This Agent Carter review contains spoilers.
While always a blast, Agent Carter has (so far) avoided Marvel’s trademark wacky humor. While constantly fun, there have been very few laugh out loud moments, and the series has instead taken a restrained tone to go with the movie serial action. That all changed on this week’s episode as the first half of “A Sin to Err” was raucously funny while the second half was real heart in throat type stuff with Peggy Carter caught between the two-pronged assault of her own SSR allies and Leviathan.
First the funny stuff. Last week, Peggy discovered the Red Room, the program in Russia that churned out female super spies, the same program that will one day produce Natasha Romanov, the Black Widow. Now, Peggy knew that if Howard Stark had one weakness, it was ladies, so Peggy and Jarvis proceeded to track down every lady that Stark had an affair with in the Metropolitan area.
Let’s just say it ended with Jarvis getting smacked.
Peggy couldn’t find the real Red Room killer, Dottie, who happens to be her own neighbor, but the viewer knew exactly what the proto-Black Widow was up to and as soon as Dottie made her presence felt, things got deadly serious. Last week, while raiding the Red Room, Carter was able to gain a new asset for the SSR, Dr. Ivchenko, a Russian psychologist. This week, in one of the most effective scenes the show has produced, Dr. Ivchenko was in Dottie’s sights.
Before this gripping moment, we got to know Dr. Ivchenko as a person, complete with the ultra-violent origin story on how he was recruited by Leviathan. His tale of woe brought him close to Agent Dooley who confided in Dr. Ivchenko some very personal details about his marriage. The whole time, Dottie had the good Doctor in the sight of her rifle. It was some good, old fashioned dramatic tension, but Dottie wasn’t targeting Dr. Ivchenko at all. Instead, she was receiving a message from him to take down Carter because the good Russian Doctor was totally playing the SSR.
Now, this moment accomplished a number of things for the series: It revealed some juicy details on Dooley making him so much more than just the gruff boss of the SSR. In a single moment, the series had two big bads, Dr. Ivchenko and Dottie, a dual threat that spelled serious trouble for Carter and company. Both Dr. Ivchenko and Dottie are pure movie serial villains, the deadly femme fatale and the evil hypnotist, but darn it, it just worked. We still don’t know what Leviathan’s end game is, but the villainous organization now has a face, two in fact, the face of the dangerous Dottie and the deceitful, Bela Lugosi like Dr. Ivchenko.
Dooley wasn’t the only supporting character fleshed out as tonight was also Angie’s chance to shine. We have seen bits and pieces of Angie, Peggy’s best gal pal, and her struggle to become an actor, but it hasn’t been much. This week, when the SSR closed in on Peggy, Angie got to put on an Oscar winning performance to throw Sousa and Thompson off Peggy’s trail. Too bad it was for naught as after Angie’s brilliant performance; Dottie caught up to Peggy and took her down. The SSR actually saved Peggy from Natasha Romanov’s predecessor by taking her into custody.
When Peggy and Dottie finally do lock horns, it promises to be epic. I’m willing to go out on a limb here and say that besides Agent Ward, Dottie is the most effective villain to appear on Marvel TV. Now, after the limp first half of Agents of SHIELD’s inaugural season, that might not be saying much, but SHIELD has upped the villain quotient as of late and Dottie trumps them all.
There’s a certain tragedy to Dottie, a woman who was tortured and molded into a killer and is still marked by the handcuff scars on her wrist from where she shackles herself into bed every night. She is both a twisted reflection of Peggy and a constant reminder of what Natasha Romanov endured and overcame to be an Avenger. That’s a crapload of stuff going on with one villain.
A few other things worth mentioning: The awesome fight in the automat where Peggy took down like six thousand SSR agents and just how easily Carter took down Thompson, a man who was really ultra snide to her in the show’s first few episodes. Too bad Thompson has a new found respect for Carter after last week’s mission to Russia because being punked like that must have hurt his feelings.
Again, not much Jarvis this week. He was kind of the first act’s comic relief but there is still this great Emma Peel/John Steed vibe between Jarvis and Carter, a vibe that was particularly evident in the automat brawl.
We ended things with Carter in custody, Dottie on the loose, and the evil Dr. Ivchenko still loose in the SSR. We only have to episodes to go and I still love visiting this unique piece of Marvel history. Today, fans were enraptured with the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a future that will now include a certain friendly neighborhood wall crawler, but I am concerned with the past, the past of a certain brave British secret agent fighting for the ideals of her fallen love, a past I want to visit again for many years to come.
Retro Marvel Moments
Peggy still has that vial of Captain America’s blood. Could this Super Soldier Serum laden plasma somehow end up back in Russia and be used to create the Winter Soldier? Something to think about, no?
Marc Buxton was so ready for someone named Parker to pop up somewhere on Agent Carter but not even Marvel could work that fast…could they?