Marvel's Agent Carter Review by Henry Tran

Marvel's Agent Carter 1.04: The Blitzkrieg Button

Marvel's Agent Carter 1.04: The Blitzkrieg Button

Written By:
Brant Englestein
Directed By:
Stephen Cragg

This show started out with such a bang that there had to be the eventual change coming around. Where the first three episodes of Agent Carter put itself forward with a ton of confidence, this time was rooted in the show's spy feel. It did feel, at times, like the show made a concerted effort to push Peggy out of the spotlight in order to make way for more development on the supporting characters. That's a laudable goal, even for a show that isn't running a full season.

Peggy is obviously the central character here. That doesn't mean the other characters should get the short end of the stick. It should, however, be focused on a handful of characters at a time, instead of the approach done in this episode, which spread around everything. "Time and Tide" was great at giving Edwin Jarvis depth by going into his backstory, for example. The widespread approach made the episode feel a bit under-developed at times.

So it's a good thing that the show has Peggy's relationship with Howard Stark to fall back on. Their first appearance together in "Now is Not the End" amounted to a cameo appearance from Stark as setup for the main plotline of the series. Here, the relationship is expanded upon, and that means there's a lot of fun and hijinx to be had. Both he and Peggy do seem to realize that the burden is all on her to deal with the theft of his inventions, while all he does is hide from the people hunting him and sleeping around with pretty women. But more than that, it's a relationship that has been seen earlier in the first Captain America movie so there's more opportunities for friction as well as camaraderie. He wouldn't trust her with this mission otherwise if there wasn't some part of him that liked her. 

That trust is violated when Howard intentionally lies to Peggy about the true nature of the titular "Blitzkrieg Button" invention. Even as Steve Rogers is considered to be dead during this time, he is still the one thing that ties Peggy and Stark together. Rogers' vial of blood, like all of Howard's inventions, will prove crucial to the future of the Marvel universe so Howard's desperation at keeping it out of the SSR's hands is understandable. The cost of Peggy's friendship may be too much for Howard to pay, though. His betrayal does clarify Peggy's ongoing purpose, which is to strive to live up to what Steve Rogers sacrificed himself for in the war. I don't know how Howard is going to get her back onto his side, but it's great to see that not everything about their relationship is running so smoothly.

The rest of the episode seems to point towards an inevitable clash between Peggy's mission to clear Howard Stark's name and the SSR's further investigation into the show's myriad of villains. They seem to be coming from every which way too. Chief Dooley's interrogation of a Nazi war criminal looked to yield little value. His absence stateside only meant for Agent Thompson to get more shading than he has been so far. 

I like that Thompson is more complicated than he appears to be. He'll still get things done, or rather, won't stand in the way for others to get things done (as he does with Sousa in their dual questioning of the homeless man who witnessed Peggy and Jarvis' actions down by the docks), but that doesn't mean it lessens the misogynistic parts of his personality.

The show seems to be saying through multiple parts of this episode for everyone to look beyond what's on the surface, which isn't easy to do. Sousa can't be seen as anything but his missing leg, which is his defining feature upon returning from the war. The man by the docks can't be seen as more than a drunk veteran even though he holds a crucial piece of information to aid the SSR's investigation. 

The typewriter is dismissed as an ordinary object used to transmit some kind of signal somewhere, only to be taken seriously once it starts typing by itself. Even Dottie gets a change in character that -- though predictable right from her introduction -- should raise alarm with everyone else in how to read the people in this universe. It's growing more and more complicated, which should make for a greater impact once the two core aspects of the show collide.

Our Grade:
The Good:
  • A successful shift in tone for the miniseries
The Bad:
  • Howard is still an oddly weak element of the overall character set

Henry Tran is a regular contributor of review for Critical Myth; The Critical Myth Show is heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @HenYay

Marvel's Agent Carter by - 1/29/2015 8:38 AM214 views

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