On Agent Carter, Everybody's Preying On The Weak Minds Of Men

Illustration for article titled On iAgent Carter/i, Everybodys Preying On The Weak Minds Of Men

Considering that Agent Carter is a show about a female hero proving herself in a sexist world, it's fascinating how much of the storylines have turned out to deal with male insecurity and blind spots. And last night's episode saw an increased focus on this theme. Spoilers ahead...

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From the beginning, Peggy Carter has been underestimated and overlooked by her male colleagues. She was able to use the blindness of the male SSR agents to her advantage, at times, to let her sneak around behind their backs, and also to steer them in the right direction without them realizing. The irony of "A Sin to Err" is, she's finally getting some respect around the office, just as she finally gets rumbled by Sousa and the rest of the SSR.

Illustration for article titled On iAgent Carter/i, Everybodys Preying On The Weak Minds Of Men
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Basically, "A Sin to Err" is divided pretty sharply into two halves. In the first half, Peggy Carter and Edwin Jarvis are hunting down all the women that Stark slept with in the past six months, on the theory that one of them was a Russian mole, while meanwhile Dooley debriefs the Russian defector, Dr. Ivchenko (and almost gets hypnotized.)

In the second half, Peggy's been found out and the whole SSR is hunting her while Dottie Underwood is also under orders to kill her. (And Dr. Ivchenko finds someone else to hypnotize, the long-suffering Agent Yauch.) At last, Peggy gets drugged by Dottie, and then nabbed by the SSR.

All the secrets coming out

So the general theme here is one of the threads tightening, and secrets coming out — Peggy comes pretty close to identifying Dottie before she gets bushwacked, and now everybody knows about Peggy's freelancing.

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What's sad is, Dooley seems ready to put more trust in Peggy Carter at the start of the episode, after her killer performance in Russia last week. When Peggy keeps bringing up the idea that the Russians might have female agents in the U.S. and one of them probably killed Krzeminski, Dooley shoots it down — but then he authorizes Peggy to go follow it up. If her earlier activities hadn't caught up to her when she did, she might have been able to bring real evidence back to the SSR.

As it is, Carter gets cornered by the SSR at her favorite automat, leading to a terrific musical fight scene:

Sousa and Thompson are both feeling sore about her treachery, not least because they've both gotten pretty invested in her for different reasons. Sousa saw her as an ally from the beginning, as the two underdogs at the SSR, while Thompson bared his soul to her last week. And to make matters worse, she gets the drop on Jack when he has a gun on her, and then walks away from Sousa, something he says will mean that he was wrong about her.

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There's a lot of subtext after Peggy's gotten caught and Sousa's sent in to interrogate her, and Jack tells Sousa not to go easy on her.

Hypno-guy

Surprising absolutely no-one, the "captive" Russian psychologist who agreed to come back to the States with our crew, Dr. Ivchenko, is a baddie. There's one moment where Dottie (having killed a letch dentist) has a sniper rifle on him from across the street, and we think maybe she's going to take him out. But in fact, she's just using it to signal at him in morse code. (The same trick Reese uses in last night's Person of Interest, even down to the fake-out.) Ivchenko tells Dottie to kill Peggy.

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And meanwhile, Ivchenko's mission is to retrieve the stolen Howard Stark weapons that the SSR has impounded in its lab — or one item, in particular. But to achieve this, he goes about hypnotizing first Dooley and then Yauch — and in both cases, he preys on their weaknesses.

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We've already gotten into the insecurities and trauma of Sousa and Jack, in previous episodes, but now we get to see Ivchenko preying on the damage behind the tough facades that Dooley and Yauch put forward as well. Dooley's weakness is his estranged family, especially his wife — who cheated on him with a plumber who was excused from military service due to flat feet, during the war.

As for Yauch, he feels passed over for plumb assignments and respect, thanks to that blow-hard Thompson stealing the spotlight. Somehow the idea of Yauch impressing Dooley gets turned around until Yauch is disobeying Dooley's orders, sketching a map of the entire facility for Ivchenko, and finally going out a bar before walking into traffic. (Ivchenko's hypno-ring is freaking powerful, basically.)

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Unfortunately, due to Peggy's traitor status, Ivchenko can't get at those hidden weapons without Dooley's help, so he's stuck for now.

Illustration for article titled On iAgent Carter/i, Everybodys Preying On The Weak Minds Of Men
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Wronged women

Poor Angie, the waitress from the automat and Peggy's neighbor, has lost out on a lot of roles in her Broadway auditions. But when Peggy's hiding from the SSR, Angie puts on a virtuoso performance as a weeping "wronged woman," something that makes Jack and Sousa so uncomfortable, they have no choice but to bail. (And later in the episode, Angie starts snooping in Dottie's apartment, something that probably won't end too well for her.)

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Meanwhile, Jarvis is just as uncomfortable as Jack and Sousa, when it comes to confronting the women that Howard Stark slept with and then threw away. There are a lot of them, and they're all pretty much identically pissed. Howard gave each of them the same bracelet as a parting gift, and used Jarvis to let them know it was over. And Jarvis squirms rather a lot at the prospect of dealing with these indignant exes.

Illustration for article titled On iAgent Carter/i, Everybodys Preying On The Weak Minds Of Men
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As for Dottie Underwood herself, we get to see her being a master manipulator in a number of situations — from tricking the aforementioned dentist, to playing the role of the sweet Iowa girl around the Griffith, to getting the better of Peggy. She stole some of Peggy's "special" lipstick and uses it on Peggy this week, and Peggy doesn't see it coming at all.

If the SSR hadn't shown up in the nick of time, Peggy would have been toast. As it is, we can hopefully still look forward to an epic Dottie-Peggy fight scene, preferably to the strains of Glenn Miller.

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DISCUSSION

Cool_Breeze
Cool_Breeze

HOT FUDGE HOLY MOLY!

Dude. Marvel is swinging for the fences these days, and so far they're batting a thousand with this show. Not only do we get an insight into the Marvel Cinematic Universe between Cap's disappearance and the first Iron Man, but they're giving us a strong female protagonist who could carry her own movie (And lets be real, the first two episodes aired back to back was Marvel giving us a female hero-led movie YEARS before the competition), and making it fun, too. There are only a few shows I watch the night they air, and this is in the top 2, easy. I'm actually bummed that there are only two episodes left before SHIELD comes back. I hope they bring this back for a second go around.

1. I freaking KNEW that scientist who Peggy brought back from the Leviathan camp was a plant. CURSE YOUR SUDDEN BUT INEVITABLE BETRAYAL. He was waaay to eager to shoot that physicist during the breakout of the Leviathan camp. It should have been a red flag that they would keep a psychiatrist in there, too. He's literally a master of manipulation.

How creepy was his technique to hypnotize people? First the Chief, then Agent Redshirt? COME ON. If anyone calmly tells me to focus any time soon I will PUNCH THEM IN THE FACE. Thanks for the paranoids, Marvel.

2. Speaking of Leviathan, damn they're brutal. That poor sap just wanted to be with his wife and kids. Lucky for him, they'll be joining him. Shit.

3. When that creeper dentist said he wanted to get to know his applicants one on one, I KNEW he was going to get it. Speaking of Leviathan's brutality and creepiness, Dottie is something else. It's like the Leviathan training stunted her growth as a person, so she's a killer with the mind of a curious adolescent. She has little impulse control (I want that gun / I need a gravy pocket), is genuinely curious about just about everything (exploring the city / Peggy's apartment / THOSE DENTISTRY TOOLS), and can do some damage. The SSR has Peggy and Steve's blood (What Leviathan is actually after). They're gonna have a baaad time. It looks like the Red Room corrected that program before Natasha came around.

Given that Stark gave Dottie (under a different name) the going away bracelet (Taking a page from Charlie Sheen: Don't pay them for sex; pay them to leave), I think it's safe to assume that Dottie was the blonde on the boat with Stark, right? Whatever happened in Finnow caused Stark to build a vault to hold his toys, and she was the one who got access. DAMN YOU RASPBERRY TRUFFLES.

4. Angie is a pretty solid character. She isn't stupid, and knows something is up with Peggy. I loved how she used the lines from her rehersal to throw the SSR off Peggy's scent. Crafty, she is. Angie is the ultimate wing(wo)man.

5. As always, this show is damn hilarious. Apparently Stark has a problem with premature evacuation. COME. ON. Jarvis has jokes. Jarvis is nervous. I'm sure that future Mafioso could have gotten a LOT more than a quarter from Jarvis has he stuck around a little longer. Jarvis took a beating this week, too. Freaking Stark and his ladies and their bracelets. It's funny that Stark would send Jarvis to do his breaking up – and even funnier that Tony would do the same thing with Pepper.

6. It was nice to see Peggy's logic winning over Chief, who was beginning to have some doubts about Stark's involvement. It was doubly cool to see Chief give her the leeway to chase her lead, because he realized it was something. It was EXTRA shitty to see Peggy get arrested, and now the entire office not only doesn't trust her, but now probably has Stark back in their sights because it was (mostly) her work that lead Chief to believe Stark might be innocent. Sure, he followed up with people, but still. You could see the look in his face when Chief brought her back in that he was doubting it all.

7. Speaking of Peggy getting arrested: That fight scene, though. DUDE. Thompson warned the Washington SSR guys she could be trouble, and that's what they get for not listening. The whole scene was on point, from the music to PEGGY THROWING A PLATE LIKE CAP'S SHIELD OMG. Thompson got a little cocky and a little too close, and Peggy made him pay. He saw what she could do and still approached her. ROOKIE MOVE.

8. Sousa, why do you have to be such an actual detective in this show? Not only was it tough to see him lose faith in Peggy, but it was even tougher to realize that Chief was letting Sousa do the interrogation. The feels, man.

9. CRUTCH FASTER.

10. So apparently all those girls from the telephone company are all the same (If only she knew). Maybe hiding things in walls is standard SSR training?

11. GAM GAM! I don't think She's related to Ward at all (or IS she?) but it was a nice little nugget to hear someone else call their grandmother Gam Gam, just like Ward in the pilot of Agents of SHIELD. What if Angie is Ward's Gam Gam? We only have limited information of Ward's family (they were abusive, and apparently don't like camp fires so much). It could be an interesting connection to have his family on the outskirts of SHIELD from the start. It could explain how Ward was discovered by Garrett: His family has been watched since Angie figured out Peggy was SSR, and Ward was the best family member to corrupt / get into SHIELD. Things that make you go HMMMM.

12. Well, that was an inventive use of Peggy's own lip stick there, Dottie. Many a viewer went from on high (GET A DOTTIE!) to low (Shit the SSR arrested her) in about .02 seconds. Stay classy.