by Mark Greig
You know a show is good when it has you on the edge of your seat for what is a essentially a bottle episode.
This episode was set almost entirely within the confines of the S.S.R. offices as Dooley, Thompson and Sousa took turns interrogating Peggy while Ivchenko and Dottie (who is now full villainess and therefore 78% more stylish) put the final phase of their plan into operation. Despite Ralph Brown's iffy accent, Ivchenko is proving himself to be a formidable foe. With just a ring and his voice (plus a master assassin across the street) he wreaks all sorts of havoc on the S.S.R. resulting in the shocking death of Agent Roger Dooley.
At first I thought that the vest Faustus picked up was some kind of early kevlar, but once he handed it to Dooley it was pretty obvious that it had to be something explode-y and that Agent Dooley was well and truly doomed. Gold acting star for Shea Whigham, who really made me care for Dooley in his final moments, despite his earlier behaviour. While something of an complete ass at times, Dooley was ultimately a good man who just wanted to go home to have dinner with his family.
We even got some backstory for Ivchenko this week thanks to a flashback to Russia three years previously, where we see him at a combat hospital reading Christopher Marlowe's The Tragic Life of Doctor Faustus, confirming that he is in fact a reworking of the Marvel villain of the same name. So I'm going to refer to him as Faustus from now on because it is (-is) a lot easier to spell than Ivchenko. The flashback painted Faustus as a more sympathetic character, someone who used his abilities to help wounded soldiers. What changed to make him a ruthless Leviathan operative? I honestly can't work out if him making Dooley see his family before he died, allowing him to have the reconciliation with his wife that he desperately desired, was an act of kindness or pure cruelty.
While Faustus and Dottie were running around creating mischief, Peggy spent most of this episode handcuffed to the desk in the interrogation room, which only offered the opportunity to deliver verbal smackdown instead of physical ones. It was deeply satisfying to see Peggy finally let her co-workers have it about how they treat and perceive her while remaining defiant in the face of their accusation and threats (come on , Thompson, even handcuffed Peggy could kick your arse, you know it and we know it). It really goes without saying that Hayley Atwell was terrific in this episode, none more so than when Peggy came clean about everything and proved her loyalty by handing over Steve's blood.
Jarvis, sweetie that he is, came to Peggy's rescue with a signed confession from Howard Stark. All fake of course. Noble as it was, Jarvis' plan has to rank as one of the most ill-conceived rescue schemes ever. Still, I can hardly complain since it resulted in one of the funniest scenes of the entire series as Peggy and Jarvis tried to break out of the interrogation room by smashing the two way mirror, only to realise after the fact that they were still handcuffed to the table.
We now know what Leviathan was after all along, a gas that makes people homicidally violent. Okay, I think I got all of this worked out now. Stark created this gas and the military used it without his permission at Finow, causing him to strike that general. I have to admit, I found that is a little underwhelming. I was hoping for something more alien-y. The question now is what are Leviathan's plans for Item 17? They clearly stole it with a specific purpose in mind.
Intel And Assets
--Sousa really should've listened to Thompson and shot Dottie on sight.
--Speaking of Dottie, her escape down the stairs was damned impressive. I didn't know Parkour was an essential part of Black Widow training?
--I'd love to know how Peggy knows how unpleasant hanging is. If there is a second season, and I'm holding out hope there is, I would love it if they delved into Peggy's backstory.
--No fight scenes for Peggy this week. I'm sure the stuntmen were relieved.
--Honestly, the show has to be renewed, if only so we can have more adorable behind the scenes photos like this:
Peggy: "I suppose I just wanted a second chance to keep him safe,"
Peggy: "Howard Stark has never scrambled my brain or any other part of me."
Jarvis: "What if there are people behind this mirror that we're breaking?"
Peggy: "Then they may get hurt. They'll be a spray of glass."
Jarvis: "What if these hypothetical people behind the mirror have guns?"
Peggy: "Then we may get hurt. They'll be a spray of bullets."
Peggy: "To you, I'm a stray kitten, left on your doorstep to be protected...the secretary turned damsel in distress...the girl on the pedestal turned some daft whore."
Dooley: "For the record, I find you repulsive."
--How can anyone find Edwin Jarvis repulsive?
Four out of four Elizabethan plays.
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.