Note: This entire Review is a SPOILER.
If you haven't seen the episode and don't want to know what is going on until you do, you'll want to leave here and come back after you've seen it.
Have I mentioned: This Review is a SPOILER?
He's Always Watching
Marvel's Agent Carter gained inclusion in the MCU last night - the irascible Stan Lee (played impeccibly by Stanly Lieber, himself) made his guest appearance as a man on a shoeshine stand on the street in New York sitting next to Howard Stark (played by Dominic Cooper) - who was there to meet his butler, Edwin Jarvis (played by James D'Arcy). Stan and Howard were hidden by their newspaper section when Jarvis approached the stand after being roundly scolded by Peggy Carter (played by Hayley Atwell) for lying to her - more importantly, for imposing on her a lie crafted by Howard Stark.
Jarvis climbed into the third chair next to Stark and apologized, essentially for failing to keep Peggy in line - a rather impossible task. Howard confirmed his belief that Jarvis would be able to win her back. After Jarvis left, the man on the left, dropped his paper -- STAN-THE-MAN LEE! (Or, is that Oatu, The Watcher?) And, he asked Howard if he was done with the sports section.
Of course. Stan's gotta stay current!
Stark, slightly annoyed by the disturbance, handed him the section he desired.
S.H.I.E.L.D. Will Continue March 3
I saw the trailer for Episode 11, Aftershocks (second half kick-off episode) of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in last night's episode of Marvel's Agent Carter. It appears Skye is going to be having some issues dealing with her changes.
Looking back, Stan had made an appearance in the T.R.A.C.K.S. episode (#14) in Season One of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but has yet to make an appearance this season. Still waiting, Stan. How are they going to be able to tie this all in without you?
Meanwhile, Back to Agent Peggy
Guess who is back in town?
After the death of über narcissist Agent Ray Krzeminski in last week's episode (Time and Tide) the S.S.R. is in shock. And, they're angry. And, they are blaming Howard Stark. Every agent in the S.S.R. is on recall - "Call your wives, they won't be seeing you for a while" type recall. Howard Stark will be found and he will be taken down.
But, Peggy already knows where Howard is. She and Jarvis rescued him from a shady "importer", Mr. Mink, who had offered to smuggle Stark back into the country for $50 thousand. The show opens with Jarvis attempting to hand over the money only to be shaken down for an additional $100 thousand. With Peggy in the shadows, that didn't go over very well for the "importers" and they ended up not getting any recompense for their efforts.
Then, the stooges were killed by their chief who appeared to have one of Stark's inventions: a miniature hand-held Gatling pistol indicating he may well have been a member of Leviathan (the current antagonists - precursor to Hydra?) rather than an ordinary smuggler.
This gun will come into play later...
With the S.S.R. being all over any scent of Howard Stark, they are unable to deliver him to any of his residences - hidden or otherwise. They realize this as they approach one of Stark's secret rendezvous pads and there are a couple of undercover (but, not very well) S.S.R. agents planted outside. Peggy recognizes them, immediately.
She directs Jarvis to turn off and they head off to the Griffith. Peggy then sneaks her way into the residence and stashes him in the dumbwaiter only to be confronted by the lodge's matron, Miriam Fry (played by Meagen Fay). The two manage to finagle their way out of that one and Stark is safely stashed.
Of course, each time Peggy returns to her room looking for him, she finds him coming out of a different girls' room along her corridor. She's not really happy about this, but she is determined to see all this through.
The reason for Stark's return ends up being that he needs to know what all Agent Carter has recovered of his inventions (which should be conveniently stored at the S.S.R. facilities.
And, he has this fancy camera pen for Peggy to photograph the items so he can identify them. She takes the pen and is off to S.S.R.
Meanwhile, her "friend" in the S.S.R., Agent Sousa (played by Enver Gjokaj - how do you pronounce that, again?), has uncovered a witness of the events at the docks from the week before. Initially, he is ridiculed for bringing in a drunk as all the other agents are out seeking "real" leads and the S.S.R. director, Roger Dooley (played by Shea Whigham - who plays Stasiak in the Fast & Furious franchise) if off in Europe tracking down a lead there.
With the help of Agent Jack Thompson (played by Chad Michael Murray - I think I like this character a lot), the #2 man at the S.S.R., they finally get the information. He says there was a "dark-haired woman" and a "well-dressed man". And, that, of course, implicates Peggy and Jarvis; although, the two agents don't realize this, yet. Still, Sousa pulls down the picture of the blonde who had raided the nightclub a couple of weeks before and began coloring her hair dark... he's going to get to the bottom of this.
The S.S.R. also has a couple of Russian bodies in their possession. They had been a part of the Leviathan group that had died in earlier episodes. Both Russians had been, supposedly, killed in a battle in Europe during WWII. But, there they were.
Director Dooley heads off to Europe to interview a Nazi war criminal, Colonel Ernst Mueller, who was at the battle where the two Russians were said to have been killed. What he discovers is that the Nazis didn't even participate in that battle. When they arrived, the battle, if it could even be called that, was done and bodies were everywhere. Russian bodies. Whoever had won there hadn't just killed the Russians, they had slaughter and butchered them.
When he gets back, they discover there had been a flight into the area right after the supposed battle. And, on the manifest? Howard Stark. More intrigue.
The Leviathan dude, Mr. Mink (not credited on IMdB), from earlier in the show? He follows Jarvis to Peggy and sneaks his way up to her floor at the Griffith where he encounters her shy new next door neighbor, Dottie Underwood (played by Bridget Regan) - recently from "a small town in Iowa". She likes his pretty pistol... and, his participation in the series concludes. He is last seen stuffed under Dottie's bed in her room. Clearly, she is not what she seems.
Come to think of it, she's probably Leviathan, and Mink was, after all, just an importer who stepped into a situation that was bigger than he could possibly have imagined. He was pretty cold-blooded, anyway, having shot and killed all of his failing underlings when Stark got away from them. Or, maybe she's Russian?
Curious... the Russian program that gave us the Black Widow could also be where Dottie originated. In the scene in an earlier episode where Dottie was introduced to Peggy, wasn't it said that she'd studied ballet in Russia? Maybe this is where the Soviet Union, Leviathan and the S.S.R. all intersect? Where's Hydra in all this... ?
Update: Aaron Kelley commented below that IGN has just confirmed Dottie is from the same program as Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow) and she is part of the precursor that would eventually become the Black Widow Program.
Back in the room, Stark, reviewing the photos Peggy took of his inventions currently residing in the S.S.R. lab (whose inhabitants are continually setting themselves on fire or melting their own glasses off their faces because they don't know how to deal with Howard's gadgets), concludes that there is one device in there that is too dangerous to leave in S.S.R.'s hands - the Blitzkrieg Button.
He impresses upon Peggy the need to get this device out of S.S.R. hands so that it can be neutralized - he is the only one who knows how to deactivate it. All the rest of the devices? None are activated so present no immediate danger.
But, this one... should anyone press that button on the device, it would deactivate the entire electric grid for the whole of New York City - effectively powering down all of the tri-state area. Not only would it power down the area, it would destroy the grid and it would take years to recover and rebuild.
Of course, Peggy is up to the task. She encounters even more of her male-domineering "comrades" at the S.S.R. as she passes through further impressing upon her the fact that she is not being properly utilized by the organization.
Using the photograph she had taken earlier to locate the device, she immediately goes and secures it. However... as she is about to depart S.S.R. HQ, she keeps going back to the fidgety nature Jarvis exhibited as he discussed the device with Peggy on the way to HQ.
She pushes the button.
Confused, Peggy goes back to Stark and confronts him. He had never expected that she would actually push the button and now has to explain his motives and his apparent distrust of Agent Carter. She presses the issue - angrily. Stark is the only man (and, through him, Jarvis) who had ever shown her any kind of trust in her physical and intuitive abilities - who actually believed she could do the job any man could do. And, now, he had blown all that up.
The vial, it seems, contains a sample of Steve Rogers / Captain America's blood. Stark had been one of the chief scientists charged with creating the Super Soldier Program and he was to get one of the 13 samples - the other 12 went to the U.S. government. If the S.S.R. now found out what was in the sample, Stark would never get it back - even if he managed to clear his name.
A blood sample ... of Steve Rogers ... the man Peggy loved - and lost.
She was furious! And, Stark never got his sample. After she kicked him out of her apartment, she broke a hole in the wall and secreted the device in a small grotto she carved out and sealed it up.
This was a very good episode.
Next week? Should be awesome!!! She hunts down and re-forms "her" combat team, the Howling Commandos! That's right! We get us some of the salty mustache, DumDum Dugan!
And, we go to Russia! Will Dottie consider that a coincidence? Will Dottie realize what is going on? Will Agent Carter make any sort of connection to Dottie... ?
And, are the Howling Commandos the forerunner of S.H.I.E.L.D.? It's clear Peggy won't be making any inroads into the S.S.R. so founding S.H.I.E.L.D. may be her next best option.
Will any of the current S.S.R. agents come with her? Will her steadfast buddy, Agent Sousa, at least come with her?
Update: I had assumed that Peggy was going to Russia on her own volition - without the knowledge of the S.S.R. Apparently that is not the case as, according to an interview with the show's producer, she is being sent there by Director Dooley who is beginning to see her in a different light.
Stay tuned! This ride is getting way cool.