Monday, September 7, 2015

Agent Carter Season 1, Episode 6, "A Sin to Err" RETRO-REVIEW (SPOILERS)

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It’s amazing just how quickly things unravel for Peggy.  One minute she is a trusted and valuable S.S.R. agent, given an opportunity to run down her own leads in the Howard Stark investigation.  The next she’s being hunted by her own agency as a criminal and traitor, forced to fight her own colleagues and hide on ledges to evade capture.  And then everything really goes to hell on her!  Oh well, as a psychopathic Hydra terrorist once said, “If the job were easy, it wouldn’t be any fun!”

Reminder:  Retro-Reviews contain potential spoilers for everything to-date.

The episode begins with Peggy, Thompson, and Dooley interviewing Dr. Ivchenko for information on Leviathan.  He gives them some information on their recruiting process (my guess is that it’s wrong based on what we now know about him), but the most valuable information to Peggy is what he can tell them about the training facility where they found him.  Specifically, Peggy wants to know about the little girl who killed Junior and shot Happy Sam:  is she an operative being trained by Leviathan?  Dooley is not interested in Peggy’s theory, but he quickly changes his tune when she explains that she believes such an operative could have killed Ray Krzeminski (based on the type of gun used—Russian and ideally suited to a female’s grip) and seduced Howard Stark to get information on his vault (because he’s Howard Stark).  Dooley accepts her reasoning—at least enough to order her to follow up on the lead, which she does with the help of Jarvis.

I have to say, the whole scene with Jarvis and Peggy first going to a jeweler’s shop for a list of women to whom Howard sent bracelets and then tracking down all the women was quite amusing.  When Peggy asks for the last year, Jarvis thinks it’s too many names.  When they’re at the jeweler’s, Jarvis is surprised by how short the list is.  Peggy is disgusted by the idea of giving a woman a bracelet to remember Howard (Tony didn’t do anything like that; he just did their dry cleaning!) and even more when the jeweler offers to let her try it on.  I think the funniest moment at the jeweler’s is when Peggy excludes Ginger Rogers (famous actress from the ‘30s and ‘40s) and Jarvis describes her eyes as “the darkest gates to the abyss” when Howard sent him to call it off with her.  Peggy and Jarvis track down all the women who are not famous actresses and the like, and pretty much all of their responses are the same:  they hate Howard’s guts and hate Jarvis for acting as his stooge.  And then they slap/kick Jarvis before slamming the door in their faces.  The only woman they can’t track down is “Ida Empke,” though Peggy is able to confirm that “Ida Empke” was the cover used by their Russian operative:  she still cuffs herself to the bedpost at night and the apartment bed showed scratch marks from the handcuffs.

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Meanwhile, Sousa is following up on his own lead by going to the penitentiary where Sheldon McFee (you remember him, right?  The guy with the milk truck from “Bridge and Tunnel” (1x02)?) is being held.  Sousa shows him a picture of Peggy and asks if she’s the woman who beat him up and took his truck.  He identifies Peggy as the woman, and Sousa reports it back to the S.S.R.  This sets up the main action for the episode as the S.S.R. sends a half-dozen agents to arrest Peggy at the Automat… which doesn’t work so well.  Peggy knocks them all out cold, sending 3 to the hospital, to the tune of “It’s a Good Day,” before escaping out the back.  She first knocks Thompson out cold before just walking past Sousa, who can’t bring himself to shoot her.  She then returns to the Griffith to retrieve the vial of Cap’s blood, where the S.S.R. catches up to her.  Angie helps her avoid capture by putting on a performance and sobbing into Thompson’s chest while Peggy balances precariously on the ledge outside her window… while wearing heels.  However, before Peggy can escape the building, Dottie approaches her and… kisses her on the mouth (was that just for the fanboys?  I kinda feel like it was), knocking her out cold with her own special knock-out lipstick.  Peggy pulls up Dottie’s sleeve and sees the handcuff mark just before passing out.  Dottie then prepares to kill Peggy, but the S.S.R. arrives just in time to take her into custody.

Overall, this is an exciting plot as Peggy chases down the female Russian operative and the S.S.R. chases down the female American/English operative.  There’s really just the one fight sequence in the episode, but it doesn’t feel weak or boring because of all the intrigue and character development in the episode.  I thought that Sousa received a lot of development in this episode as he tracked Peggy down, refused to shoot her, and struggled to come to terms with her betrayal.

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While all of this is going on, Dottie and Ivchenko start to enact their plan.  Dottie “infiltrates” a dentist’s office with a perfect vantage point of Dooley’s office by stopping by to “interview” for a secretary position and killing the dentist himself.  While he definitely shouldn’t have been getting so “handsy” with the Russian assassin, I’m not sure if that was quite enough to justify her killing him!  She sets up a sniper rifle and uses it to pass Morse Code messages to Ivchenko, who orders her to kill Peggy Carter while he tracks down all of the Stark inventions.  He also starts placing Chief Dooley under his hypnosis, which is a really cool idea, especially in how it connects with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2 (the “Faustus Method” of brainwashing).  While Ivchenko doesn’t succeed in getting what he wants from Dooley, he does succeed in hypnotizing Agent Yauch (introduced purely to be killed off in this episode) into giving him a floor plan of the base and marking convenient exits.  At this point we know that Ivchenko is the brains of the operation with Dottie providing the muscle, but we still don’t know Ivchenko’s endgame or motivation, both of which come out in the final two episodes.

The episode ends with Peggy handcuffed to the table in the S.S.R.’s interrogation room with Sousa and Thompson prepared to start grilling her for information about what she has been doing.  Suddenly all the trust she had built up with the male S.S.R. members is gone and they suspect her of treason.  And unfortunately, that has their focus on the wrong person; the real enemy is the one they brought back from Belarus!

I really liked all of the character development in this episode.  Angie and her relationship with Peggy especially received more development in this episode than in most of the season.  Up until now she has been all sunshine and roses; this is the first time she really pulls back the mask:  she has 7 failed auditions so far and her father wants her to go to secretary school and give up on Broadway, which she is seriously considering.  Her relationship with Peggy has also been in an interesting place up to now, as Peggy simultaneously pushes her away and confides in her.  I really hope that season 2 will continue to explore this relationship; in fact I wouldn’t be too surprised if Angie eventually goes to work for the S.S.R. as another female operative.

What did you think of this episode?  Which relationship do you think is more interesting:  Peggy and Angie or Peggy and Sousa?  Let me know in the comments!

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