After dealing with the sexist attitude from her fellow SSR agents, Peggy Carter finally gets some respect when she is sent on a secret mission to Russia. She’s also reunited with her fellow soldiers, the Howling Commandoes. Also, Agent Dooley is starting to doubt whether Howard Stark is the traitor his own group thinks he is, and Souza finally finds out who the blonde in that picture is.
**** SPOILERS AHEAD…TURN AWAY EYES UNLESS YOU’VE SEEN THE EPISODE ****
Before that, we see an orphanage in Russia in 1937, where little girls learn English by watching Walt Disney cartoons, eat bread for breakfast, and learn hand-to-hand combat. They’re also tucked into their beds by being handcuffed to them. This was “Dottie Underwood’s” (Bridget Regan) real childhood, and it was not in Iowa. She was part of a program that would evolve into the Red Room Project that would eventually turn Natasha Romanoff into Black Widow. In 1946, she’s at the automat with Peggy, asking about the best places to see New York, and Peggy suggests starting with Brooklyn. She notices Peggy sounds like Captain America when she praises the American people. Actually, it’s all just part of a ploy to break into Peggy’s apartment.
Later, Peggy meets Jarvis, who fails miserably trying to defend what Howard Stark did in trying to get the vial of Steve Rogers’ blood. He still insists Stark’s a good man, but Peggy won’t hear it, not even when Jarvis says her SSR colleagues will never respect her.
He seems to be right when Peggy finds out the Leviathan typewriter has sent out another message, and she’s able to break the code. Of course, Thompson seems annoyed by this. They’re more interested that the message implies that Leviathan, which Dooley says is a covert Russian group trying to buy weapons against the Allies, wants to buy a havoc reactor for $100,000…payable to Howard Stark. The message also includes a location for a camp in Belarus. Dooley sends agents Thompson, Li (Eddie Shin) and Ramirez (Greg Serano) to Russia, and Peggy insists she come, too. She knows the area, and can even bring, as support, the 107th Regiment, also known as the Howling Commandoes. No one believes this….until she delivers. Dooley will go along with this because the Vice-President is calling him about when he’s going to arrest Stark. Actually, there was no VP in 1946, but Dooley just wants to close the book on Stark. If it takes letting Peggy finally being in the field. so be it.
Thompson still doesn’t like it, especially when she has to change in the men’s locker room to get ready. He even tricks Souza into seeing her in her slip, which actually isn’t that revealing. However, Souza does notice two bullet wounds on her right shoulder. It’s the same marks as that blonde he can’t identify in the picture from the party in the first episode. Now he knows Peggy was the blonde.
Carter notices Thompson’s a bit nervous before the jump. It’s his first real jump after eight practices, but he’s gets through OK. They do meet the HC’s after some confusion with the password. Still, she’s happy to see Dum Dum Dugan (Neal McDonough), Happy Sawyer (Leonard Roberts), Junior Juniper (James Astin Kerr) and Pinky Pinkerton (Richard Short).
Li is practically star-struck, even more than Coulson was with Captain America.
In this situation, Peggy is more than equal to the HC’s. She and Dugan agree Stark isn’t double-crossing America for profit, but wonder why Leviathan wants them at that mysterious camp. He thinks maybe they want the pleasure of her company, and she tosses his cigar off the truck. He understands her anger, because he misses Captain America, too.
Later, Thompson talks about what he did in Japan, mainly digging trenches. So how’d he get a Navy Cross? He says he was in Tsuken Island, and he noticed six Japanese soldiers approaching his commanding officer. He shot them all dead, and he tells that story with a lot of regret. We’ll know why later.
Back in New York, Dooley talks to a former New York Times reporter, played by John Glover, about The Battle of Finow at a bar. Apparently his story got killed because it implicated the Army, Stark and a Russian cover-up. Pete says when Stark got there, he tried to attack General McGiniss, but the general clobbered Stark. However, McGinnis resigned and Stark cancelled a big contract with the Army. Does this mean the Army used one of Stark’s Bad Babies, and he didn’t know? It’s enough for Dooley to approach Jarvis, who says he didn’t know about the fight. Still, Dooley says he wants to hear from Stark, and hands Jarvis a special phone number. As Dooley puts it, “There are three sides to every story, Mr. Jarvis, your side, my side, and the truth.”
Carter, the SSR and the HC find the Leviathan camp, and enter a schoolroom. This is where the kids learn English from a Warner Brothers cartoon…with subliminal messages. Dugan finds a little girl, who promptly stabs him, takes his gun, and kills Juniper. She gets away, and Dugan almost uses a grenade against her. Dugan is OK because of the new protective vests they are wearing. Thompson is smart enough to know when he has to lead, and when to defer to the HC. They find a couple of prisoners in a cell, a scientist named Nikola (Alex Veadov) and his psychiatrist, Dr. Ivchenko (Ralph Brown). Leviathan needed them to help build a bomb that includes a photonic amplifier. It’s from Stark’s blueprints, but were actually bought on the black market.
Meanwhile, Dottie is in full Single White Female mode as she breaks into Peggy’s place. She finds photos of Stark’s weapons, and even Steve Rogers’ photo. She even looks at herself in the mirror, pretending to be Peggy. If part of her mission is framing her, too, she needs more practice in impersonating her. She does take Peggy’s Sweet Dreams lipstick, though. She also still sleeps while handcuffed to the bed
Back at the prison, Peggy, the SSR and the HC are caught in a firefight with Russian troops. Li gets killed and Nikola is willing to give up his rescuers to be free. Ivchenko has no choice but to kill Nikola. At one point, Thompson freezes in battle, but Peggy does not. He finally sees who the real Peggy Carter is. They get out, but barely.
They say their goodbyes, and Peggy just avoids being Miss Union Jack of the Howling Commandoes. That’s a catchy name.
Thompson also reveals the truth about shooting those six Japanese soldiers: they were surrendering, and he didn’t notice their white flag. He says he’s been trying to tell that story since the war ended, and Peggy says he has. This is a big scene because Peggy and Thompson finally achieve true respect for each other. Even Dooley thanks her for her work. Some suspect Thompson’s the guy that will marry her a few years later, now that Souza suspects Carter of doing bad things.
In the post-war Marvel Universe, Russia replaces HYDRA as the Big Bad against the free world with its group, Leviathan. It still wants one of Stark’s weapons, but is it part of a plot to take over the world, or just make sure the weapon is never used again? No one is asking that question right now, because grabbing Stark seems to be more important. Right in the middle of all this is Peggy Carter, who may get killed by Dottie, or arrested by her own colleagues who want to convict her if they can’t arrest Stark. Dooley just wants to know the truth about the battle of Finow, and that would threaten everyone if he crosses someone who wants to hide what really happened.
Next week: Souza is about to arrest Peggy for treason. Does this mean she never creates SHIELD?
Showrunners Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters talked to Entertainment Weekly about the episode, and what will be coming in the final three episodes.