It’s hard enough saving the world. It’s even harder trying to change it – at least, it is for Peggy Carter. Halfway into Agent Carter, I feel like I’m learning as much from Peggy as she still is about herself and in a line of work where no one is who they seem, everyone’s a target for betrayal. When a seemingly life-and-death mission from Howard Stark raises a ghost of her past, there’s no rest for the dead as much as there is for the wicked. Episodes past have seen her trudge through some tough spots, but this week’s The Blitzkrieg Button hit some more daring notes amidst lower ones.
The Blitzkrieg Button moves a bit clunkier than previous episodes, mainly in the first half. Despite its hard-hitting start, including but not limited to an underworld heist starring Peggy and Edwin Jarvis, the episode’s slapped together. Agent Carter’s had a pleasant sense of humor thus far, but some of its gags this week fell noticeably flatter. Howard’s playboy hijinks with every one of Peggy’s neighbors were just a tad overblown. And Jarvis’ sense of ear-tugging subtlety stood in stark contrast to that straight-faced will he flew with in just the last episode (pun intended). Nevertheless, they’re all forgivable in the face of how likable this cast is so far, and I’m tempted to say there’s, dare I say it, a kingship among the three of them.
It’s easy to think of Peggy’s super spying as something of a double life by now, if not part of her own “secret identity,” and it’s doubly effective when put against the drudgery of her dead-end day job. Thompson’s disparaging monologue to Peggy on why “No man will ever consider you an equal” was another of the show’s thoughtful self-criticisms. Curiously, Thompson’s one of those men he’s speaking of, yet he could clearly see the tough woman standing right in front of him.
On a stronger note, there were no shortage of reveals this week, namely regarding what Howard himself and what hiding inside a device he claimed was a form of EMP. As a MacGuffin, a surviving “piece” of Captain America’s legacy works for the universe the show depicts and gives it a tangible, emotional connection – beyond Peggy herself – to one of the MCU’s key figures. Hayley Atwell and Dominic Cooper do well selling Peggy and Howard’s fallout over the discovery and admirably teases the hubris Howard would pass onto Tony endeavors sixty years and forty Ironman suits later.
It was also good to get to get to know some of our SSR agents a bit better. Sousa got his due this episode, as did agent Dooley (who I swear’s increasingly reminding me of a young Joe Pesci in a good way) as the two parted ways to pursue their own casework of sorts. While the episode allowed Sousa a piece of the action amidst his closing in on Peggy’s off-hours escapades, Dooley’s travels took him to question a Nazi war criminal awaiting his death sentence, offering a mercy death in exchange for info on a wartime cover-up whose dark implications were a surprise, to say the least. Whatever’s up with Leviathan, it must have farther reaching consequences than I thought. Call me intrigued.
For all its heroics, there’s been little in the way of antagonists for Agent Carter, oddly enough, but this week did give us a refreshing change of pace in the form of Mr. Fink. Bradley Whitford plays him in creepy fashion for the brief time he’s given here, slyly gunning down his own toadies previewing the hopeful appearance of Captain America’s more ruthless HYDRA operatives.
As for Dottie, it’s to this short series’ benefit that it only took an episode past her introduction to see she was indeed much more than she appeared to be. I’m beginning to think fans are right in guessing she’s Yelena Belova, the other Black Widow in the comic books and from the looks of her particular set of deadly skills – it practically screams Black Widow. Whether she’s friend or foe, she’s more than a welcome addition to the show’s cool, comic-book Cold War atmosphere, if not a possible connection to The Avengers’ Natasha Romanov. Could she be set up as our other Black Widow’s grand mother?
This week’s Agent Carter suffered from off-moments and some unkind pacing, but came through with the pay-offs I’m starting to get accustomed to some. There was some nice character-building here and I’m liking nearly everyone I’m meeting so far. The Blitzkrieg Button is the first episode I’ve seen taking Agent Carter to the places it deserves, no matter how challenging they may be. As we approach next week’s action-packed abroad, it seems like Agent Carter’s counting down to something, something I can say I’m excited to know.