Can you believe we’re already halfway through Agent Carter’s first season? To mark the occasion playboy plot driver and scene-stealer extraordinaire Howard Stark returns to rock Peggy’s beliefs to their very core.
Stark’s homecoming seems like a spectacularly dumb move, especially for a man with his smarts, but it’s one motivated by necessity – the SSR unwittingly possesses the last vial of Captain America’s blood, and Stark needs it back. We’ve known since the first episode’s teasing cliffhanger that Stark and Jarvis weren’t to be entirely trusted, but concealing the truth from Peggy turns out to be a bigger mistake than they could have realised. Amid all the ass-backwards work politics Peggy’s mission has always been clear – recover Stark’s missing weapons before the enemy can cause untold chaos. That she can no longer trust Stark, and by extension Jarvis, leaves her with almost nowhere else to turn. In a world of double crosses, double dealings and double agents she might have expected it, but the blow is no less devastating.
Peggy’s also lumbered with some heartbreaking home truths by Thompson who, in Dooley’s absence, is put in charge of the SSR. Thompson may be a smug jerk, but he’s annoyingly good at his job and a realist who doesn’t sugar coat the uphill struggle she faces, “This is a man’s world.” And Peggy knows it. By the end of the episode she’s at her lowest ebb since Steve Rogers nosedived into an iceberg.
The revelation that a vial of Captain America’s blood is still in the wild could have major repercussions. Is another super soldier program, or even a Cap clone in the offing?
If last week’s episode was light on action, “The Blitzkrieg Button” is practically weightless – just Carter’s shadowy strikes at the start and a lightning quick neck snap to satiate any adrenaline junkies. The latter is one of the episode’s standout moments. Turns out there’s much more to The Griffith’s latest resident than meets the eye as Dottie dismantles the episode’s methodically built up antagonist, Mr Mink, in the blink of an eye. It’s a gleeful rug pull and demonstrates the Carter writing room’s deft ability to defy narrative convention.
Hayley Atwell is fabulous, as ever, showing off some strong physical comedy chops this week, but it’s Stark that has the biggest impact. His Lothario ways are a lot of fun, and we even learn about a significant chapter in his history – that he was motivated to become the man he is by his working class upbringing, in the same way that Carter is motivated by her struggle against gender inequalities. The only downside to Stark’s sudden reappearance is that Jarvis takes a noticeable back seat.
Despite already being halfway through this eight episode season Agent Carter shows no sign of wrapping things up anytime soon. In fact, it's unravelling plot threads like a cat let loose on a half-knitted jumper. Dooley’s trip to Nuremberg, complete with a gorgeously shot interrogation sequence, may seem unconnected to events back in New York but don’t be surprised if it has major consequences for Carter and co in the very near future.
It’s a safe bet that Dottie is working for Leviathan (called it!) and showrunners Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters have already let one big secret about her past loose, but if you haven’t seen episode five yet SPOILERS follow: “She is a product of the Black Widow Program.” Makes sense with those wall-jumping acrobatic moves.
Every good spy show needs its gadgets, and this week’s Agent Carter might be the most gadget-packed episode yet. There’s Mr Mink’s multi-barrelled pistol, Stark’s camera pen, the noxious briefcase and the flames that keep igniting the SSR’s lab techs. The only gadget that doesn’t make the cut is the titular Blitzkrieg Button, which turns out to be nothing more than a storage unit for Cap’s blood vial.
|The One Where||Howard Stark returns, a blond assassin is on Peggys trail and Chief Dooley uncovers a mystery in the making in Nuremberg.|