Marvel's Agent Carter Review by Henry Tran

Marvel's Agent Carter 1.07: SNAFU

Marvel's Agent Carter 1.07: SNAFU

Written By:
Chris Dingess
Directed By:
Vincent Misiano

It's such a shame to me that Agent Carter is getting such low ratings. Yes, it was intended as a placeholder to go through the winter hiatus for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (a show the network has clearly invested more in than this), but it has turned into a consistently entertaining, delightful, at times incredibly suspenseful and surprising series. It has achieved this in a handful of episodes, which is another remarkable thing in itself. Some series with a much higher profile (Gotham, to name one) have struggled to do what only seems so natural to this one.

It's really due to a combination of factors mixing together to work like a finely-tuned machine, and that starts with the cast and continues onto the story the characters are playing out. What really helps this episode is that the story is fueled by a great and rather obvious jumping off point: The SSR arresting Peggy and interrogating her after discovering that she had been running a separate investigation into Howard Stark without their input.

As per usual, it's Peggy that really carries much of the episode, especially in the beginning. The back-and-forth between her and Agents Sousa and Thompson along with Chief Dooley was really enjoyable. Careful editing and subtle shifts between each man's interrogation technique put the viewer squarely on Peggy's side with each query into her clandestine activities. This isn't done for comedic effect (Gotham, for example, wants to be stylish with their lead character conducting a series of interrogations in montage form that isn't anywhere as innovative or refreshing as it is here). It's done to show how remarkably out of touch all three men are when it comes to actually achieving a goal. They're so concerned with what Peggy might have hidden from them that it gives the actual bad guys time to move their plan along at their own pace.

And it doesn't stop with just showing this. It has Peggy outright saying that the men are doing everything wrong. Even when Jarvis arrives at the SSR with a last ditch bluff attempt to save Peggy from doom, it reeks of the sexism the men in the office have been guilty of the entire time. I absolutely loved it when Peggy calls all three men -- dedicated and skilled agents in their own right -- out on the blatant sexism that has blinded them from seeing who Peggy really is and what she's truly capable of doing. The switch in storytelling methodology keeps a key aspect of the series -- one that I've decried as being way over-the-top at times -- from getting stale and also serves as a key plot point.

By the end of the episode, every man in the SSR realizes the value that Peggy Carter brings to what they do. Dr. Ivchenko (whose real identity is most likely the villianous Doctor Faustus) has masterfully manipulated the situation to accomplish his goals. He takes Item 17 from the lab then once he is done with burrowing into Chief Dooley's head and memories of his family (which, judging by Ivchenko's blase expression throughout, the doctor regards almost like a hobby), he sticks an armor vest on the unsuspecting Chief. I think that does a bit of disservice to how thoroughly Ivchenko and Leviathan has worked the SSR. 

Peggy is only one person and despite her tendency towards super heroics, there is only so much she can do to stop an operation as big as Leviathan. They have devastated the SSR. The vest puzzle has no foreseeable solution to save the Chief so he's left with the only alternative available to him: He has to sacrifice himself instead of taking the whole office along with him. Before he does, he finally acknowledges Peggy's importance to the organization by asking her to find whoever did this and to make them pay. Every man in that office knows now that Peggy is the key piece to take Leviathan down. They didn't know that before all of this. The glorified secretary with all of the famous connections during the war is now regarded as a full-fledged agent. She is just getting that acknowledgement -- something the show has been building to from the very beginning -- at a time when the organization just lost its head man.

It wouldn't be so inconceivable for the office to make her the de facto leader, at least until Leviathan is over and done with, because Agent Thompson is out of his depth on this one. Peggy seems to be the only one who understands the severity of the Leviathan threat, though. Jarvis does as well, and it's always a delight to watch as the two Brits in the series play off one another as if they just belong in that era. But the threat is real, as the final scene of the episode does indicate. 

Item 17 turns out to be some kind of experimental gaseous chemical that makes its victims ill and then extremely violent. It's certainly a scary prospect if Leviathan were to somehow mass produce the chemical in order to launch a more widescale attack. The story really can go any number of ways when it wraps up with the finale next. There has to be some way to get this series to continue beyond just eight episodes. It's just too good to end so abruptly.

Our Grade:
The Good:
  • Peggy finally upstages the boys once and for all
  • All the plot pieces fall into place
The Bad:
  • Will the powers-that-be ignore the numbers and bring back this quality series?

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 - 2/23/2015 7:49 AM163 views

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