'No Man Will Ever Consider You An Equal' – Recapping Agent Carter: 'The Blitzkrieg Button'
By Amanda Gurall
This week's show started with Jarvis (James D'Arcy) and Agent Carter (Hayley Atwell) in a train yard with Jarvis in the more passive role as he set up some goons and she kicked some ass. I feel like the whole feminist hero in the 1940's theme was a bit heavy handed at first but now we've settled into the idea comfortably and I am glad that while characters still ask her to take lunch orders as an audience we can concentrate on what a great character she is, male or female. After disposing with the smuggler Mr. Mink's (Gregory Sporleder) henchmen the two open up a rusty train car to reveal Stark, (Dominic Cooper) playing pool in a wood paneled ornate car, fantastic set design again. Howard used Mink to re-enter the country and now needs a place to stay with the SSA staking out his buildings so of course he must sneak into The Griffith with Peggy. Silly and unlikely but we had some pretty funny scenes including housemarm Miriam (Meagan Fay) nearly catching Stark and Stark going room to room, blonde to blonde throughout this stay. Way to stay undercover?
Captain Dooley (Shea Whigham) is off to Nuremberg prison in Germany following the lead that convicted Nazi Colonel Ernst Mueller (Jack Conley) was at the battle of Finow in which the two Russian soldiers supposedly died yet we've seen them in present time as the two voice-less Leviathan agents. Jack Thompson (Chad Michael Murray) is left in charge of the office.
Back at the apartments, Peggy is already asking Stark when he will be leaving (to Rio in three days) when he tells her that he needs to find out which of his bad babies they have recovered at the SSA and produces a fabulous black camera pen. Before asking Peggy to use it to spy at work he snaps a quick photo of the two of them. Might this come back to cause trouble for Peggy?
At the office Thompson starts off his leadership with a speech asking what the most important part of slain Agent Ray Walter Krasminski's name was? Apparently it was agent. He tells them all to make kissy noises on the phone to their wives because they are not resting under his command and will not be going home. "If you get tired, remember how important your names are, Agents." At least he doesn't mince words and he allows Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) to go off to follow his own lead of fingerprinting the phone used to call in the Heartbreak ship. Sousa finds and arrests a homeless man (John Bishop) that he is hoping will be a decent witness. Peggy was told she should take lunch orders so she heads right down the the research lab with the camera pen so Stark can locate whatever it is he needs. The scientists or engineers in the SSA lab are a bit incompetent; I wonder if they made her realize she has to better equip and staff her own team at S.H.I.E.L.D. in the future.
We see a peroxided Mr. Mink with his giant eye through a lens, a visually creepy camera shot and character design. Mr. Mink is all about the weapons overkill and uses his cartoonish automatic pistol to empty all six shots into the henchmen tricked by Jarvis and Peggy in the beginning of the show.
Carter finds Stark in another neighbor's bedroom and they develop her photos in the bathroom when Angie (Lyndsy Fonsecca) knocks to walk Peggy to dinner. Peggy tries to beg off but Stark encourages her to go if she can bring him back some ham. She is stuffing a roll in her purse when she find out most of the girls steal food from the dining hall. I am not sure if this is some group eating disorder or not but it was a great touch. One woman said she once stuffed an entire chicken down her sweater, because her mom knit her a special chicken pocket! Gertie has a gravy compartment in her pocketbook and our good friend little miss Dottie Underwood (Bridget Regan) is super duper thrilled about a possible pickle pocket. Carter goes back upstairs and Stark is serious, says they have every one of his devices including the Blitzkrieg Button which could cause a devastating blackout of an entire city. The problem is, Stark is somehow the only one who can turn it off and he needs Peggy to swap the real button with a replica. Stark said, "I'm already considered a traitor, Peggy. Don't let me the guy who shut down the greatest city on the planet." Time to call Jarvis for a ride.
Agent Sousa was probably a stand up guy before the war who was kind and fair and liked to read the newspaper in his sweater vests. He fulfilled his patriotic duty and paid for it with the loss of his leg, gaining the skills and abilities to be a good agent in the process. However when he tells the suspect, who is a homeless veteran with a hard luck post war story, about people only respecting him for his physical sacrifice the suspect is not moved. The two of them may have nobody who loves them but Sousa has a career, money and if he could be more confident and aggressive possibly the respect of his fellow agents. It was great to see him proving his worth at the agency and kicking some ass with his arm crutch but I don't expect too much to change for him in his career; he is just too sensitive and the other men will always see him as only one step above Peggy. Agent Thompson said "Not everybody came back from the war wanting a hug" and as dismissive as this line was Thompson did believe that Sousa did some good police work. He was aware that Sousa needed to reach outside his self pity and find that sometimes all it takes is Dooley's scotch and a burger to get a man to talk. Whether this helps or hurts Sousa's position in the office or helps him to change is yet to be seen, but we do have a scene between he and Thompson later in the episode where Thompson is fairly respectful so perhaps he has hope. In any event the SSA now knows that a well dressed man and a dark haired woman were at the scene of the Heartbreak and they are assuming the well dressed man is Stark himself.
Captain Dooley has arrived at the prison in Germany and he sits with the soon to be executed Nazi Colonel Mueller. Mueller offers him a drink from his toilet, always a positive way to start a meeting. He refuses to tell Dooley about the battle of Finow until Dooley says he will help him escape and pops open his watch face to show him tablets of cyanide. Mueller tells him that no German fought any Russian at Finow because when they arrived they found what can only be described as a massacre with bodies piled high and ripped apart. Dooley passes off the cyanide and leaves the room, offering an outside guard a breath mint from his watch. Well played Dooley.
Agent Carter is on her way to break into the SSA lab for the Blitzkrieg Button and while talking to Jarvis she notices he has a tell. In the first scene of the episode Jarvis was lying to the goons and he very obviously tugged on his right ear. He starts doing the same when Carter questions him about the Blitzkrieg Button and she notices. She continues the mission but is distracted by the feeling she is being lied to. This makes her decide to push the button and confirm her suspicions as the lights stay on and she finds a small vial of blood inside what was actually a preservation system. The jig is up, Stark.
Carter is almost caught by some of the other agents in the hall so she ducks into the interrogation room and is surprised by Thompson. He starts to question why she is there, and says she is hiding something. Her hand on the doorknob ready to bolt, she asks what's that? Thompson replies "The natural order of the universe. You're a woman. No man will ever consider you an equal. It's sad but that doesn't make it any less true." Well, at least he remains clueless about the contents of her purse ( does it have it's own pocket?) but sadly also the fact that she is by far the superior agent in the room.
Mr. Mink had been watching The Griffith and needed to see a flower delivery truck to figure out how to get inside. Not the best smuggler in the world apparently but he is heading inside. Peggy confronts Stark in her room and she is having none of his BS. She forces him to admit what she already suspected, that the vial is filled with Steve Roger's blood and she gives him a hard right hook to the face. They start to fight and Stark says "I know how much he meant to you because I know how much he means to me." Could he suspect or know that Rogers is not dead at this point in the story? Peggy goes on to shame him for lying and using her and Stark admits it was wrong to lie to her but lying comes naturally to him as he has used it as others have while climbing the ladder of the American dream. To break through the ceilings of money, social class, religion and sex he has had to get dirty from time to time and this rings true for her for a second as she has certainly lied in her efforts to be a respected agent. Apparently the government had 11 vials and he had one but now the government has used almost all of theirs and he needs to protect what he has at all costs. He tells Peggy that sample SR-53 could be used to create vaccines, medicines and maybe cure the common cold. Patronizingly he says, "Steve Rogers might not be with us (he did not say dead) but he can still save millions of people." This set our heroine off with one of the best speeches and moments in the series.
"I think you're a man out for his own gain no matter who you're charging. You are constantly finding holes to slither your way into in hopes of finding loose change only to cry when you're bitten by another snake. You're a man who says I love you whilst looking over a woman's shoulder into the mirror. Steve Rogers dedicated his mind, his body, his life to the SSR and to this country, not to your bank account. I made the same pledge but I am not as good as Steve was, I forgot my pledge running around for you like a corporate spy. So thank you Howard for reminding me who Steve was and what I aspire to be. For all I know you did steal your inventions."
With that she leaves him in disgrace and tells him to be gone when she returns. The guardian of all virginity, Miriam, saw right through Mr. Mink's flower delivery plan and sent him on to plan B. The good ole creep in through the air vents maneuver. He is listening at Peggy's door when Dottie pops out of hers next to him and asks if he is lost. He turns his gun on her and she asks if that pistol is an automatic then with dead eyes says "I want that." She then pretty much levitates into an air attack and snaps his neck with her thighs. She either has non human strength or she's an epic parkour master.
Now Agent Carter has to deal with the betrayal from her good friend Jarvis. They walk down the street and though he is sincerely apologetic she is not ready to accept anything from either of the men. She stalks off and Jarvis sits at a shoeshine and finds Stark behind a paper. Even Jarvis is disappointed in Stark's behavior and he leaves him alone. Not completely alone as it turns out because STAN LEE is right next to him asking for the sports section, finally giving us his cameo.
While Peggy hands out the lunches to all of the boys Sousa is staring at the evidence photos intently and starts to color in the hair on the bombshell picture from the nightclub. Will he protect her identity when he eventually puts this puzzle together? Thompson and Dooley are doing a debrief in which Thompson shows him a manifest listing Howard Stark as arriving at the Local German airport the Monday after the Finow massacre. Back at her apartment Peggy blasts some music and starts bashing a hole in her wall, we see Dottie playing with the gun as the corpse of Mink rests under her bed. Peggy reveals the Blitzkreig Button and slips it into the wall under a frame. The very last scene is of Dooley looking up from his work when he hears the communication typewriter they confiscated from the green suited Levithian agent start typing.
The first time I watched this episode, it felt very much a place or scene setter episode and I was a bit bored. On second watching howeverm the emotional intensity of Peggy's speech, the more subtle interactions between she and Jarvis and Sousa's storyline became more effective on their own as an episode. Mr. Mink was an incredibly lame baddie and there was not a lot of action but overall I think the set up might have been worth it because in the preview for Tuesday's episode we see her reassembling the Howling Commandos and in Russia, no less. I am fairly sure I am not the only fan who jumped up and did a raised fist pump cheer. Perhaps I was alone in that but everyone should be excited for the return of the commandos next week.