Marvel’s Agent Carter, Season 1, Episode 4, “The Blitzkrieg Button”
January 27, 2015, 9pm (EST), ABC
In “The Blitzkrieg Button,” Peggy Carter realizes she might be in the wrong business, while working behind the backs of the Strategic Scientific Reserve on Howard Stark’s behalf. It echoes a similar moment in Captain America: The Winter Soldier when Steve Rogers is looking for a friend instead of a spy in the Black Widow. Indeed, there are a lot of parallels between Peggy’s and Steve’s stories – both outsiders in their own ways, actively seeking a mission but struggling to stay true to their ideals in a corrupt world. But a rude awakening in this episode, in the form of Howard Stark, makes Peggy question herself and her ability to live up to Steve’s legacy.
Indeed, it is revealed in “The Blitzkrieg Button” that Howard hasn’t been entirely forthcoming to Peggy about his motivations, as he lies to her face and uses her to steal an item from the SSR that he contends is one of his inventions – a weapon that could cripple New York City’s power grid. However, the item turns out to be a vial of Steve Rogers’ blood instead. Howard argues that the blood of Captain America could be used to cure countless diseases and save lives, but Peggy accuses him of only wanting it for his own financial gain and is no longer interested in any of Howard’s explanations. Peggy tells Howard that she broke her pledge to the SSR and her aspirations live up to Steve’s ideals by “running around for you like a corporate spy.”
But it was clear in the first episode that Peggy was eager for a mission – any mission – that would allow her to use the skills she cultivated during the war instead of fetching sandwiches at the SSR. It’s no surprise that she agreed to help Howard with few questions asked, especially as it provided her an opportunity to be a step ahead of the colleagues at the SSR who thought so little of her. We were reminded again in this episode of what Peggy faces outside of her mission with Howard, during a fairly heavy-handed moment when a tipsy Agent Thompson tells Peggy that she’ll never be respected as a woman working in the SSR.
Peggy is then left with a choice on where to place her loyalties – with the devils she knows don’t respect her at the SSR, or with the devil she’s not so sure she knows anymore in the form of Howard Stark. Peggy claims in this episode that she would prefer the former: “At least when they ask for something,” she says, waving a bag of food for delivery in her hand, “they mean it.”
The deep dive into Peggy’s character in this series has been fascinating, as she struggles to adjust to this post-war world, uncertain about who she should trust or where she belongs. It fits the period and the character, while also providing the nice bonus of echoing so well with the eventual story of her ex, Steve.
Howard Stark also gets a little more backstory in this episode – when he’s not flirting with Peggy’s neighbors at the Griffith. As Peggy accuses him of using her for his own self-interested goals, Howard reveals that he grew up very poor and had to work hard and play the system to get to his position. As a result, he had to get used to a certain level of lies and deceit while conducting business.
The stark differences between Howard and Peggy make their dynamic fascinating, and this episode soared during any moment that focused on them. Unfortunately, the peripheral plots were not nearly as fascinating.
Peggy’s colleagues at the SSR continue to be a drag on the rest of the show. In this episode, Agent Thompson and Agent Sousa interview a potential witness, with Thompson once again demonstrating his intuition during an interview while Sousa once again opines on his struggles as a disabled veteran. A lot of this territory has already been covered, so it seemed pointless to spend time on it again during such a limited run of episodes.
Meanwhile, an irrelevant bad guy tries to hunt down Peggy and Howard, but gets intercepted by Peggy’s neighbor Dottie, who easily disarms and kills him. While it’s unclear whether she’s a friend or foe to Peggy, she certainly is hiding something, including some expert fighting skills. Chief Dooley also takes a trip to Germany to find out more about the mystery surrounding the Leviathan, speaking to a captured Nazi about a mysterious battle that took place during the war.
We’ve officially hit the halfway point of this eight-episode first season of Marvel’s Agent Carter, though the series still appears to be setting up many plot points and spending a lot of time on extraneous characters. As a result, the pacing hasn’t been particularly satisfying so far, but it also may still be too early to judge. Nevertheless, it’s already become quite clear at this point that the series is at its best when it’s focused squarely on Peggy Carter.
- “You don’t have to get changed with the door closed. I thought we were friends.”
- “Howard Stark is either an ignoramus or a genius.” “Most likely both.”
- “My mom made a special chicken pocket!”
- “Is that pistol an automatic? I want that.”
- Marvel legend Stan Lee also made his obligatory cameo in this episode, which is always fun to see.
The bait-and-switch with Dottie and the bad guy was fun, but also kind of unnecessary given how much time was spent setting it up.
As Peggy questions herself in the "Blitzkrieg Button," it becomes clear that the show is at its best when she's the focus.