Agent Carter Recap: The Sordid Second Act

Spider-Peggy. Photo: Adam Rose/ABC
Agent Carter
Episode Title
A Sin to Err
Editor’s Rating

There are now two story lines in Agent Carter: Peggy’s and Dottie’s. The parallels and overlaps between them collide this week, and it’s only through Peggy’s arrest that they don’t explode.

Let’s start with Dottie, since we open on a group of men tied up in a basement being forced into spydom in 1944. One man protests and says he has a family. Of course he hasn’t seen this movie before, because those movies are based on his life. Dottie goes to him as if to cut his ties and stabs him in the throat while her comrade terrorizes the rest of the men by telling them his whole family will soon join the dead man. He focuses on one man in particular: Ivchenko.

We return to the present, 1946, where Ivchenko is in Dooley’s office, saying, “That’s when I learned: Monsters are real.” The team asks him questions about Russia and Leviathan, and Ivchenko basically trots out the reasoning behind the Cold War: The Russians want to be the best nation on Earth and have bigger weapons than anyone else. Ivchenko’s initial description of Russia’s motivations is frustratingly vague until the scene with the windows. But before we get to that, let’s focus on our Creepy Dottie Scene of the Week.

Dottie goes into the dentist’s office across from Peggy’s office for an “interview” for the role of his assistant, which he says he likes to conduct after sending all the employees home and closing up shop so they can have "privacy." Dottie just looks at him, but her expression makes it clear: Even if she had already come to kill him anyway, she just added “extra violent” to the menu with all those rape-y vibes he’s sending off.

And yes, the moment he touches her knee and makes some predatory innuendo, she breaks his arm, punches him in the face, and throws him in the dentist chair. His yell for help is cut short by her stuffing gauze in his mouth. “I’ve never used one of these before,” she says, holding one of those tiny, violently whirring things. Did one of the writers have a particularly bad experience with a dentist? (Who hasn't, I suppose.) Whoever did this, I give them thanks for this scene.

After that, I was a little disappointed she was taking her time aiming at Ivchenko in Dooley's office across the way, instead of doing the gut-wrenching thing and shooting him mid-sentence — but it turns out Ivchenko’s been asking Dooley about big New York buildings (step into the wind-tunnel effect, Ivy, it’ll remind you of home) because he’s waiting for Dottie's signal. While manipulating Dooley by focusing on how his wife cheated on him, he taps out a message on the desk for Dottie, telling her to kill Peggy.

Yauch, the new guy, is the only one who notices how long Dooley takes with Ivchenko, but Thompson just orders him to get coffee. Man, Thompson’s always looking to boss someone around, huh? Who the hell does he think he is, Christian Grey?

In any case, Dooley and Ivchenko don’t get a chance to get into it because Sousa interrupts them about Peggy.

You see, Sousa’s also been conducting his own investigation! He asked Buzz from Home Alone — the guy Peggy beat up for information about Howard’s goods — if it was Peggy who beat him up. The only interesting things about this scene are the couple half-making out behind him (what, the no-touching rule hadn't been instated by then?), the weird panopticon windows of the guards, and the fact that Sousa has a half-great, half-terrible picture of Peggy.

Peggy, meanwhile, actually has a legit mission: After pestering Ivchenko about the weaponization of little girls as assassins, the chief tells her to lay off. Despite what they found in Russia, the chief and the other SSR agents find little-girl assassins hard to believe. Peggy fast-talks over and through Dooley’s frustrations until he lets her investigate this kid-assassin theory. Peggy’s on such a roll, she should write a column on work tips: Call in the Howling Commandos, learn Russian, talk over your boss when he’s being foolish and doubting you for sexist reasons.

So Peggy meets up with Jarvis, and the Avengers are at it again! (Whoops, wrong Avengers. But similar, no?) They determine that this girl assassin would’ve grown up and acted as a honey pot for Howard Stark. They get this list of potential targets from a jeweler who makes the “Stark Special,” a custom-designed bracelet with the “highest quality of diamonds and the highest quality of gold,” which Howard sends to the girls he sleeps with. That actually sounds kind of nice, like you could sell it and buy a ticket to Paris or something. 

The girls who get it don’t feel that way, of course, as jaunty music plays over a montage of girls fuming over Howard and slapping Jarvis in retaliation. Peggy blocks the last girl (whose hair is to die for, especially paired with that pink outfit I’d love to steal), but she kicks Jarvis instead. Ida M. Kee, whom, it turns out, Howard met at a charity auction, turns out to be their girl. Peggy searches what surely used to be Dottie’s room and finds handcuff marks while a glowering “future Mafioso” child terrorizes Jarvis. Children can smell fear, Jarvis. 

Unfortunately, Peggy's mission is cut short while she and Jarvis are in the automat, and she must evade arrest by taking down three fellow SSR agents to the tempo of Peggy Lee’s “It’s a Good Day.” Jarvis is extremely pleased to be able to help, delivering a tray to the face to the final man trying to sit up. A couple quick punches and Thompson’s down, while all Danny needs is some emotional pleading before Peggy runs to the Griffith for Steve’s blood. She hides on the ledge until Angie notices. Angie, who’s been moping after a bad audition for Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, distracts the agents with a Tony-worthy weepfest. (Clearly, she’s do much better in a Tennessee Williams play.) Angie calls her brother, and Peggy’s home free — until she meets Dottie in the hallway.

Dottie is all Iowa until she forces Peggy into a kiss, leaving her disoriented from her lipstick from the first episode. Peggy checks her wrist and realizes, yes, this is who she’s been looking for, just before Dottie takes out a knife. The SSR agents find her just in time and drag a blurry-eyed Peggy into interrogation to question her about her recent goings-on.

Finally, I’m not sure how believable or interesting I find this spy-making psychologist’s methodology — it seems only to play on the fact that he notices stuff the guys hide about themselves. But their secrets are so mundane! I guess they’re not criminals, but consider the abilities of fellow ABC show Castle, for example, which really brings the heat when crawling into people’s psyches. Nevertheless, now in 1946, his ring-twisting helps him yet again, this time getting the information he needs about the SSR from Yauch before ordering him to grab his last drink ever and step in front of a truck. Nice knowing you, Yauch.

Some notes:

  • When Peggy looks over Howard’s list of bracelet-receivers, she wonders where he gets the time. “The Academy Awards are a very busy time.” I see you, ABC execs.
  • Also, when Peggy starts crossing off famous women, Jarvis tells her he wouldn’t put it past Ginger Rogers. Apparently, her eyes are “the darkest gates to the abyss.”
  • There were a ton more people of color this episode! Did you hear that, Tumblr?
  • I like how Dooley mentions “New York Municipal, Newark Metro, and Grand Central” in their search for Peggy, but not the old Penn Station. Never Penn Station.
It kind of looks like the middle selfie, you know, the one between the good one with bad lighting and the okay one with cool coloring.