Some people just have the gift of the gab. No matter what the situation or the odds somehow they always manage to talk themselves out it. We have a love hate relationship with them in that we despise how easily they can dodge bullets that hit us square in the chest but adore what they can do in the hopes that someday we could also acquire that power. Peggy Carter has known a few super powered individuals in her life but right now she’s wishing more than ever that she had super powers of persuasion as backed into the biggest corner of her life, one way or another, her words will decide her fate. Live or die; make your speech.
Snafu – following her arrest Peggy faces a series of interrogations by her former SSR colleagues about her activities withHoward Stark to eventually make people start believing her side of the story. Meanwhile Dr Ivchenko utilises his hypnotic influence over Chief Dooley to complete his mission and make off with a particularly deadly piece of Stark tech for Leviathan that could be used for mass devastation.
So suddenly you learn your friend has been lying to you all along? How do you react? For much of its opening act this week’s episode takes great pleasure in showing how the three main SSR characters of Chief Dooley, Jack and Sousa react to Peggy’s illicit activities in some brilliantly intercut montages of each asking similar targeted questions. Sousa enraged by the source of his feelings turning traitor becomes the most aggressive and convinced of her guilt. The Chief plainly addresses her out of mutual respect as a long standing spy for her phenomenal skills of deception which actually cuts her even deeper tying in to how hard she’s hard to work for chief’s professional respect over the series. Then by contrast Jack is easily the most believing of story by relating the events at accusations to the side of her he met on the Russian mission. Yet he becomes bound by his duty by still believing in what the SSR stands for and what must be done. Peggy’s defiance through grilling after grilling is great to watch and even more impressive as it becomes her unwillingness to co-operate and just come clean about everything that prevents any progress being made. As soon as she does just own up about everything (motivated by rumbling Dr Ivchenko and needing others to believe her about it) she quickly wins over both Sousa and Jack with the Chief willing to trust their instincts. As much as there are some anti-feminist overtones to her confessions her final word on the matter is a killer as he confirms that her colleagues are just as responsible her actions as she is; “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”.
The episode still manages to lighten the serious mood on a few occasions thanks to the ever reliable Mr Jarvis with his ill advised panic button attempt to rescue Peggy with a fake confession from Howard Stark. His scene with Peggy pulling apart his ill advised plan is good but for pure comedic values their escape attempt from the interrogation room is utter genius from merely the simple idea of both characters being handcuffed together to a table; “Mr Jarvis, how would you feel if we smashed that mirror with this table?.... I would feel splendid about it”. Jarvis’s over so polite queries and Peggy’s deadpan responses are perfect compliments beaten only by the final punch line of realising the very obvious flaw in their plan right after finally smashing the glass. While these two are on great form it’s a shame the episode doesn’t venture further from the SSR building settings as the likes of Angie, Miriam and the rest of The Griffith feel sorely missed.
Last week it was great to see Ivchenko working his psychological mojo onto a number of faces. This week we delve even deeper into the psychosis as we see the process from the victim’s perspective and the elaborate mental fantasy they create to be blindsided to his control. The Chief’s visualisations of happier family times again are quite touching and we even get to witness a flashback of what was presumably Ivchenko’s first successful mental takeover out of necessity in the war. Dotti has a bit of a quieter episode for the most part but we get to see her in man beating action again so all’s well. Her escape from her dentist office roost is a great action sequence as she dodges bullets, flies down stairwells and leaves a few souvenir corpses behind. Though fair play to Sousa for not becoming one of them as he gives her a respectable fight with some more of his previously glimpsed crutch-fu. Also terms of action the sudden explosive exit made for a hell of a shot. Yes the overheating thermal jacket was pushing things a bit too far but the resulting payoff made it worthwhile.
So as we dawn on the season finale a few things are starting to come together. The gas based weapon Dotti tests at the theatre in the episode’s climax is undoubtedly the cause of the Russian, battle of Finow massacre (anyone that enjoyed that brutal sequence should definitely watch Kingsman: The Secret Service for bigger scale equivalent). Stark obviously did not authorise it for use or maybe the intended results were very different but either way he broke away from the military to stop in falling into the wrong hands. But someone, a Russian survivor, knew he still had it and as part of the new Leviathan organisation staged the vault break in and everything after to obtain it. Although it’s still very unclear what Leviathan plans to do with its supply of unhappy gas or even if Ivchenko is behind the organisation or if he’s just an operative. Either way with all of Peggy’s secrets out and the SSR in disarray it looks like next week’s finale Valediction will be an all out straight fight between Peggy, Jarvis (plus maybe Stark) and the remaining SSR agents to take down Leviathan and recover their weapons of mass destruction before it’s too late.
Snafu stalls a little in comparison to last week by lingering too long on a plot that doesn’t offer the usual levels of progression. It’s still a great episode but just suffers slightly from the effort of cementing all the prior week connections and changing character relationships in the light of recent events. It does provide a great setup for next week when we’ll see if after giving us a great run of performances this lady’s still got one more showstopper in her to close with a bang. Either way it’s already clear Peggy will be missed and we eagerly await some news on whether or not she’ll get a second season (and in what form?). Crikey o’ riley governor, the end is almost here.