First, some housecleaning from last week. Seeing the Soviet Red Room—the origin of modern-day Natasha Romanov—raised some questions, particularly about whether or not the little killer girl may have been a young Natasha. In the comics, Natasha is very old, aided and enhanced by a Red Room supersoldier serum knock-off, but to date, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe Natasha is just a regular person, albeit, a highly skilled and trained one. So I checked around and I have it on good authority that no, that was not young Natasha. In the MCU, she is not enhanced. Some people may be disappointed, but honestly, I think that makes the Red Room that much more chilling. It means they found a way to create soldiers like Dottie and Natasha from just plain old-fashioned human cruelty. Of all the various brainwashing methods we’ve seen Hydra employ, Bucky Barnes’s mind-melting electroshock therapy may be the most brutal, but the Red Room’s childhood indoctrination is the most sickening.
Anyway, onto this week’s episode, in which Agent Carter hits another series high. The condensed season is really doing this show a lot of favors, especially as we enter the last few episodes and all the momentum is driving to the finale. This week’s episode is tight and suspenseful, and features a terrific action sequence. Action has been a problem for Marvel’s TV side, but there is obviously a concerted effort being made to improve the fight choreography on Agent Carter. The scene in which Peggy and Jarvis escape the automat is slick and fun and also shows how Peggy has subtly influenced Jarvis to be a more take-charge, get-out-of-the-car kind of guy. Usually, it’s the male character who turns the woman into a badass, but Peggy is the one regularly schooling the men around her on how to do their jobs.
Speaking of, this episode finally lays Peggy’s duplicity out in the open and her fellow SSR agents, assuming she’s a traitor (which, I mean, technically…), set out to arrest her. The overly-friendly Russian prisoner they freed from the Red Room warns Dooley and Thompson that women are the ideal covert operative because men tend to underestimate and overlook them, and isn’t that just what Peggy’s been doing? She’s regularly used her co-workers chauvinism against them, but now that they have seen her get results, they’re more easily able to accept the notion that Peggy has been working against them all along. Peggy has a good scene with Dooley, Thompson, and Sousa each. In Dooley and Thompson’s case, they’re simply seeing Peggy for a valuable member of the team, and it’s nice, especially from Dooley. But Sousa, who’s always been a little more aware of Peggy and her abilities (BECAUSE HE PROBABLY SAW HER IN ACTION IN THE WAR, AHEM), is openly devastated to think Peggy is a traitor. He’s drawn the wrong conclusion, but the moment between him Peggy as she escapes is a neat reversal of her situation with Steve Rogers, putting her in the position of the one leaving behind a smitten co-worker.
But where this episode really shines is in the scene between Angie and Peggy. Lyndsy Fonseca has been a charming, comedic presence on the show, one that has, sadly, been underutilized. The downside of the short season is that not everyone is getting the same development. But Fonseca gets a showcase this episode as she aides Peggy’s escape from the SSR. And then, of course, she gets her come-to-Jesus moment with Peggy in which Peggy’s real job is revealed because secret identities are dumb. A consistent theme of this show has been “ladies helping ladies”, and Angie has consistently been there for Peggy, both as emotional support and now as a co-conspirator. If this is the last time we see Peggy and Angie together, it’s a satisfying farewell moment.
There are only two episodes left and we still have to deal with both Red Room Dottie—Bridget Regan is doing a great job channeling Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow to connect the two Red Room agents—and the final discovery of whatever Leviathan is up to with Howard Stark’s stolen inventions. We’ve learned they were testing something on humans, and Steve’s magic serum-blood is once again in play since Peggy has accidentally turned it over to the SSR by virtue of her arrest. If this isn’t building to the Winter Soldier, or at least the program that will eventually create him—according to the timeline, the Winter Soldier doesn’t become active until the late 1950’s/early 1960’s, so it took a while to break Bucky Barnes—I’m going to be disappointed. Russia, the Red Room, purloined Stark tech. What else could the end game be?