Agent Carter: 107 “Snafu” Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
After the climactic events of last week’s episode, things really feel like they’re ramping up as the short season of Agent Carter comes towards a close. This week we get new versions of comic book characters, hints towards what really happened on that battlefield in Finow, and a fair share of shocking moments.
The episode opens up with some insight about Dr Ivchenko’s past: his real name is Dr Fennhoff, and he discovered the extent of his ability to hypnotise people while helping a soldier whose leg needed to be amputated without anaesthetic during the war. This, along with his reading of ‘The Tragic Life of Doctor Faustus’ positively identifies the character as the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of one of Captain America’s most dangerous enemies, Johann Fennhoff aka Dr Faustus. Perhaps most prominently, he contributed to the brainwashing of Sharon ‘Agent 13’ Carter which ultimately led to the assassination of Captain America in the comic books, and is generally a pretty horrible bastard.
Anyway, when we pick back up with the SSR things are just where we left them: Peggy is in custody for assisting Howard Stark and therefore also for treason, and Dr Faustus is right there in Chief Dooley’s immediate circle of trust. Peggy is questioned by the three men who form her peer group, and gets different reactions from each of them, which she succinctly nails with her own analysis: Dooley treats her as a burden, something that was dropped on his lap that he now has to deal with; Thompson sees her as a secretary, not worthy of attention unless she is bringing him files, coffee or lunch; and Sousa has put her on a pedestal, at once a capable woman and a damsel in distress. She also cuts all of them down by pointing out their ‘shoddy police work’ which has led to a wild goose chase after Howard Stark and allowed Dottie the Russian mole to get away.
Fortunately, the other man in Peggy’s life shows up to save her. Jarvis marches into the SSR and hands over an official confession from Howard Stark which absolves Peggy of any involvement in the situation, and all it needs is to be returned with a signature from Stark. Dooley accepts these terms, but keeps Peggy and Jarvis on lockdown until they get the signature, and fires Peggy from the SSR entirely.
However, while waiting in the meeting room, Peggy realises that Jarvis was the one who wrote the confession, and Howard Stark is not going to be returning and in fact Jarvis has no earthly idea where he is. The one advantage of their situation is that, from her vantage point in the meeting room, Peggy is able to see Ivchenko signalling to someone across the street in morse code, telling her to be ready for extraction in 90 minutes. So Peggy is left with no other option than to spill every single one of the beans about her situation to the SSR, and fortunately as she tells them the deal, both Thompson and Sousa start to believe her. Although producing the last remaining vial of Captain America’s blood probably didn’t hurt her believability. Dooley sends a team including the two of them over to the building to find who Ivchenko was signalling to, leading to them getting their collective asses handed to them by Dottie while Ivchenko is left alone with Dooley.
He manages to hypnotise the bossman into locking Peggy and Jarvis in an interrogation room and leading Ivchenko to the lab, where he finds not only the jacket from a suit of Stark-designed armour, but also ‘Item 17’, an invention which is left mysterious for now. He then manages to walk straight out of the building with the item, and encourages Dooley to put on the armour all while hallucinating that he is back home with his family.
As Dottie and Ivchenko get away and the SSR agents return to the office and free Peggy and Jarvis, they find that Dooley is now trapped in the armour, which was designed to create a heat source for soldiers fighting in cold climates. However, it has a severe fault that causes extreme overheating and ultimately a large explosion, and any attempt to remove the armour will cause the reaction to speed up. It kind of begs the question of why Stark didn’t just destroy this particular item rather than leaving it in his vault, but I guess the man has his reasons.
Anyway, Dooley sees their one option and makes his last requests: he asks Thompson to tell his wife that he is sorry he didn’t make it home, and he tells Peggy to stop Ivchenko and stop anyone else from getting hurt. And then he takes off at a sprint and leaps out of the window, falling a few metres before exploding.
It was a gut-wrenching moment, for as much as Dooley was kind of a boorish, misogynist asshole in the earlier episodes of the season, he was getting better: his obsessive search for Howard Stark was tempered in recent weeks as he discovered actual information, and he seemed interested in achieving actual justice rather than just tracking down a scapegoat. And yet, as is so often the case in shows like this, he was brutally ripped from us in the mid-stages of an epiphany about Peggy’s usefulness.
Finally, we see what Ivchenko took from the SSR as he and Dottie unleash it on a theatre full of innocent movie-goers: it is some kind of gas that drives everyone in the place into a hyper-aggressive rage and they tear each other apart. Sounds an awful lot like what may have happened in Finow, and it looks like the cinema attack was just a test, so the worst is surely yet to come.
A fantastic episode to lead us into the finale, with a few nice bits of a humour sprinkled throughout the anger and the grief that washes over the rest of the episode. Now all that’s left is to see what Leviathan have in store for Peggy and the SSR.