[Review] - Agent Carter, Season 1 Episode 7, "Snafu"

Courtesy of Marvel Television Productions
I don't know what I was expecting from the penultimate episode of Agent Carter, or more accurately, I don't know what I was expecting after last week's episode saw the SSR turn their attentions towards Peggy's extra curricular activities. Whatever it was that I was expecting, I suspect I didn't get it, as I finished this episode a disappointed, though it's hard to nail down exactly in what I was disappointed in. The episode had all the charm of the rest of the series, as well as the wit and the action.

Perhaps it was because it was a comparatively Peggy-lite episode, with the SSR taking the focus as they got wise to what has been happening around them. Maybe because it felt very much like a catch-up episode, in which all the characters shed they're veils of mystery and everybody is brought, somewhat artificially, up to the same line going into the finale. Or maybe because it felt the most of any episode yet of the plot driving the car while the characters slide around in the back seat. It wasn't a bad episode, Carter hasn't had one of those yet. But it was deflating.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers whose family is waiting.

Here is the problem the writers created for themselves in making Peggy's investigation off the books: eventually, her actions would come to light, and that left the writer with limited options on where to take things from there. They opted for the "Peggy convinces everyone she was in the right" route, which is a valid option, but a quick and convenient one, and while it was the most validating one for the character, it is also the least satisfying option for the audience. After six episodes of treason, they just shrug it off. That smacks of too much ambition, not enough patience to earn the moment. Because it isn't enough to simply say that a thing has happened, the audience does have to feel that it has come at a price. Whether that price is personal security, professional stability, or having to opt for a job well down with no recognition, paying that price make it feel as though the character has actually achieved something.

The first act of this episode was solid. The three-tiered interrogation of Peggy Carter, from the bad cop, the confused cop, and the increasingly annoyed cop was a pay off from where last week left off, though not as powerful as that cliffhanger might have led us to believe. But then Jarvis showed up, and that was pretty much the end of it. After that, they stopped treating her as a potential terrorist and more as an annoying child. I feel that the interrogation should have gone on longer, the entire episode even, build on the established relationship Peggy had with each of her interrogators: with Sousa, the kindling friendship undercut with earnest betrayal (and the most likely to disregard what she tells him as lies); with Jack, the growing respect and validation of talent (the most likely to eventually be swayed to her point of view); and with Dooley, the distant a belligerent refusal to accept anything (which Peggy would increasingly read as his being under the influence of Ivchenko).

Had the episode played out, with Peggy serving as the distraction while Leviathan manipulated Dooley and made their play, I feel that there would have been a greater sense of Peggy ultimately owning Dooley's sacrifice. If they had spent the episode laying out the logic and reasoning behind Peggy's illegalities, it would have felt sincere. The writers certainly were familiar with the points they needed to make, as Peggy spells them all out in a blast of vitriol. But shouting at everyone, then using magic blood to bring them around is a quick and dirty way of playing, and makes the whole enterprise feel cheap. If they had spent the episode slowly bringing the others around to her, it would have felt less forced, and would have provided less room for silliness, like having Peggy spot Ivchenko's Morse code from across the office.

With only one episode left, there is a still a significant amount of leg work to be done on the Leviathan front. They've got the rage gas that they wanted from Stark, for reasons unknown. They must have an intended target, though we don't know what that might be either, and neither does the SSR. Peggy and Jarvis have been brought back into the fold, meaning that the finale will likely be all action and little development, because frankly there is little development left to have. Peggy has achieved the ultimate goal of the series, which was to establish trust between her and her fellow agents. Now, it went about that by having her lie and their boss exploding, but the net result is that now her immediate fellow agents know that she is just as good, if not far and away better, than they are. So next week, I suspect there will be some slight pulling of things out of asses so that the SSR can catch up to Leviathan, Peggy and Dottie will get into one hell of an impressive fight, and Stark will arrive with the Calvary.

Dooley's death was not unexpected, and not just because Bradley Whitford played her boss in the short that spawned the series (and if Dooley's death means we get Whitford in season two, then it was worth it). But all along, he's had the sense of having a target on his back. He had the edge of wanting to trust Carter. He never blanketly dismissing her, as Thompson or Krzeminski did. There was a sense that, based on merit along, he would one day see her worth. Therefore, he was a logical choice to either 1) be a double agent or B) die after realizing what Carter could do, but his death would remove his ability to do anything about it. It seems they've went with the second option, meaning that the new boss will be the same as the old boss, and season two will see a slight return to the status quo of this one, and Peggy will have to prove herself all over again.

If this episode did cement anything, it was the chemistry between Peggy and Jarvis. Next season (and it is hard to believe, given the quality of this season that ABC and Marvel won't give it a another go around - hell, if they gave Agents of SHIELD a second chance, Carter deserves one) will do well to make this pair a more regular fixture. Yes, they've been partners all these episodes, but Peggy spent as much time by herself or with others than she did with Jarvis, and Jarvis remains a mostly unknown characters. There are certainly plenty of depths left to plumb with him, and lots more development for him to undergo to become the man who would be the surrogate father to Tony. As bizarre a mystery as it may be, the identity of Carter's future husband is still to be determined, and as much as it might be Sousa or Jack, we cannot dismiss entirely Jarvis himself. There is a whole half century between then and now, and a lot can happen in that time.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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