There was so much that could’ve gone right with “The Blitzkrieg Button”, which marks the halfway point of this series of Agent Carter, and yet a lot of it just fell flat. The episode was constantly trying to find the right tone – It switched from spy flick, to comedy, and then to serious drama within the space of minutes. Also, hello Stan Lee!
After a stint overseas where he tries to track down some of the villains who’ve stolen his inventions, Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) literally smuggles himself back into New York City to meets Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and his loyal butler Jarvis (James D’Arcy).
After realising that the SSR now has a hold on all of his missing inventions after the events of last episode, Stark then tells an incredulous Peggy that she needs to go and steal one of them back. Because, science.
Well, that’s the gist of what he says. Stark claims that the invention he needs (the Blitzkrieg Button that gives this episode its name) is one that has the potential to completely destroy the electricity grid in the Tri-State area, and reasons that only someone who knows what it is can deal with it.
Peggy, of course, knows there’s more to this metallic globe, but follows his orders anyway. But when she finds out what the invention really is, it culminates in an intense and ferocious showdown with Stark.
Despite all its faults and the “okay only” rating I’ve given this episode, it was still really good TV, and an episode that I look forward to rewatching many times. Here’s why: the dialogue. The writing was truly masterful, especially in that last scene with Peggy and Howard, and even in places where the episode dragged, a snappy one-liner was never too far away.
Stark’s witty comebacks and innuendo-laced promises nearly steal the show, but the writers saved the best lines for Peggy. When Stark mournfully remarks that the SSR have indeed recovered all of his inventions, Peggy snaps back with the sardonic: “Then why is your moustache so sad?” It was a much needed moment of levity in an otherwise uneven episode.
Cooper’s portrayal makes it easy to see the similarities between him and his son Tony (played by the always charismatic Robert Downey Jr.), which is a testament to just how talented he is.
Meanwhile, Atwell’s cool, matter-of-fact delivery of some of the funniest lines in the show was a sheer joy, and the bantering with Stark was a showcase of just how great the chemistry is between the two actors. She also showed just how self-possessed and confident Peggy is, even while displaying vulnerability.
(SPOILER) The revelation that the titular Blitzkrieg Button was actually holding the last existing vial of Steve Rogers’s blood was shocking, and one that made me feel almost as outraged as Peggy did.
The shouting match between Peggy and Stark really was something to behold, with the writers giving Peggy an absolutely true and brutal takedown of Stark, her supposed friend. I wanted to applaud at the end of her speech because it showed all the frustration of a woman who was sick and tired of being led around, lied to, and treated as a lesser being.
Furthermore, to follow up with the scene at the end where she puts the Blitzkrieg Button and its precious cargo away for safekeeping was heart-breaking, despite the cheery big band music in the background. It’s all too obvious that Peggy’s still hurting, but has to keep her emotions bricked up and safe from anyone else in her life.
There’s been some criticism online that Peggy is too kickass a character and falls into the trope of being a stereotypical “strong female character” who is forced to be better than her male counterparts in order to even reach some sort of parity.
But speaking as a woman, this an issue that many women face in their professional lives all too often regardless of the time period. Agent Thompson’s (Chad Michael Murray) comment to Peggy says it all, in what must be some of the preachiest dialogue so far from this show:
“You’re a woman, no man will ever consider you an equal. It’s sad, but it doesn’t make it any less true.”
What’s sad is that it’s been 70 years since the period the show takes place in, and that belief is still present in so many parts of society.
This is exactly where I feel the show really shines. Even when Stark tries to explain his reasons for having to lie his way to the top, it just felt like a lot of mansplaining, juxtaposed with Peggy’s righteous (and valid) anger.
Yes, it’s some great backstory, and Stark may have had to break the rules along the way to blaze his way to the top, but that is nothing compared to what Peggy is going through at the SSR. It’s little microagressions like that from men that make women like Peggy feel exasperated.
The big twist was Dottie (Bridget Regan), who displayed some Black Widow-worthy skills when taking down a smuggler looking for Stark. Just who exactly is she working for? What does it all mean? And will I ever stop asking this show multiple questions at the end of each episode?
Did you agree with our review of this week’s Agent Carter episode? Let us know in the comments!