Warning: Spoiler Alert
Russia, 1937. Two little girls no older than 10 lie handcuffed to their beds. The familiar looking child shares her bread with the other. The next scene has these two girls are engaged is real hand to hand combat more suitable for people significantly older than they are.
Peggy is still holding a grudge against Stark and Jarvis. Dottie, is asking Peggy advice about the sights to see in New York. Yet, all Peggy seems concerned with is her resentment towards Jarvis while she stares at his business card before tearing it up. Then Peggy delivers a line about the people who lady Liberty represents that does in fact, as Dottie mentions, sound eerily like something Captain America would say. Not all sunshine and rainbows with Dottie. Last week we saw her skills as we saw her dispatch with Mr. Mink with minimal effort. Now combine the look she just gave with the small detail of her stealing Peggy’s room key, and Peggy may be her next target.
Jarvis ambushes Peggy at a newsstand in the hopes of reeling in her anger and sense of betrayal. Jarvis does a decent job with his attempt. However, Carter is strong-minded and tough willed. Jarvis did not find the desired result, but there’s still time. Pointing out how insignificant she is working for a male centered government agency might just have been what she needed to hear in order to eventually win her back.
Peggy walks into the SSR office and is presented with an opportunity to ‘assert’ herself. Last week Chief Dooley witnessed the typewriter internet device start typing all on its own. The cartographer brought in to crack the code is striking out. Peggy jumps into action and breaks the code as if it were written in English. Then asserts that she is going to Russia, whether the boys like it or not.
Thompson has a big and chauvinistic problem with Carter going to Russia. Despite being dramatically more qualified than anyone else, they resist. Then she throws a curve ball. What if she could deliver the 107th Regiment (here’s your first tip to “Howling Commandos”). Less than 90 seconds later, she does in fact deliver the 107th.
Carter forces her way into the boys locker room to change. Thompson feeling particularly juvenile, sends Sousa around the corner to find his compass which he has not lost. Sousa turns the corner to find Carter in her undergarments. She turns quickly concealing herself from him. Problem is that by turning her back, she revealed what looks like bullet hole scars in a relative pose that is a spitting image of the pose of the blonde lady in the first episode. There have to this point been no advances on identifying the blonde lady.
At the rendezvous point, the 107th (or Howling Commandos) are exactly where they’re supposed to be. Dugan (Neal McDonough) greets Peggy first, everyone else secondary. I get the feeling that Thompson is going to learn real quick that Carter is where she is for a reason. And maybe, persuade the men of SSR that there is more than one way to view their fellow agent.
It did not take long for Sousa to put 2 and 2 together. The bullet scars he saw on Peggy’s right shoulder with her medical report filed with SSR and the photos from the night club of the blonde woman. After all, Sousa is a good agent. Krzeminiski probably would have missed it, but not Sousa.
They’ve made camp and are lying low before advancing towards Russia. Peggy and the Howling Commandos shares stories by the fire. Thompson walks up like the boy who didn’t get invited to sit at the cool kids’ table. Peggy provides an opening, essentially inviting Thompson into the conversation. She asks about the Navy Cross. Thompson tells a story about taking out 6 Japanese who had entered their camp while everyone was sleeping. It sounds heroic, but his eyes tell a different story. Or at least a different feeling about it.
There is what imagine is only a cameo from John Glover, best known in the fanboy circles as Lionel Luther on Smallville. His character shed some light on the battle that left an entire Russian regiment massacred. Even drops Howard Stark’s name and mentions how there was an altercation between Stark and single star General who promptly retired a week later.
At dawn, Thompson surveys the situation and gives his orders. After asking if all is clear, one of the commandos replies with, “Carter?” As if to say, you may be giving the orders but Peggy calls the shots. There is a clear respect from a group of heralded men given to Carter that Thompson is noticing. He opens the floor and she has a different plan. One he agrees to without incident.
The 107th and Carter make their way into what looks like a boarding school. Where they find not only propaganda laced in a children’s cartoon, but an actual crying girl amidst the bed with handcuffs. Dugan approaches the girl to put her sobbing at ease. The 107th did watch the cold open, so they have no idea these girls are being traded to become assassins. Dugan turns to ask Peggy why it’s called a bowler hat, when the little girl stabs him in the chest with a pocket knife. Moments later, the youngest of these Commandos takes a bullet to the chest as our little assassin in training escapes.
Dooley stakes out Jarvis’ routine and intercepts him. Instead of being the crass s.o.b. that he normally is, Dooley extends the olive branch. He tells Jarvis in a plain tone, that he’s not interested in a witch hunt and is only interested in the truth. If Howard Stark is willing to pick up the phone, Dooley would love to hear Stark’s side of the story. Dooley, slowly but surely, is evolving into a sympathetic character.
While Peggy is away, Dottie begins to search her apartment. She snoops around and eventually finds a secret compartment in Peggy’s chest of drawers. Inside are a series of photographs of some of Stark’s inventions. Dottie is intrigued by one in particular. It appears to look strikingly close to the 0-8-4 found in the Agents of SHIELD episode this last season that included Peggy Carter. But I’m not willing to claim that just yet.
The team walks up on a cell with two men inside. They are captives forced against their will to build a weapon that Stark designed. They don’t have Stark (much to Thompson’s surprise I’m sure) , therefore they need this imprisoned engineer. The idea that Howard Stark would actually be behind all of this is (literally) laughably to these captives. Bad guys approach and Peggy shoots the cell door to free these two.
The team gets pinned down in the building’s boiler room and the engineer has an idea. He takes Jones and holds a gun to his neck and yells out in Russian that he will turn over the American if they will let him leave. As it turns out, this was not a ploy to aid our SSR/107th team. When the engineer did not back down, his own cellmate and head doctor shot him in the chest. They continue to take heavy fire and Thompson is about as helpful as a band-aid on a severed limb. The scene shifts to slow motion where Thompson begins to see Peggy Carter as the brave and honorable soldier we already knew her to be. Dugan provides the exit (blows a hole in the wall) and Carter has to almost pull Thompson to safety. He we almost catatonic. Peggy is the last one in the truck as it pulls away.
Russian Doctor: Not bad. For a girl.
Peggy: I hate you all.
On the plane ride back, Thompson is still shaken. Carter tries to put his mind at ease, but it won’t work. He mutters that they were carrying a white flag. The Japanese he shot that earned him the Navy Cross were there to surrender. This is maybe the first time in the series that Thompson has revealed a vulnerability and that there is a decent man under the facade.
Carter and Thompson report to Dooley. The intel they got, while good, was not what Dooley was hoping for. Thompson tried to give Carter the credit, but Carter pivoted back to ‘we’. Then Dooley excuses them looking very frustrated. But not before giving Carter a verbal pat on the back. Carter exits his office feeling rather good about things. She greets Sousa who maintains his normal self without revealing anything about his hunch on the Blonde Lady. Thompson asks if Sousa is coming (to the bar). Sousa declines. Thompson then turns casually and says something to Peggy that speaks volumes and comes as a surprise at the same time.
Thompson: Ahhhh. Come on Carter. (he turns to look at her) I owe you a Bourbon.