Episode 6 of Agent Carter, “A Sin to Err,” finds Peggy (Haylet Atwell) in full-on super agent mode. Last episode, we saw her reteamed with the Howling Commandos for some overseas adventuring, but this time around she’s back in the states, running around being a badass in what is probably the best installment of the series so far.
Things open with a flashback to Russia in 1944. It’s a variation on the way last episode opened with the girls’ assassin school. This time we see back story of Dr. Ivchenko (Ralph Brown) as he’s given the option to join Leviathan. The sequence is the typical villain stuff—goofy fake accents and the casual use of murder as a HR tool—which feels shipped in from an early 80s Roger Moore Bond flick. It’s retro, but, then again, the whole show is kinda retro.
After that, we’re back at SSR as Peggy and the boys are trying to figure out how Leviathan and Dr. Ivchenko connect to Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper). Peggy teams up with Jarvis (James D'Arcy) to run down a lead in the Stark case. Peggy comes to the logical conclusion that since Stark is such a womanizer, the person who stole his weapons was probably one of the female assassins working for Leviathan. This leads to a comic sequence of Peggy and Jarvis retracing Stark’s romantic steps—which, in turns, leads to Jarvis getting slapped by irate women. These scenes are funny enough, but it’s a one note joke (all the women are angry about what a pig Stark is) that, at this point, is getting a little tired. It might have been funnier if at least one of the women was blasé about the whole thing.
Meanwhile, Dottie Underwood (Bridget Regan) makes her move. The Russian super agent—who’s been posing as Peggy’s naïve neighbor—goes to a dentist’s office that’s adjacent to SSR headquarters. The office is closed and the dentist thinks he’s interviewing a prospective receptionist (“interviewing” being code here for sexually harassing) until Dottie kills him with his own dental equipment.
This leads to a great scene where it appears that Dottie is going to assassinate Dr. Ivchenko over at the SSR office. She’s got a gun with a scope, the doctor is by the window…and I have to admit that I was genuinely surprised when it turned out that he was giving her secret signals. That kind of twist is just good clean fun on a show like this.
Back at SSR, Agent Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) finally confirms that Peggy is the mystery woman he’s been after, and the agents head out to capture Agent Carter at the café where she’s meeting Jarvis. (On a side note: don’t Peggy and Jarvis realize that they look more suspicious having a conversation sitting back to back than they would if they were just sitting in a booth drinking coffee like normal people?) The boys try to bum rush Peggy, which turns out to be a mistake since she tears through them like Jason Bourne during a morning workout. I kind of like that the show never addresses exactly why Carter is so physically superior to everyone around her. Although her average opponent probably outweighs her by fifty pounds or more, there’s no one she can’t lay out inside of ten seconds.
The exception to this rule, I suspect, will be Dottie. She’s the super villain to Peggy’s superhero—and their final meeting promises to be a clash of titans. The whole Russian sleeper agent subplot to the show is a throwback to the Cold War politics that produced the Bond series. (It’s probably no coincidence that superheroes were created alongside the rise of real life super villains like Hitler and Stalin.) Of course, for fans of the Marvel films, the Russian subplot also seems to setting up the Black Widow program that eventually gives the world Scarlett Johansson’s assassin-turned-superhero in The Avengers. Knowing how far out Marvel likes lay down the groundwork for its future projects, I wonder if all of this could eventually lead to the long hoped for Black Widow movie.
Back at SSR, we discover that Dr. Ivchenko has a ring that hypnotizes people. (I kind of had to chuckle when I wrote that last sentence, by the way.) This, again, is retro Cold War adventure material — one part cereal box secret decoder ring goofiness, one part The Manchurian Candidate paranoia. The more the show embraces this kind of thing, the more fun Agent Carter becomes.
(A quick aside: in an interesting coincidence, the evil spy agency here is called Leviathan, which also happens to be the title of a powerful 2014 drama from director Andrey Zvyagintsev. That film looks at state corruption in Russia, and the word “Leviathan” has come to have special meaning in the country. It’s odd how these things intersect sometimes.)
The episode ends with Peggy in custody, and since the preview for the next episode shows SSR headquarters under attack, it looks the Cold War is going to heat up next week.
Read all of Jake Hinkson's posts for Criminal Element.