The producers of Agent Carter have been saying that we’ll be seeing people who are not what they seem to be. This week, the list includes the returning Howard Stark, who asks Peggy to steal back one of his inventions from the SSR, and someone from the Griffith.
***** SPOILERS BELOW *****
The episode starts with Jarvis(James D’Arcy) trying to negotiate a deal with two criminals who work for a Mr. Mink (Gregory Sporleder), but he’s not doing so well. Good thing Peggy is there to help with the deal by knocking out the criminals. It turns out they were smuggling Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper), and his man-cave, back into New York. The SSR agents are waiting for him to come home so they can arrest him for everything, including the death of Krzeminski. So, Peggy has to sneak him into her place at the Griffith. Stark knows Miriam Fry (Meagan Fay) quite well, and can easily get past her.
Agent Dooley (Shea Whigham) is going to Germany to meet a Nazi colonel named Mueller (Jack Conley) about the Battle of Finow, and why Brannis and Demidov (the two guys who wanted to get the nitramene a while back) were declared dead, yet show up very much alive. Thompson (Chad Michael Murray) is now in charge, and wants to make an impression by ordering everyone to start “cracking heads”. He even calls Peggy “Marg”, and tells her to take the lunch orders. Souza (Enver Gjokaj), meanwhile, hopes to find the public phone where the tip was placed, and maybe get some clues.
Stark wants Peggy to use a camera pen, which he invented, to take pictures of the inventions the SSR recovered. He takes a selfie of himself and Peggy, which is something millions will do 67 years later. She meets the SSR scientist, Mr. Doobin (Kevin Cotteleer), and his staff is having a really tough time. One invention melted his glasses. He thinks Stark is either an ignoramus or a genius. Peggy thinks it’s both.
Souza interviews two bums at the wharf, and asks if they saw anything. One of them attacks Souza, but he fights him off with his crutch. If the SSR knew what Souza could really do, despite his war injury, they would apologize. However, they may not do the same if they knew Peggy’s real abilities, or her name.
Meanwhile, Mink’s henchmen tell him what happened, and he’s not happy. He kills them both with an automatic revolver that’s just as efficient as a machine gun.
As Peggy tries to develop the film inside the camera pen (aside from the racier pictures Stark took earlier), Angie (Lyndsy Fonseca) tells Peggy it’s time for dinner. That means she has to eat with the other tenants. It’s later revealed the tenants like to steal food. Angie uses her purse, while another tenant uses a “chicken pocket” sewn into her sweater. This was before the days of Tupperware.
Back at the SSR, Souza and Thompson try different approaches to get the hobo to talk. Souza talks about how peopel applauded him at a restaurant when he came home for the war. But it wasn’t the thank him for his service. It was because his injury made them feel guilty. The hobo does admit he lost his wife after the war, and his job, but he still won’t talk to cops. Thompson uses a different approach: a hamburger and a bottle of scotch. That is more effective, as the witness says he saw a dark haired woman and a well dressed man (Peggy and Jarvis), but not up close. It’s an example of “good cop, bad cop”, but Thompson sees it as “doing what needed to be done”. He’s not the only person to use that argument.
When she returns, Peggy learns Stark needs to get back the “Blitzkrieg Button”, which Stark says can black out an entire city. The problem is, it can cut the power, but can’t restore it. It’s bad enough people think he’s a traitor, but Stark doesn’t want to be the guy who accidentally blacked out “the greatest city on the planet”. He gives her a fake to replace it with and heads out with Jarvis. However, Mink is following her. She doesn’t notice him, but she does notice Jarvis is rubbing his ear.
In Nuremburg, Dooley meets with Mueller, who says he’s being fitted for his noose when he gets executed. Dooley says if Mueller talks about Finow, he will help him escape. He offers the colonel a cyanide pill, which was actually a peppermint. Dooley does find out there was no battle, but there were hundreds Russian of bodies everywhere. Mueller is certain it wasn’t done by Germans. It’s possible one of Stark’s “Bad Babies” may have done it. If Dooley did let Mueller escape, it would probably backfire. He was part of the Blitzkrieg Squad, run by Baron Strucker (HYDRA Founder).
Peggy does find the button, and replaces it with the fake one quite easily. But, she’s curious about what’s inside. There’s no switch, but there is a vial of blood. As she’s about to leave, Thompson sees her. For some reason, he asks her why she’s working at the SSR, and she says it’s to uphold democracy. He thinks she’s hiding something, and is only fooling herself. He says no man will ever consider her an equal, which is sad, but true in his eyes. Peggy says she can always come to him for the truth, but she just wants to go. When she meets Stark, he reveals the vial contains the blood…of Steve Rogers. She slugs him, hard.
This leads to the best scene in the series so far. Howard admits he’s had to cut some corners, and lie, to be the big success he has became. Peggy thinks he used her emotions, and her love for Steve, to do his bidding. That may be right, but he admitted he shouldn’t have lied to her. He says he needs his sample, SR-53, for research. He thinks it could lead to important cures. He’s worried since the government has used up its share of the blood, it’ll take his share. “Steve Rogers may not be with us,” he says, “but he can still save millions of people”
Peggy thinks Stark’s more interested in profiting off of the vial. “You are constantly finding holes to slither your way into in the hope of finding loose change, only to cry when you’re bitten by another snake,” she says. “You’re a man who says ‘I love you’ whilst looking over a woman’s shoulder into a mirror.” She admits being manipulated into doing Stark’s handiwork, but that’s over. She wants him out, and he can find his own hiding place. Her anger may be squarely at Howard Stark, but he may have also been getting her frustration over what the SSR really thinks of her. In this post-war world, though, people have to do unpleasant things to get what they need. It’s true for Howard Stark, Agent Dooley, Agent Thompson, and Peggy Carter. At least she knows she shouldn’t give up her morals to defend what is right, even if it means living under the constant threat of her double life being exposed by the SSR or Miss Fry.
Meanwhile, Mink is about to get in to Carter’s apartment when Dottie (Bridget Regan) sees him. He pulls the automatic revolver on her. She’s not surprised by the gun and asks if it is an automatic, then declares that she wants it. That’s surprising for a girl from Iowa studying ballet. What’s also surprising is that she leaps on him and breaks his neck with her legs. What kind of ballet move is that? Well, it shows she’s an agent…but for Leviathan, Stark, or someone else? She’s also going to have a tough time hiding that gun, and the dead Mr. Mink, from Miss Fay.
Jarvis tries to apologize for Stark, and even claims Stark respects her. “I can trust the actions of men who don’t respect me more than those who do,” she says. “At least when they ask for something they mean it.” She then returns to the SSR with the lunch order. Jarvis talks to Stark at a shoe shine place, which includes a third man, who looks very familiar (Stan Lee), who asks Stark if he will give him the sports section. He does, since he plans to run away to Brazil.
Back at the SSR, Dooley returns, and finds out something interesting from Thompson. The day after Finow, a plane lands at that location, and Howard Stark was on it. Dooley is certain Stark is, somehow, responsible. Souza, meanwhile, thinks the “blonde” in the picture may have dyed her hair. Then, Demidov’s typewriter starts typing by itself, which means they’ve got a lead. As for Peggy, she hides Captain America’s blood inside the wall of her apartment.
Leviathan, whatever it is, is getting closer, and its shadow is about to hover over Agent Carter, the SSR, Howard Stark, and a very dangerous ballerina.
One more thing about the vial: it’s possible the blood was found by someone who wanted to recreate Project: Rebirth, the Super Soldier experiments that created Captain America. Maybe that blood would lead to Extremis, connecting this show with Agents of SHIELD and Iron Man 3.
Next week, Carter brings back the Howling Commandoes for a mission, but Thompson also gets involved. Hopefully, the HC tell him he’s not even close to being Agent Carter’s equal…and that her name is not Marg.
Finally, a sneak preview of Agents of SHIELD, as Skye is now quarantined after the effects from the Terrigen Mist. She wonders what the mist did to her, and deals with the fact that she’s responsible for an agent’s death. “Aftershocks” airs on Tuesday, March 3rd at 9 PM Eastern and Pacific
Agent Carter airs Tuesday at 9/8c on ABC. Watch full episodes on ABC.Go.com, Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant Video.