This week’s Agent Carter began with confirmation that the doctor saved from the Russian prison camp by Peggy and the Howling Commandos in an earlier episode was in fact Dr. Faustus, a long-running villain in the comics of Captain America. We were introduced to more of his backstory as Faustus walks a young private in the Russian army through having his leg amputated, remembering a time before the war when he was spending a day with his lady love. Ouch. Faustus is a fantastic foil to both Agent Carter and the S.S.R. as he worms his way into each of their lives, handling his ring with glee. I think the show would have been a tad better if we had this strong villainous presence from the outset, instead of a variety of Leviathan goons that never really seemed to play a heavy hand.
As is the case with most of this series, the best part of the episode was far and away Hayley Atwell’s performance as Agent Carter. One of the biggest parts of this show going in was always going to be dealing with the shadow of Steve Rogers, and how his loss would impact his supporting cast moving forward. In one of the best scenes of the series, Agent Carter hands herself over to the Strategic Scientific Reserve and willingly gives them Captain America’s blood in order to make sure that they recognize the threat Leviathan is presenting them. Choking through her words and holding back tears, Peggy states how she was holding onto the blood of her fallen love in order to perhaps save him one last time. It’s a gut wrenching scene that perfectly encapsulates Peggy having lost the love of her life, but needing to move on at the same time with her responsibilities to others.
The surprise of the episode was that aside from Peggy, the star of the show was S.S.R’s Dooley. Dooley’s been the stern face of the Strategic Scientific Reserve throughout the show’s tenure — to the point of sometimes being cartoonish — but in this latest episode, we’re given an in-depth look into Dooley’s life, his family, his habits, and finally, his death. Yes, in this episode, Dooley heroically sacrifices himself in order to save his co-workers and those around him when Faustus slaps him into an experimental Stark suit that explodes after a certain amount of time. Earlier in the series, I had complained when a less-than-stellar-example-of-the-S.S.R. had been done away with and killed as the stinger of one episode.
Unlike that time though, Dooley’s death meant something and shining the spotlight on him, showing his vulnerabilities and what made him human, gave a fantastic one-two punch to his untimely demise. I won’t lie and say I didn’t get a little misty when he gave Agent Carter an “atta girl” before throwing himself out of the nearest window.
Dooley wasn’t the only part of the S.S.R. to get something of a facelift during this episode, as the other agents were certainly given more to do this time around. I thought that the start of the interrogation — with numerous agents questioning Peggy — was a great way to show the effective tactics of the organization, and how they normally work well for them. This was something that I felt had been missing from past episodes, as it seemed like Agent Carter was a bit too far ahead of the S.S.R. for it to ever seem like a credible threat to her endeavors.
Another of the strengths of the series that was highlighted during this episode was the relationship between Peggy and Jarvis. Probably my favorite scene of the episode, and the series, is the exchange between the two as they debate throwing a table through the pane glass of the office the duo was locked in. It was a fantastic scene that was able to really demonstrate the ability these two actors have to play off one another, and it had me chuckling quite a bit. Jarvis’ play toward the start of the episode in creating a fake confession for Howard Stark — a plan which came crumbling down once Dooley demanded that Stark be brought before him prior to their release — was good fun.
This latest installment didn’t have much in terms of “balls to the wall” action, but what it did have made up for the lack of screen time. Specifically, Dottie bouncing around a stairwell while avoiding Sousa and other agents of the S.S.R. was something to behold. I’d like to see a behind the scenes recap of how they pulled off that scene for sure. In the case of Dottie and Leviathan, I will say that I wish they had gone a bit more into their past. Obviously, the “Black Widow” program was given a nice examination in episodes past for Dottie, but I feel that we still don’t know the true machinations of Leviathan, or what their end goal seems to be. They seem quite small in a way, which granted, may work in their favor, but it tends to lessen the blow of their menace when we don’t know that much about them aside from Leviathan = bad. We got to know a lot about Hydra over the span of the Marvel films, and I was hoping that we would get more of a reason as to how they are a different shadowy evil organization.
Ultimately, I thought this was a fantastic episode and, while it didn’t exactly stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Howling Commandos-centric installment a few weeks ago, it holds its own as one of the best of the series. It’s a bit hard to believe that we only have one final episode to go before the end but who’s to say Agent Carter won’t return next year?
Episode Rating: ★★★★ Very good — Damn fine television
Agent of M.I.S.C.E.L.L.A.N.E.A
– I had actually seen Kingsman this past weekend so Item 17 certainly seemed familiar to me (If you haven’t seen Kingsman yet, do so immediately.)
– I loved the Faustus/Dooley hypnosis scene with the environment changing around the two with each cut away to represent Dooley falling deeper under Faustus’ spell.
– Dr. Faustus: “You present her with a wall of evidence and she scales that wall.”
– Carter: “Howard Stark has never scrambled my brain or any part of me.”
– Thompson: “You know what I’m capable of.”
Carter: “And you know what I’M capable of.”
– Dooley: “For the record, you disgust me.”
– Jarvis: “Then I panicked and panicked again.”
– Carter: “Have you ever been hanged, Mr. Jarvis?”
Jarvis: “No, I can’t say that I have.”
Carter: “It’s quite unpleasant.”
– Carter: “Perhaps I just wanted a second chance at keeping him safe.”
– Jarvis: “You may be universally despised, but they don’t know me!”
– Carter: “Mr. Jarvis, how do you feel about smashing this table through that pane of glass?”
– Jarvis: “No people; everybody wins.”
– Dooley: “Atta girl.”
– Faustus: “I have great faith in Mr. Stark’s inventions.”