Well, well, well! Another week, another positively splendid installment in the Agent Carter mini-series! Though this episode didn’t try to bait us or charm us in the way that last week’s did, it cut to the chase and proved that anyone can die and that this setting is altogether grittier much quicker than its counterpart, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., dared to be in its first season. Read on for our more in-depth review!
One thing I did NOT expect as soon as we got it was the reappearance of all of Howard’s stolen inventions! They re-appeared by way of Peggy and Jarvis’s investigations and pursuit of evidence of Howard Stark’s innocence. Peggy realizes that there must be a second way into Stark’s storage, and that the culprits must have used the sewers and a raft
to completely empty the vault without much trouble. They then follow the route of the sewers to the docks, where they quickly find Stark’s entire stash of weapons. Peggy wants to call it in to the SSR immediately, proving her competence to her superiors once and for all, until Jarvis points out just how easily this would backfire on her. Her brashness shows another real weak point to Peggy’s character: her pride. Jarvis immediately points out all of the flaws in her plan, namely her co-workers disrespect towards her, and that nothing she accomplishes will compete with their accusations of treason and conspiracy with Howard Stark. Jarvis calls the SSR as an “anonymous source” (and oh my god he is just as bad at lying as S1 Jemma Simmons and it’s hilarious), but the attempted recovery of Stark’s weapons results in the death of one of the SSR agents. He was, in Peggy’s words, “brutish” and one of her least favorite people to work with, but she still sincerely mourns the quick and simple death of an agent who was “good at his job.”
The episode’s most crucial subplot gave us some much-needed backstory for Jarvis, Howard Stark’s butler and Peggy’s new partner in crime (so to speak). We learn mid-way through the episode (when he’s being interrogated at the SSR headquarters by Agent Thompson) that Jarvis was accused of treason when he was in the army and that this led to his “dishonorable discharge.” For the first time, a true rift is created between Peggy and Jarvis. When she demands an explanation for his record, he comes fully clean. He admits that he had forged his superior officer’s signature on some papers in order to provide his Jewish (then future-) wife a safe escape from Europe. Stark bailed him out and, as thanks, Jarvis offered Stark his services and a place to live in the US.
In terms of the show’s feminist game, they really stepped it up a notch this week. While the series premiere included lots of zingers from Peggy, or clever retorts directed towards her co-worker’s sexism, the inherent misogyny of the fifties had more serious and hurtful consequences. Her boss doesn’t just view her as an unnecessary employee but as more of a nuisance, and when she intentionally botches an interrogation to save Jarvis’s skin, she’s seen as dim-witted. Her gender is not specifically called out in this instance, but her “blunder” is used as a retroactive reason for her lack of “real” assignments.
Final thoughts: While I truly enjoyed this week’s episode, I missed the much lighter tone that kept the first two episodes afloat. Still, I’d rather we have a show with an unpredictable plot and real stakes than just eight episodes of goofy antics and Peggy Carter kicking the ass we saw her pummeling in the first Captain America movie. It’s a sign of brilliant writing when a show can make me care about the death of a character I thoroughly disliked. Also, I know many people are still shipping Peggy with Agent Souza, but I feel like when Peggy’s work with Stark is eventually exposed, he’ll see it as a violation of his trust and their fragile friendship will quickly fall apart. Long story short, I don’t see a happy ending in Peggy’s near future, no matter what the definition of a happy ending might be. Final Grade: A