After POTUS's State of the Union interlude last week, we’re back! Peggy doesn’t know we’ve been obsessing about what’s going to happen next, so she gives us a rundown, which is fine, but also not that fun to watch. Why would an eight-episode series need a recap? I can’t imagine anyone watching a mid-season episode without a good binge-watch beforehand. But if you're going to do that, this one is a good starting point, largely because most of the action is exposition-based.
Jarvis is engaging in some shady deals to get a certain package, which we can tell because he’s in the shadows. These noir sequences would be more fun if all the shadiness didn’t make it incredibly hard to tell these guys apart from one another. Jarvis hands over $50,000 ($607,000 in today’s dollars) in a trim, neat stack of $100s, because it’s so much harder to carry them in singles. They try to pull a fast one on him by asking for $100,000 more for their employment ($1.2 million today, jeez), but Jarvis has a secret weapon: Peggy. No good fight sequences for her this week, because apparently a good punch or kick to the face is sufficient to knock out guys like these.
Turns out the crate contains one Howard Stark lazing around and playing pool. Peggy decides to smuggle Howard into the Griffith, only succeeding in escaping the landlady’s suspicions by his hiding in the room of some random girl. He tells her he’s returned to see which inventions the government has and which are still on the black market. She stops by the lab when taking lunch orders and snaps a ton of pictures with Howard’s secret micro-lens camera pen (which is real and was actually invented by Walter Zapp, if you’re a nerd and wanted to know).
Howard tells her the government has them all, but that there’s one he needs her to get back for him: the Blitzkrieg Button, which he invented to turn off all of the lights of a city during bombings. His problem was that he couldn’t turn the electricity back on afterward. At first I was intrigued by a Marvel plot against a city that was only derailing instead of completely destructive. (And let’s be real, it’s not like New York’s lights haven’t gone out a couple of times, even if they didn’t Monday night.) But of course, a light switch is not what Peggy finds, as she gleans from Jarvis’s tell: pulling on his ear when he lies. When she flips it, the contraption opens to reveal a vial of blood inside.
She goes to Howard and demands he tells her what it is, even though he knows she knows: It’s Steve Rogers’s blood — the last sample left from Project Rebirth. Apparently the government got seven vials, but it’s almost run out, and if they got hold of Howard’s vial, he’d never get it back. I’m still trying to figure out what the government did with the other seven. Take shots? Seriously, how do you waste seven vials of blood without zero breakthroughs? I guess Peggy should be glad blood’s the only fluid they took ...
Anyway, Peggy rails on Howard for lying to her and betraying her (and Steve by proxy), but he dishes it right back by talking about how he grew up on the Lower East Side, where his father sold fruit and his mother worked in a shirtwaist factory. That’s a bit different from the comics, in which his father was also a scientist and co-founded Stark Industries, but of course the MCU wiki has already been updated with this new information. I wonder if this means Tony got a lot of speeches about the Lower East Side when he was young. (Also, I wonder if his mother’s job was meant to evoke memories of learning about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire? Just me?)
Howard talks about how there’s a ceiling for everyone based on how much money you have, your social class, your religion, your sex. (He doesn’t mention race, because we all have our blind spots, I suppose. Also: the 1940s, everyone!) Anyway, he basically mansplains privilege to Peggy, but she’s not easily distracted from the fact that Howard is an opportunist looking to profit from Steve’s legacy. She insults him, tells him he pushed her away from what she and Steve believed in, and leaves him, taking Steve’s blood with her.
Thompson’s time heading SSR focuses on his teasing and insulting Sousa for bringing in a belligerent, homeless veteran for questioning. Thompson is the one who gets him to talk with a bottle of booze and a burger rather than Sousa’s kind words and determination. Thompson at least tells Sousa he has good instincts, throwing him the only compliment we've ever heard the former give. It’s a strong contrast to how he talks to Peggy (or “Marge,” as he calls her, because ignoring someone’s preferences in address is just another fun way to disrespect them).
When she tries to leave after switching out the Blitzkrieg Buttons, Thompson stops her and asks her what her deal is. “You’re hiding something … even from yourself: the natural order of the universe.” Because she’s a woman, he says, “no man will ever consider her an equal.” She can keep trying to fight it, but that wouldn’t make it any less true. (Uh, did he not see the way Cap looks at her in those newsreels?) He says it with the breathtaking assurance of a man who’s never been told he was anything but golden. I really hate this guy, so I wonder what they’ll do with him. I’m hoping for major, embarrassing insult instead of death.
Dooley leaves Thompson in charge to go to Germany to figure out what exactly happened in the Battle of Finow, where their zombie Russians came from. He meets with a Nazi named Mueller right before the man’s execution, promising him a cyanide pill and a quick death for information about Finow. The man explains that when the Germans arrived, no one was there to meet them: The bodies were already massacred and piled high. Dooley says he has trouble stomaching the story (Uh, why does Dooley think this visit with Mueller is taking place at a prison?). Mueller merely smiles and says he’s killed many people. The chilling scene is slightly offset by Dooley giving Mueller a breath mint, but even more so by the fact that Howard Stark visits the battlefield soon after. “We got ourselves a conspiracy,” Dooley later tells Thompson.
I’ll say, especially if it involves Dottie. You commenters were correct in thinking she was not what she seemed, but I wonder what exactly she’s doing there. The man who wanted $100,000 from Jarvis in the beginning kills his thugs with a semiautomatic pistol (still a hard thing to find after the war, even if revolvers were going out of style), and finds Peggy, bypassing the landlady by crawling through the vents to her room.
Unfortunately, he instead meets Dottie, whose eyes practically darken with hunger as she asks, “Is that an automatic? I want that,” right before she does some fancy flips and breaks the man’s neck. By far the creepiest and most fun reveal we’ve seen in a while.
We see Dottie examining the gun while Peggy breaks a hole in the wall to stash the vial. The episode ends with Dooley hearing the tick-tick-tick of the typewriter typing itself.
Next week: Russia, Howling Commandos, machine guns. Way to hold back, writers!
- On the car ride to the Griffith, Howard mentions that Peggy can do 107 one-armed push-ups. The she promises that if something happens in the dumbwaiter, she won't tell anyone that his rotting corpse is in the basement. Holy crap, Pegs.
- Stan Lee sighting! Unfortunately, he just asks Howard for the sports section as the latter worries over his loss of Peggy’s trust.
- I love how the ladies of the Griffith steal food. Peggy thinks she’s so sneaky with her napkin, while Angie just opens up her bag and starts stuffing rolls in.
- An amazing theory from Tumblr user jenngeek: Is Dottie a ballerina from the Red Room Academy, where Natalia Romanova learned all her tricks? Now that would be even creepier and more fun than a neck-snapping.