“Now Is Not The End”
We start with Peggy remembering Steve getting fridged to further Peggy’s story, and reminding us of the awesomeness that is Peggy Carter, and how lucky we are to get this on our television screens. Also some gratuitous Chris Evans, that adorable meatball.
She is upset, so she makes some tea. She is British, after all, and reads a newspaper article about Howard Stark being summoned to Congress to explain how Stark tech has ended up in the hands of bad bad people. While she puts the murphy bed away, her roommate, Colleen, comes back from her factory job, and tells Peggy that they fired ten women because ten GIs got discharged. They have an arrangement where Peggy works days and Colleen works nights, so they share a studio, which…. oof. Sucks. Colleen thinks Peggy works at the phone company, which isn’t “life and death.”
Glorious glam shot of Peggy in her snappy red hat walking against the flow of dark suited men.
Peggy strides into the SSR like a boss. There’s a call to the briefing room, and Peggy is heading there, when her boss tells her to cover the phones, which she does… by having the phones sent to the briefing room. BOOM. She and the rest of the Old Boys Club gather to watch newsreel footage of Stark testifying before Congress, saying he did not knowingly sell weapons to enemies of the US, in much the same tone as his son snarks at Congress in Iron Man II. In the briefing room, DoucheBoss fills us in that six items have so far been found, and Stark did not show up to testify that morning, he’s now in contempt of Congress and a fugitive from justice, so now everyone is to go find him.
Peggy protests that Stark is not a traitor, and the dudes all insinuate that because Peggy was Captain America’s sweetheart, she’s less than and probably super friendly with lots of men during the war. Enver Gjokai stands up for her, and she tells him to knock it off- she can handle anything “those adolescents” throw at her. He’s got a crutch and significant limp- he’s not immune to mockery himself. Chad Michael Murray slimes over and hands Peggy some reports that need filing, because she’s “so much better at that kind of thing.”
Peggy eats at an automat, and she and the waitress, Angie, discuss having a purpose and now…. what is she to do? Angie is super convinced that Peggy will get hers someday, and then has to leave when a dickbag customer (a dude, of course) needs to yell at her about BLT standards. Peggy goes to get pie (mmmmm pie) and finds a note saying to “meet in the alley in 5 minutes.” She does, because who can resist that?
In the alley, a mystery English dude (HEY JAMES D’ARCY HEY I’VE LOVED YOU SINCE MASTER AND COMMANDER) mysteriously comes out of the shadows and mysteriously says she is to come with him. So she punches him in the face, because Peggy gives no fucks. A car comes out of the night, and she pulls her gun, and OH HEY IT IS HOWARD STARK. “I know, I should have called.”
Stark claims he was set up, that he had a vault of “bad babies,” inventions that were too dangerous to let out in the world. Someone cut a hole in the basement and emptied it, and he’s pissed, but won’t tell the world that’s what happened because he doesn’t trust the world. He wants Peggy to, in her words, “become a traitor to prove that you’re not one.”
Stark hops on a boat to go find his babies in Europe, and tells Peggy that there’s a formula for “liquid nitromene” out there in NYC that if fabricated, well, will go BOOM. Oh, and call on his butler, the English dude, his name is Jarvis, he can help you. (It took me an embarrassingly long time to get that, but in my defense, I’ve been sick.)
Peggy and Jarvis Britishly snark at each other- Jarvis tells her that she can call for help any time before 9- “What happens at nine?” “At nine o’clock my wife and I got to bed!” “….you’re new to espionage, aren’t you?”
Next day, Peggy walks into her office and finds Souza looking at pictures of Stark, and tells him that Stark HATES the water and can’t swim. Peggy overhears CMM telling the DoucheBoss which fence is likely to be a buyer, and then begs a sickday due to “ladies things” which is immediately and disgustedly granted.
We cut to the fence talking with James Frain, who takes a big envelope of cash, and hands over a leather satchel, and says not a thing. He leaves through a jazz club, and Peggy strides in looking KILLER.
She charms her way in, applies some knock-out lipstick, says she knows about the chemical formula, and she has friends who would love to buy that formula, and who can pay WAY MORE that any other buyer. The fence kisses her before telling her anything, much to her disgust, and passes out, but she has a magic safe opener thingie and finds a orange glowing orb. “Crikey O’Reilly!”
Dangers of engaging in second story work in the pre-cell phone era: Peggy calls Jarvis (who is making a souffle) from the fence’s office, saying “THEY’VE WEAPONIZED IT” “Oh. Is it glowing?” She needs to submerge the stuff in “a solution of sodium, hydrogen, carbonate, and acetate.” Oh, and be careful, because it could result in death. BACK TO THE SOUFFLE JARVIS.
CMM douches into the club with the rest of the Old Boys, and another skinny ominous dude watches the fence’s office from the bar. One of the fence’s thugs comes into the office to find Peggy and unconscious fence, and is about to say “what the fuck” when Peggy BEATS THE SHIT OUT OF HIS WITH A STAPLER. A STAPLER. TO THE FACE. SEVERAL TIMES.
She makes her escape from the club by dodging the Old Boys and Ominous Skinny Dude shoots the fence for not having the nitramene. The Old Boys find the dead fence and seal the exits just after Peggy gets out.
Peggy comes home to find her roommate has been sent home sick, and one of them will have to sleep in the chair. She grabs some soda, vinegar, and bourbon and heads to the bathroom, mixes the soda, vinegar and perfume in a bowl, and uses that mixture to neutralize the nitramene and is about to take a slug of the bourbon (in a glass, not right out of the bottle, because British) when she hears a sound in the room, and findes that Colleen has been shot in the forehead, and Ominous Skinny Dude is behind her.
They viciously fight it out (Peggy is a BRAWLER) until Peggy throws him out her window. Literally. Then he disappears. Literally. She takes a moment to cry over her roommate, and meets Jarvis at the automat. Turns out she’d only known Colleen a few months, and is having a huge guilt wallow over getting Colleen killed, and over jumping so fast into helping Howard because she just wanted a chance to prove herself.
Jarvis and Peggy head over to Ivan Vanko, who analyses metal from the nitramene container, and they trace it to Roxon Oil refinery, and he mentions that the nitramene is giving off vita radiation. Peggy jumps on that, and returns to SSR headquarters, where in the file box on Project Rebirth there is Steve’s file (complete with a picture of Skinny!Steve, who Peggy had decided to eat alive before he became a roast beefcake), and a machine that reads vita rads. Souza comes in on her looking at Steve’s picture. He tells her about a chaplain from the field hospital after he was injured in the war, about remembering life and all that, and drops that he’s missing a leg. Peggy tells him he’s one of the lucky ones, which he doesn’t seem to agree with.
OSD assembles a machine from a typrewriter and a safety razor and thing of talcum powder which is basically a teletype machine? He types, and then responses are typed back on the same sheet of paper. It’s actually really cool. He says his mission is compromised, and and asks permission to terminate Peggy (good luck, dude) and is told that the mission must succeed at all costs.
Peggy gets a ride from Jarvis to the refinery. He offers that he’s going to go in with her, and she’s like “you might mess up your waistcoat.” Once in the facility, (Um I need her leather jacket, too?) she bosses her way to where the nitramene is being picked up by a sullen James Frain from another lab coated guy. She uses a flashbulb to blind him, just as Frain shows her that he’s got a dairy truck full of nitramene. She can’t shoot at the nitramene, and Frain uses a thingie held to his throat to speak in a computerized voice.
He’s an independent businessman who doesn’t murder people; he just sells to people who do. Ominous Skinny Dude is not his friend (despite the matching laryngectomy scars on their throats), and “Leviathan is coming.” He drops a single orb of nitramene, tells Peggy she’s got 30 seconds, and drives off.
Peggy, being NOT DUMB, immediately starts running, and radios Jarvis to please bring the car around. They panic at each other Britishly, and she jumps onto the roof of the car, then climbs into the car while he drives at 70 MPH, and then the entire refinery completely implodes, taking the bumper of the car with it.
The Old Boys have finally been told about the mysterious blonde at the club, and CMM douches in saying he’s got the club photog’s camera, and he thinks there’s a shot of the blonde there. And then they get a phone call about the refinery going boom.
At the automat, Jarvis is still a little shaken and wound up. Douche customer harrasses the waitress some more, ending with a slap on her ass. Peggy says “Fuck this SHIT” and puts a fork into his side while telling him how she could kill him, easily, and he really ought to go find a new place to eat, but before he does, he should “tip generously.” He does.
Peggy strides out, having avenged at least one woman and with more to come, while Jarvis, on a car phone (what, like Howard Stark wouldn’t invent a car phone?) tells Howard that Peggy is an excellent choice and “I don’t think she’ll have any suspicions at all.”
“Bridges and Tunnels”
Peggy is looking for a new apartment while listening to a thrillingly realistic radio drama featuring Captain America’s sidekick “Betty Carver” who breathlessly waits for Cap to show up and save the day. Peggy’s bitchface of “This shit, I am over it” is AMAZINGLY ELOQUENT. Angie recommends her building, and is adorable, but Peggy demurs.
She drops in on Jarvis at Stately Stark Manor, and Jarvis Britshly convinces her to crash for the night. He has found nothing on Leviathan, and neither has Peggy, nor anything about the dudes with the throat scars. “So I’ve got two foreign agents with no voices boxes fighting over a milk truck full of experimental explosives.” Jarvis says he’ll be waiting with the car ass-early in the morning, and Peggy declines; she doesn’t want him to get hurt. Then she finds Stark’s kinky closet of kink, full of costumes and “theatrical elements” which includes a lab coat.
Ominous Skinny Dude gets a message asking about the whereabouts of the nitramene, and is told to get it, as Leviathan is growing impatient.
There’s a little scene where Jarvis continues to try to convince Peggy to allow him to accompany her as a second pair of eyes, and how on earth is she going to strut into the dairy and scan? She assure him that she has far more tact than he gives her credit for, and oh, he’s popped a button and while he’s distracted, she shuts the door in his face. AWESOME.
OSD interrogates someone, using cards in lieu of talking, asking where a “Leet Brannis” is, and what about the nitromene. It’s surprisingly effective, if fruitless, because the guy knows nothing.
Carter infiltrates Dairy as a health inspector- it’s amazing how well waltzing into a place with a clipboard works. She inspects, scans things, looks pissed off, and generally has the best time ever, but one truck is missing- the driver has been out sick and uses the truck to commute (“He’s never heard of the bus?”). She gets his address and strides off.
Old Boys Club get the remains of the refinery, which is basically a ball of debris condensed into a ball with a 25 foot radius. I am dubious about the ability of anything to pull something that heavy, but the Old Boys then get into a discussion of physics, and how it was done (“I say magnets.” “Some of this shit is wood and not magnetic, idiot.” “Well excuse me Sir Issac Newton.” “That’s gravity.”) DoucheBoss blames Stark because of course he does, and tells the Old Boys to crowbar it apart.
Souza gets the pictures from the club developed, which MIGHT SHOW PEGGY DUN DUN DUN. Peggy offers to help him go through the pictures, but he is called down to start taking apart the refinery debris ball. He locks the pictures in his desk, and Peggy calls Jarvis and tells him to get rid of Stark’s car- it’s covered in vita rads and will be traceable.
Old Boys visit owner of the refinery, who serves them nasty scotch. The refinery owner claims that Stark tried to buy the refinery and also banged his wife, so obviously Stark had reason to get destroy the refinery. He tells them about the nitramene and the vita radiation.
Peggy NOT AT ALL CASUALLY tries to picks Souza’s locked drawer- it doesn’t work, as the phones start ringing while she’s picking the lock, and then she’s sent to the refinery owner’s offices to scan the female employees for vita rads.
One of the refinery employees is the dude Peggy blinded in the refinery, and he takes off and runs, NOT AT ALL SUSPICIOUS. Peggy saunters down a short cut and beans him with a briefcase.
Dude gets a particularly brutal interrogation with a literal carrot and literal stick, but says nothing. The Old Boys do get the name and address of the milk truck driver.
Peggy waits for Jarvis so they can go to Jersey to find the milk truck driver outside the automat. Angie continues to sell Peggy on her building for a place to live, but Peggy is adamant that she’d be a TERRIBLE neighbor. Angie says that she can only assume that Peggy doesn’t want to live near her, while it’s obvious to us that Peggy doesn’t want to be responsible for getting someone else killed. Jarvis finally drives up and Peggy snipes Britishly at him for being late.
Back to the radio drama: Betty Carver is mending pants and gets attacked by Nazis! AGAIN! IF ONLY CAPTAIN AMERICA WERE HERE TO RESC- “Who writes this rubbish?” snaps Peggy. Ominous Skinny Dude also gets the milk truck driver’s name and address, so we’re heading for a plot convergence.
Peggy tells Jarvis to go home, and he says no, certainly not, he can help! The milk truck is there, still loaded with nitramene. Peggy goes into to the driver’s house, where they fight it out, against the back drop of a fight scene in the radio drama (the Foley guy is my favorite. Foley is the best.) She knocks him out, due to being a little over-enthusiastic, and handcuffs him to a dining room chair.
BUT THEN James Frain tries to steal the milk truck, but Jarvis pulled out a vital part of the engine! Peggy yells at him that she DIDN’T ASK FOR HELP. “An ideal butler provides assistance without being asked.” he says, primly. She questions James Frain, and he refuses to talk without protection. The driver vanishes from the house, so Peggy, Jarvis, and James Frain hope in the milk truck and start heading off. OSD jumps on to the top of the truck and the climax is underway.
The Old Boys are heading to the driver’s house, and find him running away from them while still handcuffed to his chair.
Peggy and OSD fight it out on the roof of the truck, and James Frain gets shot, one of the nitramne balls goes active, so Peggy pins OSD’s hand to the roof of the car, and she, Jarvis, and James Frain jump from the truck before it goes off the road and into water where it blows up. JF is dying and his voice box thingies is smashed. He draws a heart with a line through it at Peggy’s insistence that he help her stop Leviathan. Then he dies, Peggy and Jarvis book it to where he left the car.
The Old Boys find JF and Peggy’s footprints, and Souza finds OSD’s hotel key.
Jarvis stitches up Peggy’s leg, and in a total role reversal of this type of scene, she insists on being the lone warrior, while Jarvis points out that she needs help and support- he can give it to her, but she needs to allow it. (I ship these two so hard.)
Peggy meets with Angie for an interview for the apartment- Angie introduces her to several women, including a gratuitous “that’s Mary, she’s a slut” (sigh). The interview with the landlady requires demure and elegant attire, curfew is at 10, no men above the second floor…. so we know Peggy will be breaking all those rules next week.
The Old Boys are pouring over the photos from the club- there’s one that might be Joe DiMaggio, and no clear shots of the blonde in question. One of the Old Boys finds a license plate in the refinery wreckage, and we wait until next week to see how fast it takes to search non-computerized license plate records.
OMG where to start. THE CLOTHES. THE RETRO JOY OF IT ALL. THE AUTOMAT. THE HATS. THE GADGETS – I LOVE GADGETS!
I adore this series so far. I want to decorate the series poster with a border made of Lisa Frank stickers and write “I Heart Peggy” on my Trapper Keeper. It has cheesy goodness (Knock-out lipstick! Disguises! Diffusing bombs in bathtubs!). It also has real, emotional weight. The events that happen actually affect Peggy, deeply, for more than five minutes. The struggles with sexism are all too real (more about that later). Everyone is staggering under the weight of the war in one way or another. It has a nice balance in tone between the escapist fun and the emotional drama.
I found the sexism to be very hard to watch, especially since I felt that it so closely matched the reality of what happened to women after WWII. I’m hoping that future episodes will continue to show Peggy fighting sexism, because that’s accurate and it’s a big part of her character, but that it won’t dominate every story as much as the pilot did, simply because it’s so gruelling to sit through.
I love how Peggy uses weapons, either ones she carries or ones she improvises, when she fights, because not only is it endlessly delightful to watch her her calmly take out a guy with a briefcase but because it makes her fights more realistic (a small woman has a better chance if taking down a large man if she has weapon, even if the weapon is a stapler). I love that her hair keeps getting messed up. I love that she’s moving into an apartment full of women. Women friendship! We need this! Go, show, go! I hate to say it because they are such jerks, but I’m such a sucker for deadpan snarkers that I kind of like her horrible, sexist, ableist boss and his number two guy. I sense incipient grudging respect. A girl can dream. And of course I love Enver Gojak, doesn’t everyone?
I hope future episodes will have a fast pace and not get too bogged down in the conspiracy. This is looking like a show that might require a chart.
Oh my god, this. THIS THIS THIS. I LOVED THIS. I LOVED EVERY MOMENT BUT ONE OF THIS. Thank you, Marvel and ABC for giving us Agent Carter. We have more options than ever before of television about women, lead by women, and sometimes we see the fanboys cry about it, which, so sad, all the men in Agent Carter are sexist douchebags? First, not all of them (Jarvis isn’t) (#notallmen!) and second, the cast is still majority male, so quit your whining.
I mean, we’ve been watching Hayley Atwell apologize to the stunt guys and her fellow actors for getting a little too into the fight scenes (“DISTANCE ATWELL. DISTANCE”) on Twitter for MONTHS (seriously follow her on Twitter, she is a treasure). She’s a BOSS. (Also Peggy’s fighting style- pure brawling- is so different from Melinda May’s or Black Widow’s, and is in character and works for her. Good job, show!)
I also love the cast. I want to see more ladies in the cast and see Peggy interacting with more women, and hope that Angie’s role is expanded, but Peggy’s chemistry with James D’Arcy is crackling and I ship it. I ship it so hard. Even the Old Boys Club is impeccably cast, but who cares about them.
There was only one thing I didn’t like, and that was Angie’s random slut comment while showing Peggy around the apartment building. Do resist, show. You’re better than that.
I like that the show isn’t pulling any punches (at all, anywhere, ATWELL) about the amount of pure sexism that Peggy faces. And I LOVE that she’s both mad and discouraged about it, and then turns around and uses that to her advantage- she enters EVERY interaction with people underestimating her and that’s how she wins. I know there are some that think Peggy is using her “lady stuff” too much- knock-out lipstick, sex appeal as distraction, etc, but a) I don’t agree and b) that’s realistic and authentic to what women after WWII had to deal with- women’s liberation as long as it’s convenient for the men, and one way to combat that is to roll with the punch and then redirect the energy. I think the tone of the show is very different than Mad Men- Mad Men seems to go “ahahahahah, look at all this sexism, lucky it’s not like that anymore ladies, amiright?” and Agent Carter says “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, we have come so far and yet, have we really?”
I had such low expectations for this show, I might as well have watched the premiere with my hands under my eyeglasses while peeking intermittently between my pinky and fourth finger.
OH HOLY CRAP I LOVED IT. My eyes kept getting wider and my fidgets kept getting fidgetier, and I was scared to breathe at some points because the emotions, the actions, the drama, the comedy, the puzzle, the layers, and the McGuffins and the mysterious purpose kept building on one another and it was marvelous.
I agree with RHG about “That’s Mary; she’s a slut.” I think I said, out loud, “No, thank you” when that happened.
But the balance of comedy and action, high stakes and snark humor, was so perfect, it was brilliant. The moment when the milk truck driver stopped running down the road while handcuffed to a chair and SAT DOWN IN THE CHAIR IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. Oh, my Lord, I had to pause it so I could laugh some more. Plus, the actor played Biff in Back to the Future, which gave me all the joy. (Not giving me as much joy: I’m a few months older than the actor who plays Jarvis. Oh well, at least he’s rad.)
One other thing that I may struggle with: the show danced a little on the edge of too much violence for me, what with Ominous Skinny Dude’s random and frequent killing of people at the dinner table. There are some images that will stick in my brain, and if they accumulate to measurable proportions, I’ll have to bow out of watching to make sure I can sleep.
But what a loss, because then I’d miss lines like the one that still has me gasp-laughing. When Carter compliments Jarvis on his neat and sturdy stitching after he sews up the gash in her leg, he looks up at her and says, prim and deadpan as you please, Mr Stark’s zippers are under considerable strain.
So what about you? Did you watch? Are you tuning in? What did you think?