UK TV Review: Agent Carter Season 1, Episode 7
Mark Harrison | On 23, Aug 2015
Already seen Episode 7? Read on at the bottom for spoilers.
All seems lost for Agent Carter this week. She is under arrest and her fellow agents present her with a wall of evidence of her secret doings since the season began. Agent Sousa, Agent Thompson and Chief Dooley are all determined to nail Howard Stark for collaborating with Leviathan, but their female colleague’s apparent heel turn affects each man in a different way.
While Peggy tries to prove that both she and Stark are innocent, Jarvis makes a crucial miscalculation in trying to secure her release, landing himself in trouble as well. All the while, their real enemies, covert operatives Dr. Ivchenko and Dottie Underwood, are communicating with each other within the office of the SSR itself, ultimately leaving Peggy in no doubt that Leviathan is coming very soon.
The slangy title of Snafu belies what turns out to be another intense hour of espionage adventure. Though mostly confined to the New York Bell building and Dottie’s vantage point, a lot happens in this penultimate thriller, building unstoppable momentum on the way to next week’s finale.
At the outset, it seems as if the episode might be based solely on Peggy’s interrogation, with the focus on her colleagues as much as their suspect. Sousa feels betrayed, having fought in Peggy’s corner up until now, while Thompson has his doubts on account of the Belarus incident and, whether she’s guilty or not, Chief Dooley is just furious that this has all been going on under his nose.
Although the season has only had an abbreviated run, the development of these characters in the last couple of weeks pays off nicely. Enver Gjokaj, Chad Michael Murray and especially Shea Wigham all give great performances as their characters become more conflicted. What all three men have in common is the same chauvinism that has made things difficult for Peggy all along – they’re all assuming that her motivation to carry out a private investigation comes from a romantic history between her and Howard.
Hayley Atwell gets a cracking monologue, as Peggy furiously refutes this and lambasts them for having always treated her as a woman first and an agent last. She’s right, but on top of that, we now know these characters well enough to see, before they do, how ego and wounded pride are blinkering their police work. It’s a neat and fast resolution of a thread that might have got a whole episode if the season had more time to play, and Snafu quickly gets out of the interrogation room.
As we saw last week, Ivchenko is working against the SSR, using only his ring and his voice to hypnotise others into doing his bidding. Ralph Brown has really graduated into the Big Bad role in the second half of the season. Here, there are more overt lines drawn between him and the character of Dr. Faustus from the comics – in the opening flashback, a character refers to him as “Fenhoff”. With his unctuous manner and his insistence that his victims should “focus”, he’s a compelling antagonist and it really is difficult to look away once he gets all persuasive.
As Leviathan’s plan really gets going, so does the episode, with an inexorable final act full of stacked action and intensity. It’s Agent Carter at its best, although the fast pace might actually be a problem with this season overall. The short order of eight episodes has made for some breathless pacing and the quality has been consistent, but with a few more chapters, this might just have had time to become our new favourite show. There’s plenty of stuff we’d like to see before Season 1 is out, not least a full-on fight between Peggy and Dottie, but we suspect that the final episode might be a little bit packed, if they even get around to half of it.
Agent Carter Season 1 and 2 is available on Sky Box Sets. Don’t have Sky? You can also stream it on NOW, as part of a £7.99 Sky Entertainment Month Pass subscription – with a 7-day free trial. It is also available on Amazon Prime Video, as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription.
Where can I buy or rent The Good Fight online in the UK?
Where can I buy or rent Agent Carter online in the UK?
Spoilers and further consideration
– Without question, the funniest scene of the week comes as Peggy and Jarvis use the table in the interrogation room as a battering ram. From Jarvis’ repeated reservations about hurting people or getting hurt, to Peggy’s delightfully snippy replies, it’s a miniature tour de force of comedy and chemistry that’s the only let-up in an otherwise relentless sprint to the end.
– Another terrific scene from the third act of the episode: Sousa’s fight with Dottie in the building across the street. He’s obviously outmatched by her years of training, but he holds his own, using his crutch to his advantage. Disabled heroes are few and far between and the injured Sousa once again proves his mettle here. Plus, the scene ends with a spectacular stairway stunt by Dottie, right out of the Black Widow playbook.
– This week’s deaths: counter to the compassionate use of his hypnotic powers in the opening flashback, Ivchenko essentially drives Chief Dooley mad in order to trap Peggy and Jarvis in the interrogation room and let the treacherous doctor escape with one of Stark’s inventions. Once Dooley snaps out of his stupor, he’s strapped into a highly unstable Stark Heat Vest, and he heroically throws himself out of the window to his explosive death.
– It seems as if Cap’s blood was a bait-and-switch MacGuffin as Ivchenko and Dottie left it behind when they took away another item from the SSR’s evidence catalogue, labelled Item 17. It’s hard to imagine that such an important plot device will merely be a red herring – maybe next week, somebody really will use it to spice up an Old Fashioned, as Dooley guessed.
– Right at the very end, Snafu finally eclipses the high body count of Episode 5, The Iron Curtain, with the final reveal of what Item 17 does. It’s a gas that makes people violently attack one another and Dottie uses it to devastating effect in a trial on a cinema auditorium. Everyone in the theatre dies. Coincidentally, this year’s Kingsman: The Secret Service had a villain with a very similar M.O, but the twist makes a terrific cliffhanger ahead of next week’s finale.
Photo: Adam Rose / American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.