04 “The Blitzkreig Button” (Agent Carter season 1) [SPOILERS]

agent carter

I have no idea why US TV shows insist on taking random weeks off. The “mid-season break” is bizarre enough, but I can see no reason why Agent Carter was not broadcast last week.

Well, perhaps absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

And Marvel’s newest TV show is back this week, so I guess we can pick up where we left off, in 1950s America racing to beat proto-Hydra to various Stark-flavoured McGuffins.

The first three episodes have felt on the verge of breaking into something bigger and better, story-wise, but still held back rather than advanced by the trappings of its setting and its heritage in the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Fourth time’s the charm?

Three episodes after his last appearance, Howard Stark is already back — sneaking himself back into the country under the pretext of retrieving one of his most dangerous inventions from the SSR lab. Meanwhile the SSR are getting closer to Leviathan, without even realising what they’re investigating.

So, we knew that Stark would be back sooner rather than later. He’s far too interesting a character to leave out for long. Aside from the repeated jokes about his womanising, there is something meatier beneath the surface. He comes with his James Bond camera pen, asking Peggy to retrieve what he describes as basically an electro-magnetic pulse generator.

Of course, it isn’t what he says it is. Rather, it’s a vial of blood. A vial of blood from one Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America. Stark claims that he wants to use it to cure diseases, whilst Peggy thinks that he wants to make a whole pile of money for himself. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, but the lingering suspicion is that it’s the fact that it’s part of Steve that she’s most upset about.

So she ends the episode estranged from Stark, angry at him, and disillusioned over the idea of his innocence. Stark sends Jarvis to apologise for him, but the butler makes it clear that he’s a bastard.

Meanwhile, at the SSR, Chief Dooley heads to Germany to speak to a Nazi war criminal on death row, who has some sort of connection to the Russians from Leviathan — men who apparently died in WWII. The Nazi spills his guts about a pile of multilated Russian bodies he and his troops found in the war, in exchange for a cyanide capsule. Which was either just a breathmint, or Dooley, err, poisoned a prison guard on his way out.

Agent Sousa follows his own leads, investigating the tip off at the Heartbreak. He finds a homeless man, and tries to appeal to the man’s softer side. Sadly, though, it’s Thompson who finally breaks him with a bribe of scotch and a hamburger. Apparently he saw a dark haired woman and a well-dressed man…

There’s also an odd sub-plot, wherein the smuggler who brought Stark back into the country, and who is a little irked at not being paid, tries to kill Peggy. He doesn’t get far enough for Peggy to realise, though, as her new neighbour Dottie kills the smuggler in a feat of acrobatics. Because she wants his automatic pistol. Err…

We’re getting there, I feel. Mysteries are, bit by bit, unravelling and taking on greater, layered significances. The SSR is essentially chasing its own tail, but despite itself it keeps getting closer. Meanwhile, with Stark back and having confirmed that the inventions are all accounted for, maybe we can move beyond chasing WMDs around New York City?

The assassin-neighbour was a bit unexpected, but for now it’s just queering the pot. It’s going to have to come up with something interesting for me to take it seriously. The character developments, though, make this episode worth it. Stark and Peggy’s relationship is dynamic, elastic, and his master’s return makes Jarvis stick out a little less conspicuously. And we’re starting to see fleshing out of the background characters, using the emotional impact of Krzeminski’s death at the end of the last episode as a spring-board of sorts.

Oh, and the typewriter-radio thing they nicked from Fringe has sprung to life.

Closing thoughts:

  • The walls at the Griffin are so thin that Peggy can hear a girl giggling in Stark’s embrace. But she walks around her room shouting “Howard!” so much there can’t be anyone in the place who didn’t hear her.
  • I do like that the reality of returning from the war for so many of its veterans in the 1950s is not the veritable paradise it is usually depicted as.
  • Well, we managed three episodes without a Nazi. For a Captain America spin-off, that’s pretty good.
  • What was Peggy going to do if the Stark McGuffin Ball had been a blackout bomb? I mean, it was obvious as hell that it wasn’t, but if it had been then she would have crippled the SSR.
  • Stan Lee cameo. No real opinion from me, but I saw this video earlier in the week, and this cameo reminded me of it:

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