AGENT CARTER’s fourth episode takes a turn from action to a character-driven story.
The episode begins with a shady deal between Jarvis and two thugs asking for money. Jarvis hands over a stack of bills, but the thugs pull a gun and demand $150,000 in exchange for the package. What package? Why so much? Jarvis only has $50,000, but he claims there’s more in the briefcase, which he hands over. We really don’t know who these thugs are until Carter and Jarvis knock them out and retrieve the package, which turns out to be Howard Stark. He’s been smuggled in by a Mr. Mink, and the thugs are Mink’s hired men.
Though sneaking into Carter’s apartment isn’t the best idea, at least Stark will be safe from prying eyes – his entire life is being combed through by the SSR, including his penthouse and fake corporations, which is why he’s sneaking into the Griffith with Peggy.
Stark uses his influence over Peggy to convince her to steal one of his weapons from the SSR, one he’s called the Blitzkrieg Button. He says it’s meant to knock out all power grids when activated, but the issue lies in the aftermath: apparently the grids are destroyed beyond saving, and he doesn’t want anyone to get their hands on it.
Against her better judgment, Carter agrees to swap the real one out for a fake, one that Stark conveniently brought with him, before ever knowing which weapons the SSR had recovered. Seems fishy to me.
Meanwhile, Chief Dooley is following a lead to Europe regarding the Battle of Finau, where both of Leviathan’s agents were supposedly killed. After leaving Agent Thompson in charge, Dooley goes to Nuremberg to interrogate a Nazi commander, E. Mueller, about the battle. Once alone, Dooley offers Mueller an escape, but not from prison: he will exchange a cyanide pill for information about the battle. Mueller accepts, telling Dooley that the Germans were never involved at that battle. By the time they arrived, the Russians were dead, bodies piled high. He said it looked like a massacre. Taking that at face value, Dooley gives over the cyanide pill, and even slips one to a guard, as he’s leaving.
Back in New York, Agent Sousa is searching for any clues about the anonymous caller that gave them the tip about Stark’s weapons aboard The Heartbreak. Though he finds two bums at the wharf, only one is a likely witness: a drunk with an attitude and a penchant for pissing off cops. As Sousa is bringing him into the station, Thompson applauds him for capturing “a drunk, fat Stark” basically insinuating that Sousa can’t do his job.
Sousa tries to get the man to talk, digging into his own personal trauma with the war, hoping to gain some empathy. Thompson, however, knows the right of it: the man’s only looking for booze. Thompson tempts the bum with a burger and a bottle of scotch, which works: the bum claims he saw two people there, “a well-dressed man and a lady,” but saw nothing else.
Later, after Carter replaces the Blitzkrieg Button with a fake and opens the real one to find not a button, but a vial of something that looks suspiciously like blood, we see a glimpse of the woman Carter refuses to become: an unequal, disrespected woman. Trying to avoid Sousa, Carter ducks into an interrogation room to find Thompson drinking the dregs from the bottle of scotch. In a moment of weakness, he asks Carter why she joined the SSR, saying “no man will ever consider you an equal.” Its one painful truth of the era that Peggy doesn’t want to see, but is bombarded with on a daily basis.
Carter returns to her apartment to confront Stark, punching him across the face when the secret is revealed: the Blitzkrieg Button contains a vial of Steve Rogers’s blood. She’s furious, of course, and rightfully so. Carter accuses stark of getting rich off the blood and sacrifice of better men, which isn’t far from the truth. As she leaves, she tells him he will be gone when she returns, and slams the door.
Jarvis tries to apologize the next day, but Peggy isn’t having it: she would rather deal with men who disrespect her openly than ones who claim to be her friends, yet lie to her. Jarvis retraces his steps for half a block and sits on a shoe polishing stand, where Stark is hiding. This is the infamous scene where Stan Lee makes a cameo, and it’s a cute one. He’s just an old man, getting his shoes shined, who wants to borrow the sports section from Stark’s newspaper.
It turns out that Mr. Mink has been tailing Carter and Jarvis for a while, trying to find out where she lives. Once he does, he sneaks up into her hallway and tries to get into her room. Neighbor Dottie just happens to be leaving her place at the time, and finds Mink breaking in. With a smile, she asks if he’s looking for Peggy. He instructs her to return to her room, pointing his automatic handgun at her. With a smile, she asks, “Is that gun an automatic? I want that.” Then she proceeds to kill him, using moves a-la Black Widow to break his neck.
The end of the episode resonates as Peggy turns up her music to drown out the din of her hammering. She breaks into her wall and hides Steve’s blood behind the bricks, covering the hole with a painting. We see Angie asking Dottie if she wants to come to dinner, and Dottie is playing with her new toy while Mr. Mink rigors under her bed.
Overall, a solid episode. There isn’t much action, but taking a break from shooting and punching villains is good for Carter, since the teasers for the next few episodes promise action and violence.