Agent-for-the-moment Peggy Carter has been captured by her own organization and accused of treason. Can she explain herself as her former SSR teammates close in on Howard Stark? Things are heating up in this second to the last episode of “Marvel’s Agent Carter.” All this, and Dottie the Cold War Black Widow, and possibly Dr. Faustus, are still stalking about. Meet me in the shadows on the other side for my thoughts on “Snafu.”
Dream the Pain Away
The insidious Dr. Ivchenko, called Dr. Fennhoff in the flashback, opens the episode in war-torn 1943 Russia where he employs his hypnotics to take a young wounded soldier to his happy place while medics amputate his leg sans anesthetic. The boy doesn’t feel a thing. Thanks to the doctor he thinks he playing chess and chilling with his girl… and off comes the leg via hacksaw.
Frighteningly this is just the tip of the iceberg for the doctor who may or may not be Dr. Faustus from the comics. Last time he passed orders to Dottie, mentally manipulated Agent Yauch to kill himself, and is wrapping Chief Dooley around his finger as well. And worst of all, he seems to have free rein to go where he pleases in SSR headquarters.
Back in the now (um, or in the then, it is a period piece) the interrogation dance of Peggy Carter is beginning. She is on the defensive, so hasn’t really been given the chance, and oddly hasn’t taken the initiative, to tell all she knows. It’s like that old Woody Woodpecker cartoon – none of this would have happened if Woody had just gone to the police in the first place. Why doesn’t Peggy just tell them??
The men, these 1940s male chauvinist pigs and worse, take turns as dance partners. Thrall of the doctor, Dooley is the hardest as he has Ivchenko in his ear. Sousa is a little worse as he feels betrayed, but after figuring it all out – I think he’d be a little smarter. And Thompson is a little easier, now at least, that he knows how good and truly heroic Peggy is. It is a well-scripted, well filmed dance. Little bits like this, choreographed to the score by Christopher Lennertz, are what set this show apart.
The Spy Who Cried Wolf
Peggy does tell her former SSR compatriots about Dottie, but they don’t listen. While Dottie is shopping for baby carriages for her next identity, Jarvis arrives with a signed confession from his employer, Stark, in exchange for Peggy. More comedic gold ensues when Jarvis approaches the Bell Tel operator front, I love it. SSR is not happy with the offer and fudges the rules. Yes, certainly Peggy can go, as soon as Stark arrives, then she can go – and not come back, she’s fired.
That’s when Carter notices Ivchenko giving Morse code from the window. It’s a countdown and time is running out. Finally she comes completely clean but like the boy who cried wolf and spies playing spy games, she’s a bit hard to believe. Why should they believe her now? She’s not just a woman, she’s also a liar. Sarcasm mode off.
Action at Last
One thing I have to say about this episode, it is chockfull of action and suspense. As agents including Sousa and Thompson cross the street to apprehend Dottie, Dooley in the thrall of Ivchenko locks up Peggy and Jarvis, then robs the SSR vault of Stark’s weapons, or at least one in particular.
Dottie gets the jump on Sousa but he puts up a hell of a fight. I was in the edge of my seat rooting for the guy. However, he doesn’t last long, and despite Thompson’s advice, no one simply just shoots her. And as she repels down multiple flights of stairs, there is no doubt that Dottie is a Black Widow.
As a parting gift before he escapes with Dottie, Ivchenko makes Dooley strap into a prototype Stark invention. It’s an armored vest that heats itself into an explosive reaction. Apparently Howard Stark is no Tony Stark. Initially meant to warm the wearer in intense cold, what it really does is create a human bomb. Wouldn’t that be something you dismantle and throw away, rather than put away for safekeeping??
Dooley jumps out the window, saving his comrades, making Peggy promise to get those responsible before he takes the dive. But can she? Next week in the season finale – Leviathan has a madness gas, Peggy vs. Dottie, and all the top secrets revealed. See you then!