Looks like I was wrong to worry that the show might be entering a mid-season slump. Agent Carter was back on top form this week, delivering its best episode to date.
We open in an orphanage in Russia. We know it's Russia because the music is so overwhelmingly Russian. You can practically taste the Prokofiev. Welcome to the Red Room, where impressionable young girls are handcuffed to the bed every night, taught about American culture via Disney films (with subliminal messages), and trained to fight and kill. Even to kill each other. I actually jumped when little Dottie snapped her classmate's neck. That was pretty damn dark. Although the words "Red Room" and "Black Widow" were never once uttered, this is unmistakably the same programme that will one day turn Natasha Romanov into a crimson haired killing machine. But that's a story for another movie that sadly won't be called Black Widow.
The scenes in the orphanage were creepy, as were the present day scenes with Dottie. Did anyone else feel a chill going up their knickers when she sat in front of the mirror and started impersonating Peggy? It seems like Dottie's mission is to get hold of (-one) one of the items from Stark's vault, and she's going to use Peggy to do it. Is that item connected to what happened at Finow? We know Stark was there for the aftermath, did he find what was responsible and keep it for himself?
After being let down by Howard and Jarvis last week, Peggy started this episode determined to make her colleagues at the S.S.R. respect her. She made it clear to Dooley she was going on the mission to Russia and wouldn't take no for an answer. Thompson was dead against it. Dooley was more hesitant. He knows Carter's war record, knows she has the skills and knowledge for the mission, but doesn't want to send a woman because he thinks it will look badly on him. When stone cold logic didn't work (Peggy is more qualified than anyone else in the office for such a mission), Peggy played her trump card by delivering the Howling Commandos as tactical support.
I was a little disappointed that none of the Howling Commandos from the films returned, save for Neal McDonough's Timothy Aloysius Cadwallader "Dum Dum" Dugan. The other commandos in this episode were all new characters. Well, new to us, at least. Samuel "Happy Sam" Sawyer, Percival "Pinky" Pinkerton and Jonathan "Junior" Juniper are all characters from the Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos comics.
I loved how the Commandos instantly looked to Peggy for leadership. Despite Thompson having superiority, there was never any doubt in their minds that Peggy was the one running this show. These guys know her, they've fought beside her and they trust her implicitly, Dugan especially. It was great seeing those two together again, drinking bourbon and remembering the old days. McDonough clearly loves playing this role and he and Hayley Atwell really play well off each other. If there is a second season, it needs Dugan in it.
Peggy was in her natural element on this mission. Even Thompson and the other
Intel and Assets
--If Thompson's backstory was meant to make us like him then I'm afraid it failed. But I did like that Peggy didn't throw it back in his face. That's just not who she is.
--The minute Peggy decoded the message it was obvious that this was a trap. Leviathan, which Dooley confirmed was Russian, wanted them to send a team to Russia. The question is why? Was it to get Ivchenko into the country? There is something shifty about that guy.
--Juniper was the first one killed on the mission. This is reference to the fact Juniper is the Tasha Yar of the Howling Commandos and was killed off after only four issues.
--Dooley's reporter friend was played by Lionel Luther himself, the great John Glover.
--Peggy was at Bletchley, which is where they broke the German Enigma Code.
--Peggy told Dottie to start her tour of New York with Brooklyn, not the tourist traps. Steve Rogers was from Brooklyn.
Peggy: "Password is 'eagle', you apes."
Dum Dum: "Oh hi, Peggy."
Peggy: “You go!”
Dugan: “What would Cap say if I left his best girl behind?”
Peggy: “He would say, ‘Do as Peggy says’!”
Dugan: "It’s called a bowler hat. The reason they call it that is because… why do they call it a bowler, Peggy?”
Peggy: "Stop wahoo-ing and help!"
Four out of four Disney films.
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.