If there is one thing I’ve learned from Marvel’s Agent Carter, it’s that Tuesday nights are better with a side of Peggy. We’re only four episodes in, but so far, this series continues to deliver across the board. Last night’s episode, “The Blitzkrieg Button”, featured the return of Howard Stark. Charming as he is, he has a way of stirring up trouble wherever he goes, which is the last thing Peggy needs right now. But why did I worry? She handled Stark over and over again.
Stark gets smuggled back into the country under the premise of wanting to learn which of his weapons have been recovered so he knows what’s still out in the world. Things aren’t that straightforward, of course, and Howard’s lie leads to an intense confrontation and the most understated yet hard-hitting scene between Peggy and Jarvis.
Just like Robert Downey, Jr. seems born to play Tony Stark, Dominic Cooper is ridiculously enjoyable as Howard. There are definitely similarities. His bouncing between room to room at The Griffith so casually might have been a touch too much, but the part where he recognized The Griffith? Perfect.
Howard’s personality is such that it should be annoying. He coasts by on his charm and even if you haven’t seen him in action in Captain America: The First Avenger or anything else, he probably stills come across as likable. You don’t need to know his history and contributions to give you a reason to like him, if that makes sense. Cooper executes the balance of the real Howard and the Howard who’s putting on a bit of a show exceptionally well, and his chemistry with Hayley Atwell lights up the screen. Whether they were casually talking or arguing, they were electric, and it stands in stark contrast to the quieter way in which Peggy interacts with Jarvis.
And Howard and Peggy’s blowout at the end? Powerfully written and performed. Atwell made Peggy’s pain and anger leap off the screen; she communicated it so deeply that I found myself actually feeling rage towards Howard. Though those feelings could have been fueled by a deep appreciation for Steve Rogers. Every line Peggy threw at Howard as she talked about her pledge and beliefs was both quotable and meaningful.
Peggy’s controlled verbal slap of Jarvis hurt, too. We’ve watched their friendship develop quickly, and their interactions are some of the best on Agent Carter. All you have to do is rewind to the beginning of this episode. He has ground to make up, and I look forward to seeing it play out. Also, Jarvis really needs to work on not tugging his ear. It was so obvious in the opening scenes I thought it was a signal.
Back to those opening scenes (which were gorgeous, by the way – that lighting!), Peggy started the episode by taking care of business in a physical manner. She knocked out multiple men. She ended the episode by taking care of business in an emotional manner, and that right there, in a nutshell, is why Agent Carter is tremendous.
There wasn’t any part of Peggy with which I wasn’t impressed last night. She was capable, she was vulnerable, she lost it, and she hit several other notes in between. She’s human. You root her on when she evades the tough Miriam and get teary-eyed alongside her when Jack acts like a sexist, clueless jerk. I know this is a note I keep hitting, but Atwell continues to bring down the house.
Two more quick points about The Griffith Hotel before moving onto the SSR: The dining scene where they talk about special pouches in their purses and clothing for extra food?! First of all, cute and a nice slice of community living. Second, I need to learn how to put chicken pockets in all my clothing. Finally, this is a post war world. People are probably hoarding food, and it’s a small but thoughtful bit of world-building.
Then there’s Dottie. I should have known Bridget Regan wasn’t brought onto the series simply to be another charming resident of The Griffith. Her reveal had quite an impact.
We spent more time with Jack and Sousa this week and learned more about them, for better or worse. Chad Michael Murray made Jack’s ambition shine through as well as his loyalty. He’s all about the SSR and finding justice for Krzeminski, and even though he comes across as a tool, I do respect those aspects of his character and his ability as a detective. The moment where he complimented Sousa after giving him such a hard time softened him a little for me.
However, his scene with Peggy undid most of that. Society at large was different back then. I know this and understand this. Seeing that sort of sexism being so casual and commonplace hurts though. And Jack didn’t seem to be overly rude or haughty about it; he laid it all on Peggy with a realistic “that’s just how it is” approach.
It was a joy to see more of Sousa in the spotlight. Enver Gjokaj is immensely talented and able to convey so much in a sort of unassuming way. Sousa was impressive whether he was using his crutch as a weapon or sharing a story in hopes of getting Frank to speak. I hope we see more of him in the final four episodes.
At first, it seemed as if Agent Carter could take on a “gadget of the week” format. Once they uncovered all of Howard’s weapons in the last episode, that went out the window. Now with Dooley’s findings from Germany, Peggy’s current dislike of Howard, and the Dottie reveal, the story is evolving. They’re keeping the target moving, and I’m enjoying the ride.
Before we wrap up, here’s my favorite GIF from “Time and Tide:”
Gif via Tumblr
What did you think of “The Blitzkrieg Button?” Tell me in the comments or give me a shout on Twitter.