The Blitzkrieg Button Plot:
When Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) returns to New York, he puts Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) on a new mission that ultimately reveals a major secret. Meanwhile, Chief Roger Dooley (Shea Whigham) travels to Germany to investigate a lead involving the dead Russians.
It’s not an easy task to juggle multiple plot threads. “The Blitzkrieg Button” is a great example of how an episode can get a little confusing with so much going on. For a better part of the hour, four distinct events were occurring that almost completely existed on their own. Stark returning to the states was obviously the big focus as it required all of Carter’s attention, but surrounding that was a lot of other material that was fighting for time. You had Dooley going to Germany and learning about how Brannis and Demidov “died.” Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) spent all his time investigating who first entered the boat and found Stark’s technology. There was even some conflict at the Griffith with Peggy trying to keep Stark’s presence a secret, and a one-off character named Mr. Mink who really only existed for an exciting near end reveal. Seriously, so much happened, Edwin Jarvis (James D’Arcy) barely did anything but drive. What’s up with that?
Not all of “The Blitzkrieg Button” worked, but fortunately the main story was one of the more positive aspects. You knew things were going to be good the moment Carter finds Stark playing pool in one tricked out steel box. Clearly, if that man is going to be smuggled, he’ll be smuggled in style. Stark then spends the entire episode stealing the spotlight. The dialogue between him and Carter was tight, his double dalliances with her neighbors were funny, and his command of any situation was impressive. This was easily the best look we’ve ever gotten on Stark and it did an excellent job showing where exactly Tony got his charisma from. Like father like son is right.
It’s also easy to see how Stark’s actions directly influence what eventually caused his son to become Iron Man. In what was definitely the episode’s climactic moment, Carter discovered that the device Stark wanted her to get wasn’t a super weapon at all. It contained a vial of Captain America’s blood. Stark goes on about how the blood can cure so many diseases, but when Carter confronts him about how it’s potentially worth millions, he never denies that as a motivator. We all know that Stark has a strong sense of justice, but he’s still incredibly selfish. His hookups could have gotten Carter evicted from the Griffith. He attempts to keep Cap’s blood a secret so he can keep hold of it. Hell, he wants Carter to clear his name without providing her a sense of reward other than it being “the right thing.” Really, it’s not that much of a stretch to think of how this “me first” mindset can lead to a history of arms dealing for a major profit.
Cap’s blood also did a great job of showing how imperfect Carter is. Since the very beginning she’s had this air of infallibility. Everyone else can make decisions for their own selfish reasons, but Carter has only done things for the greater good. Her choice to hide Cap’s blood contradicts this completely and I like that. Cap’s blood really could make great strides in the history of medical research. If Carter came forward with it, she could have been heralded a hero for possibly stopping previously incurable ailments. Who knows what could happen with Cap’s blood, especially in the right hands? We’ll never know now though because the vial is hidden in Carter’s wall, and it’s clear that this stemmed from her romantic feelings. Cap never gave the go ahead to use his blood so to her this is a betrayal. It cuts her so deep that she’d rather do something to give herself peace of mind than others.
Stark will likely not come back for a while so this was a pleasant little diversion from the rest of the story, which is about why someone stole Stark’s technology in the first place. This is where Sousa and Dooley came into play. Unfortunately for both of them, their respective stories were saddled with some issues. Sousa’s was the first one I noticed. What I really liked about his plot was him questioning the homeless vet about who he saw enter the boat. This gave us a really emotional moment and further proved why Sousa is the only one we really should care about in the SSR. It also proved why we shouldn’t give two shits about Jack Thompson (Chad Michael Murray). “The Blitzkrieg Button” chose to repeatedly hammer home his rampant discrimination of women to the point where it was insulting to the viewer. Honestly, him calling Carter “Marge” for whatever reason was enough. We didn’t need it practically spelled out with him saying it’s simply the natural order that women aren’t equal to men. As if we already couldn’t tell ourselves, the show decided to deliver Thompson’s assery to us on a silver platter.
The focus on Dooley was diminished simply because it’s still dancing around the big issue at hand: who the hell was Brannis and Demidov working for. We still don’t know that! Dooley goes to Germany to investigate what happened at the Battle of Finel, which we never heard about until now, and what we get isn’t substantial at all. Turns out there was no battle! Thanks a lot for the fake out, but it still doesn’t help us with anything. The only part of his story that mattered was discovering how Stark was somehow involved with Finel. Finally, the first tangible shred of evidence behind what exactly happened to set this series into motion. It only took us an entire episode to get there. At least this was the best look we’ve had at the Chief so far, and the same goes for Thompson and Sousa.
This episode did end on an awesome note though. As I mentioned before, there was this new character name Mr. Mink randomly thrown into the story. He’s the one who apparently orchestrated Stark’s smuggling. The show did an awful job introducing him though, and he was that weird extra edition all hour that I couldn’t find a reason to care about. That all changed at the end when he tries to break into Carter’s apartment and is straight up killed by Dottie (Bridget Regan) who is now obviously a spy. Who she works for is unknown (probably Hydra or KGB), but her quick take down of Mink was crazy. It was also the only action we got all episode which was a bit disappointing. Please tell me I’m not the only one who got a Black Widow vibe from that too. I distinctly remember that same move in at least Iron Man 2, and probably also The Avengers. Rampant theory time! Could Dottie actually be Romanoff’s mother, mentor, or from the same spy group? I literally have no proof of this but it would be a clever tether to the rest of the MCU.
“The Blitzkrieg Button” is easily the weakest episode so far, but it was still a solid hour nonetheless. Stark was a delightful new addition, we got plenty of more insight into the SSR, and Dottie is a ruthless killing machine. All of these are great things. How jumbled the episode was initially didn’t start things off well though. It took a while before the hour really came into focus and provided us with something clear to watch. If only the entire episode was produced in this manner. Oh, and Stan Lee dropped by for another one of his cameos. Check that one off your list Generalissimo!
Luke Kalamar is Pop-Break.com’s television and every Saturday afternoon you can read his retro video game column, Remembering the Classics. He covers Game of Thrones, Saturday Night Live and The Walking Dead (amongst others) every week. As for as his career and literary standing goes — take the best parts of Spider-man, Captain America and Luke Skywalker and you will fully understand his origin story.