Everything Agent Carter Does To Fix Her Mess Just Makes It Worse

Illustration for article titled Everything Agent Carter Does To Fix Her Mess Just Makes It Worse

Thus far, Agent Carter isn't providing nearly as much wish-fulfillment as the short film version that appeared on the Iron Man 3 Blu-ray. The 15-minute short painted a picture of a super-competent agent whose brilliance went unnoticed (at first.) But the television version of Peggy Carter makes lots of mistakes. Lots and lots.

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Spoilers ahead...

In fact, Peggy Carter is quickly getting to be defined by her mistakes, and it's both fascinating and a little painful to watch. To some extent, her problems are still simply a result of her male colleagues not believing in her, and thus forcing her to go around them. But she also keeps digging herself deeper into the hole she started last week.

In the first episode of Agent Carter, she agreed to help Howard Stark prove that his deadly super-weapons were stolen from his vault, and Stark himself didn't just decide to leak them on the black market to raise some extra cash. She managed to track down a big stash of implosion bombs, but the main culprits were killed without spilling much info, and she only planted more circumstantial evidence that made Stark look more guilty.

This time around, Carter has to deal with two sticky situations, and neither of them turns out in a way that makes her feel good about herself:

1) Her SSR colleagues haul in Edwin Jarvis, because they've found the license plate from Stark's car at the scene of the big implosion at Roxxon. Jack Thompson is on the verge of making Jarvis talk, using his treasonous past and his fears for his wife as leverage (more on that in a moment.) So Carter is forced to intervene, producing Jarvis' report that his car was stolen in front of him, so Jarvis can use it as leverage to get himself out of SSR custody before he winds up confessing something. This winds up making Carter look incompetent, or worse — and the entire office full of men give her the stink-eye, while Chief Dooley lectures her about how she's ruined everything.

Illustration for article titled Everything Agent Carter Does To Fix Her Mess Just Makes It Worse

2) She and Jarvis track down the rest of Stark's purloined technology on a boat that happens to have the "heart with a wavy line through it" symbol that Leet Brannis drew last week. She wants to call in her discovery, but Jarvis convinces her that she can't possibly explain how she found this stuff. (Although actually, it was quite easy. Anyone who went down into the sewer under Stark's vault and did some simple deduction would have ended up in the same place.) So instead, she gets Jarvis to call it in as an anonymous tip — and when a henchman attacks her and Jarvis, she knocks him out. The henchman winds up getting shot by a professional killer, along with her SSR colleague Krzeminski. Everybody now believes that Howard Stark was responsible for Krzeminski's death, as well as the Roxxon implosion — so instead of clearing his name, she's only made him look more guilty. (And to be fair, some of that is her colleagues jumping to conclusions.)

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Like I said, the scenes of Carter cringing as her boss tells her to get out of his sight, and then coming to work and finding out that Krzeminski is dead and it's sort of her fault, are kind of hard to watch. This show remains insanely fun, and there are enough funny bits to keep the whole thing light, even after Krzeminski dies. (I love Thompson volunteering to call Krzeminski's girlfriend, while Dooley calls his wife.) But it's definitely a lot darker, and less of a straight-up fantasy about female empowerment, than I was expecting. And that's a good thing, since hopefully when Carter does get some recognition, it will feel more earned.

Meanwhile, a lot of the most interesting stuff this week is about the Carter-Jarvis relationship, with the two of them definitely developing more buddy-cop chemistry. Most of the time, Jarvis is the more naïve one and Carter is scoffing at his illusions, but then the show turns this dynamic on its head and shows Jarvis warning Carter that she can't simply come clean to her colleagues.

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Illustration for article titled Everything Agent Carter Does To Fix Her Mess Just Makes It Worse

And the more we learn about Jarvis' past, the more it seems like she and Carter are both outcasts. Turns out Jarvis was attached to a general, even before World War II, but he fell for a Jewish girl in Budapest, Anna. The general had the travel papers that Anna needed to get out of Hungary, but wouldn't spare any for her. So Jarvis forged his signature, and wound up getting arrested — until Howard Stark got him off the hook.

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We also learn the truth about Leet Brannis and the other voicebox-less thug from last week (Sasha Demidov). They were both Russian soldiers during the war — and they both died, in 1944 or thereabouts. So not only did they have their larynxes cut out, but they also came back from the dead at some point. Also, the SSR now has Sasha Demidov's magic typewriter, although they haven't figured out how to use it.

Illustration for article titled Everything Agent Carter Does To Fix Her Mess Just Makes It Worse
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In the episode's other big subplot, Peggy Carter blows off her new neighbor, Angie from the automat, who wants to drink Schnapps and eat pie and see which one makes them sick first. Peggy's too busy going spelunking under Stark Mansion — but after Krzeminski dies, she realizes that she needs a friend, so she takes Angie up on the Schnapps offer. Oh, and we get a better look at the Griffith, the women-only building where Peggy lives, and we witness the dire fate that befalls one resident who has a male visitor.

DISCUSSION

Cool_Breeze
Cool_Breeze

Marvel, you are outdoing yourself on my freaking television.

THIS is how you make a show/movie about a strong female character. She doesn't rely (nay, NEED) any man, and can completely handle herself. She isn't a damsel in distress, and will KICK YO ASS if the need arises. Not only is she strong, but she's strong in a world where LITERALLY all of society is built to oppress HER. She doesn't need Cap or Stark or anyone to come to her rescue, SHE is the rescuer.

DC, other networks, take note. If you have a strong character, who cares if it's a woman? JUST MAKE THEM AWESOME AND EVERYTHING WILL BE AWESOME. I hope Wonder Woman is portrayed more like this than say, Lois in Man of Steel. Sure, she was smart, but she was Superman's weakness / needed his help throughout. Carter is so far ahead of these office clowns that they think (and she is able to manipulate them to think) that she is just a secretary, and a bad one at that. OH YOU.

Side note: I have been thinking about the opening from last week, where during her flash back it flashed part of the One Shot that we THOUGHT took place at the end of the series. Well, the show runners indicated that that scene with Howard calling her to come help run SHIELD would be the "last scene" of this series. That got some people to thinking: Does that mean that for however long she works in this office, she NEVER makes any headway with the men, and is ALWAYS treated like crap? Well Well, I was thinking, and my head canon is as follows:

Carter DOES make headway and gains respect and responsibility in this current office. However, since (I BELIEVE) the office commander has it out for Stark, something happens and Carter helps unveil/reveal some Leviathan / Hydra / corruption connection, and as such that specific SSR branch is disbanded, and all cleared agents (Sousa included) are reassigned. This happens sometime CLOSE to the events of the One Shot, and because Carter helped unveil the corruption, is allowed to work (as a secretary, yay!) in a different SSR field office. This is where we find Carter in the One Shot, and she literally has to start over with earning respect and responsibility in a brand new office, despite her good deeds. Hey, the SSR wants to save face, so they didn't exactly advertise all the crap that went down in the old SSR branch. Hopefully someone in the writer's room thinks like me. But really, that would be scary. MUHAHAHA

1. I'm starting to think that Sousa is going to be the guy Peggy marries (as referenced in Captain America The Winter Soldier). Sure, Peggy said her husband was someone Cap rescued, and I'm pretty sure Sousa served in the Pacific. HOWEVER, maybe her husband was one of the FIRST people Cap rescued in The First Avenger from the first Hydra base, and he was reassigned to the Pacific and injured there.

2. DUDE. Speaking of Mr. Peggy Carter, that "red, white, and blue crutch" comment was brutal. I BET HE GETS HIS COMEUPPANCE, SEE.

3. Jarvis is just awesome. Really. His wit is ON POINT. His various accents are ON POINT. He is smooth as a cucumber, especially when it counts-ish. No wonder Tony wanted his computer and toaster and shower and suits to sound like this awesome of a man. I especially love how Ms. Jarvis is turning into Wolowitz's Mom. Hopefully Jarvis doesn't have any Comic Book Store Owning friends, or else this could get AWWWKWARD.

4. YEEEHAW MORE STARK TECH BANG BANG POW WOOOOOOOOOO. But seriously. No wonder Tripp kept his grandpa's Howling Commando stuff. THIS IS SO FUN.

5. Welp, Mr. Mean Guy got is COMEUPPANCE, SEE. Apparently that was a professional hit. I think Dotty did it, and the Ballerinas made another cool connection: If Dotty did it, is she part of the Red Room program - the same program that created Black Widow, and was hinted at in the two Age of Ultron trailers? Think about it: We are going to get a deeper understanding of Black Widow's background, per Joss in various interviews. The first Age of Ultron trailer showed some ballerinas. The second showed a YOUNG Natasha in the same style building as the ballerinas of the first trailer, and then a gurney and some instruments. Maybe the MCU is ret conning Black Widow's origin to align with a program that has existed since before the end of World War Two? Maybe Dotty was one of the first assassins created by this program, and Black Widow one of it's last? MAYBE LEVIATHAN IS BEHIND BOTH DOTTY AND BLACK WIDOW? MAYBE BLACK WIDOW IS AS OLD AS CAP?!!?!?!?!!?!? Marvel is crazy good at making it all connect!

6. Yeah, so I'm like 90% convinced the boss of this SSR is out to get Howard, and might actually be working for Leviathan or Hydra or someone else with ulterior motives. When Carter got back to the office after Mr. Comeuppance and that witness were offed (BY DOTTY? DUNDUNDUNNN), he instantly blamed it on Stark "no matter if he pulled the gun or not." SO he's responsible because you happen to be investigating him? HMM. He reminds me of Senator Stern (Iron Man 2 trying to get the suits, Winter Soldier in Hydra), or, since he isn't a Senator, more accurately: Sitwell. We have six episodes left. JUST YOU WAIT.