Things have really been heating up on Marvel’s Agent Carter of late. Starting with the revelation two weeks ago that Peggy’s fellow Griffith resident Dottie was a Leviathan agent and then Peggy going to Russia with an SSR team and her old friends the Howling Commandos to kick some Red-butt, it has been a whirlwind of things. And we’ve finally started to see Peggy “grow up” a little and become more forceful with her colleagues at the SSR, which has actually been quite a revelation since she usually accepted the patriarchal behaviour and put it out of her mind. Now she’s fighting forcefully in the big leagues!
The new episode this week, “A Sin To Err“, really takes things to the next level, and the journey getting to that is rather tragic. Last week Agent Sousa finally figured out that the mysterious woman who had thwarted the SSR’s efforts to capture some of Howard Stark’s supposed criminal contacts was actually Peggy, and so the agency goes after her, even as we see what exactly is happening with Dr. Ivchenko and Dottie in their respective stories here. The tension is definitely getting even more so, and the show is headed for a really big showdown that can only be called explosive.
With Bridget Regan’s Dottie Underwood finally revealed as a Leviathan agent, things were sure to get spiced up in this episode, more so since we learned last week that her training as a child back in Russia was absolutely thorough and brutal. It was also a lead-in to the fact that Marvel Cinematic Universe main-stay Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow came out of the program that would eventually replace the program that birthed Dottie, and things began to connect even more as far as the show and the rest of the MCU is concerned. In an instant, the show had a superb villain, a good match for the titular hero, and that promised showdown is indeed what much of this episode is about, especially in its final few minutes.
But the central thing here is the story with Peggy being revealed as a sort of double agent, as far as the Strategic Scientific Reserve is concerned (which, if I haven’t mentioned before, is kind of a dumb name for a spy organization). Thanks to a prank by Thompson, Sousa figured out that Peggy was the “blonde” the agency had been searching for since the first episode, and this episode is all about Sousa finding ironclad evidence of the same. It is really tragic since we as viewers know that whatever Peggy did since Howard Stark approached her to help him, was all for a good cause. It is even perfectly understandable why she didn’t approach Chief Dooley with any of it since the entire agency is heavily biased against Stark and doesn’t consider Peggy to be an Agent at all, just random office decoration. Which just repeats the whole tragic theme of the entire show.
Hence, there’s a “moment of truth” in the middle of the episode, when Sousa has to confront Peggy about all of this, and things don’t go well for either of them. I’ve really grown to like the professional relationship between these two characters, and I think that it is a little bit dispiriting that Sousa hasn’t had the same kind of character development as say, Chief Dooley or Agent Thompson, even though he is part of the show’s primary cast. But that, I suppose, is the price of doing an 8-episode season, though I must mention that last summer’s Penny Dreadful was rather incredible in that regard. Really, really incredible.
Either way, that’s the layout of the episode. There are other stories going on of course. Such as the fact that with Ottie’s character revelation, we spend some more time with her nefarious activities though not on the same level as last time. Or that Dr. Ivchenko is just the kind of slimy bastard that you knew he would be when he was introduced last episode, and that there is indeed a much larger history to his involvement with Leviathan than was depicted before. Or the fact that with the revelation about the proto/pseudo Black Widow program Peggy has figured out how Howard’s inventions could have been stolen and so she enlists Jarvis in getting to the bottom of the mystery.
Of course, that doesn’t come to fruition for the moment since her status with the SSR changes irrevocably during the final 10-15 minutes, when the overall drama really kicks off. And then there’s the whole thing with Dottie having been introduced as a foil and antagonist for Peggy, so if the two of them don’t confront each other in some way, that antagonism can’t really flourish *wink*wink*.
As you can see, there is a hell of a lot to unpack about this episode. As usual, the acting was superb, and so were the production values and the story itself. Writer Lindsey Allen does a great job with bringing all these separate arcs into a cohesive whole, and I must stress also that given how the episodes have all had such a great flow to each other that the writing team in its entirety must really have fleshed out a good and proper plan for everything. I mean, that’s how it looks to me since the episodic transitions are always flawless. With so many characters being introduced, and not all of them at once, the potential is there for a big screw-up but to date, there hasn’t been anything like that in my estimation, and I would like for that to continue with the next two episodes, with the show scheduled to wrap up by then and with Agents of SHIELD returning in the third week from now.
The single biggest moment of the entire episode however, is the final three minutes with the core SSR cast of Peggy, Chief Dooley and Agents Thompson and Sousa. Over the last few episodes, we’ve seen how the three men have had their perceptions about Peggy challenged, especially last episode when Thompson and Chief Dooley finally had to accord Peggy with the same respect as any other Agent at the agency. So, to see a reversal of all of that so swiftly, well, it ties back into the whole tragic nature of the show.
One thing I’m rather confused about is how all of this is going to segue into the creation of SHIELD, the organization that the SSR will transform into, and how Peggy will come to hold as high a position in the intervening time as a flashback from an Agents of SHIELD season 2 episode hinted at last year before the break. The Agent Carter One-Shot was very, very different from how the show has turned out to be, especially with respect to the costuming and the narrative and the characters and so on, so I’m just a bit concerned about the meta-cohesiveness of the whole thing. It is a little bit shaky, and hopefully the season finale in two weeks will clarify some things.
Till then though, just keep up with what is turning into a really great show, almost as great as CW’s break-out The Flash.