In the seventh episode of the first season of Agent Carter, GOD HELP US ALL. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Agent Carter.
Trigger Warning: For consent, gaslighting, manipulation, suicide, nonconsensual drugging, misogyny.
There are just so many things that I love about this sequence, and I’m utterly satisfied by the promise given to me at the end of “A Sin to Err.” This confrontation had been building all season, and it was hard not to look forward to the eventual day when Peggy’s colleagues knew of her talents and her actions over the course of this case. I wasn’t disappointed because the show not only gave us the release we needed, but it addressed the structural problems that Peggy faced at S.S.R., which is half the reason why she kept everything a secret.
There’s that amazing scene early into “Snafu” where Peggy spells out the reason why she’s never truly been able to trust Sousa, Thompson, or Dooley. Each of these men have constructed a sexist view of her, and that includes Sousa. It doesn’t matter that he’s the “nicest” of these men or that he had her back, as he puts it. He elevated her on a pedestal, and then he lashed out when she didn’t perform as he wanted her to. Note that of all three of her co-workers, Sousa is the angriest. Yes, he feels betrayed, but part of that is because he felt like Peggy owed him something more than she gave him. Thus, Peggy, to these men, is a construction, and I adore that she gets to destroy that. TO THEIR FACES.
Even better? Dooley tries to state that Peggy’s real story is unbelievable because there’s no possible way she was able to do everything without raising suspicion. How could she have ran an entire investigation under everyone’s noses? Dooley is a MAN and a COP and THAT JUST DOESN’T HAPPEN. NOT ON HIS WATCH. Except that’s the whole point. Peggy is invisible, right in the open, because these men constantly devalue her to the point that they don’t pay attention to her unless they have a very specific need for her. (I found it interesting that as she said she was invisible, she looked directly at Sousa, who nodded. That communicated a lot to me, namely that she knew that Sousa would understand that phenomenon because he was visibly disabled.) In short? Peggy Carter isn’t yours. And the failure of this team to put aside their obsession with Howard Stark or to see past their own misogyny has set the entire case back. They could have been leagues ahead of the game if they’d just listened to Peggy, no? She figured out most of this before all of them did!
Ivchenko / Dooley
The. Worst. I thought it was fascinating for the show to give us multiple scenes from his perspective, from that scene in Russia during the war to the glimpse of happiness that he gave Dooley. I could see in another world how Ivchenko could use his “power” for good, and I think that scene with the injured soldier was a brief sign of that. It might even be admirable that he was willing to help Dooley with his fractured marriage and family life. Except that I have to view everything through the lens of the manipulation that Ivchenko enacts here. The only real motivation to get Dooley to try and repair his marriage is to distract him and control him. It’s an utterly upsetting thing to watch, especially since this episode is the first chance for us to learn anything about Dooley’s life. That doesn’t excuse his behavior over the past seven episodes, but I don’t think that Agent Carter wants us to. It’s very clear that Peggy’s criticism of him still sticks, you know?
At the same time, THIS EPISODE IS SO EMOTIONALLY UNFAIR. Twice in the same story, I expected a very specific outcome, and the writers completely avoided the obvious. After Dooley was tricked, I honestly expected that the team would be able to find a last-minute solution to the vest locked to him, and this would start a chain reaction. He’d be thankful for Peggy, he’d start viewing her differently, he’d re-think his marriage…this all seemed so obvious! It was a clear path before him!
And then he’s shooting a window and he jumps out of it and WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THIS SHOW. oh my god.
I don’t think it’s exactly surprising to call this a tense episode. The scenes in the building across from S.S.R. are particularly ridiculous, especially since I worried that Sousa’s confrontation with Dottie would end with his death. But as Dottie and Ivchenko met up to go off and hide, I assumed that Ivchenko’s comment about needing to test #17 meant that we wouldn’t see anything until the next episode. Once Dooley died, I thought that’s what the remainder of “Snafu” would focus on.
Again, it’s amazing to me that this episode tricked me as many times as it did. When Dottie rolled that carriage down the aisle in the movie theater, I was certain she was releasing some deadly agent that would kill everyone in the theater quickly. The coughing sealed the deal for me. This was unfolding exactly like the trope does every single time and that meant that–
WHAT THE FUCK WHY ARE THEY ALL BEATING THE SHIT OUT OF EACH OTHER WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON.
I don’t even know how to react to this anymore. This show is not okay at all.
The video for “Snafu” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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