It’s the penultimate episode and things are starting to play out to their final conclusion, which means we’re getting into some spoilery territory. Consider yourself warned.
With Peggy’s semi-betrayal of the SSR out in the open, this episode finally lets Peggy air her frustrations with her male co-workers that is very satisfying. It’s something we’ve wanted to see from the very beginning, Peggy delivering a comeuppance to her chauvinistic fellow agents, but what really makes it kick is that Peggy does it while she, herself, has been brought low. She’s finally getting somewhere in her furtive investigation, having connected the pieces of the Red Room, Dottie Underwood, and Leviathan, but she’s also lost the trust and, at least temporarily, the respect of the other agents. It actually makes her indictment of the SSR—“Unless I have your lunch, your coffee, or your reports, I’m invisible to you”—all the more damning because it doesn’t come while she’s on a high horse.
This is 90% of a bottle episode, with the action centered in the SSR office. With Peggy on lockdown and under investigation, Jarvis attempts to ride to her rescue, which Peggy does not appreciate at all. His escape plan involves a false confession from Howard Stark that paints Peggy as a flaky patsy, and Jarvis fully admits that it’s the result of panic. Bringing him into the SSR, though, allows us to have a little more delightful Peggy-and-Jarvis time, which is one of the highlights of this show. James D’Arcy has been wonderful as human Jarvis—it’s easy to see why Tony Stark would go on to immortalize the man as his AI offspring—and it would be neat if Marvel found some way to revisit human Jarvis, should Agent Carter not get a second series.
In setting the table for next week’s finale, this episode reveals both Dottie Underwood as a Red Room operative to the rest of the SSR, but it exposes Dr. Ivchenko as her co-conspirator. A flashback at the beginning of the episode confirms that yes, Ivchenko is Marvel supervillain Dr. Faustus, who is a nemesis of Captain America and figures into the post-Civil War comic book storylines prominently. The MCU gets to reframe him, though, as a Cold War spymaster, since the MCU Civil War is a different beast with (mostly) different antagonists. I suppose I can cut Dooley a little slack for letting Ivchenko spend so much time in the nerve center of the SSR since Ivchenko hypnotized him, but at the same time—IS EVERYONE AT THE SSR DUMB? They brought a Russian prisoner into their HQ and immediately gave him the run of the place.
This is also when we say goodbye to Dooley. Shea Wigham has been enjoyable as the gruff Dooley, and the show gives him an appropriately heroic exit as he sacrifices himself to save the others from at least part of Ivchenko’s plot. I suspect the body count will go higher next week, as Dottie and Ivchenko attempt to unleash the biological weapon they stole from Howard Stark (by way of the SSR)—Thompson needs to pay back Peggy for saving him in Russia, after all. And I’m still keeping an eye on that vial of Steve Rogers’s blood. For now it’s still in SSR custody.
Agent Carter has been almost uniformly excellent in its short run, and the last couple episodes have built a nice head of steam going into the finale. The personal revelations and understandings that drove this episode neatly set up next week’s final confrontation with Leviathan, and we’re sure to see Howard Stark again before all is said and done. And we’ll we get to see Peggy square off against Dottie once and for all, which ought to be a humdinger. I’m not holding my breath for a second season of Agent Carter, but if this is all we get, it’s been a worthwhile foray into this corner of the MCU. Peggy Carter is easily one of the best characters to emerge in the Marvel movies, and perhaps the people at Marvel Studios can take what they’ve learned from this show and use it to continue improving Agents of SHIELD, which could really use the charm and personality Agent Carter delivers week after week.