Agent Carter: Snafu
February 17, 2015 7:00 PM - Season 1, Episode 7 - Subscribe

Peggy and the SSR clash with each other as Leviathan strikes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (62 comments total)
 
I really did not like seeing Chief Dooley go out like that - barely a hint of resistance (if you can call the "I feel like I should keep this" sequence resistance) until it's too late for anything but the obligatory self-sacrifice. He was a jerk, but still deserved better than being completely owned by the doctor.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:39 AM on February 18, 2015


Lot's of interesting character dynamics going on in this episode with Peggy & The Boys sorting their crap out. Or at least trying to come to terms with the mistakes made on both sides. Yes, both sides. Because as sexist and dismissive as the SSR guys have been, that doesn't give Peggy cart blanche to just run an investigation, thwart interrogations and just generally cowboy it.

So having it out was necessary. It was probably necessary a few episodes ago, but it's not a perfect world.

As to Chief Dooley, it's interesting to note he was refrigerated in order to give the SSR agency and most specifically Peggy, a personal reason for revenge. His "attagirl" summed up everything: he finally recognized Peggy as a truly worthy agent, the shame of not seeing it before and the desire to do something, anything to make it right. So he gave her mission and then did the obvious thing to save everyone else, the thing no one could think of or wanted to do. I'm torn, as a I was really starting to like the character, but the way he went seems very much in his character.

Interesting note: Like Peggy, Sousa's a brawler, using whatever he can to try and win the fight. I loved the he incorporated the crutch into his fighting. It seemed as though he had practiced doing that, which makes sense. He may be crippled, but he's not crippled, you know?

Question: What was Stark doing with a device that could encourage people to be so violent? I'm guessing it was for the military during the war and was used in the Battle of Final(sp?) that resulted in all the dead Russians. Howard didn't like and wanted the program closed, the Army said no, hence the fight between him and the general and serving of ties between Stark and the Army.

Line of the night: "Get the scientists!"
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:47 AM on February 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


I will crack up if Stark designed Item 17 to make enemy soldiers docile but it ended up turning them into rampaging berserkers instead. Where have I heard that before...
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:16 AM on February 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


One episode left, right? I can't imagine how this will all be neatly tied-up in a single hour. At least not satisfyingly.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:10 AM on February 18, 2015


Enjoyable upping of the stakes, and I always enjoy a good "hey, we're nearly done with this set for a while, let's blow it up a bit" as a show nears the end of a season.

One episode left, right? I can't imagine how this will all be neatly tied-up in a single hour. At least not satisfyingly.

I'm not sure what kind of "neat" tie up you're expecting? They're (presumably) going to deal with the immediate threat of Leviathan while leaving things open for future adventures of Agent Carter. I don't think there's really a whole lot to tie off beyond that.
posted by sparkletone at 7:17 AM on February 18, 2015


At the very least we know where she's going to end up at the end of the series because the Agent Carter one-shot exists, and it's not "everything is awesome now and sexism in the SSR is cured forever."
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:32 AM on February 18, 2015


I'm not sure what kind of "neat" tie up you're expecting?

I was under the impression that these episodes would deal with the founding of SHIELD, so it doesn't seem like the current story arc is going to neatly resolve with that. Which is fine, but I can understand how people might be expecting something different

But if this means more Agent Carter mini-series, I'm totally on board for that. A regular series would be ok, but these short minis with a defined beginning and end are really great.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:33 AM on February 18, 2015


Based on the aforementioned one-shot, I'm expecting the series to end with Carter and Stark getting the idea of SHIELD as an entity that would exist separate from (or directly supercede) the SSR, but not actually taking steps to create it yet.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:39 AM on February 18, 2015


> Line of the night: "Get the scientists!"

Yes indeed!

I don't want this to end, but at the same time I am full of WOW at how tight this format has kept everything. There's no weeks of Peggy under suspicion while boring things happen etc.
posted by rtha at 8:01 AM on February 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Agreed, that's why the idea of this being a regular 22 episode series doesn't sound as appealing. I suspect 6-10 episodes is a really good sweet spot for leaving you wanting more as opposed to "oh god, why did they make that episode?"
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:10 AM on February 18, 2015


They did call next week the "series finale" so there may be hope of more coming down the road. I agree that mini-series are the best bet.

I felt kind of let down by the episode. I had built up Dottie Vs EVERYBODY in my head too much.

Why would Stark have kept the suicide explodey vest around? "Yeah, this thing fails to do anything I need it to, so it's surprising I actually finished building it. I only test my inventions after they're complete, you see. Oh well. Guess someone might need a MacGuffin some day so might as well keep it around."
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:40 AM on February 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


I was expecting a faster pace, but this was a very solid episode. I figured that someone was going to have to die for the SSR to finally take Peggy seriously, and having it be Dooley actually makes sense - Peggy gets vindicated and with the chief gone, she's got a leadership vacuum to step into for the fight against Leviathan.

I know Brandon has pointed out that we never get the Peggy origin story, but I'm finding it an interesting origin story in its own right: The origin of SHIELD and the teamwork necessary to make it a go.

Loved seeing that Sousa was no pushover, and Dottie descending a staircase was wonderful: this show gets the action sequences right. And the interplay between Jarvis and Peggy is wonderful, as always.

I hope for another miniseries of this; I wish more TV series had the courage to do 8-12 epsiode "seasons" instead of the bloated 22 episodes, which always means filler.
posted by nubs at 8:43 AM on February 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


From the looks of next week's previews, we'll get to see Dottie and Agent Carter go mano a mano. If I've applied all transitive properties correctly in creating my bracket for this mini-series, I can safely conclude Dottie and Betty are unequivocally the two most dangerous fighters in the city right now.
posted by klarck at 9:16 AM on February 18, 2015


Also, I'm kinda disappointed that the "telephone operators" haven't gotten an action scene. The realization that they're the front guards of the office and secretly armed opens up all sorts of story ideas. If Leviathan, or anyone, actually attacked the office head on and had to contend with a group of 40s era looking "we can do it" type women packing heat...the cinematic opportunities are mind boggling! In fact, the operators might have their corps and training program...hmmm
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:27 AM on February 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


STAIRWELL PARKOUR.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 9:50 AM on February 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


I flippin' loved the comedy bit with the table - was laughing my head off at the payoff 'We're still attached to the table.' Good stuff.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 9:50 AM on February 18, 2015 [7 favorites]


I was under the impression that these episodes would deal with the founding of SHIELD, so it doesn't seem like the current story arc is going to neatly resolve with that

Leviathan gets stopped (even if only temporarily), and they do the old, "Yeah, we beat them this time but at great cost. We need more than the SSR.... We need... SHIELD" and then dramatic music plays. I'm sure there'll be more nuance to it than that, but that's where I've assumed they're headed all this time.
posted by sparkletone at 9:56 AM on February 18, 2015


Also, I'm kinda disappointed that the "telephone operators" haven't gotten an action scene.

In my headcanon now, when Agent Carter leaves SSR to run SHIELD, she takes them all with her.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:23 AM on February 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


I wasn't as dismayed about waiting a week for the next episode as I was last week, but this was still a great episode.

Early on, I was worried about how they were going to balance the sexism, and in the first episode it did seem really clunky. It's evolved throughout the series as the characters got a little deeper, and I really appreciate the growth. The guys no longer seem to be completely incompetent, and Souza is called out, too.

When item 17 was first stolen, I was really hoping for a metal arm. But one thing did bother me - wouldn't someone care about a lady just leaving her baby in the movie theater alone? I realize parenting used to be a lot more hands off, but that seemed a little much.

I do hope that Angie is back for the next episode. She must be worried for her friend. :(

Highlights still remain the fight choreography and Peggy and Jarvis together. And Jarvis just walking in to the SSR station with the signed papers.
posted by dinty_moore at 11:32 AM on February 18, 2015


But one thing did bother me - wouldn't someone care about a lady just leaving her baby in the movie theater alone?

So here's a modern, very recent photo from Denmark, where parents still leave baby carriages, full of baby, out on the street while they have a snack apparently. I know I have seen photos from the 50s and 60s of babies in carriages lined up outside of grocery stores in America, while the mothers go inside to get food, with no one thinking it's unusual. The switch to full-on rabidly crazed paranoia is recentish.

Given that, I figured it probably wasn't that unusual to abandon a baby carriage in any old location, while you hit the ladies room, or whatever, and that people wouldn't have really noticed unless the baby started making a fuss.
posted by instead of three wishes at 1:08 PM on February 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Does anyone else think Sousa is another mole, maybe a Manchurian Candidate type of thing? Someone I know who also watches pointed out that the flashback at the beginning shows a Russian soldier getting his leg amputated while Doctor Faustius hypnotizes him, and Sousa doesn't turn over the briefcase "Dottie" left in the dentist's office. Might also explain why she left him alive.
posted by kewb at 4:09 PM on February 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Have we ever gotten actual Word Of God confirmation that the one-shot is still canon? I don't think we have.

Because the one thing that completely breaks my suspension of disbelief for this show is how Peggy--with her role in the events of The First Avenger, her apparent rank in the intelligence community, and the contacts she made in the war--somehow ended up as a glorified secretary in episode 1 of this series.

And if the events of this miniseries are just a prequel to the one-shot, meaning there's another big reset button about to be pushed that knocks Peggy back down to being a disrespected second-class agent AGAIN...well, that would probably be where I politely exit the Agent Carter universe.
posted by Ian A.T. at 6:29 PM on February 18, 2015


And I'll be right there with you, I believe.

This is a well-written show that looks great and has a wonderful lead, character and actress, but seems to spend so much of its runtime throwing rocks at her that...well, to be honest, I can't figure out why anyone thought that's what this show should be. I get, completely get, that the show wanted to make a statement. That's cool. You start out with Peggy getting treated like crap -- and then turn the tables by the end of the first episode. Why in the fuck does anyone want to watch a power fantasy where the heroine is constantly demeaned and denied the chance to have any power? It's a total mystery to me.

I feel like the creators have done the best job they could making a show entirely out of the main players' charm and whatever gently used props were sitting around from the movies. But if this is going to continue, and I really hope it does, they desperately need to level this up. Let Carter do something cool! They have absolutely everything they need to make this a great show, but...like...nothing happens. I realize the fan sentiment is high for this, and maybe I'm off base. I don't know. I just know I get frustrated and annoyed watching it much of the time. I love the moments where things happen -- when Dottie goes all kung fu/Under the Skin, when Peggy and Jarvis get some good screwball comedy banter going, etc. But they're so few and far between. Straight up, the show gets to the fireworks factory once, maybe twice an episode, and leaves immediately. Why?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:04 PM on February 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Because the one thing that completely breaks my suspension of disbelief for this show is[etc]...

Why in the fuck does anyone want to watch a power fantasy where the heroine is constantly demeaned and denied the chance to have any power? It's a total mystery to me.


Ha, this is why I love watching this show. I'm a woman working in high-tech and Peggy is all sorts of hero to me for putting up with what she does and kicking ass anyway. And amongst all the crazy, unrealistic inventions, super powers, and hypnotism, to hear that someone thinks the part where a woman is repeatedly denied her rights is what suspends disbelief??? HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!! And it was so much worse in the 1940s I can't even begin to imagine wanting to come to work every day with what she has to put up with. If you want to get technical (and I really don't, this show is supposed to be for entertainment), the sexism she has to deal with is the most believeable part of this show. And it's the heart of it for me.
posted by girlhacker at 8:11 PM on February 18, 2015 [14 favorites]


Does anyone else think Sousa is another mole, maybe a Manchurian Candidate type of thing?

I can't get a handle on Sousa/his motivations at all. He is nice, or lightly sarcastic, to everyone, while recognizing/being amused by how flawed they are (minus Peggy being a traitor and even then he lets her go); he is the only real investigator besides Peggy; his only shtick seems to be competent and smart, the end. For all the other major characters, we know what is in their heads/pasts/plans/desires. There has to be a reveal left about him. Something that fills him out, and him being Leviathan or Hydra or what have you seems the most plausible.
posted by humans are superior! at 9:25 PM on February 18, 2015


> Let Carter do something cool!

She totally does, though! Whaddya mean she doesn't do anything? She sneaks back in to Russia, leading a bunch of guys, half of whom don't believe in her at first. She tracks down a bunch of the bad babies while pretending to get coffee. She catches a bad guy everyone thinks is a good guy tapping Morse code to his conspirator. She is constantly underestimated and kicks ass anyway.

In the early 70s, my mom had to show her divorce papers in order to get a loan from the bank, to prove she didn't have to ask her husband for permission! And she got a PhD and raised a kid all at the same time! Shit, who wouldn't want to watch the fantasy of Winning Over the Patriarchy!
posted by rtha at 9:41 PM on February 18, 2015 [6 favorites]


My money is on Thompson being Hydra. Sousa's just a nice guy.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 10:31 PM on February 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Does anyone else think Sousa is another mole, maybe a Manchurian Candidate type of thing?

Nah, I think Souza is the future Mr. Peggy Carter - he's the only one who's treated her with any respect since the beginning, and someone in one of the earlier threads pointed out that in Winter Soldier she told Cap he saved her husband's life in the war, and Souza said early on that he was only alive because of Cap (paraphrasing, obvs.)


Because the one thing that completely breaks my suspension of disbelief for this show is how Peggy--with her role in the events of The First Avenger, her apparent rank in the intelligence community, and the contacts she made in the war--somehow ended up as a glorified secretary in episode 1 of this series.

So maybe they laid it on a little thick in the first couple of episodes, but if you think her experiences in the war - most of which were probably highly classified beyond the level of your average SSR agent, which means everyone else in her office only knows rumors and unconfirmed stories and newspaper puff-pieces about Cap that might've sorta mentioned her in passing - were going to get her much cred with the tough-guy war vets of the SSR in the 1940's . . . . . yeah, you're way underestimating the sexism of the times.

Her contacts and rank got her the gig as an SSR agent in the first place, otherwise she'd be one of the telephone operators in the front room. But now there's a world to rebuild, not many of her contacts and war compatriots are gonna have the time or energy to watch over one agent and make sure she's getting treated as an equal - assuming it even occurs to them that she should be treated as an equal.

And if the events of this miniseries are just a prequel to the one-shot, meaning there's another big reset button about to be pushed that knocks Peggy back down to being a disrespected second-class agent AGAIN

Having just re-watched the one-shot (DailyMotion link), I'll point out that at the beginning of that, she's at least no longer the glorified secretary getting coffee and sandwiches; she's doing real work in code-breaking and data analysis. Still not the field work that she knows she's capable of, but not any kind of canon-breaking conflict, or a reset back down to Little Miss Nobody. And yeah, again, of course she's a second-class agent - she's a woman.


Why in the fuck does anyone want to watch a power fantasy where the heroine is constantly demeaned and denied the chance to have any power? It's a total mystery to me.

I don't know that the show's a "power fantasy" as such (although I'm not entirely sure what you mean by that), and in any case any drama needs conflict for the hero/heroine to overcome. A big conflict she would plausibly encounter in that era would be the overt sexism, and her not being taken seriously as an agent because of it.

Otherwise you've got a 2-minute story where Dooley says, "Hey Carter, gimme a coffee, black, two sugars" and then she kicks him in the balls, and then that's the end.

Straight up, the show gets to the fireworks factory once, maybe twice an episode, and leaves immediately. Why?

Because it's far more of a detective/spy thriller story than a superhero story. So most of the time is spent trying to figure out who did what, when and where and why. And even superhero stories don't have Bang Boom Pow every five minutes, there's got to be time dedicated to plot and character development.
posted by soundguy99 at 10:32 PM on February 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher: Also, I'm kinda disappointed that the "telephone operators" haven't gotten an action scene. The realization that they're the front guards of the office and secretly armed opens up all sorts of story ideas.

Oh, holy shit. I need to see this.
posted by brundlefly at 1:54 AM on February 19, 2015


I found it interesting that the intro scene humanized the doctor - I mean obviously that scene's primary purpose was establishing the origins of his capacities, but they did it in a particularly sympathetic way. I wonder if we're going to see more development of who he is - why he works for Leviathan, whether he sees his present service as an outgrowth of his work during the war (saving lives on his own side). I mean, there was that flashback a couple episodes back where he was being "recruited" under threat of death, but I feel like that might have been a put on, given what we've learned about him since. He also seems to have absolutely no problem working with Dottie on a comradely basis, which seemed an interesting contrast with SSR. But then, he'd also have had experience with female comrades during the war.

It makes me wonder whether he will (as I expected last episode, when he turned out to be Leviathan agent) die at the the end of the season or whether he'll end up becoming a longer-term big bad, the Leviathan Red Skull (or Karla). I mean, Peggy's pledge to get him could provide a driving impetus for the next season, at least.
posted by AdamCSnider at 3:02 AM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Next season could bring in the Project Paperclip Hydra agents like Zola into the mix. It would be tricky as we'd have to see Peggy lose (otherwise there would be no Hydra corruption for Cap2), but a behind the scenes war between Hydra and Leviathan could be pretty cool. Zola gets killed, Peggy thinks the threat is over, then we see the tapes/vacuum power up in an underground bunker.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:49 AM on February 19, 2015


So I was also thinking that they might make the one-shot non-canonical at some point, but not because it'd be unrealistic for Peggy to be placed into a non-field role again. For one thing, who says that she won't end up taking the fall for all the shit that went wrong this season? I mean, she just confessed to being a double agent. Her superior officer is dead. Sousa might stand up for her, but I could see Thompson letting her take the fall. For another thing, sexism.

But if the do another season of this, they're going to run into the flash-forward problem, where they've got all this time to fill and a very specific end game that wasn't created purposefully to be an end game. It's very limiting, and considering the limited viewership and different presentation of the one-shot, it'd be easy to handwave it away.

A possible solution to this would be have the possible second season of Agent Carter take place after the one shot, in the early days of SHIELD.
posted by dinty_moore at 5:35 AM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think the intro scene also established how incredibly formidable the doctor's hypnotism is as well. I've seen a few comments elsewhere about Dooley being mentally weak for allowing himself to get hypnotized, but he's up against a man who can blanket your brain as your leg is being sawed off...
posted by PussKillian at 5:36 AM on February 19, 2015


Also, I'm kinda disappointed that the "telephone operators" haven't gotten an action scene. The realization that they're the front guards of the office and secretly armed opens up all sorts of story ideas.

I like to imagine that this was the unspoken backstory for Lily Tomlin's character "Ernestine".
posted by Strange Interlude at 5:54 AM on February 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


It makes me wonder whether he will (as I expected last episode, when he turned out to be Leviathan agent) die at the the end of the season or whether he'll end up becoming a longer-term big bad, the Leviathan Red Skull (or Karla). I mean, Peggy's pledge to get him could provide a driving impetus for the next season, at least.

At the very least, he's a fairly major villain in the source material.
posted by kewb at 6:06 AM on February 19, 2015


Yeah, I wouldn't hold that one short to any sort of canon. It was simply an exercise to see what an Agent Carter series or movie could be and probably gauging interest in one. There's so much in those 15 minutes that simply isn't part of the eight hour series that it seems silly to hold anything to that original one shot.

Because the one thing that completely breaks my suspension of disbelief for this show is how Peggy--with her role in the events of The First Avenger, her apparent rank in the intelligence community, and the contacts she made in the war--somehow ended up as a glorified secretary in episode 1 of this series.

Are you kidding me? 'Cause that's exactly what happened after WWII in real life, at least in America. The women who had been holding down factory jobs and doing everything else were simply told to go home and start being "simple" housewives again. Peggy getting a job that's clearly above the telephone operator/guard role in the SSR is a clear sign that she did have connections that she used.

But once she's in that job, she simply can not use those connections to go over her Superior Officer's head. . Except, of course, when the timings right. You noticed how she put the offer on the table of getting the Howling Commandos to go into the field with the SSR team? She's been waiting to pull a trump card like that, something where her previous connections can show her boss just how valuable she is. No doubt she had several cards to play, it was just a matter of waiting for the right moment.

And it works! Thompson comes to regard her as an equal by inviting our with the guys to get a drink. Dooley lets her go and investigate a wild lead. Everything is coming up roses, it's going to be the year of Peggy! Then that secret investigation crap comes out and yeah, it blows up in her face.
Not completely though. The boys still know she's very capable, hence Thompson's refusal to let her out the cuffs, heh.

Oh, holy shit. I need to see this.

Right?! The telephone operators as armed guards should totally be a thing. Brings new meanings to various phrases:

"Operator, how may I direct your call?"
"Please Hold"

Much fun could be had with this.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:32 AM on February 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Oh, the head telephone operator is Rose.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:45 AM on February 19, 2015


If you want to get technical (and I really don't, this show is supposed to be for entertainment), the sexism she has to deal with is the most believeable part of this show. And it's the heart of it for me.

I think this is why I ABSOLUTELY FUCKING LOVE DOTTIE. Yes, she is terrible and awful and she is SO GOD DAMN COOL! She is amoral as hell and just does not give a fuck. Oh man, when that dentist tried to take advantage of her, I was just like "you, sir, are making a very poor choice." She was obviously going to kill him anyway because she needed his office (I love that too! He is completely disposable to her! She doesn't need his approval, she needs his office, so he is just going to die like the pathetic insect he is) and then he thought he could control her so she FUCKED HIM UP. You do NOT try to control Dottie. She does not care about you. You are not the boss of her. That woman just DOES SHIT. She DOES NOT CARE. She uses a baby carriage because that will direct suspicion away from her while she gets a theater full of people to kill each other! She uses her awesome fake super American accent to buy the carriage! Pink -- fingers crossed! And you KNOW that she does not give a fuck. For these reasons, I did not really enjoy seeing her work with the doctor because the hell with him, Dottie is In Control.

I find her amorality completely inspiring. In a show that is very clearly set in a man's world, Dottie does not care about them. They are beneath contempt. Although in many ways yeah, she's a terrible human being, I think she might be my hero. If I ever really decide it's time to smash the patriarchy, it is Dottie's spirit I will be channeling.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:08 AM on February 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


In a show that is very clearly set in a man's world, Dottie does not care about them.

Which makes you wonder, what does Dottie care about, other than getting the mission done, you know?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:15 AM on February 19, 2015


Well, she really wanted that automatic handgun!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:18 AM on February 19, 2015 [9 favorites]


I'm also stuck wondering what it means that the one female character that does not have to give a shit about the patriarchy is the main villain (or if she is the main villain).
posted by dinty_moore at 7:25 AM on February 19, 2015


I'm also stuck wondering what it means that the one female character that does not have to give a shit about the patriarchy is the main villain (or if she is the main villain).

I don't think Peggy gives a shit about it either, not really. But she's not amoral, so she's willing to avoid killing people when possible, in order to get along in society. 'Cause morals!

Also, I don't want to rain on Mrs. Pterodactyl's parade, but Dottie clearly defers to Dr. Ivenchenko. But perhaps that's just do to both of them working on the same side.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:47 AM on February 19, 2015


Also, I don't want to rain on Mrs. Pterodactyl's parade, but Dottie clearly defers to Dr. Ivenchenko.

Yeah, I know, and it really saddens me. Dottie doesn't need him.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:07 AM on February 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Perhaps they're just co-workers, so she's being polite by not killing him.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:19 AM on February 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm also stuck wondering what it means that the one female character that does not have to give a shit about the patriarchy is the main villain (or if she is the main villain).

See, I read Dottie less as "Yay, girls kick ass!" and more as a very dark inversion of Peggy. Peggy consistently asserts her humanity, talents, and *power* in the face of a culture and a system designed to utterly marginalize, dehumanize, and objectify her. Dottie is, in the most literal sense, an object, a weapon. She has been given power specifically on the condition that she can only employ it as an instrument of a dehumanizing system, indeed, on the premise of her own dehumanization and that of anyone she's told to destroy. (Remember the other little girl whose neck she snaps?)

At no point do we see Dottie setting her own agenda the way Peggy does, nor do we have any real sense of why she's loyal to Leviathan other than the fact that she was conditioned to be so from childhood on up. It's a different kind of sexism, the kind that reduces a woman to little more than a body whose value is in its functions and appearance. I mean, the show has gone out of its way to show us that she has little to no identity of her own aside from "efficient killer/spy" with stuff like her little scene in front of Peggy's mirror, or her need to sleep shackled to a bed all these years later.

Peggy has her friends, confidants, and, yes, even comrades (Angie, for example, and the Howling Commandoes). Even without them, she's quite capable of asserting her own ideals and pursuing her own goals. Dottie has her orders and her assumed personae. Without them, she's an utterly broken person, literally unable to have any kind of self even when she's looking at herself in the mirror, unable even to sleep unless she chains herself as her masters once did.
posted by kewb at 8:54 AM on February 19, 2015 [8 favorites]


So I was also thinking that they might make the one-shot non-canonical at some point, but not because it'd be unrealistic for Peggy to be placed into a non-field role again. For one thing, who says that she won't end up taking the fall for all the shit that went wrong this season? I mean, she just confessed to being a double agent. Her superior officer is dead. Sousa might stand up for her, but I could see Thompson letting her take the fall. For another thing, sexism.

Right, yeah, although I don't think it'd be all that difficult to make the one-shot work as canon (at least for fairly loose "comics" values of canon.)

Like, even if things end in the best way they can (Dottie and Ivenchenko dead or captured, the whatever-it-is "murder gas" recovered), the whole thing has still been kind of a clusterfuck. Dooley is dead from one of Stark's half-assed inventions, several other SSR agents have been killed, a whole bunch of innocent civilians are dead in the movie theater, Peggy's admitted to working in secret for a private citizen while said citizen is under investigation - this is the kind of situation where people get fired or transferred or demoted.

So Thompson gets a job at the FBI, Sousa gets sent to the Chicago SSR office, all the other faceless SSR agents we've seen in the background get sent other places; a whole new crew is brought in to the NYC branch, including Flynn the jerk boss from the one-shot. But since Peggy's actions did manage to at least keep the worst from happening, she's got some leverage (plus maybe some behind-the-scenes string-pulling from Stark and others) so she can stay in New York and do actual work in code-breaking and analysis. But she's still not allowed to do field-work, because loose cannon and woman. Which is still incredibly frustrating for her.

And there we are at the beginning of the one-shot.

A possible solution to this would be have the possible second season of Agent Carter take place after the one shot, in the early days of SHIELD.

I agree, I think that's where they'll have to go with any future Agent Carter stories.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:14 AM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Honestly, things would be so much better if they just ignored that 15 minute one-shot. This series does such a better job of setting the stage, so to speak.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:36 AM on February 19, 2015


But she's still not allowed to do field-work, because loose cannon and woman. Which is still incredibly frustrating for her.

I kind of love the idea that Peggy has gone so far in showing how competent she is that the SSR brass would be terrified of the carnage that will result if they let her go into the field alone.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:52 AM on February 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't think Peggy gives a shit about it either, not really. But she's not amoral, so she's willing to avoid killing people when possible, in order to get along in society. 'Cause morals!

But interacting with this society and not being completely amoral means she does have to give a shit about the patriarchy - since not being completely amoral means being restricted in her choices. If she wants to work within the SSR, she has to work by their patriarchal rules - or at least has to appear to be working by those rules, or face the consequences.

With the one shot - it's not that you can't logistically get there, it's that being forced to make the one shot canon means cutting off a number of other plot possibilities, and it wasn't like the one shot was created with the miniseries (or a set of miniseries) in mind. Watching it now, would Peggy be so happy to hear from Stark? How would Stark go from being public enemy #1 to being in charge of the nation's defense in a matter of months*?

It'd be pretty easy to handwave the one-shot away as not canon, and a tempting possibility for the writers.

*I originally remembered the one-shot happening in the early 50's, but it looks like Marvel sets it as one year after Captain America - or right around the same time period as Agent Carter.
posted by dinty_moore at 9:56 AM on February 19, 2015


Also, for anyone feeling that the sexism portrayed in the show is kind of unbelievable, might I suggest you read this AskMe from January - Bitch in Business - to read a whole bunch of accounts from full-on competent professional women dealing with assumptions that they'll get coffee or arrange for refreshments or take notes in a meeting or fetch someone's dry cleaning or a whole bunch of other "women's" work; and/or describing the repercussions that result when they refuse to do these things, because that's not actually their job. And this is shit that's happened in the last twenty years, up to and including right now today at this very moment.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:57 AM on February 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


See, I read Dottie less as "Yay, girls kick ass!" and more as a very dark inversion of Peggy.

I agree with this; in fact, I think Leviathan has very deliberately used girls/women in their recruitment school because they know that women will be more quickly dismissed and overlooked as potential threats by their opponents so they will make ideal covert operatives/assassins.
posted by nubs at 10:14 AM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I agree with this; in fact, I think Leviathan has very deliberately used girls/women in their recruitment school because they know that women will be more quickly dismissed and overlooked as potential threats by their opponents so they will make ideal covert operatives/assassins.

Right, but I also think it's important to see how they recruit and train their operatives. They pick children, who are unable to meaningfully consent (especially under Stalin) and use subliminal messaging and forcible restraints on them. They know their opponents will dismiss women as harmless, but it's not as if Leviathan treats the Black Widows as human beings either.
posted by kewb at 10:38 AM on February 19, 2015


it wasn't like the one shot was created with the miniseries (or a set of miniseries) in mind.

Good point.

it's that being forced to make the one shot canon means cutting off a number of other plot possibilities

True, but IMO it's a problem if they're committed to "Peggy Carter, Agent of the SSR" for future episodes. If they're willing to go with something like your idea and make it "Peggy Carter, Agent/Director of SHIELD" in the future, then they can keep the one-shot canon without too much trouble.

(The "Agent/Director" phrasing above is not intended as a slight on Peggy, just that there's no way you're gonna keep her stuck behind a desk, Director or not. Plus even with Stark money behind them, I bet the early SHIELD days are gonna need all hands on deck.)

(In case it's not obvious by this point, I would LOVE another series or two of Agent Carter set in the milieu of her trying to get SHIELD up and running; you think she's got problems with the patriarchy now, imagine her needing to deal with a bunch of Senators born in like 1889 who think giving women the vote was a dangerous and subversive idea.)
posted by soundguy99 at 11:48 AM on February 19, 2015


Season 2 following Peggy Carter's early tenure as the Nick Fury to Howard Stark's not-evil Alexander Pierce sounds like a great show to me.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:49 AM on February 19, 2015


True, but IMO it's a problem if they're committed to "Peggy Carter, Agent of the SSR" for future episodes.

Curious, what problems do you see with that?

Peggy Carter, Agent of the SSR with Thompson as the Chief and more or less over the sexism could totally work. Peggy could be working cases with Sousa and other new agents on an international scale which would bring up the needed for SHIELD.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:05 PM on February 19, 2015


Well, I mean, not insurmountable problems, just some time limitations. Especially if there's thought of more than one full-blown season rather than another mini-series.

As in, Cap goes into the drink I'm not sure when, but the war in Europe of course doesn't end immediately, so a few months between Cap's "death" and V-E Day, than another few months until V-J Day, and more time to get everyone back to the States & mustered out and the SSR organized on a "peacetime" footing, and all told it seems to me the events of this series are maybe early spring of '46, so maybe only 3 or 4 months before the one-shot. So there isn't a whole lot of time to cram in more Peggy Carter adventures before she takes off to head up SHIELD.

Although, yeah, you're certainly right, they could easily fit another mini-series in there as you've described. And of course if the MCU just ignores the one-shot then anything goes.
posted by soundguy99 at 3:22 PM on February 19, 2015


The big question is that if Thompson is the new Chief, then is Sousa the lead investigator or Peggy? Does Rose get a promotion from operator? Ooooh, character tension/development!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:09 PM on February 19, 2015


Agreed, that's why the idea of this being a regular 22 episode series doesn't sound as appealing. I suspect 6-10 episodes is a really good sweet spot for leaving you wanting more as opposed to "oh god, why did they make that episode?"

Yep. I long since concluded that this - along with a tradition of raising up actors based more on their talent than on their looks - is why so much British TV is so much better than so much American TV. Short seasons - typically written by one creator - with a coherent viewpoint and no need to just toss whatever you can think of into the pot to make an episode order.

Not that there haven't been American shows that have handled longer runs very well indeed, but it is a challenge. Also, Agents of Shield not the best example because they were facing the additional constraint of syncing their storyline to the MCU, which means a lot of what could and couldn't happen on the show was totally outside the creative team's control. If Captain America: The Winter Soldier got pushed back a month, that meant AoS had to come up with four more "keep the plates spinning" episodes instead of doing the big story developments they wanted to do.
posted by Naberius at 9:01 AM on February 20, 2015


If Captain America: The Winter Soldier got pushed back a month, that meant AoS had to come up with four more "keep the plates spinning" episodes instead of doing the big story developments they wanted to do.

Actually, I think this was why there was such a long winter hiatus on AoS last year. They were waiting for TWS to hit in April, and didn't want to subsist on pure setup/filler until then. Given that Marvel films generally don't open from December-March, that might lead to some interesting timing issues as they continue to integrate the TV and film sides of the MCU. (The Netflix shows, coming all-at-once in bingeable fashion, are another thing entirely.)
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:01 AM on February 20, 2015


When they showed the movie theater disintegrating into chaos, the first thing my husband and I said to each other was that the people who made this show must have been pissed at the people who made [name of a recently-released recent movie that used a similar plot device omitted for spoiler reasons].
posted by immlass at 11:58 AM on February 20, 2015


I hope for another miniseries of this; I wish more TV series had the courage to do 8-12 epsiode "seasons" instead of the bloated 22 episodes, which always means filler.

Eh, I think this is less an issue and the hard limit on short seasons is less an advantage than you're perceiving it as. For one, good shows have managed to intertwine stories within a season that didn't forward the season arc. If we look at Whedon shows I can think of many that didn't relate to the big stories which far overshadowed the season arc itself. The Body was "filler" in Buffy. Hush had some arc elements but nothing that had to be in that episode. Whether both of those seasons, if they had been free to just jettison 6 episodes would have been better... I don't know. That presumed they jettison the right episodes.

As far as more limited arcs we're really getting a lot more of that now as television walks away from the attitude of the summer being a barren wasteland of repeats. Networks do the long break thing with shows like they're doing with AoShield to put other stuff in the middle. While those are nominally the same season from a numbering standpoint they have their own narrative peaks and self-contained arcs.
posted by phearlez at 1:45 PM on February 23, 2015


'Cause that's exactly what happened after WWII in real life, at least in America.

Yup. From an old AskMe, here is some more on what happened to women in the work force after World War II.
posted by mbrubeck at 5:40 PM on March 4, 2015


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