About half way through this week’s episode, I had my first dose of Marvel Studios ennui. Another McGuffin hunt Marvel, really? Another mysterious super powerful sphere for the hero to find before an evil force got its hands on it? Haven’t we been down this road a number of times, I ask? Well, clearly I am an ass because this week’s Agent Carter promised the clichéd and delivered the surprises and taught me never to underestimate Marvel again.
We still didn’t have a concrete villain but we did have Mr. Mink, a creepo of an assassin with a really cool mini-machine gun pistol; he took an interest in Peggy Carter this week, too. As far as I can tell, there has never been a comic book appearance for this bleach blond killer, so I felt he was a bit generic. But before we look at how the episode pulled off a villainous bait and switch, let us take a look at how Mr. Mink got involved in Miss Carter’s world.
After a few weeks absence, Howard Stark arrived back in New York. And following an awesome opening of Peggy and Jarvis taking down the thugs that smuggled Howard back into the country, Peggy had to hide the elder Stark in her apartment. You know the one, the one with the nosy matron who hates, hates, hates gentleman callers. Well, if she doesn’t like lecherous males then Howard Stark is her worst nightmare because before you can blink, Howie was hooking up with two of Peggy’s neighbors. Seriously, how awesome is Dominic Cooper in this role? Somehow, he brings his own take to the role while channeling his best Robert Downey Jr. There is a great chemistry between Cooper and Hayley Atwell that builds on their history that began in Captain America: The First Avenger. This type of character development is just one of the reasons why the movie to television synergy that Marvel has working is just so cool.
Howard is afraid that one of the pieces of tech that Carter found last week could mean trouble for the Big Apple. This is where the episode almost lost me. The tech in question was called the Blitzkrieg Button and this is where the episode almost lost me. The Button was designed to take out a whole city’s power grid. I was like, “What, really, are they that desperate for a plot device?” That’s just movie serial silly, and granted movie serial silly would be appropriate for the time period in which the series takes place. But, really, a button? Oh, I should have known better. It turned out that it wasn’t some silly little plot device that was contained in the metal orb that Carter pilfered from SSR headquarters; it was a vial of Captain America’s blood. In that one reveal, the episode went from silly to powerfully personal. Peggy now held a piece of the man she lost, a man that she almost has a religious reverence towards.
Before the reveal, the banter between Peggy and Howard was pretty breezy and fun, but after Peggy found the blood of her beloved, things got very serious real quick. Now, the question of Stark profiteering off the legacy of Steve Rogers came up and the same conflict that Tony Stark and Steve Rogers had in the Avengers, patriotism versus opportunism came up between Stark and Carter. Perhaps we can call this a preview of the ideals that could lead to Civil War. Like I said before: synergy!
As Stark was tucked away in Peggy’s home, Mr. Mink was casing the joint, ready to strike with his cool little mini gun. This is where things got super cool, as Mink busted into the apartment he threatened one of Peggy’s neighbors, one of the blonds that Stark hooked up with. Yes, the matron would not approve, but she would probably have improved less when the blond snapped Mink’s neck. Okay, now we have a villain that raises some eyebrows. A capable female spy living undetected next door to Peggy? This can lead to a showdown for the ages. With the talk of Leviathan and the Russians, could this spy be part of the same program that will one day produce Natasha Romanov? Something to think about.
There was quite a bit of SSR action as well as the series began to discern some nuances in Agents Thompson, Dooley, and Sousa. Sousa in particular really shined this week as he tried to press a homeless thug into giving up some info that could lead Sousa to find out about the relationship between Carter and the very wanted for treason Howard Stark. Sousa tried to appear to the broken vet’s humanity, but Agent Thompson got the truth out of him by giving him a bottle of hooch and a burger. Thompson and Sousa have this nice idealism versus pragmatism thing going that makes for some interesting duality within the SSR.
The SSR boss, Agent Dooley traveled to Germany to question a soon-to-be hung Nazi regarding those two Leviathan killers that Carter took out in the pilot. These scenes served as a reminder of the Russian connection to the mystery of the missing Stark weapons, and it also got to show Dooley as a bad ass. Sadly, the other member of our cast, Jarvis apart, did not see much action this week.
This episode, it was Stark and Carter’s chance to shine as the differences in their personal philosophies of duty and patriotism served as an ominous foreshowing between the coming conflict between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers.
And I seriously don’t want to down play how seriously awesome the death of Mr. Mink was. Carter might not be the deadliest woman in that building. Whatever would the matron say?
Retro Marvel Moments
I love making Howard Stark so pivotal in the creation of Captain America. The combining of the Stark legacy with the Rogers legacy makes for some nice dual history between two of Marvel’s biggest icons. I expect the comics to follow suit on this historical blending.
We were treated to the most shoehorned in Stan Lee cameo to date. Excelsior!
I mentioned Natasha Romanov earlier. The preview for next week showed a young Russian girl with incredible gymnastic skills taking down some SSR agents. Could this young lady be somehow connected to the Black Widow?