Legion contributor Christina Janke is recapping and reviewing Agent Carter for us this season. Follow her on Twitter @IntrotoGeek!
Holy assassins, Agents! I think we just stumbled onto a connection to the Black Widow. Oh yeah, and Howard Stark’s back.
We open with Jarvis trying to pay off some goons who are holding Howard Stark for ransom. Jarvis brings in the agreed upon amount, but, surprise, they want more money. Unfortunately for the bad guys, Jarvis came with a back up plan. While he haggles with the men, Carter lurks in the shadows and silently takes out the guards (in a dress!). The muscles out of the way, Jarvis and Carter take out the last two with ease. Now to free the millionaire prisoner…who’s playing billiards in a cushy train compartment.
His business abroad taken care of for now, Stark smuggled himself back into the States to see which weapons the SSR confiscated in the previous episode — so he knows what to keep looking for. That was easy compared to what has to come next. The SSR are still a little pissed off that one of them was killed by an assassin, and they blame Howard Stark for his death. As a result, they have men patrolling pretty much all of Stark’s apartments and hideouts. There’s only one place left to stash him: Carter’s apartment…where no men are allowed.
After just barely getting past the ever vigilant land lady, Miriam, Stark and Carter get down to business. He gives her a camera pen with which to take pictures inside the SSR lab, where they’re currently tinkering with Stark’s tech.
At the SSR, Director Dooley goes to Nuremburg, Germany to follow up on a lead Agent Thompson discovered about Stark. While away, he makes Thompson Acting Director. Thompson immediately takes this opportunity to double the efforts in finding his partner’s killer. Even Agent Carter is included…by taking everyone’s lunch order. Geez. Y’know what? That’s fine because this gives Carter a completely legitimate excuse to waltz into the lab and see what the scientists are up to.
Agent Sousa is the other under appreciated agent at the SSR who doesn’t get a lot of action. This episode finally gives him an important job to prove to his colleagues that he’s more than just the new “yo-yo.” Only Sousa is still concerned about the anonymous tip that ultimately led to his colleague’s demise. He returns to the docks to dust the prints off the phone Jarvis used to call in the tip. Then he finds a pair of homeless vets playing cards. One of them saw what happened, but he refuses to talk. Determined to get some answers (and earn some confidence from his peers), Sousa takes in the homeless guy for interrogation.
Sousa’s still not getting results, even after relating his empathetic monologue about people only “respecting” him because of his missing leg. Then Thompson undercuts him with a better tactic: a full bottle of scotch and food. Man, Thompson continues to be that guy who seems compelled to show everyone up and demonstrate just how much better he is than everybody else. What’s most annoying about him? He actually is better than everyone else (except Dooley, probably).
Thompson and Sousa eventually do get some answers from their witness, but the only clue they get is that he saw a guy and a suit and a lady (with dark hair) go in and out before the police came. So…instead of looking for a blonde, they’re now looking for a lady with dark hair. Perhaps?
Going back to Stark and Carter story, they develop the photos Carter took at the lab. Now they know what the SSR confiscated. Nothing too dangerous is in their possession. Mission accomplished, right? Well, not really. There is one potentially problematic weapon they have that, if activated, could turn off all the electricity in Manhattan. It’s basically a super-powered EMP, but not even Stark was able to figure out how to turn the lights back on. It’s up to Carter to sneak in there and switch out the device with a dummy replica.
But there’s a bigger problem: the device is not an EMP but a container holding the last vial of Steve Rogers’ super blood. Anything that concerns Steve Roger’s becomes an emotional device against Peggy Carter. He is a symbol of great loss for her. For Stark (and Jarvis) to keep this detail of the mission hidden from her — they wanted to spare her feelings — they’ve created an emotional rift between her and them. Carter suddenly feels like she can’t trust anyone at all. Stark and Jarvis felt the need to protect Carter because she’s a woman, as if they didn’t have enough confidence in her abilities if she had known about Rogers’ blood.
This harkens back to how everyone in the SSR feels about Carter. Earlier in the episode, Just after Carter retrieves the vial from the lab, she runs into Thompson. He considers her Carter’s nervousness for a moment and and interprets her stressing over the fact that she continues to struggle to be considered an equal with the other agents. He freely admits that none of the men will consider her an equal because she’s a woman, including him. That’s just the reality of things. One has to wonder if he’s starting to sense that Carter is on a mission to prove her worth somehow.
While all of this is happening, there’s a creepy dude following Carter around. Mr. Mink is your typical pulpy blonde villain. He’s the boss-man who held Stark for ransom. He felt cheated out of his money and is out to collect. He also has a nifty repeater revolver. His presence isn’t so important if only to give the audience a sense of danger just waiting to strike. Just when he’s about to strike, something amazing happens. Another villain appears and takes him out.
Look familiar? That’s right. She’s Carter’s new neighbor at The Griffith, Dottie. What’s neat about this new element is that we may have just been introduced to a Black Widow. In Marvel’s comic book history, little orphan Natasha Romanov came from a USSR program that trained young girls to become assassins and spies. This program is officially known as the “Black Widow Ops.” Dottie could be one of two things: a random operative who was trained in the “Black Widow” program, or Marvel Comics’ other Black Widow, Yelena Belova. Either way, I’m pretty excited that Carter will eventually have to deal with an enemy spy/assassin.
Dooley’s trip to Nuremburg almost feels like a distraction in this episode. He visits an imprisoned Nazi to talk about a certain battle/massacre that supposedly took place during the war. The well-known, gruesome detail about that particular battle is that it resulted in a bunch of bodies being torn to shreds. But according the prisoner, the Germans found them all that way; no Nazi was ever involved in that battle. Whoever was truly responsible was already long gone.
That’s what we have right now — a mysterious new piece on the board that could seem too big for an 8-episode long series. The only connection to this piece of information was the fact that Howard Stark was at the scene at some point. This definitely puts Stark in even more trouble than he’s already in, but there may also be a conspiracy afoot.
The majority of the plot seems only to move forward by the men in this show, as if to further illustrate the dichotomy of the times between typical gender roles. That is until Dottie’s big reveal.
Howard Stark is a down-right scoundrel. This we already knew from all the passing remarks from Jarvis. So did we have to have it shoved down our throats with Stark’s constant fooling around while Carter was gone? Still, these scenes turned out pretty humorous.
The dinner scene at The Griffith was the most amusing bit as all of the women traded secrets on how to smuggle food back into their rooms. One lady had a secret pocket sewn into her purse to hide stolen food. Dottie wanted her to sew in a compartment that can hold pickles.
Miriam: “It is unbecoming for a lady to read Freud.”