Lies, deceit, sexism, Germans, and Stan Lee! All in a day’s work for Agent Peggy Carter. Let’s take a look at “The Blitzkrieg Button.”
The episode begins in a train yard. Jarvis is making a delivery of $50,000 to two men. He does so with $1,000 bills. If anyone could come up with those, it would be Howard Stark, but do we even have those kinds of bills today? I have no idea. Anyway, the men would be happier with an extra $100 to keep quiet. And if Jarvis has an issue with that, he can speak to the other three men waiting. I mean, the three that Peggy managed to take out.
Jarvis does have an extra $50,000 in the briefcase. He hands it over, but presses a button on the side before doing so. Gas stuns the two men- though one requires an extra bop from Peggy- and they’re out for now.
Peggy and Jarvis open one of the boxcars and reconvene with Howard Stark, who is familiar with the henchmen’s boss- Mr. Mink.
On the drive back, Stark asks how the bonding is going between Carter and Jarvis, but Peggy is more interested in why Stark chose this moment to return. He’ll explain all of that back at his place. That won’t do. Peggy spots SSR Agents Yauch and Henry stationed outside one of his homes.
Sure, it’s one of Stark’s least known properties owned by a dummy corporation that holds the lease, but at this rate, SSR will be out for Stark’s blood after Krzeminski’s death. Luckily, Peggy has a place to stash Howard, and it’s one he’s already familiar with.
The two sneak into The Griffith and Peggy sends Howard up the dumbwaiter shaft before she’s spotted by Miriam. Miriam is concerned about the long hours that Peggy spends working and how she frequents dance halls by night. It’s unsightly for a woman.
At SSR, Dooley received some Russian intelligence on the Battle of Finow…it’s all been blackened out. It was redacted by John McGuiness, who died about a month ago. As far as the typewriter goes, Dooley at least knows that it sends signals, but doesn’t know where from yet.
What he does know, however, is that during the Battle of Finow, the Russians were overrun by a Nazi regiment led by Colonel Mueller, who is due to be executed in two days. So looks like Dooley’s gonna make a trip to Germany. Until he returns, Thompson is in charge.
Miriam continues to lecture Peggy on how, until they reach a certain age, women are unable to govern their impulses, so Miriam takes it upon herself to defend them from compulsions. How thoughtful. Peggy picks up her laundry and Miriam leaves.
What Peggy doesn’t find is one Howard Stark, however. Turns out he got to play around with Lorraine, played by Sarah Schreiber.
In Peggy’s room, Howard informs Peggy that he’ll be leaving for Rio in three days. He needs to know which inventions have been recovered and what SSR may have. That way, he can find out how many weapons are still on the black market. Sure, Jarvis could find that out, but Jarvis isn’t the one with the camera pen.
Next day- well, a few hours later since it’s almost 6 a.m.- Thompson assembles the agents and reminds them of the most important part Krzeminski’s- Agent. There will be no resting until they’re cracking skulls, so remember the importance of your job. Thompson will be dishing out assignments soon.
Except for Peggy- I mean, Marge. She’ll be taking lunch orders. Sousa, however, wants back down to the docks to dust the phone used by the anonymous tipster for prints.
So Peggy heads to the lab and takes lunch orders from Mr. Alex Doobin, played by Kevin Cotteleer. Peggy asks how the progress is going on the Stark technology and she gets her answer when she sees a man’s arm erupt in not just green flames, but flue. All the while, Peggy snaps some shots with her handy-dandy pen.
At the docks, Sousa dusts for prints and asks two nearby men if they saw anything. One of them, Frank, played by John Bishop, has a few things to say, but ends up getting arrested after taking a swipe at Sousa.
The two flunkies meet back with Mr. Mink, played by Gregory Sporleder, and inform him that Stark’s man didn’t come alone. He had a girl with him, too! But also some other guys. Like, six or seven guys! Wow, these guys are pussies. Can’t even own up to the fact that a woman kicked their asses. No big deal. Mr. Mink finishes off the two with his gun and decides to take care of this task himself.
Back at The Griffith, Peggy returns to find Howard not in her room, but with another girl. This one’s named Helen.
Peggy and Howard go through some of the photos. The first ten aren’t really suitable. Of course Howard Stark tested out the thing himself. Angie knocks at the door. It’s time to eat. Peggy tries to come up with an excuse, but Howard tells her to go join her friends after working so hard. He can look at the pictures. Before Peggy can leave, Howard asks her to bring him some roasted ham, mashed potatoes, and some bread. She knows what he likes, so just surprise him. Howard, if you want her to surprise you, why’d you give her specific instructions?
Sousa brings Frank into SSR and tells him a story about the time he went to a diner after returning from combat overseas. Everyone clapped, presumably due to his effort during the war. Not too long after that, though, another GI walked in, but no one clapped for him. Sousa got the applause because of his handicap. They felt guilty.
Frank didn’t get any applause at all. One guy slept with his wife, another took his job at the mill. We all have sad stories, Frank says, but he’s still not talking to an officer. Thompson, listening in, tells Sousa to cut him loose, but Sousa is still convinced that this guy saw something. After all, if he didn’t see anything, he’d say so. Fair point.
At dinner, we learn the eating habits of the women at The Griffith. Angie tells Peggy that the rolls are good for at least three or four days. Carol, played by Benita Robledo, once put a chicken in her sweater thanks to her chicken pocket. Gloria, played by Joanna Strapp, has a compartment in her pocket book that can fit a cup of gravy.
Dorothy asks if one can made for her that holds pickles. What is wrong with these women? Why can’t they just come back for seconds? Side-note, The Griffith is apparently integrated. Who knew?
So Howard’s technology is in the SSR lab. He needs Peggy to steal one particular piece back. Each of Stark’s inventions can cause large scale destruction, but most of the technology isn’t active…except for one. London was worried that Germany would drop bombs on them, so Howard developed the episode’s title- I mean, he developed the Blitzkrieg Button.
One press and it will cause a citywide blackout. As Peggy puts it quite bluntly, it’s a glorified light switch. Problem is that Howard doesn’t know how to turn the power back on. He has a mock-up that Peggy will need to swap with the original. Peggy heads off to meet up with Jarvis.
Thompson heads into interrogation with some alcohol and an all-American burger. Dinner of champions, that is. It can be Frank’s if he just talks, so he does: he saw a fancy guy in duds with a woman that left before the cops showed up. He’s shown the club photo, but it’s not the woman in the picture, as the one he saw had dark hair. As the two agents leave, Thompson tells Sousa that not everyone who returned from service wanted a hug.
We finally catch up with Dooley as he meets with Colonel Mueller, played by Jack Conley. Dooley shows the photos of the two Russians. If Mueller tells what he knows about the battle of Finow, Dooley will help him escape.
Peggy asks Jarvis if there’s only one switch on the device. He says that there is, but he does so while tugging his right ear. He’s just nervous is all. Hopefully Stark doesn’t use the device himself to knock out a city’s electricity. The Blitzkrieg Button isn’t like nitramene, though, so no one’s likely to get hurt if activated, right? Again, Jarvis just wants the device back as soon as possible and can’t leave his ear alone. Subtle as a train wreck, Jarvis.
Mueller learns that General Keitel was hanged yesterday. Took 25 minutes for him to die. Dooley has an alternative in the form of a cyanide pill hidden in his watch. If Mueller talks, he can take a pill and have a painless death so no one else will have the satisfaction of watching him hang. The truth? There was no battle. There was a massacre and many bodies left with no attacker in sight, but no one died by German hands at the Battle of Finow.
Dooley leaves, but not before offering the guard a breath mint from his watch. You sneaky bastard.
Peggy makes the switch, but because Jarvis sucks at subtlety, she activates the device. Inside, she finds a vial.
She tries to sneak out undetected, but ends up in a room with Thompson, who asks her why she works there. Peggy says it’s to uphold democracy, but Thompson tells her that the others get to do more than take lunch orders. He knows that Peggy is hiding something, but she’s only fooling herself.
The natural order of the universe dictates that no man will ever consider her an equal. Sad, but doesn’t make it any less true. This would seem like it’s done out of spite, but there’s a hint of pity and even sadness in Thompson’s delivery, as he wouldn’t want to find himself in Peggy’s shoes. Or heels.
So Peggy returns to The Griffith and demands to know what’s in the vial. Howard tells her- Steve Rogers’ blood.
And that earns him that.
Peggy is reasonably pissed. Howard knew how much she cared about Steve, but he has his reasons for pulling such a move. Stark already came from a lowly place to get where he is. You don’t get to climb the American ladder without picking up a few bad habits. There’s a ceiling for certain people based on their class, sex, religion, you name it. You break through by lying, Stark’s natural instinct, but he admits that he shouldn’t have lied.
When asked why he has the blood, Howard explains that he was one of the lead scientists on Project Rebirth. Eleven vials went to the government, one to him. He doesn’t feel SSR would have it because if they knew, he’d never get it back. The blood, SR 53, could be seen as the key to vaccines, medication, and even a cure for the common cold. He can save people. Peggy, though, sees this as a way for Howard to just make millions.
Howard asks Peggy straight-up what she thinks of him. She doesn’t pull any punches. He’s a man out for personal gain. He finds holds to slither in to find loose change, only to cry when he’s bitten by another snake. He says I love you while looking over a woman’s shoulder and staring into a mirror.
At the very least, Stark’s duplicity has reminded Peggy of who she is and how she aspires to be like Steve. She’s going out for some air, but when she returns, she expects Stark gone.
Mink, after not being allowed to take some flowers upstairs, sneaks in through a vent and almost gets to Peggy’s door, but then Dorothy picks a convenient time to enter the hallway. Mink raises his automatic handgun, which Dorothy recognizes. She wants it, and she pulls a Black Widow to snap Mink’s neck. Pretty good for a girl from Iowa.
Next day, Peggy asks Jarvis if he knew. He did. Both he and Stark still hold her in high esteem, but Peggy now seems to trust the actions of the men who don’t respect her. At least when they ask her for something, they mean it.
At a nearby shoe-shining station, Jarvis tells Howard that he took Peggy for granted, but Howard knows that Jarvis can get her back.
Oh, hi, Stan Lee.
As Peggy heads in and drops off lunch, Sousa gets to work darkening the hair of the woman from the club photo.
Dooley shares with Thompson what he learned in Germany. There’s some more intel to discuss- they look at the air field log to see who landed on the plane the Monday after this supposed battle. And who should be there but Howard Stark? There’s a conspiracy afoot.
As the episode comes to a close, Peggy secures the device in her wall-
Dorothy admires her new gun…
And Dooley starts receiving a transmission from the typewriter.
So this series began with Peggy setting out to clear Howard Stark’s name. Now she knows just one of the things that he’s been hiding, but this being Howard Stark, it’s clear that there’s much more that this man is covering than Peggy knows. Now Stark is back for a second, but with his return, we get even more potential theories and stories.
This episode felt less action-heavy and more like a mystery, and I think that’s beneficial to a series like Agent Carter. With only eight episodes, the plot of clearing Howard Stark’s name might be interesting enough, but so much more can and now has been done with that. With the reveal that Stark has Steve Rogers’ blood and that he was at the ‘battle’ site of Finow, this mini-series go much deeper than just proving Stark is innocent.
It addressed the limitations that people face, like Stark said, based on their status, class, skin color, and so on. We see how people like Peggy and Sousa, for all the work they’ve done for their country, are still treated sometimes as second class citizens because that’s the natural order of things. I’ll still argue to the death that Peggy and Sousa have earned the right to be treated fairly, given all they’ve done.
Women, coloreds, the homeless, or any marginalized group- they aren’t seen as equals. They need to be treated with delicacy because they don’t always understand how things work. That’s what Miriam talked about when she said that women don’t know how to govern their impulses and she feels the need to protect them from their compulsions.
In this case, the compulsion is going against what society dictates you should do. Do that and you’re seen as impulsive or hard to work with. The higher-ups feel responsible for those they deem unfit to take care of themselves.
Howard, at one point, even tells Peggy during their argument that she was getting way too emotional. Actually, let’s just cut straight to that scene, as there’s a lot to say about it. First off, some great performances from both Dominic Cooper and Hayley Atwell, as that felt just as tense as any battle Peggy’s been in.
A constant challenge for Peggy has been finding people she can trust. Both she and Howard have a connection to Steve Rogers and the good he inspired in people. Even though he’s gone, as a symbol, he is everlasting.
And Howard has taken advantage of that symbol to turn into a profit. Sure, he’s doing it for a greater good, but still ethically questionable. Given Howard’s role in the super soldier program, this doesn’t seem completely out of left field and feels like something Stark would do, but it’s the fact that he lied to Peggy, who he trusted to help clear his name, that stings Carter the most.
Peggy has every right to be upset. Her description of Howard as a lowdown snake was spot-on and you could tell that Stark’s betrayal cut to her core.
Had this been an agent, it probably wouldn’t have mattered as much because Peggy would expect that. Thompson’s admission to Peggy about no man ever considering her an equal hurt, but it was more honest than anything Peggy had heard from Stark. Even if most of the men at SSR don’t respect or even like Peggy, they’re at least up front about it.
They have nothing to hide because there’s no reason to. Aside from Sousa, most of the men at SSR treat Peggy like she’s a second-rate agent. To them, they’re just doing what’s socially accepted. It’s a rough reality that Peggy lives in, but it’s at least right in front of her without any smoke and mirrors.
Though I do have to question Jarvis’ subtlety. As Peggy pointed out, Jarvis would be a terrible card player. True as that is, this behavior doesn’t seem consistent with Jarvis being able to withstand Thompson’s interrogation. It couldn’t have just been a slip because Jarvis did it twice. It felt like a way for Peggy to know that he wasn’t being honest.
I like that we got to see more of the SSR agents at work. As mentioned, they may be one step behind Carter, but they’re still competent agents who are passionate about what they do, even more so in light of Krzeminski’s death.
I loved Dooley’s impromptu trip to Germany and the reveal that he never intended to give Mueller a quick and painless death, but given what he knows about Howard Stark’s further involvement, as well as Sousa trying to figure the identity of the two at the pier, the agents may soon set their sights on Agent Carter soon.
Another good thing to see was more of the women at The Griffith and their very strange habits of keeping food. Odd, but nice to see Peggy interacting with more of her neighbors and adding more friends to her social circle.
But now we must question Ms. Dorothy Dottie Underwood’s role. No word of a lie, the stunt she pulled on Mr. Mink, which was awesome, was very reminiscent of Black Widow in Iron Man 2. There’s a lot of fan speculation that Underwood may be Yelena Belova. Interesting theory, but let’s wait to see what happens.
I enjoyed “The Blitzkrieg Button.” It put Carter at odds with Jarvis and Stark, gave SSR even more incentive to pursue Howard, and showed that there’s more to Ms. Dorothy Dottie Underwood than her being from Iowa. What will Peggy do with the device? Is she completely over Jarvis and Stark? Will SSR close in on her soon? Why does Dorothy need to hide pickles? And when can I get a chicken pocket for my sweater? Next time.