. I didn’t watch these episodes with an intent to do a recap, I watched them with some very specific questions in mind. Then they basically went in a completely different direction and I followed right along with them.

From the Agent Carter one-shot on the Iron Man 3 disc. Found on http://marvel-movies.wikia.com/wiki/Marvel_One-Shot:_Agent_Carter

From the Agent Carter one-shot on the Iron Man 3 disc.
Found on http://marvel-movies.wikia.com/wiki/Marvel_One-Shot:_Agent_Carter

I was also amazed to find that this was, in fact, two episodes, and not just one long one. It transitioned between the two very well, without a big cliffhanger in the middle or even really much of a pause. Although looking back at it… maybe more of a break than I noticed!

The show is great, and I am really excited to bring it to you on a weekly basis. The plan is for the posts about the last episodes on Tuesdays, before the next episode airs. The other thing I plan to do is ask a few ongoing questions of the series, about whether it stands on its own, and whether it matters that it is a female-led hero show. So let me quickly recap the two episodes for you, and then on to the questions!

Now is Not the End

This is a cloak-and-dagger, undercover-agent spy episode. Howard Stark has been branded a traitor, his most powerful technology showing up in the hands of the enemies of the United States. Stark has also disappeared, which looks highly suspicious.

Despite all of this, Agent Peggy Carter, badass-treated-as-a-secretary, doesn’t believe at all that Stark is a traitor, and he apparently expects this – showing up and recruiting her to clear his name. This involves her needing to go behind the back of her fellow SSR agents, but she seems to pull this off no problem, since she is not only a better spy than they are, but they just don’t expect it of her at all.

It also helps that the one weakness that the fence selling Stark’s tech has is for blondes. Agent Carter dresses for the occasion, sneaking in to a party and getting a private audience with the fence. Her knockout lipstick works a little too well – he kisses her before she’s done interrogating him. But his safe is there in his office, and she breaks in – to find that they haven’t been selling Stark’s blueprints, but have actually been building the new technology and selling that. So there’s an implosion grenade.

Carter, with the somewhat unwanted help of Stark’s butler, Jarvis, and the hapless help of the male SSR agents, follows the trail of the implosion grenade and its manufacture to Roxxon Oil. She finds it being produced – and a milk truck full of the things. A fight, a getaway, and a mad dash to escape – as an implosion goes off and destroys Roxxon.

Bridge and Tunnel

So now, the hunt is on: there’s a truck full of unbelievably dangerous weapons out there, and a creepy guy whose voicebox has been cut out claiming to work for a mysterious Leviathan. Hydra, Mark-II? That remains to be seen!

Agent Carter now goes undercover as an inspector, using a very different skillset and attitude. She finds there’s a truck missing, and the man who drives it uses it for his commute – and is out today. Thus begins a hunt, and chase, that ends up with a car chase with a truck full of implosives. Implosives? I’m going with it.

This episode did a lot to further the relationship of Peggy Carter and Jarvis, had the SSR getting a bit closer to finding out who it is that seems to be a step ahead of them – they have pictures of a blond, and now a female footprint. Oh, and a license plate from the Roxxon implosion – from a car belonging to Howard Stark. So it’s going to look even more like Stark destroyed Roxxon, a rival. That’s not going to help things.

Since the two episodes blended together so much, I’m not sure what else stands out particularly about this episode. Their initial leads to Leviathan have both died, and the SSR is getting close to Peggy… so at this point, it’s Leviathan’s move!

Questions

Did it feel “comic book?”

I think this first question is important, because I’ve seen a lot of discussion around people talking about watching, or not watching, super-hero television. For instance, you’ve got someone like me, who would watch this just because it has “Marvel” stamped on it – but having been roped in, I’m sticking around. But were these episodes particularly “comic book” feeling? No. Okay, there’s improbable tech, with the implosion grenades, and there’s spy tech, but I could just as easily be watching a spy story as a comic book one. So is it pulp fiction? Genre fiction? Sure, but it’s meant to be. Do I feel like I’m missing some vital detail by not having read more comics? No, although I’ve never heard of Leviathan before and it sounds like they are from the comics, so we’ll see!

What do you think?

Did it feel like you needed to have watched the other movies and shows?

This one is important too. Can you just watch Agent Carter, or do you need to have watched Agents of SHIELD and all the Marvel movies? My answer here is… kind of. They give you flashes of Captain America: The First Avenger to help give you the context for where she starts the show, emotionally. But seeing that movie, in particular, would help a lot. Luckily, by not being tied up with the creation of SHIELD, or fighting Hydra, they have avoided a need to be keyed in to much else from the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We’ll see if that continues, or if they’ll start branching into the other stories more!

One other thing: they made it so that the details of what Captain America was and did don’t matter as much – instead, they gave us the radio drama, playing up Cap and his fight against the Nazis. Which they then used to offset Agent Carter kicking butt and taking names, just like Cap!

What do you think?

Did it matter that it was a female lead?

And here’s my last question I want to ask every week, because a lot of the excitement factor for this show is that it is a comic-related property with a female lead. She’s smart, she’s strong, she’s independent. I think they said it perfectly in the review on SourceFed Nerd: it doesn’t matter to her that she’s a woman, but it matters to the world around her that she is. I’m paraphrasing, but it’s a good point. She is pretty much over sexism and is off doing what needs to be done, brilliantly. The rest of the world around her is steeped in sexism. It’s oppressive and inescapable. And it means it absolutely mattered that she was a woman from a story standpoint, that the sexism and the historical moment they are exploring and all the rest of it wouldn’t matter, or resonate, or even need to be there. We wouldn’t have needed the show if she weren’t a woman.

What do you think?