TV recap: Agent Carter season one, episode seven – Snafu

Previously on Agent Carter, Dr Ivchenko revealed himself, just to us, to be working for Leviathan. Meanwhile Peggy worked out that Dottie is a Russian assassin, but before she could do anything about it, she was caught by the SSR, who worked out that she’s been working to her own agenda all along.

“You’re awfully quiet.”

Russia, 1943, and in what looks like an army camp, an army doctor calls for Dr Ivchenko to come and hypnotise a soldier who is undergoing an operation in a tent, since the camp has run out of anaesthetic. The doctor says he needs to amputate, and Dr Ivchenko agrees to help by getting the patient to recall his time before the war, and putting him into a trance of some sort. It’s scary the power Dr Ivchenko has. We’ve already seen him kill one guy, and although he’s using it here to save a soldier’s life, I think it’s unlikely Dr Ivchenko will use his power for good.

In the present day, Peggy is holding firm in the face of questioning by Sousa, despite the evidence that’s piled up against her and seems to paint her as a traitor, and possible murderer. Sousa is feeling betrayed – he thought he and Peggy were friends so her secret life is a personal injury to him. Peggy’s not about to falsely confess to anything, and shouts out that Sousa is wasting time, and that the SSR need to be going after Dottie. 

Dr Ivchenko has Chief’s ear, and the pair are watching the interrogation. Thompson walks into the viewing room to give the news of the young agent’s death – the agent who Dr Ivchenko hypnotised into walking in front of a truck. Thompson is not quite so taken with Dr Ivchenko as others seem to be.

“I’ve never been more than what each of you has created.”

Deciding they need to push Peggy harder, Thompson, Sousa and Chief take turns to question Peggy. I love this sequence – the three interrogations are cut together, the lighting is moody, the music is frantic. It’s a beautiful bit of cinematography to go with a script in which the three men each try to get at Peggy in different ways. There is good-ish cop (surprisingly Thompson), bad cop (Sousa) and disappointed cop (Chief). It doesn’t work, with Peggy turning the tables on the three men, telling them they’ve never seen her properly, that they’ve made up a Peggy they like or want. Chief sees her as a stray kitten to be protected, to Thompson she’s the secretary turned damsel in distress, and to Sousa she’s on a pedestal.

Dottie is pram shopping. Er, why? 

“Carter, you’re out of the SSR.”

As nothing has worked, Thompson is now threatening Peggy with violence, albeit subtly. Maybe all is not lost, because Jarvis has turned up to see the Chief, with Howard’s signed confession. Chief is still reluctant to let Peggy, or Jarvis, go without seeing Howard in person. Once Howard is in the SSR, Peggy will be let go, permanently. 

Peggy’s surprised that Howard has confessed, and it’s no wonder, Jarvis has faked the confession. I’m not sure, and neither is Peggy, as to where this leaves Peggy and Jarvis. Peggy may be free of handcuffs, but she’s still locked in a room surrounded by agents. How will she work her way out of this?

Despite how busy he is, there is still time for Chief to have marital problems. He and his wife are having a conversation on the phone, while Dr Ivchenko listens in, and it ends with Chief’s wife allowing him to come over for dinner to talk. How do these supposedly smart(-ish) men not see how creepy Dr Ivhcenko is?

From her interrogation room Peggy can see Dr Ivchenko in Chief’s officer, tapping out a message – we can see it’s to Dottie, who is across the street. Peggy and Jarvis, who can both read Morse code, work out that the message is telling Dottie to prepare for evacuation in 90 minutes, and Leviathan is coming.

“If you want a confession, if you want the truth, I’ll give it to you.”

Knowing no other way to get Chief on side, Peggy reveals Howard’s confession is fake, and then tells him, Thompson and Sousa about tracking down Howard’s stolen weapons. The guys are still doubtful, so Peggy pulls out the big guns – the vial of Steve’s blood. She breaks my heart by doing so, telling the SSR guys that she didn’t bring the sample in because “I suppose I just wanted a second chance at keeping him safe”. *ugly sobbing* And that’s what it takes for Sousa to believe her, and for doubts about her guilt to be planted in Thompson and Chief’s minds.

Chief sends Sousa and Thompson across the road to check out the building where Peggy says someone was receiving a message from Dr Ivchenko, while he heads to his office to talk to the psychiatrist. As Dr Ivchenko shuts the window in Chief’s office, he sees SSR agents heading across the road, and knows the game is almost up. So he decides the time is right to do his hypnotising thing, and starts to put Chief in a trance by forcing him to focus on memories of happier times with his wife and children.

While Thompson and Sousa are searching the building across the road, Chief takes Peggy and Jarvis into the interrogation room, pretending he has something to tell them, then threatens them with a gun and locks them in. He then takes Dr Ivchenko down to the lab, and chucks the scientists out. Once they’ve gone, Dr Ivchenko has Chief locate one of Howard’s inventions – Item 17. I don’t know what it is, but I’m not a fan of odd numbers so I’m guessing it’s not good. While hunting for Item 17, Dr Ivchenko comes across what looks like a piece of body armour – a vest – he says is very delicate.

Dottie tries to slip out of the building past Sousa, who seems like he’s in control when he asks her to stop. His luck is not in, and he gets in a vicious fight with Dottie, who manages to escape into the stairwell. Sousa tries shooting her, but Dottie jumps down the centre of the stairwell, level to level, getting to the bottom and being faced with another SSR agent who hesitates before shooting her.

At the SSR, Dr Ivchenko is leaving with Item 17 (it’s something that was in a crate). Before he does, he hands over the body armour he found in the lab, and tells Chief that his family is waiting.

Thompson heads to the stairwell to find the agent facing Dottie down has died. Dottie has made it out of the building, and picks up Dr Ivchenko, who is not at all worried that the SSR have found out he and Dottie are both working for Leviathan.

Peggy and Jarvis are handcuffed to the table in the interrogation room, and provide a bit of lightness in a serious episode by deciding the only way for them to get out is to use the table to smash the one-way mirror and get out through the next room’s door. Only they’re still attached to a table, which only occurs to them after they’ve smashed the window. Lucky for them, Thompson appears.

“Tell them I’m sorry I missed dinner.”

Chief has arrived home, where his son is painting a birdhouse. Chief’s wife is surprised that he’s left work early. He’s certainly acting strange, BECAUSE HE’S BEEN HYPNOTISED. Only Chief isn’t at home, he’s in his office asleep and dreaming while Thompson and Peggy try to get in through the locked door. Chief’s wearing that armoured jacket, which seems to have a heating implement on it. It looks nuclear.

Jarvis recognises the vest Chief is wearing as a new type of body armour, which was also supposed to be self-heating to keep the wearer warm. Jarvis informs the SSR that the heating implement overheats, and will explode.

Over the road, Sousa has found the dead dentist, plus Dottie’s written instructions from Dr Ivchenko’s messages, and heads to the window where he discovers he has a view of the SSR.

Chief is burning up, and warns Thompson and Peggy that Dr Ivchenko has stolen something from the lab, and that they’re not to let him speak to them. The scientist from the lab can’t work out how to stop the vest from heating up, they can’t cut it off because they don’t have time, and ice won’t work because the device is impervious to all outside forces. Chief says he knows what to do. 

He makes Peggy promise that she’ll catch Dr Ivchenko, and then he runs through the office and jumps out the window, where the vest explodes. Oh. It’s awful and so sad. This man, who wasn’t usually very nice, but who was good at his job, sacrificing himself to save his colleagues and to make sure the bad guys are caught. Rest in peace Chief.

“I did this…this is my fault.”

Peggy feels incredibly guilty, but Jarvis points out it’s the fault of Howard’s inventions. So what is it that Dr Ivchenko has stolen? What is Item 17? Is it the blood?

Dottie walks into a cinema with the pram. Oh goodness, has she got a bomb in there? Is that what Item 17 is? She pulls back the blanket in the pram to reveal a canister of some sort, and releases the valve on it before walking out. Not a bomb then. Since we’ve heard so much about the Battle of Finow, is this the gas that was used there? Dottie is met outside the cinema by Dr Ivchenko, and the two head out.

In the SSR’s lab, Peggy discovers Steve’s blood is still there. Searching the crates, the scientists discover Item 17 is missing, but no one knows what it does.

In the cinema, people start coughing, and then choking, and then fighting each other. It’s chaos, as people punch and kick and gouge each other’s eyes out. Outside, a couple arrive at the theatre late, and when the usher leads them to the screen, it’s to open the door and find a room full of bloodied, battered, dead people. 

Marvel musings

Agent Carter might have a fun soundtrack, a brilliant aesthetic and funny scenes and quips, but it’s a dark show, and it’s during episodes like this one that I remember it’s not just a show about a plucky female agent, her geeky sidekick and a mystery they need to solve, but a post-Second World War set programme in which the darkness of the war looms large. Agent Carter has never been afraid of its darkness, and its writers can effortlessly make the move between comedy and tragedy. This episode featured a bit of both, making the heartbreaking, horrifying moments more heartbreaking and horrifying.

-Snafu was set pretty much exclusively inside the offices of the SSR, yet I thought it was full of energy, well paced and never felt claustrophobic. The talent of the Agent Carter team is to be applauded. 

-Dr Ivchenko’s real name, as revealed in the flashback at the top of the episode, is Dr Fennhoff, who, a quick bit of research tells me, is the real name of a villain from Captain America called Faustus. I don’t have anything else for you on this, sorry.

-one more episode to go. How will it all tie together?

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