Laura Tormos ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
“Snafu” had a distinct sense of dread throughout the entire episode—in particular, the pervading feeling that someone was going to die loomed ominously large right from the beginning. Although there isn’t as much investment in the Strategic Scientific Reserve agents as there is Peggy or Jarvis, there is, still, the fact that Sousa, Thompson, and Dooley have come a long way since having feared they would remain nothing more than sexist obstacles to Peggy’s progress, and losing one of them at this point would matter more than if it were to have happened a few episodes earlier. The building sense of anxiety is not helped by what’s happening in the interrogation room with Peggy (Hayley Atwell). Agent Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) was particularly furious, seemingly feeling the way someone who was entitled to something more than just an office-friendship would be, as if hurt by a friend. “I had your back for six months while you were waiting to plant a knife in mine,” he fumes at Peggy. Very Nice Guy™ of him.
Peggy sets them all straight in what is a very solid, emotionally satisfying scene, telling them they’ve been “myopic” about pursuing Stark. She sizes up the way each of her colleagues has treated and viewed her in turn with the female stereotypes they projected onto her and lays it out to them with candor. “You think you know me, but I’ve never been more than what each of you have created,” she says.
To Chief Dooley, “I’m a stray kitten, left on your doorstep to be protected.” To Agent Thompson, “I’m the secretary turned damsel in distress.” To Sousa, “I’m the girl on the pedestal, transformed into some daft whore.”
“You’re behaving like children,” she finishes, and cue the resounding round of mental-applause. It was so cathartic to see her talk so frankly with them, and it isn’t even the last time!
Between all this there is a lot going on, however—Thompson (Chad Michael Murray), at least, senses something doesn’t quite add up. Not with Peggy’s actions in Russia when she saved his life—or why Dooley (Shea Whigham) is letting Russian psychiatrist Ivchenko observe Peggy’s interrogation.
We, of course, know that Ivchenko (Ralph Brown) is actually a Leviathan agent himself—working with Dottie (Bridget Regan) and working his hypnosis-ring on Dooley, which escalates throughout the episode up until the very (explosive) end.
Matters become more desperate when Peggy decodes a morse-code message she sees Ivchenko tapping out to Dottie across buildings, and learns that the SSR has only 90 minutes before Leviathan makes its move.
Peggy decides that the only thing left to do in order to get the SSR to listen and act quickly is to tell them the truth: she comes clean about everything—working with Stark to prove his innocence, finding the weapons, seeing Ivchenko tap out the message. This is when the SSR’s doubt and confusion towards her capabilities and conducting her own investigation come in, and Peggy decides to continue with her vow of honesty (even after she’s been fired—maybe especially since she’s been fired): “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 am invisible.”
In what is a brilliantly acted and vulnerable moment for Peggy amidst all the chaos, she gives them the precious vial of Captain America’s blood she had stolen and hidden from Stark. She had kept it because it offered her something she desperately wanted with the presumed-dead Steve rogers— “a second chance at keeping him safe.” It was heart-wrenching and utterly believable, and Hayley Atwell deserves all the kudos for the acting chops displayed in this moment.
When things start to go south, Ivchenko hypnotizes Dooley again to get to the lab where SSR keeps the Stark weapons they recovered, and it turns out they were not looking for the much-coveted star-spangled blood—instead opting for “Item 17,” which we can guess has something to do with the way the episode ended at the theatre (which also, unfortunately, has a very similar function to the main weapon in a movie that just recently came to theaters—Kingsman. But it doesn’t lessen the effect of it when Dottie sets it loose in the crowded theatre and locks the doors, resulting in nothing but a pile of torn up, bleeding bodies.)
In the end, it makes sense that Dooley was the one to go. Throughout the episode, we had seen scenes of him trying to patch things up with his estranged wife and family, seeing them through his hazy hypnotic dreams—which, of course, makes it all the more heartbreaking when he turns out to be asleep at his desk only dreaming, and makes his sacrifice all the more notable. As he wakes, he and the rest of the SSR discover the the armored vest strapped to an overheating, unstable power source locked around him with the same increments of horror and dismay. With little else to do, he runs and crashes through the windows, seconds before the vest explodes and leaves half of the SSR office in shambles.
With everything that was jammed into this episode, it is almost mind-boggling that next week will be the last. It seems like there is so much left to be answered that could not possibly be covered in just a short, one-hour period. Theres no doubt the Agent Carter writers are more than capable of wrapping it up nicely and providing us with an ending that is at least somewhat satisfactory, however it could end in a cliffhanger, as most shows tend to do. In any case, if that happens, it would at least lend some hope towards the show being renewed. In the vastly disappointing and heartbreaking case that it doesn’t, however, there’s only one episode left. And now that Peggy and the SSR are finally on the same page, we can look forward to the possible shift in dynamic, and seeing how they bring Leviathan down.
Overall Episode Grade: A