Previously on Agent Carter, Peggy Carter has turned “double agent” to help clear Howard Stark’s name. Battling sexism in the office and foes outside the office, she now has to work out who the mysterious Leviathan is, and what he or she wants with a truckload of bombs.
“Just another day at the office.”
We open with the Captain America Adventure Programme, a ridiculous radio show fictionalising the adventures of Captain America and the Howling Commandoes. It’s not just me that thinks it’s stupid and over the top – Peggy’s face as she sits in the diner tells us she’s not impressed by the public’s vision of Captain America.
Peggy’s also trying to find a flat, given that the last place she lived in is now out of the picture because her roommate got shot and killed. Angie comes to the rescue, telling Peggy that the flat down the hall from her is free, but Peggy’s reluctant, not wanting to put Angie in danger the way she did Colleen. Plus, Howard Stark, via Jarvis, has offered up one of his sumptuous properties for her to stay in. Despite her morals, Peggy is tempted by the luxury of the place, at least for one night, although she spends the entire tour sniping at Jarvis, something which continues for the rest of this episode.
The flat problem has been solved (at least temporarily), but neither Peggy or Jarvis have been able to find any mention of Leviathan, and no hospitals in the area have reported any patients undergoing throat surgery in the last three years. Their – Peggy’s, since she’s reluctant to have Jarvis come along – only avenue now is to head to the dairy to try and find the milk truck used by Creepy Guy One as a getaway vehicle.
Creepy Guy Two is still receiving messages from his typewriter, and telling the person on the other end that Creepy Guy One, whose name is Leet Brannis, has stolen the bombs and is now, along with Peggy, on Creepy Guy Two’s hit list. Creepy Guy Two starts his hunt for Leet Brannis by torturing some poor guy for his whereabouts. Well, not that poor, he’s a criminal who was originally in the market for the nitromene stolen from Howard. He doesn’t deserve to die though, and neither does his poor wife, whose body we see on the floor as Creepy Guy Two leaves the house.
The jaunty music that plays in over the top adds more menace to the scene, but also an edge of comedy, and we’re soon looking over the New York skyline, bound for the dairy where Peggy is posing as a health department inspector. Once again, using her resources Peggy manages to hunt for what she wants right under the noses of a bunch of men who can’t be bothered to look beyond the surface.
“I got a special task for a man of your skills.”
In the basement of the SSR, Peggy’s boss, Chief Dooley, plus Thompson and Krzeminski receive delivery of what remains of the Roxxon Oil factory – a mass of twisted metal, wood and more. They already suspect Howard, and Thompson and Chief head off to Roxxon.
Upstairs, Peggy has tracked down the dairy worker who drives the one truck missing from the dairy – the one that was probably used for the bombs. She’s about to head out, but stops by Sousa’s desk to flirt a little and get him to cover for her. It’s lucky she does, because she discovers that the SSR might have photo of her at Spider Raymond’s club. She’s momentarily saved when Sousa gets called away by Krzeminski before he can look at the photographs.
Ugh, and then Krzeminski appears with his sexist comment of the week – commanding Peggy to finish some reports for him and trying to chivvy her on by clapping his hands at her to get her to hurry up. It’s condescending and patronising, and I’d like to see him clipped round the ear for it.
Peggy calls Jarvis to warn him that the SSR is looking into the Roxxon explosion, and he needs to make Howard’s car disappear because it contains evidence of vita radiation.
At the Roxxon Oil offices, Chief and Thompson are drinking with the boss, an old friend of Howard’s. Everyone is willing to think the worst of Howard, and the Roxxon Oil guy, who seems to be modelled on Hugh Hefner, tells the agents that Howard was working on the formula for molecular nitromene, and its connections with vita radiation. Seems the pair have all they need to go after Howard.
Peggy’s still at the office, waiting for the men to head out to lunch so she can break into Sousa’s drawer and grab the photos from the club. Hiding under Sousa’s desk, Peggy’s phone begins to ring, almost giving her away to the agents in the room. Then Sousa’s phone starts going off, and it’s distracting enough to stop Peggy and give Sousa time to head back in and answer the call, which is Chief for Peggy, who manages to crawl back to her desk as if nothing has happened.
“What’s your name darling?”
Peggy heads to Roxxon Oil with the information about vita rays Chief has asked for, plus the vita ray detector. There, she’s called a secretary by Hefner and asked what her name is. In what is probably her best comeback yet, Peggy’s “Agent” burns like the brightest fire.
Chief wants everyone at Roxxon scanned for vita radiation. It’s risky, but a quick scan in the bathroom reveals to Peggy only her watch carries signs of radiation, so it’s promptly discarded.
Scanning is kind of boring, until the scientist Peggy knocked out in the factory turns up. The vita radiation device doesn’t register anything on him but unwilling to give up that easily, Peggy asks if the men change clothes after they arrive at work. As soon as Chief approves Peggy’s plan of scanning all the men’s clothes, off the scientist runs with Thompson and Chief in pursuit. Calmly, Peggy cuts the guy off using a shortcut, whacking him with a briefcase.
Now that the SSR have hold of the scientist, Van Ert, they offer a carrot or stick approach. Literally. Agent Carter is absolutely brilliant at visual comedy, so we see Chief place a carrot and a stick in front of Van Ert. The interrogation meshes comic timing with a noir edge, especially with Chief playing good cop, using an involved fishing analogy, and Thompson playing the bad cop, all rolled up sleeves, like he’s ready to punch someone. Which he does, when Van Ert fails to cooperate voluntarily.
The violence is a sharp departure from what we’ve seen previously, and from the Marvel Cinematic Universe films that Peggy Carter originated from. Up until now, all the violence in Agent Carter has been linked to an attack or threat on Peggy, or done by the bad guys, and in the MCU all the fighting Captain America and his peers do is because they’re saving someone or are under threat. But now, we see violence being used by the good guys. Thompson might be a sexist dolt, but seeing him torture Van Ert, because that’s what it is, is dark. The scene shows that Agent Carter, for all its upbeat music, colourful aesthetics and comedy lines, is a very grown up show. And to make it more chilling, Peggy doesn’t at all affected as she watched. Which may seem surprising, because Peggy is as much about truth and justice as Steve Rogers. But when you think about it, Peggy was heavily involved in a war. She probably did and saw unsavoury things, and she survived and learned to live with them.
Peggy heads to the diner to wait for Jarvis, and is distracted by Angie, who has found Peggy a perfect flat in a women only building, coincidentally the building Angie lives in. Angie isn’t sure why Peggy is reluctant, and is hurt by Peggy’s flimsy excuses.
“Who writes this rubbish?”
Peggy escapes with Jarvis and we’re treated to another extract from the Captain America Adventure Programme, which currently has the men defending their country and a nurse sewing their pants, and enjoying it. That’s not a euphemism. This radio show is so bad it’s not even funny (but kudos to the extremely talented Agent Carter writers for coming up with such appalling plotting and writing).
Jarvis drives down a dark country road. Dark country roads are never good. The pair are on their way to see the milk truck driver Sheldon McFee, and back at the SSR the guys are also getting close to cracking the case. They’ve got Leet Brannis’s name, and Sousa has managed to get the name of the milk truck driver as well. Also heading in that direction is Creepy Guy Two. Looks like it’s all going to kick off.
“If only Captain America was here to rescue me.”
Peggy and Jarvis arrive first, with Peggy spotting the milk truck, still full of bombs. Inside Sheldon McFee’s house he’s tuning his radio to the Captain America Adventure Programme, where the nurse, having finished with the pants, is now in danger. She is the complete opposite of Peggy, who definitely does not need Captain America, or any man, to rescue her.
Sheldon hears Peggy approaching and grabs his gun. The two fight, their battle interspersed with the battle from the Captain America Adventure Programme, highlighting just how wrong that show gets it about Cap and the war zone.
“Whatever happened to a nice cup of tea and a civil interrogation?”
Peggy bests Sheldon, tying him up and getting to ready to interrogate him when she hears Leet Brannis trying to start the milk truck. She catches him at gunpoint, and holding a gun to Leet’s head, and that speaking device to his throat, Peggy discovers that Leviathan is a what, not a who. He won’t tell her more about what Leviathan wants to get its hands on without some guarantee of protection.
Discovering Sheldon has disappeared, Peggy gets Leet to drive the truck and the trio – Peggy, Leet and a reluctant Jarvis sitting amongst the bombs – head back to New York. Things don’t go to plan when Creepy Guy Two jumps in top of the truck and starts shooting.
Thompson and Chief approach Sheldon’s place to find him running away, slowly, with a chair still tied to him.
Countering the ridiculousness of Sheldon, we cut to Peggy and Creepy Guy Two fighting on top of the truck, dislodging the bombs and accidentally shooting Leet. Peggy stabs Creepy Guy Two’s hand to the top of the truck and tells Jarvis to jump out, hoping the truck will go over the approaching ravine, which it does, landing in the water, where the bombs explode. The explosion is pretty bloody huge, but because it’s in the water neither Peggy or Jarvis are hurt, although Leet is dying and unwilling to give Peggy any information beyond a drawing of what looks like a heart with a snake going through it in the sand.
Hearing sirens drawing close, Peggy and Jarvis head out. Thompson, when he gets to the crime scene, isn’t happy that there always seems to be someone a step ahead of them, and Chief has spotted female footprints in the area around Leet’s body. And Sousa has found a room key for the Hotel Cosmopole.
“I can’t tell if you’re being arrogant or ignorant.”
Jarvis is stitching Peggy up, and also giving her a lecture about her prickly attitude. He sees right through her, knowing it’s designed to keep people away so they don’t get put in danger. For the second episode in a row Jarvis gives a good pep talk. Peggy still can’t quite open herself up, but comes close when she reveals that Steve could carry the weight of the world in his shoulders. Jarvis wrongfoots her again, saying that Steve, by all accounts, relied heavily in Peggy. *sob*
Jarvis’s talk clearly works, as we see Peggy and Angie together, heading to check out Peggy’s possible new abode. First, Peggy has to get through an interview with the schoolmarm-like woman in charge, but aces it when she tells her that she wants to find a husband. The men aren’t the only sexist ones around, the schoolmarm is charmed by Peggy’s answer, and we know Peggy is in once the woman starts reciting her strict rules for how the women under her roof should conduct themselves.
At the SSR, Sousa, Thompson and Chief are looking through the photos from Spider Raymond’s club, but to Peggy’s relief her face wasn’t caught on camera.
“Once again, the powers of freedom and democracy prevail.”
In the basement of the SSR, Krzeminski pulls a hunk of metal from the ruins of Roxxon Oil, a hunk of metal that turns out to be a number plate that surely leads right to Howard.