Agent Carter: “Snafu” Review

Marvel's Agent CarterFun fact: the word “snafu” is actually a military acronym that stands for “situation normal: all fucked up.” And while the latter part of that acronym was right on in describing this episode, the former doesn’t really apply: the situation has escalated far beyond normal for Peggy and co as this season races towards its conclusion.

Spoilers below the jump! Also, trigger warning for a brief mention of suicide.

We begin where we left off last week: Peggy’s in custody, her cover blown, and shit is escalating on the Russian spy front. Despite the entire SSR crew’s best efforts to interrogate her, however, she won’t spill a thing about what she’s been up to, and things are looking bad for her future as a free person.

The receptionist on the end almost shoots him. Telephone operators don't fuck around.

The lady on the end almost shoots him for trying to get into the SSR offices without clearance. Telephone operators don’t fuck around.

Salvation arrives in the form of one Edwin Jarvis, who comes bearing a briefcase apparently containing the full confession of Howard Stark. On the event of Peggy’s release, Jarvis says, Stark is willing to turn himself in. However, Peggy quickly learns that the confession is a forgery and Stark is nowhere to be found. When she and Jarvis oversee Ivchenko pulling his secret Morse-code-out-the-window business with Dottie across the street, she needs some kind of Hail Mary play that’ll make the other agents trust her enough to believe that he’s bad news.

Taking a chance, she comes clean first about the faked confession and then about the entirety of her involvement with Stark. Her former coworkers are appalled and disbelieving: how could she have run an entire solo investigation this whole time without any of them noticing? Her answer is basically “because you’re all huge sexists”—she points out that unless she’s doing something menial for them, they consider her invisible or a nuisance. They never imagined she was even capable of doing anything besides fetching lunch and taking calls.

agent carter snafuEven though he doesn’t trust Peggy, Chief Dooley trusts Sousa’s gut, and sends a team across the street to deal with Dottie, which Ivchenko, still at his damn window, unfortunately sees. He has some sort of ability with therapeutic hypnosis, and he turns this power on Dooley, convincing him to help him steal one of Stark’s inventions, locking Peggy and Jarvis in an interrogation room, and then leaving the Chief in a trance. Meanwhile, the agents are no match for Dottie’s super-assassin skills, and she escapes pretty much unharmed. When Peggy and Jarvis finally get free and converge on the Chief’s office, they discover that he’s been locked into yet another Howard Stark original, an armored vest that’s supposed to also keep its wearer warm. The vest is deeply defective, however, and all the prototypes so far have exploded once they reach a certain temperature. Despite their best efforts, there’s no way to get it off, and the Chief takes a noble dive out of the window just as the vest is about to blow to save the rest of his team.

Meanwhile, Dottie and Ivchenko are off causing more mayhem; the mysterious invention he stole was not, as Peggy initially feared, the orb containing Steve’s blood, but rather a canister of gas. When the two Russians release it in a crowded theater, we discover that it causes anyone who breathes it to fly into a berserker rage and murder each other. Why did they do that? Was there anyone of note in the theater, were they just wasting an invention they only have one of, or were they test-driving it for the finale? Who knows! I guess we’ll find out next week, when the season (and, if the fan push for renewal doesn’t pan out, the show) wraps up.

The show has delivered so well so far that I find I have little to say about this episode. The plot moved forward smoothly; the suspenseful moments were exciting, the emotional moments were fraught with tension, and there was so much fighting, subterfuge, and excitement going on that there really wasn’t time for any sort of filler moments. Peggy continues to be a patriarchy-smashing badass; she masterfully calls out the other agents when they doubt her story, and points out the many ways in which each of them have underestimated or objectified her. She also continues to be a real human character with a full spectrum of emotions; she admits near-tearfully that she’s unsure why she’s so protective of Steve’s blood, except that it seems like she’s been given second chance at protecting him.

The only real front it’s disappointed me on is that of racial representation. Pretty much every face in this episode was white, and last week was no better, save one Asian-American woman among Howard’s many flings. If the show does get renewed, this is something they definitely need to work on. As we’ve said before, feminism that only includes white people is no kind of worthwhile feminism at all.

That said, I was also sad to discover that Angie wasn’t in this episode at all, and judging from the preview, she won’t be in next week’s either. If you’re going to take this show away from me after a single mini-season, ABC, you gotta at least give me my Cartinelli fix before you go.

Next week’s episode looks to be a quite literally explosive conclusion to the amazingness that is Agent Carter, and I know I’ll be eagerly tuning in. Until then, true believers, let us tweet our #RenewAgentCarters and stockpile our Cartinelli fanfiction and hope for the best possible conclusion to the awesomest Marvel property.

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