Snafu Plot Summary:
Peggy Carter’s (Hayley Atwell) mission is put into jeopardy when she is arrested by the S.S.R. Dr. Ivchenko (Ralph Brown) uses this chaos to his advantage as he puts Leviathan’s grand plan into action.
Marvel’s Agent Carter has had a pretty amazing run so far. Through the course of only seven episodes, strong acting and a frequently engaging story has allowed this show to find its groove much faster than many other programs. It definitely did at a quicker pace than Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., that’s for sure. We’re familiar with the characters now and have a pretty basic understanding of where the show is going to go. It also helps that episodes like last week’s “A Sin to Err” did a great job setting up this week’s “Snafu.” Truthfully, this penultimate episode is primarily a set up for next week’s finale, but it rises far above being a placeholder. To put it simply, “Snafu” took the serve delivered by “A Sin to Err” and absolutely brought it home. Nailed it is a good term to use.
To call this episode tense is putting t mildly. This was Agent Carter at the pinnacle of crazy. From the moment we see Carter strapped to a chair and being interrogated by Sousa (Enver Gjokaj), Thompson (Chad Michael Murray), and Dooley (Shea Whigham), our protagonists are never allowed to gain solid footing. This was due to both the S.S.R.’s inability to trust Carter and Ivchenko’s ability to absolutely play everyone like a fool. There were a few moments, sure, where it looked like a victory was possible. Carter was able to appeal to Sousa and Thompson’s kindness to get an edge. Edwin Jarvis (James D’Arcy) snuck in with a fake confession to save Carter. Carter and Jarvis are able to deduce what Ivchenko is sending over to Dottie (Bridget Regan) in the building across the street. Not major successes but enough to make us think, “Hey. This might work out!” But then Dooley was completely taken over and everything was lost.
Dooley has had a rough run over the past few weeks. While everyone else was busying doing things that actually mattered, it always felt like Dooley was one step behind. He’s so obsessed with finding out how Stark was connected to Finow that refused to hear what Carter had to say about an assassin loose in New York. The mentioning of his family troubles last week simply felt like a quick way to flesh out the series’ most unpopular character. As it turns out, it was those exact troubles that allowed Ivchenko to completely hypnotize Dooley to do whatever he wants. The whole hypnotism thing is a little silly (it’s still unexplained how this is even possible), but watching Dooley walk around like a freaking puppet was unnerving. You so want the man to snap out of it. To finally notice that he’s being controlled. Unfortunately, he realizes this all too late, and he meets an explosive end in the process.
How Dooley’s death was played out was the exact type of insanity this show needs to embrace every once in a while. Strapped to some death vest created by Stark with a deadly flaw, Dooley accepts his fate by running down the office, shooting out the glass windows, and jumping out to detonate in a safe area. All the credit goes to Whigham for turning this scene into one of the many emotional high points. He’s moved on from his typically stern attitude to display a legitimate sense of sadness mixed with anger that he was so blind to Ivchenko’s influence. Just like how Dooley primarily served to support other characters too, his death had the alternate side effect of turning Jarvis against his closest ally. Stark might have many admirable qualities, but not even the devout Jarvis can ignore the absolute stupidity of making a vest that can’t be removed, is impervious to all outside forces, and can explode after overheating.
Everyone brought their A-game last night too. As per usual, Carter stole the show with her emotional confession that she possessed Cap’s blood. Her absolutely throwing the S.S.R.’s chauvinistic attitudes in their collective faces won her many points too. It’s amazing how much Atwell has taken this character and made her one of the most compelling features of this entire Marvel universe. I’d be remiss to not mention everyone else though. Jarvis, back in top form, brought plenty of levity that allowed us to breathe a little bit. His scenes with Carter where he was either confessing that he faked Stark’s confession or questioning the safety of destroying a two-way mirror were legitimately funny. As was the quick, “We’re still attached to the table” after the latter objective was a success. Thompson, Sousa, and Dooley were great too, all expertly conveying their confused emotions to Carter’s betrayal. They were, in order, confused, sick, and impressed, and these all made perfect sense for their characters.
What Ivchenko and Dottie were planning was thankfully kept secret all the way until the end. This was much better than last week when you could tell what was happening a mile away. You don’t know why Dottie buys a baby carriage until the very end, nor is Ivchenko’s goal revealed until that exact time as well. I do hope that it’s explained why Ivchenko didn’t take Cap’s blood. You can make the case that he just didn’t know it was there, but I find it hard to believe that he never asked a brainwashed Dooley, “Hey, what’s that right there?” Regardless, keeping us in the dark made what happened in the movie theater that much more exciting. How that entire scene was set up was great, and it gives you a strong sense that Leviathan is ready to absolutely ruin New York. The S.S.R. has a lot of work to do.
The past few Agent Carter episodes were awesome, but there was always room for improvement. “Snafu” saw that improvement come into fruition. This episode was tightly constructed with every single side-story playing an integral role in the overall narrative. It was tense from start to finish with a welcomed bit of humor peppered in throughout. Each actor was at their best and really embodied these characters we have come to care for. Next week is the Season Finale, and if that episode, “Valediction,” can keep this going, Agent Carter is going to end its first run in an incredible fashion. Dominic Cooper is already previewed to come back with plenty of Leviathan action, so already things are looking really positive.
Agent Carter airs Tuesday nights on ABC>
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.