Incredible performances by Atwell, Murray, Gjokaj and Whigham from a stellar script. Intelligent, creative editing and amazing stunt work. Emotional depth that packs a punch.
It was only one hour? The hypnosis seemed a bit too easy, but that's just a nit.
SNAFU doesn’t do justice to the intensity of this episode of Agent Carter. More like FUBAR! Man, was this crazy hour fun, emotional—and incredibly heartbreaking—to watch.
Agent Carter — With Agent Carter (Hayley Atwell) in custody, all the key members of the SSR take their turn at interrogation. Agent Sousa (Enver Gjokaj), Agent Thompson (Chad Michael Murray) and Chief Dooley (Shea Whigham) each voice their frustrations and accusations. When a resilient Peggy finally has enough she defends herself, and her dedication to justice, by finally calling the SSR out for it’s callus and disrespectful treatment toward her. Jarvis (James D’Arcy) on the other hand, has different plans for freeing Peggy—a signed confession from Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) in fact. When Peggy realizes Dr. Ivchenko (Ralph Brown) is secretly communicating with someone across the street, she plays her most valuable card—the complete and whole truth, including the presence of the last vial of Captain Steve Roger’s (Chris Evans) blood. With time running out and Agents Sousa and Thompson leading a team across the street to find Dottie (Bridget Regan), Ivchenko uses his talent for persuasive hypnosis to elicit the help of Dooley to imprison Peggy and Jarvis in order to steal Stark’s mysterious Item 17 from the lab.
While Ivchenko is working his magic on Dooley, Dottie comes face to face with Sousa. While her first assault knocks him to the ground, quick thinking and a pistol grab by him sends her on a spectacular, death-defying escape that leaves one agent dead in her wake. When Thompson and Sousa return to the SSR, everyone is shocked to find Dooley dressed in a highly unstable prototype Stark body armor that is counting down to explode with no way to extract him. In a final moment of acknowledgement that Peggy has been on the side of justice all along, Dooley urges her to bring Leviathan to justice and races out the window before the explosion can kill everyone. Reeling from multiple deaths the team has no idea that Dottie and Ivchenko have unleashed Item 17 gas at a nearby theater with the horrific result of everyone murdering each other. The stakes have never been higher and with both sides preparing for a final confrontation let’s jump into the details of this penultimate episode of the first season of Agent Carter!
Triple the interrogation and quadruple the emotion.
We’ll just be completely up front. The triple interrogation of Peggy by Sousa, Thompson and Dooley was outstanding. All four actors were at their best throughout this emotionally charged verbal spar. As each of the three took turns firing questions, emotional insults and even stabbing accusations, the tension escalated quickly.
Writer Chris Dingess, Editor Chris Peppe and Director Vincent Misiano worked some distinct television magic throughout the interrogation. Collectively they deserve ample credit for accelerating the pace with quick cuts across all three interrogations to create one seamless conversation.
Each of the three interrogators had their own distinct flavor, but when combined with the emotional courage of Peggy throughout, the sum was greater than the whole. Sousa’s over-the-top outrage and betrayal was a sharp contrast to his compassionate view of her early in the season. Peggy, being the savvy person she is, called him on the motive behind his fiery accusations with her own shot below the belt.
“I understand that you never get the chance to run this far with the ball, so you’re making the most of your opportunity. But you are wasting precious time.” ~ Carter
Thompson was certainly the most understanding, which would have been shocking to say at the beginning of the season. Chad Michael Murray’s work to subtly shift this character has been exemplary. Thompson’s first-hand experience with Peggy in the field during their mission to Russia seems to have had a profound impact on his view of her. Instead of dropping the hammer the hardest, which is typically his way, his was the most compassionate plea for Peggy to hand over Howard Stark to the SSR.
“Something’s not right here. I saw what you did in Russia. What you did for that mission, what you did for me. You saved my life. This doesn’t add up.” ~ Thompson
Dooley took his own barbs for what had to be a shocking sense of betrayal to himself and the SSR in general. Whigham’s deft ability to shift seamlessly from sarcasm, backhanded insults and incensed betrayal was perfect.
“I’m impressed. You’re good, Carter. Holy cow, you are good. I got a dozen guys in there—wish they could play the game half as well as you.” ~ Dooley
But it was Hayley Atwell and Chris Peppe that stole the moment. In a brilliant, emotional monologue that was essentially her first true outpouring of personal defense after six months of frustration, we finally see Peggy put her proverbial foot down. No longer afraid to appear vulnerable or hurt by their insults and snide questioning, she finally fired back with searing truths to all three interrogators.
“You think you know me, but I’ve never been more than what each of you has created. To you, I’m the stray kitten, left on your doorstep to be protected. The secretary turned damsel in distress. The girl on the pedestal, transformed into some daft whore. You’re behaving like children. What’s worse—what’s far worse—Is that this is just shoddy police work. You were inches away from the woman that you want when you loaded me into your car. You should be looking for Dottie Underwood, who by now, I assume, has shed her alias.” ~ Carter
The brilliance of this brief, but fierce moment can’t be understated. Peggy, speaking from an emotionally weary core, is still focused on stopping Leviathan above all else. But it’s crafty editing by Peppe through this tense 30 seconds that intensified the emotional impact by flashing the reactions of each interrogator without Peggy missing a beat. Quick, intelligent cuts amplified the performances and emotions such that it wasn’t until the scene ended that we realized we hadn’t breathed. That’s quality television.
The truth will set you free AND put everyone directly in the crosshairs.
We’ll be doing everything we can do to spread the word about Agent Carter to anyone that will hear us. We want more Peggy and Jarvis. The two have been a joy to watch and Atwell and D’Arcy are nearly the perfect complement of sass, savvy and smarts. Jarvis proved with his nearly successful ploy to spring Peggy with a fake confession by Howard that he has certainly improved his skills of deception. We’re glad though that he finds it nearly impossible to lie to Peggy. His conscience just won’t let him betray someone he values so highly and that makes him all the more endearing to all of us as fans.
As the ruse was exposed by Peggy, we couldn’t help but smile at these two that have found such genius ways to make us laugh while still engaging in very serious conversation. They are quite the dynamic pair. But it was the heartfelt spilling of the complete truth to Dooley, Sousa and Thompson that will be indelibly stuck in our minds after this episode. Hayley Atwell and all three of her peers moved us in the words and events that followed.
“Why would you go through all that trouble instead of coming to one of us?” ~ Sousa
“I conducted my own investigation because no one listens to me. I got away with it because no one looks at me, because unless I have your reports, your coffee, or your lunch, I’m invisible.” ~ Peggy
The looks of Sousa and Thompson said it all and the two both admitted as much later to each other. They believed Peggy. But it took one last confession to finally tip the scales. The one thing most important to Peggy—Steve’s blood.
“I didn’t trust our greatest capitalist with such a prize. But I couldn’t bring it here, either. And for that, I don’t have an answer. I suppose I just wanted a second chance at keeping him safe.” ~ Peggy
With that admission, Sousa and Thompson persuaded Dooley to act and from that point on, all hell broke loose. We feared for Thompson and Dooley as they searched the building across the street for Dottie and cringed when she finally appeared. Sousa should be counting his blessings after his confrontation. Dottie’s escape was some amazing stunt work and no doubt a little visual magic that hit us with a decidedly Ghostbusters flashback.
“Nimble little minx isn’t she?” ~ Peter Venkman
We have no doubt that a vicious and kick-ass confrontation is coming between Dottie and Peggy and though Peggy has proven that she’s more than a match for several SSR agents at once, Dottie may very well be her equal or better. We can’t wait until next week to see that throw down and find out what devious plans Leviathan has after their theater experiment proved horribly successful.
The enemy within.
Ralph Brown as Dr. Ivchenko took center stage throughout much of this episode and though we’ll be rooting for him to “get his” before the season is over, we can’t help but think he’d be a fun adversary to keep around for longer than just this year. The veteran actor of countless roles including memorable appearances in both Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and Alien3 brought us a villain with complexity and a dark, devious streak.
His incredible talent for hypnotism had already been proven deadly with the suicide of Agent Youch (Alexander Carroll), but the not-so-good Doctor upped his game in this seventh installment of Agent Carter. With Peggy and the SSR starting to suspect his intentions might be at best, less than noble, and at worst, downright evil, the crafty Ivchenko turned his hypnotic voice and ubër-corrupting ring on Chief Dooley. If it weren’t for our ability to see him, we might wonder if Ivchenko didn’t swipe that ring from Gollum. His voice, combined with its spinning appearance, are incredibly lethal.
“Just focus. We don’t have much further to go. Take this. You know what to do. Your family is waiting. You want what you deserve, don’t you?” ~ Dr. Ivchenko
“Of course.” ~ Chief Dooley
“Then you must focus. Because our work here is not yet done.” ~ Dr. Ivchenko
Having already helped the Doctor swipe Item 17 from the lab and imprison both Peggy and Jarvis, Dooley is left to his own devices—one of which is unfortunately an incredibly flawed Stark vest of armor. Brown did a fantastic job in breathing life into a character that preyed on the weaknesses and mental cracks of his victims. Chief Dooley wasn’t a bad person, but he was a flawed human being like any other and Dr. Ivchenko exploited Dooley’s most vulnerable weaknesses to his advantage.
We do give Dooley tremendous credit for his clarity just before his dramatic exit. Having not understood the true danger of the enemy they faced, he let a viper into the home of the SSR. One that everyone, particularly Peggy, will bear the burden of not recognizing sooner. Leviathan has been operating at a much more lethal and devious level than the SSR up until Dooley found himself strapped within a deathtrap of which there was no escape. His last words will likely motivate everyone—especially Peggy—as his cloud of uncertainty about her lifted with a sudden and emotional last plea to stunned group of agents and a tearful Carter before sacrificing himself.
“Tell my wife…Tell her I’m sorry I missed dinner. And you? Promise me you’ll get the son of a bitch who did this. Say it!” ~ Dooley
“We’ll catch them.” ~ Carter
“Attagirl.” ~ Dooley
RIP Chief Dooley and kudos to Shea Whigham for helping to build a character that grew out of his initial stereotype early on into one that, despite his flaws, displayed a noble streak when it was needed most.
FINAL VERDICT: This episode certainly lived up to it’s name, SNAFU (Situation Normal, All “Effed” Up) and then some. Things went sideways in a hurry for the SSR, but all the players are now in the open and set for one hell of a Season Finale.
All of these characters have changed, grown and evolved well beyond the initial stereotypes laid out for them at the beginning. Not always in the words they say, but in the small emotions this talented cast has let shine through their performances. We started out with each character but Peggy at the SSR in a box and in seven weeks we’ve seen the walls of those boxes chipped away or disintegrated. At their hearts, these characters are primarily the exteriors they “wanted” us to see, but after this much time with them, we know better.
We’ve seen the small moments of gratitude, acknowledgement, weakness, kindness, respect and frailty that have trickled through. They aren’t simply characters anymore. To those of us that know them now, the Agents of the SSR, Peggy and Jarvis are all human beings—flawed, imbued with noble, selfish and even sometimes shallow intentions, but above all, they have become a group all working toward a common goal.
Dooley was no different. He was not without his faults. But he was also not without his talents. For his abysmal failures at home and disrespect he showed to some, he also was a trusted leader by many and believed with an unwavering conviction in doing the right thing. When his moment came, that’s exactly what his last thoughts were centered upon—his family, justice and saving those he could through his sacrifice.
Peggy isn’t perfect either. She’s played a dangerous game in which there are real winners and losers. Everyone at the SSR has been guilty of underestimating Leviathan—and most especially the talents and abilities of Peggy. No one at the SSR will likely ever do either of those two things again.
Writer Chris Dingess, Editor Chris Peppe and Director Vincent Misiano delivered a combined effort that was movie quality in its delivery. Brilliant sequences of editing highlighted the outstanding performances and intensified emotions. That’s outstanding collaboration and all three deserve amazing praise for bringing it all together. We’d be doing the review of this episode a disservice if we didn’t also give well-deserved props to Stunt Coordinator Casey O’Neill. While we’re sure there are many others that also deserve credit for Dottie’s unbelievable escape that was some amazing stunt work.
What does all this mean? We will be GLUED to our televisions next week to see how Season One (yes, you read our optimism for renewal right) comes to a close. We have no idea how it will end. But we seriously hope, beyond measure, that Peggy kicks Dottie’s not so dainty ass and shoves Dr. Ivchenko’s One Ring of Power where no one will ever find it (or him) again in next week’s Season One Finale!
Questions, Comments, Concerns and My Reaction on Twitter…
- Wow. Dr. Ivchenko and his magic little ring are more potent than we thought.
- You got a problem with this Agent Thompson? I DO!!
- Something’s not right here Carter. You’re damn right there is!
- ..transformed into some daft whore. Wow. I think this whole thing is getting under Peggy’s skin a bit.
- And YOU know what I’M capable of. This is getting tense.
- Gutsy Jarvis. Just waltz in and give them what they want. Annnnddd the angle is??
- Pulling your fat out of the fryer. Um. Sousa, 107 “one-armed” push ups. That’s ALL I’m sayin..
- .. about that confession. Ohh. Flipping hell!! Yep, my thoughts too Peggy.
- Have you ever been hanged? It’s quite unpleasant. Um. Know from experience Peggy? o.O
- I feel for Dooley. He’s not operating with all the facts here. I think he’s a stand up guy, but has his back to the wall.
- You’ve been in custody all of one hour and your Jimmy Cagney. Ha! @HayleyAtwell
- It’s okay to admit that. We don’t either. 😉 RT @louisde2: I don’t like Dottie and the doctor
- He’s a real killer. You can tell by the way he rubs his nose. lol @EnverGjokaj
- Implode, explode or spice up an old fashioned? In 70 years, the latter will be true.
- No. But I trust Sousa’s gut. I’m liking Dooley a bit more now. 😉
- Don’t focus. Don’t focus!
- Oh I’m praying there’s a little Hutt or Toydarian in Dooley’s blood to avoid this Jedi mind trick jazz.
- Will a drop of Cap V snap Dooley out of it?? o.O
- I’d hate to tangle with it when it’s all grown up. Ask the dentist. He got drilled for it.
- This lab is shut down. #NoMoreShirtsBurnedToday
- HOLY FLYING Leviathan agents!!!
- Jason Bourne watched that stairwell scene and was like.. Dammit. Why didn’t I think of that??
- Wait. Do we go ON 3 or is it 1, 2, 3 and then go .. #LethalWeapon #CuffedToATable
- And you are STILL cuffed to a table. Glass broke splendidly though.
- There’s always a catch to this stuff. How violent? Oh dear.
- Promise me—you’ll get the son of a bitch who did this. Say it! OMG. THAT JUST HAPPENED???
- Somehow I think The Joker would have loved this Leviathan crew. (Yeah I know, different ‘verse, but you know it’s true)
- Now we know what Item 17 does. Put it back! Put it back!
- Btw, Dottie is dressed to kill there @BridgetRegan. Just hope it’s no one we’ve gotten attached to in 7 weeks. o.O
- I was sooo thinking Peggy: Chug! Chug! Then go chill for 70+ years. Cap needs you in 2015!
- If @ABCNetwork doesn’t #Renew #AgentCarter I’m sending Oliver Queen: #TheyFailedThisFandom
Marvel’s Agent Carter Review 1×07 “Snafu”