‘Agent Carter’ Season 1 Recap, Episode 7: ‘Snafu’
In last week's recap of Agent Carter I posited that this penultimate episode would see the cast largely confined to the SSR offices, which seems rather less interesting than seeing a rogue Peggy kicking ass at-large on the streets of 1940s New York City. And lo, the prophecy came to pass, with Peggy almost entirely sidelined in her own show, and no-one really stepping up to fill the void.
As a result, episode 7, "Snafu," directed by Vincent Misiano and written by Chris Dingess, was a bit of a disappointment --- though it did offer some top quality Dottie (Bridget Regan), an actual super-villain, and a very welcome character development for Chief Dooley (Shea Whigham).
The episode opens with a flashback to the Russian front during World War II, where "Dr Ivchenko" (Ralph Brown) is reading Doctor Faustus by the light of the falling bombs. In English, of course, so that we the audience at home won't miss this vital clue. Ivchenko's real name is revealed as Dr Fennhoff, which is of course the real name of the mind-manipulating Captain America villain Faustus. So, ten points to House Me for guessing his identity back when he first appeared! Faustus (let's cut to the chase and call him that, it's much more exciting) is shown using his hypnotism to send a soldier into a nostalgic reverie while the doctors cut off his leg.
In the present day, Peggy (Hayley Atwell) is interrogated by Sousa (Ever Gjokaj), Thompson (Chad Michael Murray) and Dooley, who pull the old "boring cop/smug cop/third cop" routine. But Peggy is unflappable, and holds to her conviction that interrogating her is a waste of time when Dottie is at large.
And Dottie is at large and fabulous. No longer faking it as an Iowa farm girl, Dottie goes shopping for a baby carriage boasting a slick new black-and-white look that's the sartorial equal and opposite of Peggy's red, white and blue in episode one. These ladies need to have a walk-off.
Jarvis (James D'Arcy) arrives at the SSR with a confession from Howard Stark that exonerates Peggy. He says he'll provide the signed page in exchange for Peggy's freedom. Dooley says she can leave when Stark walks in --- and PS she's fired, obviously.
Left waiting in the meeting room, Peggy is slow to realize that the confession is a forgery, but quick to spot Faustus relaying a message in Morse code to an unseen partner by tapping on the windowsill. Knowing that an attack is coming in the next ninety minutes, Peggy tosses out the fake confession and gives a real one, revealing everything that's happened so far, up to and including the existence of a vial of Steve Rogers' blood. And in case you missed the underlying message of the last six episodes, Peggy makes it plain; the reason she was able to get away with so much is that none of them believed a woman was capable of anything. Unfortunately it's 1940 and no-one has invented video on demand, so the fellas can't watch the first six episodes of the show they're in.
Dooley isn't buying that Faustus is a villain, because Dooley's simple man brain is already under Faustus's spell. Accordingly, he locks Peggy and Jarvis in an interrogation room and breaks the key in the lock, and takes Faustus to the lab to pick out a prize for being such a good boy.
Sousa and Thompson take a couple of men across the street to look for Faustus's partner. Sousa finds Dottie and gets his ass kicked, and Dottie makes a spectacular escape by controlled descent down a stairwell. Dottie reunites with Faustus and they drive off with 'Item 17' from the fall/winter Stark collection.
And Peggy misses all the action because she and Jarvis are handcuffed to a table.
Thankfully Thompson finds them in time to bring them out to witness Dooley's big moment. See, poor hypnotized Dooley, living out a fantasy of boring 1940s domestic bliss, has been tricked into wearing a prototype Stark armor that's heating up and about to explode. In a display of superb timing, Dooley throws himself out of a window at just the right moment to ensure the explosion doesn't kill anyone at SSR or anyone on the street below.
Okay then. Bye Dooley. Bye. Don't let the... well, never mind.
Peggy blames herself for Dooley's death; Jarvis persuades her to blame Howard instead, which is an excellent coping mechanism. This reminds Peggy about Steve's blood, but it turns out Faustus and Dottie (what a great name for a supervillain duo; "Faustus and Dottie") did not come for the blood, they came for... Item 17.
And in a movie theater somewhere across town, Dottie abandons a baby carriage containing this Item 17, a canister that emits a gas that forces everyone in the theater to kill each other.
Oh, Dottie, you and your hijinx. (Canned laughter.)
How frustratiing to have a Peggy-lite episode of The Peggy Show. All she got to do was warn people of a vague threat, warn people of a specific threat, and break a mirror with a table --- in a comedy scene that served as the character's only moment of action. Really, if Peggy Carter doesn't get to judo throw at least one goon every week, what are we all doing here?
Perhaps the episode was meant to remind us that Peggy is too valuable to be pushed aside, but isn't that the message of the whole season? I'm on board, show. I believe you. If you need to distract Peggy so that Dooley can get his sad fool self blown up, distract her with Russian ninja ladies, not a locked door.
But if the heroes were letting us down this week, at least we got to see some good villainy. Ralph Brown is convincingly sinister as Faustus, a character created by Stan and Jack back in 1968, and Dottie is as formidable as she is stylish. I am currently living for inevitable the Dottie/Peggy throwdown next episode.
Dooley's death scene was hella goofy. But he died as he lived. Stupidly.
I hate to ask, but does the SSR not have a front door? Jarvis comes to the offices through the organization's fake switchboard, but as Jarvis himself points out, he's been here before. Well how did he get in and out last time? Do prisoners all get marched in and out through the fake switchboard?
Speaking of prisoners, why doesn't the SSR have any cells? Peggy is held in a meeting room for much of the episode. She's briefly held in an interrogation room, which not only connects to the next room with a mirror with no bars behind it, but also connects to the corridor with a glass-paneled door. If Peggy could break out of handcuffs, she'd have been out of that room in a second.
Why can't Peggy break out of handcuffs? Everyone on television can break out of handcuffs, just like everyone on television has an eidetic memory.
Was the exploding 'armor' that killed Dooley some sort of proto-Iron Man suit? Or at the very least an early version of the arc reactor? It was Stark Tech, so that may have been the implication, but I'm not sure how that fits the timeline.
Do the Russians not know about Steve's blood? It seems remarkable that they would go to all this trouble and leave the vial of blood behind, especially when Dottie came so close to discovering it in Peggy's apartment. Are we to believe that Dottie was searching Peggy's jewelry box for a giant canister of gas?
And, oh yes, about that giant canister of gas! What the deuce? Is the murder gas meant to tie in to something Marvelous? Hulk gas before Hulk? Mister Hyde gas? Psycho-Man gas? Oh my gosh, I hope Item 17 is Psycho-Man's Control Box! (It won't be; too alien for Stark, and too Fantastic Four for Marvel.)