A lot happened in “A Sin to Err,” but honestly, I feel that a lot of people will remember this episode for a special, but short moment with Dottie and Peggy.
The episode begins, again, in the past: Russia, 1944, seven years after the previous episode’s opening flashback. In seven years’ time, young Dottie has rapidly turned into Bridget Regan. That was fast. Dottie unmasks four men who are congratulated by Fyodor, played by Dimiter Marinov, for joining Leviathan. It’s a great honor to devote your life to a greater good, but if someone wishes to decline, speak now.
One man does speak up about his wife and four daughters. He wishes to spend more time with them. So then, Dottie relieves the man of his bonds, as in by stabbing him. The family will die later. Tough recruitment process, these Russians.
In the present, Dr. Ivchenko relays the horrors of Leviathan to Carter, Thompson, and Chief Dooley. Leviathan has been active since after the Great War. Stalin’s goal is for Russia to become a leading power in the world, and that means acquiring better weapons than both its allies and enemies. Weapons of all sorts…Peggy asks Ivchenko if this includes using humans as weapons, but Ivchenko only knows what he’s been told.
Thompson figures that the Russians would probably want to train grown men instead, but, as Ivchenko points out, women are overlooked and taken for granted, so they can easily slip through a man’s defenses. While Peggy presses the doctor on the girls, Dooley asks her to step out for a second.
Dooley is more concerned with Leviathan than anything else. He’s not too concerned with one little girl, but Peggy interrupts him and says that he should be worried since that girl grew up to kill Krzeminski. How does she figure that? Ballistics identified the firearm that killed him as a Korovin TK- a Russian firearm that’s small enough to be suitable for a woman’s grip. It’s thin, but still the most plausible explanation of how Howard got involved.
The vault break-in rings true if Stark had been manipulated by a well trained female operative. And after all this, does Dooley really think that Howard is involved? After thinking it over for a moment, Dooley tells Peggy to follow her gut. After all, if she has a hunch, she may as well see if she’s right.
Angie has returned for work at the L&L and recites some lines. Esther seemed to like them, and as did Peggy, who is waiting for a friend. Angie also has something for Peggy: a new key, which required her to practically sign over her first newborn to Miriam in order to get it. Angie’s still a lifesaver, though, as Peggy can’t imagine where she dropped it. Angie isn’t too thrilled about her lines, given how the producers figured it was the worst audition they’d ever seen. Seven auditions in and Angie has been telling herself for a year that things will look up, but that may not be the case. In any event, her father has signed her up for secretary school.
The conversation is put on hold with the arrival of Jarvis, who was pleased to receive Peggy’s call. She’s not back on the team- assuming they were ever on the same team to begin with- but they do still have a common goal of clearing Howard Stark’s name. Jarvis tells Peggy of his encounter with Chief Dooley and how he wanted to know about the Battle of Finow. He didn’t say it, but Howard did visit Finow in 1944. He returned distressed and then began building his vault.
Jarvis has tried to be in touch, but it’s very hard to reach Howard. Peggy then informs him about the young girls being trained, and if Howard Stark has any weakness, it’s women. That and raspberry truffles. Peggy needs a list of all the women Howard entertained in the past year, but since that could be a very long list, she condenses it to the past six months. It will be best if they start with the Western Hemisphere.
Dottie apparently took no time at all to learn her way around New York, as she arrives outside the New York Bell Company. She heads inside the opposite building and meets with Dr. Seth Honicky, played by Rick Peters, for an interview. He gave the staff a longer weekend because he likes to give his full attention to his applicants. Dottie heads in, but not before locking the door behind her.
Sousa, meanwhile, heads to a prison and meets up with Sheldon McFee. He asks McFee to identify the woman who attacked him. In exchange, he can get six months knocked down to three if McFee behaves himself. Not the best deal, but McFee was still transporting explosives. He’s shown a photo of Carter and identifies her as the woman he saw. She came looking for Brannis and then left with him and the truck full of nitramene. Who is this woman? Not who Sousa thought she was.
Edwin and Peggy head to a jewelry store. Albert, played by Steven Hack, shows them the Stark Special, custom-designed to his exact specifications. Yes, Howard Stark buys a bracelet for every woman he entertains as a parting gift to commemorate their time together. Such gifts are the highest karat of gold. The list isn’t as long as Jarvis thought it would be. How could Howard get so busy? Well, the Academy Awards is a very busy time.
Peggy starts crossing off some of the names. Some of the women are well-known actresses, models, and socialites that have been publicly established for several years. They can be disregarded. Jarvis, though, disagrees on Ginger Rogers, based on how he saw her eyes when he escorted her from Howard’s villa- they looked like the darkest gates to the abyss.
Dr. Honicky rants about how each girl that comes in is just waiting for their future husband to come in complaining about a cavity. He’s looking for someone with ambition, he says as he places his hand on Dottie’s hand. Is she that person?
Well, sure, if Honicky doesn’t mind Dottie snapping his hand like a twig. She then bounds him, gags him, and grabs herself a drill that she’s never used before.
So Peggy and Edwin begin their search. Jarvis initially elects to sit this out, which I’d expect Peggy to like, but she needs him to identify the women. Peggy thinks that Jarvis’ hesitation is because of Stark’s tendency to prematurely evacuate- I’m not touching that one yet- but it’s more that whenever Howard enters a relationship, he does so by proxy, and Jarvis is that proxy.
Since the girl Peggy encountered in Russia had scars on her wrist from being cuffed to the bed, the spy should have similar scars. And Peggy could devise a way to find this out without Jarvis’ help, but that would be more complicated and less fun. Well, at least she has a good reason.
And the two don’t get anything from some of the women except for an earful about the snake that is Howard Stark. That and Jarvis takes some hits.
Over and over again. Stark really fancies the violent women, it seems, though chances are they may have been less violent before they met Howard. Next up is Ida Emke- a dancer who Howard met at a charity function. Or caterer. Howard isn’t picky when it comes to women.
Back at SSR, Dooley shows Ivchenko some blueprints, but Ivchenko was only a psychiatrist, not an engineer. But chances are that Leviathan got them the same way that governments get secrets: theft. Dooley calls for a break and the two drink up. Noticing the items Dooley has with him, like the toothbrush, pillow, and razor, Ivchenko asks Dooley if he’s having trouble at home.
Dooley’s response is that he has to be prepared for long nights, but even still, he does have a photo set facedown on the credenza, while another photo of Dooley’s children is displayed with pride. Therefore, the slighted photo must be Dooley’s wife, meaning that Dooley doesn’t spend a lot of time in his own bed. Though Ivchenko does eventually back off, I must admit that he has a very good eye.
Then, just for a moment, we see Dottie assemble a sniper rifle and stake out a vantage point right across from Dooley’s office.
Back to Dooley, we learn that things have been difficult for him and his wife, Loretta. Ivchenko turns his attention toward to what he thinks is the Empire State Building, but it’s not. Easy mistake since there are a lot of tall buildings in New York. This is true. He opens the window and marvels at the city. Dooley promises that once this is all over, he’ll give Ivchenko a personal tour. I honestly wonder if that’ll ever even happen.
But then this happens. Dottie is lining up and just when I think she’s about to fire, we see through the scope of her gun that Ivchenko is communicating to her via Morse code. The message? “Need more time to get item. New directive: kill Peggy Carter.
Back to the adventures Peggy and Edwin, the two arrive at Ms. Emke’s place. Peggy enters because the door isn’t locked. She heads in while Jarvis watches the hallway- and ends up having to bribe a kid to leave. Inside, she finds an abandoned room, but also scratches on the bedposts. This is a very hard habit to break. Peggy will ask some of the neighbors and tells Jarvis to track down the building owners. Maybe there’s a paper trail on Ida. They’ll rendezvous at the Automat.
Dooley discusses his wife’s infidelity with Ivchenko. Apparently she cheated on Dooley with some guy from Hoboken while he was off in the war. Ivchenko gives his analysis: Dooley feels this was more than a betrayal. During the war, Dooley rose through the ranks and proved himself useful. Here, Loretta is showing Dooley his inadequacies, but Dooley argues that he’s not inadequate. A plumber with flat feet, though, that’s inadequate.
Agent Yauch gives Thompson some background information he requested, but Yauch turns his focus to the amount of time Chief Dooley is spending with the doctor. True as that is, he’s a huge lead in the case against Stark. The chief is just taking time to make sure he gets everything right. That’s also true, though Yauch just thinks that it’s different from Dooley’s usual approach. Thompson sends Yauch to brew up a pot of coffee.
We learn that Ivchenko lost his wife and children to Leviathan. He doesn’t say this to get pity from Dooley, but to tell him that he hasn’t lost everything. Ivchenko doesn’t have a chance to save his family, but Dooley does. To do that, he must focus on the times he and Loretta were in love and happy. Dooley focuses, not on his wife, but on the ring around Ivchenko’s finger. Sousa enters with some information for Chief Dooley that cannot wait.
Carter and Jarvis meet up at the Automat. It turns out that Emke always paid in cash, on time, and left no forwarding address. Peggy didn’t have much luck either. The neighbors either thought Emke was the perfect New York neighbor- strange, I know- or didn’t know the apartment was even rented.
But then Peggy notices everyone suddenly leaving the Automat. This is Procedure 791, which involves isolating the subject and remove civilians from harm before attempting arrest. The man at the counter is Agent Messner from Washington, D.C. The man behind Carter is Agent Reese. Peggy needs Jarvis to find a way to block the front door so no one else can get in. As the agents advance, Carter and Jarvis make quick work of them and escape out the back.
And that’s where Carter runs into Thompson, gun drawn. She asks what’s going on and Thompson explains that a witness places her with Brannis on the night that he died. More than that, there’s a photo of her in the club on the night that Spider Raymond was killed. Now, here she is with Howard Stark’s butler.
He offers a chance for Peggy to explain her case at the station, but she can’t do that. So instead, she knocks him out and tells Jarvis to meet her at the Dublin House on 79th Street. Peggy needs to stop by The Dublin to pick Steve’s blood, even though Jarvis says that’s the first place agents will look for her. She runs off.
But there’s Sousa, who tells Peggy that she’s under arrest for espionage, and aiding and abetting Howard Stark- public enemy number one. Peggy tells Daniel that there’s more to this than he knows. Ultimately, Sousa doesn’t shoot her, but he tells Carter that if she runs, he’ll know that his suspicions are true. She apologizes, but runs off.
At SSR, Dooley learns that Carter took out all of the government agents sent after her. He channels the spirit of Tommy Lee Jones and now needs agents at New York Municipal, Newark Metropolitan, and Grand Central Station. Plaster Peggy Carter’s face wherever you can. She is now a fugitive that will be brought to justice, or every agent in the agency will be demoted to grade-school hall monitor. Didn’t know that Dooley had that kind of power, but sure, let’s go with it.
He then tasks Yauch with keeping Ivchenko in one location. The doctor figures that Yauch is new to the SSR, but he’s not. Dooley just trusts him with sensitive matters.
Thompson and Sousa now reconvene and plan to head to The Griffith.
Ivchenko performs another analysis. He thinks that Yauch is a middle child, eager to please, but often felt ignored. Yauch isn’t buying into this, but Ivchenko just wanted to help since it seems as if Yauch wants to get Dooley’s approval, but the chief is always so busy. This Yauch is open to, as he’s tired of Thompson pulling all of the good cases. That, Ivchenko says, is because Thompson is confident, and Yauch can be if he just focuses on everything he must do to show Dooley the best agent he has ever seen. As Dooley did, Yauch is drawn toward Ivchenko’s ring.
SSR Agents arrive at The Griffith and have no intention of abiding by Miriam’s rule of no men above the lobby. She really needs a strong way to enforce this rule if she’s serious about it.
Peggy, a few steps ahead, returns to her room and retrieves the orb with Steve’s blood just before the agents enter her room. They begin searching the room while Peggy, outside on the edge, edges her way toward Angie’s room. Well, it’s pretty convenient that they lived next to each other. The agents, though, knock on Angie’s door. Angie plays along for a bit, but Miriam tells her to be serious. Peggy has defaced the very walls of this institution! Literally!
The agents question Angie on Peggy’s activities, and they’re pretty routine. No strange men, though. After all, curfew is at 10. No guys above the lobby. She saw Peggy awhile, but Peggy apparently said she would be busy for some time. No specifics, but it might have had something to do with her sick grandmother. Angie puts on her best crying performance- that we’ve seen, anyway- and thinks of her nanna, who is so supportive of her acting career. She even cries on Thompson. And what’s the name of Thompson’s grandmother? Gam-Gam. Well! Once the agents leave, Angie brings Peggy into her room.
Thompson has some agents take Miriam to her office while the others continue their search for Carter.
Ivchenko manages to learn from Yauch where he can find Stark’s technology. Yauch can’t take the doctor there, though. Since Dooley found out that Carter was a spy for Stark, he had everything put on lockdown. The only person allowed near the lab is the chief. After having Yauch show him the nearest exits, he commands Yauch to grab his belongings, go to a bar, and buy the best bourbon. After that, he needs him to step into traffic and be hit by a moving truck.
Angie returns with news that her brother will drop off a car at the Dublin house for Peggy. Oh, and her father can stuff secretary school. She belongs on Broadway. One step at a time, Angie. The two say their goodbyes and Peggy leaves.
But then she runs into Dottie. The two won’t be seeing each other at dinner, as Peggy has other arrangements.
Then this happens. If this episode is remembered for anything, it will be this kiss.
Oh, but then Peggy feels weak and recognizes that Dottie is wearing her brand. Peggy has enough time to notice the scars on Dottie’s wrists before fainting. With that out of the way, Dottie pulls out a switchblade.
Except SSR agents arrive and interrupt Dottie as she prepares to go in for the killing blow. Thompson places cuffs on Peggy’s wrists. She’s hauled out of The Griffith…
…and brought to Dooley, who has no words. She offers to explain, but is taken away.
Back at The Griffith, Angie lets Dottie know that Miriam wants everyone downstairs. My best guess is she wants to enforce a rule about not tearing into the building walls. Anyway, tired of waiting, Angie enters Dottie’s room and finds it empty.
In interrogation, Sousa places before Peggy the club photo and the orb. Dooley tells Sousa not to go easy on Carter just because she’s a girl.
Peggy Carter is quite the conflicted double agent. On one hand, she’s the authoritative, no-nonsense SSR agent, but on the other hand, she’s working to clear Howard Stark’s name. It’s a fine line to walk, but for the most part, she’s been able to balance both sides. Sure, her credibility took a hit when she got Jarvis out of interrogation, but her work in Russia showed the boys what she’s capable of without having to force them to see her in action. Dooley even commends her again this week on what she did in Russia.
The trouble is that the walls are closing in on Peggy. While she’s been busy trying to clear Howard, Sousa and Dooley have done their own investigations and now have their sights set on Peggy. Both Peggy and the SSR want the same thing: getting to the truth. They realize that the Leviathan situation is much bigger than Howard Stark, but Peggy’s priority is still clearing Howard’s name. SSR saw Stark as more of a side issue as they learned more about Leviathan, but due to Peggy’s involvement, he’s now public enemy number one.
Secrets and lies were prevalent throughout this episode, but it also dealt with our blind spots. Ivchenko’s line early on about women being able to slip through a man’s defenses because they’re overlooked and taken for granted rang true not just because of how Peggy had managed to elude capture for so long, but how simple it is to invade and intrude when you aren’t taken seriously.
Many of the men at the SSR believe it’s easy to prey on and take advantage of Peggy because she’s a woman, but as a result of her involvement in Russia, men like Thompson and Dooley have a newfound respect for her. Thompson does make one foolish mistake that I thought he would be smart about. I don’t mean him calling Peggy sweetheart. That I still expect. I mean the fact that he got dangerously close to Peggy when she fled the L&L Automat. Mate, you’ve seen what Peggy can do. You don’t want to get close to the woman. Lapse of judgment, but he should have been smarter than that.
It is unfortunate that Sousa is the main one gunning for Peggy, especially since he’s the one who treated her with the most respect, but I can’t fault the man for doing good detective work. Everyone else seemed to have moved on from the club photo, but Sousa just had to keep on digging. Credit where it’s due, he did some exceptional work. Both he and Peggy are those people that Ivchenko says are overlooked and taken for granted. Just because Peggy is a woman doesn’t mean she can’t kick ass and just because Sousa is handicapped doesn’t make him any less an exceptional agent than the others.
Obviously, I don’t expect him to go easy on Peggy just because she’s a woman and I don’t think Peggy would want that, either. Both of them have some sort of limitation, but they don’t use it to their advantage. I mean, except during the pilot when Peggy used her ‘ladies issues’ to get out of work, but that’s unrelated. Peggy hasn’t let the fact that she’s a woman hold her down and Sousa hasn’t used his crutch as…well, a crutch. One of Peggy’s priorities has been about proving her worth to the men at SSR. She’s done that, but now she’s been exposed for aiding a known fugitive. It will be interesting to watch the interrogation play out.
But Peggy and Sousa aren’t the only ones often overlooked, as we see with Yauch this week. Yauch isn’t a detective we’ve been able to learn much about, but from the brief scenes we get here, we see that he’s been slighted for assignments that went to Thompson. Like Peggy, he feels ignored and wants to be taken seriously. Heck, I’d even argue that since Thompson now sees Peggy as a person instead of a woman, he chose to lump coffee duty onto Yauch.
I should feel something for Yauch’s death and it is unfortunate that the SSR has lost yet another agent, but I don’t feel we got to know him that well. After all, he was only briefly seen for the first time at a distance in “The Blitzkrieg Button.” This was the first episode where he had an active role and it’s the last time we see him. I think one way to fix this would have been to give him more screen time leading up to this episode or have scenes of him interacting with Thompson so we can understand his jealousy. As it, this comes out through the hypnotism.
And on the subject of hypnotism, let’s move onto the Russians. Ivchenko working for the Russians isn’t that big of a surprise, though it was interesting to see him get into Dooley and Yauch’s heads, though the hypnotism is a bit goofy. Heck, it’s this way that we learned about Dooley’s home life and why he’s so committed to the job: his marriage is falling apart, so he may as well excel at what he knows he can do right.
Because Ivchenko came off as mild-mannered and ignorant about what went on with the Red Room Program, he, like the women he spoke of, could get through SSR’s defenses and influence both Dooley and Yauch at his will. Brief aside, I did like Dooley’s speech when he put out the word on Carter, if only because it felt reminiscent of Tommy Lee Jones’ speech from The Fugitive.
I also really liked the fake out with the Morse code. At first, it seemed like Dottie was going to kill Ivchenko, but I was proven wrong. That said, I have to wonder if a sniper rifle was the only way Dottie could communicate to Ivchenko.
And sticking with Dottie, here’s yet another example of someone slipping in undetected and, more importantly, past Peggy’s blind spot. Up until now, Peggy hasn’t had a reason to suspect Dottie of anything because she’d been busy tracking other women. She wouldn’t have thought someone living right next to her would be the one to take her down. But, like last week when she talked about seeing the city, Dottie could lure Peggy into a false sense of security so Peggy would trust her. On a side-note, since Dottie was the one to ‘accidentally’ knock over Peggy’s purse, it’s strange that she wouldn’t ask her if she’d seen her key as opposed to having Angie get a new one.
Again, though, I’d be lying if I said this episode may end up being remembered because of the kiss. It wasn’t long enough, though.
Oh, and pretty easy to tell that the dentist was going to get his. Even before he placed his hand on Dottie’s leg, the fact that he said he sent the rest of the office home to give full attention to his applicants meant he would try and put the moves on her. Ah, well. You shouldn’t put your hands on someone like that when you don’t know them, particularly a Russian assassin.
It was great to see Peggy and Edwin working together again, even if Peggy acknowledges that they aren’t on the same team. I feel like they’ve been seen at the L&L enough times to just sit at the same table, though. Their banter didn’t miss a beat and I particularly liked how Peggy wanted Jarvis to join her when talking with the women since doing it herself wouldn’t be as fun.
In fact, a lot of the fun came from their interaction, whether Jarvis admitting that raspberry truffles are one of Howard Stark’s weaknesses or telling Peggy that there wasn’t enough ink to write out the number of women Howard had seen in the past year. Oh, and describing Ginger Rogers’ eyes as the darkest gates to the abyss? I smiled when I heard that line.
But man, does Jarvis deserve a raise or at least a hug for taking so many hits from those women. I have to wonder how often that has happened. At least Peggy stepped in and stopped one of the women from slapping Jarvis, though that didn’t stop them from just kicking him.
I also really liked the fight scene not just for the choreography, but the choice of music as well.
Angie really is a good friend to Peggy and I enjoyed her distraction to the SSR agents, though part of me wonders why they didn’t bother looking out the window. She got to give one of her best performances to the awkward SSR agents who did not know how to react at all. I did like Thompson’s admission that his grandmother’s name is Gam-Gam, though. Plus, the woman was smart enough to know that Peggy was hiding something. Hopefully she makes it out of Dottie’s room to act another day.
“A Sin to Err” showed the slow downfall of the hard-earned respect and validation Peggy received for her work in Russia. We see her being approached and attacked on all sides and after being treated as a second-rate agent for so long, she finally gets treated like an equal by her fellow agents. A shame she got arrested for that to happen.