This seems like an odd admission to make in the preface to a review of its seventh episode, but I’m not really sure what Agent Carter is intended to be.
When I first started watching, I took it for a fun little action series to fill the gap between the two Captain America films. Since then, though, it has turned into a different beast entirely. Darker, more serious, more weighty in its place within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
I suppose that’s what Marvel do best. They’ve taken superhero films, typically the lowest common denominator, and woven them into a mega-franchise to match the complexity of its comics (Well, almost… -Ed)
After her capture by the SSR last episode, Peggy is interrogated by her former friends; until Edwin Jarvis arrives with a faked confession from Howard Stark. Meanwhile Ivchenko and Dotty plan to steal one of Stark’s inventions out of the SSR itself.
Carter’s fall from grace within the SSR has been so abrupt that it still feels a like a bit of a whirlwind. When the last episode came to a close, Carter was facing an interrogation, and given the interrogations we’ve seen — sort of — previously it’s not a pretty prospect.
What we get is very well shot. Dooley, Sousa and Thompson all take turns questioning Peggy, the questions cut together, as she offers her typical placid resistance, explaining that nobody noticed her throughout her own investigation because she’s a woman. Only Thompson seems to doubt her guilt, remembering how she saved him in Russia.
When Jarvis bluffs his way in, with a signed confession from Howard Stark who is on his way to the US to surrender himself, Dooley agrees to release Carter, and fires her from the SSR. Unfortunately, the confession is a fake and Howard isn’t coming — Peggy’s surprise at his apparent decency underscoring a point. When she spots Ivchenko morse-coding to Dotty across the street, she ‘fesses up, and tells everything.
It’s only when she offers up Steve’s blood that Sousa and Thompson start to believe her, and Dooley sends the pair over the street to investigate, whilst he distracts Ivchenko. Unfortunately, as poor Agent Yauch found out last week, the doctor is some sort of master hypnotist, and doesn’t take long to use Dooley’s missing his family to get inside his head.
So whilst the SSR boys are taken apart by Dotty, the boss walks Ivchenko down to the lab and hands him the Stark invention he was after. Following which Ivchneko strolls out, and into Dotty’s car to disappear.
But Dooley. Dooley wakes from a fantasy reconciliation with his wife, to find himself wearing another of Stark’s inventions; a prototype kevlar vest with built in bodywarmer. Unfortunately, it’s linked to an unstable power supply with a tendency to…explode. That genius Stark engineering, eh?
It’s actually one of the most moving moments in the series yet when Dooley — staring down the barrel of his own end — steals Thompson’s gun and tells Carter to get Ivchenko, before shooting out the window and jumping through it. The blast kills him, but the SSR is saved.
So Peggy wins. Ish. The trouble is the price of her victory. Dooley is dead, Ivchenko got the invention he was after, and he and Dotty got away. And the final scene, where Dotty takes the invention into a cinema and turns it on, underscores that. What looks, at first, to be a poisonous gas actually sends the audience into a frenzy, whereupon they tear each other to pieces.
As with Krzeminski, one of the SSR have paid the ultimate price. Even once Peggy has shared everything, she still can’t protect her friends. Dooley’s sacrifice is every bit as noble as he is, but it should not have been necessary, and the SSR is crippled as a result. Howard Stark’s shadow also looms large; he’s probably cleared of being a traitor and an enemy spy now, but his reckless creations have had disastrous effects once again.
And the battle which the wounded SSR has now to fight is looking dire as we go into the final episode. They are hurt, leaderless, and on the back foot. Lucky they have Agent Carter, then.
- “Atta girl.” *sniff*
- Why on earth does Dooley send Sousa to look for Dotty? I get that he’s a swell guy, and I’m sure he was the very definition of brave in the war, but sending a one-legged man up against a super-assassin seems the epitome of foolish.
- That said, he stands going toe-to-toe with Dotty better than a lot of the two-legged agents.
- “Maybe I didn’t trust out greatest capitalist…” My dear Peggy, I do believe you’re becoming a socialist…
- So, Dotty bought the pram at the beginning. Then at the end she wheels it into the cinema. But she didn’t want to attack the cinema, arguing instead to escape with their prize. So why did she buy the pram? And where was she keeping it through the episode?