Agent Carter: SNAFU Review

With only one episode in season one remaining, Agent Carter continues to play a high-stakes game. Here's our review...

This Agent Carter review contains spoilers.

With only eight episodes to play with, I should have known that this series would be playing a high-stakes game. There would be no room for wheel spinning or fun, but frivolous episodes.

One really has to give this show credit, the brain trust behind Agent Carter didn’t have much time to make viewers care about the show’s supporting characters. But despite the dearth of onscreen minutes to develop the show’s cast into fully realized human beings, the writers of Agent Carter succeeded in bringing these people to life. That is why the climax of this week’s episode was so darn painful as we were forced to say goodbye to Roger Dooley in an explosive farewell, and it freakin’ hurt.

First off, I need to see Ivchenko violently killed. The way the evil hypnotist preyed on Dooley’s unstable family life was pure evil. Again, a series like this needs a good villain and Ivchenko is that in spades. He is a complex man, a man who was shown in flashback easing a young soldier’s pain by hypnotizing him to think about a chess game with his beloved mother, but a man who is more than willing to gas a theatre full of innocent people or mentally compel Dooley to strap on an experimental Stark tech vest and blow up SSR headquarters. I guess you can say that Ivchenko is a patriot who truly believes his actions are just. Be that as it may, I hope Carter or Sousa puts a bullet right into his mesmerizing eye next week.

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The whole infiltration of SSR HQ was done so Ivchenko and Dottie could steal one of Stark’s weapons. Not the vial of Captain America blood like Peggy feared, but a gas that turns people into violent raving maniacs. I guess Ivchenko saw Kingsmen: The Secret Service decades before it was released? Other than that strange bit of plot synergy between Agent Carter and Kingsmen, the scene in the theatre was disturbing as hell and showed just how callous Dottie truly was. I look forward to seeing Peggy take her down next week.

While we discuss all things British, let us focus once again on just how wonderful Peggy and Jarvis are as an onscreen duo. This week, with Peggy captured by SSR, Jarvis took it upon himself to stage a rescue under the false pretenses of delivering a signed confession from Howard Stark. Of course, Dooley didn’t just let Peggy and Jarvis walk so the two were stuck in SSR HQ while Ivchenko and Dottie had free reign to complete their plans. The always brilliant Agent Carter, who was stripped of her rank and title, quickly figured out that Ivchenko was a double agent.

Sadly, by this time, Dooley was under his compete control and was not going to believe that Carter spied Ivchenko communicating with Dottie. The intensity of the episode was broken up by the comedic and very British repartee between Carter and Jarvis. Seriously, just give these two their own comic and film now because I would watch and read this modern day Steed and Peel in anything! The bit with the table and the two way mirror? Bloody brilliant.

Anyway, the whole not trusting Carter thing was a microcosm of the entire series’ thematic center. Carter knew everything about Ivchenko’s nature, but as usual, no one believed her and this time it cost Dooley his life. When Dooley finally investigated Carter’s tale, it was too late. Sousa and Thompson led a team to the neighboring building to investigate Carter’s claims that Ivchenko was communicating with another party. This led to a confrontation between the SSR and Dottie. The Marvel shows are known for their superior fight choreography, but this sequence fell well short of Marvel’s usual standard of excellence as Sousa and a number of other SSR cannon fodder had many opportunities to shoot Dottie, but just kind of stood there with their mouths open like a starving man gaping at a corn dog. It was stilted and poorly edited and took me out of the action.

But the drama with Dooley pulled me right back in, as right before the series dispatched Dooley for good; it totally humanized him and made you feel the loss of Carter’s boss. In his head, Dooley was with his family, at that family dinner he never could quite make, but in reality, he was strapped to an unstable piece of Stark technology that was ready to blow. I was expecting Howard Stark to pop up and disarm the vest; I was ready for Peggy to pull something out of her bag of tricks or for Sousa to save the day, but not this time, as in his final act, Dooley dove through a window to save his agents’ lives.

Which begs the question, what the hell is Howard Stark inventing such insanely deadly weapons for? Is he that sociopathic or is the futurist trying to get ready for the coming of the super human, to have weapons at the ready for when organizations like Leviathan or HYDRA rise?

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Whatever the case, next week, we say farewell to the world of Peggy Carter. We have the coming confrontation between Peggy and Dottie to look forward to as well as the remaining SSR survivors avenging their fallen boss. I also look forward to Peggy and Jarvis confronting Stark on why he is hording and creating apocalyptic weaponry. It’s a good sign that ABC advertised next week as the season finale and not the series finale because as much as I love Agents of SHIELD (especially this season), I am loathe to leave brave Peggy and her fight against evil.

Retro Marvel Moments

– Ivchenko was reading The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe at the beginning of the episode. Does that suggest that Ivchenko is Dr. Faustus, the Captain America villain who has been name dropped on Agents of SHIELD?

– Ivchenko also has similar powers to Ant-Man villain the Voice, but I’m really taking a deep nerd dive on that one.

– So Howard Stark built armor with a self sufficient power source, huh? Could Tony Stark have had those designs in mind when he built his armor in a certain cave? Man, there would be a certain tragedy if the Iron Man legacy began with the first proto-Iron Man suit being instrumental in the death of poor Agent Dooley, huh?

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3.5 out of 5