The last line in this week’s mostly stellar episode is “Let’s get started.” It’s an apt line for many reasons, but mostly because after six uneven episodes, it finally feels like we’re getting somewhere.
Last week’s “Iron Ceiling” was my favorite of the show’s short run thus far, thanks to a globe-hopping mission with Dum Dum Dugan (Neal McDonough) and the Howling Commandoes to the Soviet Union that uncovered Leviathan’s disturbing assassin school for girls, giving us some insight into the origins of what certainly appears to be the fledgling Black Widow program. It also segues beautifully into this week’s episode, giving us a lot more insight into Dottie and Leviathan.
“A Sin to Err” starts out promisingly, with a flashback to Russia in 1944, with Dottie unmasking a few nervous, tied up citizens. A Soviet soldier welcomes them to Leviathan. Before beginning their work, he gives each of them an opportunity to decline membership. The young man who does, because of his wife and four children, is swiftly stabbed in the neck by Not-Dottie (Yelena?), the soldier promising that his family will be joining him soon (in the afterlife). Needless to say, nobody else declines membership to Russian’s version of Hydra. Dr. Ivchenko (Ralph Brown) is one of the hostages, relating the story to Dooley, Peggy and Jack back at the SSR’s base.
Ivchenko was “rescued” last week from prison, apparently forced to help scientists build versions of Howard Stark’s weapons. He was all too willing to bail and get a ride to New York with the SSR, the easiest infiltration job ever. Peggy is the only one trying to squeeze out information from him, which naturally pisses off Dooley.
Dooley, to his credit, lets Peggy follow her hunch: that it was a female Soviet spy who killed Agent Krzeminski and romanced weapon plans out of Howard Stark. This leads her to the Automat, where Angie performs a monologue in the middle of the diner. Considering she references Torvald, I believe it’s from Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. This is either another hint that she’s performing a part, and is deceiving us all, or that like Nora, she feels suffocated by male-dominated society. Considering her father is forcing her to start Secretary school and give up her dreams of Broadway, it’s probably simply the latter (and perhaps she doesn’t escape the shackles of society until she teams up with Peggy in the SSR).
Peggy’s there to meet with Jarvis, who’s pleased to hear from her. Peggy’s all business: they need to track down all of Howard’s… women, and figure out which one is an agent of Leviathan. A tough task, considering Howard Stark has had sex with nearly everybody. Prepare yourself for 17 jokes about Howard’s playboy lifestyle from here on out.
Last week, Sousa linked Peggy’s shoulder bullet scars to that of the mysterious blonde woman in the photograph. He’s in denial, and needs another set of eyes, so he goes to jail to meet with Sheldon (Devin Ratray), who got his ass kicked by Peggy in Episode 2. Sousa offers to reduce Sheldon’s sentence if he identifies the woman who beat him up… something they should’ve followed up on regardless. Sheldon quickly identifies Peggy as the one who wiped the floor with him; now it’s time for Sousa to act.
At the SSR, Ivchenko has a Mentalist-like ability of observation, and can tell that Dooley is having problems with the wife, and has been sleeping/living in the office. They share drinks, and he delights in the American skyscrapers out their window. We know he’s too friendly; that’s not allowed on a spy show. This makes Dottie’s movements even more prescient: she takes a job interview with a creepy womanizing dentist across the street. She kills him for his office window overlooking SSR’s base. She has her sniper set on Ivchenko. Is she killing him because he knows too much? Nope. Instead, they communicate through Morse Code. Ivchenko needs more time to retrieve the item (presumably Steve Rogers’ blood) and he gives Dottie a new directive: Kill Peggy Carter.
As Dottie goes about her business, Ivchenko becomes the best villain the show has seen (and perhaps the biggest name villain of any Marvel TV show thus far). He’s a master manipulator; quite clearly a Russian Doctor Faustus, the man who created the “Faustus” method referenced in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and used by Daniel Whitehall to brainwash Agent 33 in S2xE3. He’s on the verge of getting Dooley to show him the lab (twisting his ring while giving him instructions), when he’s interrupted by Sousa… who has that aforementioned bombshell to drop.
Peggy and Jarvis check out a jewelry store, who give them the addresses of all of Stark’s hook-ups (he sends diamonds to every one as a memento, kinda like a rich serial killer). While Jarvis is convinced Ginger Rogers (her eyes are the “darkest gates to abyss”) can’t be ruled out, Peggy eliminates most of them based on their public stature. Then it’s montage time, where Jarvis gets slapped and kicked by several pissed off women (turns out Jarvis had to do the dumping for Stark; poor Jarvis). Finally, they track down an empty apartment of a former Stark lover, with handcuff markings on the bedpost. They’re close.
But… the SSR catch up to Peggy at the Automat for a rousing, great action scene set to classic 1950’s music, with Peggy using plates, trays, stools and chairs to beat the crap out of an entire (male) team. Jarvis and Peggy exit out the back, only to find Jack Thompson, with a gun trained on Peggy. We know Jack’s not the best in the field…so naturally Peggy makes quick work of him, apologizing before she does so. She bumps into Sousa, who pleads with her not to run, refusing to shoot her. Peggy runs anyways, en route to the Griffith, where Jack and Sousa follow.
With the Peggy hubbub taking away Dooley’s attention, Ivchenko’s babysat by Agent Yauch (Alexander Carroll), who’s very easily manipulated (he’s a middle child desperate to please, after all). He draws Ivchenko a map of the HQ, labeling exits and the location of the lab where Howard Stark’s weapons are located. Unfortunately for Ivchenko, the base is on lock-down; only Dooley can access the lab. So… Ivchenko tells Yauch to pack up, go to his favorite bar for a nice bourbon, and walk into an oncoming truck. And he does it. Agent Carter features powers, y’all!
Peggy snatches up the orb of Rogers blood from her apartment, and escapes to her windowsill just in the nick (fury) of time. Angie saves her ass, covering for her when Jack and Sousa come a knocking. Angie breaks down, blubbering about her dear Grandma, and it makes Thompson and Sousa hilariously uncomfortable, driving them away. Carter’s convinced she’s destined for Broadway after the act; Angie decides to tell her Dad to suck it, she’s going to keep acting! Yay. Peggy says goodbye… with Angie still in the dark. For now.
Peggy doesn’t get very far, as she runs into Dottie, in fine worry-wart form. She hugs Peggy and then KISSES HER on the lips, with Peggy’s own knock-out lipstick. Dottie’s about to finish her off, when Thompson and Sousa round the corner, and drag her away to base.
Nosy Angie tries to rouse Dottie for an important Griffith meeting… but Dottie’s already packed up and disappeared. This seems to set up Angie for some detective work of her own in the next couple weeks.
But right now, it’s interrogation time. Dooley’s furious: “Don’t go easy on her because she’s a girl.” That’s when Sousa says the final line and we’ve come full circle: “Let’s get started.” With two episodes remaining of Agent Carter‘s first (and last?) season, it’s about damn time.