Monday, March 21, 2016

Recap: Agent Carter "Bridge and Tunnel"

Gonna admit, I had no idea what the episode title "Bridge and Tunnel" was in reference to for the longest time. Then I realized that it could easily apply to the two ways of confronting a problem. Through, as in dealing with it head on (Tunnel), or over, as in avoiding it (Bridge).

As I was beginning to ponder this deeper meaning, I ended up doing a Google search for "bridge and tunnel"... and discovered that it was originally derogatory slang referring to people who commuted to Brooklyn from the surrounding area. Meaning that the title primarily referred to Peggy's civilian life, rather than her secret mission. Talk about overthinking it, huh?

But I guess not every title can be as straightforward as "Now is Not the End."
The episode begins with a behind-the-scenes look at the Captain America Adventure Program, which I can only imagine is the most popular radio serial in the Marvel Cinematic Universe because as this episode will demonstrate, everybody listens to it.

Sorry, Blue Beetle.
This particular installment picks up where the last one apparently left off: Captain America's triage nurse girlfriend, Betty Carver, has been kidnapped by Nazis, necessitating her rescue. Amusingly enough, while "Betty Carver" is voiced by a blonde bombshell, the Sentinel of Liberty is voiced by a skinny little guy who nevertheless looks and sounds an awful lot like Markiplier.

"Helloooo, everyone, my name is Markiplier. And welcome back to Five Nights at the Fuhrer's."
As the show goes on, Peggy Carter is in the automat, listening to the actors spout their corny drivel on the radio while the foley slaps some ham to make it sound like Captain America is socking ol' Adolf in the jaw repeatedly.

Much like this, in fact.
Eventually, she asks Angie to change it, and she's only too happy to comply.

Angie: "Arlene French beat me out for that part."

She even gives her own interpretation of Betty Carver's catchphrase, "You lousy Krauts are in big trouble once Captain America gets here." Peggy calls it "thrillingly realistic," which is generous at best. But Peggy's a bit preoccupied with the housing listings in the paper.

Angie: "You moving?"
Peggy: "I, uh, lost my roommate."

"To a bullet."
"What's that, English?"
"Nothing."
Angie takes it upon herself to point out the flaws with each option and instead offers Peggy a room in her building with all the other ladies she lives by. But you see, dear readers, Peggy Carter seems to be turning into Spider-Man. She doesn't want her secret double life to put anybody in danger, so she actively tries to keep herself away from the people she cares about. I find this version of such a common superhero problem interesting. Not just because Peggy isn't actually a superhero, but also because Peggy's worried about her friend, rather than any sort of love interest.

Luckily for Peggy, she's got a housing space all lined up, and she's soon off on her way to check it out. The place in question is one of Howard Stark's many, many penthouses. Fresh fruit every morning, her own personal chef... It certainly seems like paradise.

Peggy: "I can't stay."

Peggy does bring up a good point. Howard Stark was her friend, so the people after him already have their eye on her. Living in one of his penthouses would draw unwanted attention. Which she doesn't want (obviously), seeing as how she's busy committing treason for the man. Jarvis tries to put her at ease, saying that this place isn't someplace Howard usually stays; it's mostly used for... well....

Jarvis: "'Private entertaining.'"

You know. Sex.

But Jarvis manages to convince her to stay one night by showing her the master bedroom. And I really hope the bedspread has been washed a few dozen times since Howard last "entertained" anyone on top of it.

With that sorted, they get down to business and discuss "Leviathan." They couldn't find anything in either the Stark files or the SSR files. Nothing on the voiceless goons, either.

Peggy: "So, I've got two foreign agents with no voice boxes fighting over a milk truck full of experimental implosives."
Jarvis: "Just another day at the office."

Peggy plans on looking for the milk truck, and she also plans on doing it alone. After all, Jarvis nearly died once already. Before Jarvis can debate the point, Peggy opens up the wardrobe to find a variety of female uniforms. A nurse outfit, sailor suit, you name it.

Jarvis: "On occasion, Mr. Stark enjoys adding a theatrical element to his romantic endeavors."

"So he makes his girlfriends wear these?"
"Um, no, Miss Carter, he wears these outfits himself."
"Even the chorus girl getup?"
"Especially the chorus girl getup."
With nary a thought as to what exactly was done with, in, and probably on these costumes, Peggy finds a lab coat and stethoscope and quickly thinks of a way to use it on her milk truck quest. Elsewhere, Mustachio is getting messages on his typewriter again. The people on the other end want to know if he got the Stark technology, and he responds that Brannis has it.

"LEVIATHAN GROWS IMPATIENT"

Jarvis prepares to leave for the night, but he tells Peggy that he would like to accompany her on her mission. You know, to keep her safe. Peggy points out that she's going to a dairy company to find a specific truck. What goes unsaid is that she managed to hold her own infiltrating a HYDRA base. Jarvis continues to insist, so she lies about him having popped a button to distract him while she shuts the door on him.

Jarvis: "Well, what's the worst that could happen?"

Not much, as long as Leet Brannis doesn't get found out before Peggy can get more information out of him.

Elsewhere, Mustachio gets another message.

"TRACK LEET BRANNIS"

Well, crap.

Mustachio soon heads to work, interrogating a man. What with the lack of a voice box, he conducts his business using pre-printed cards. And a knife.

He's like Wile E. Coyote.
The interrogated man doesn't know who or what "Leet Brannis" is, so Mustachio gets down to the next order of business.

"LOCATE NITRAMENE BUYER"

The man recognizes the word "nitramene," and spills the beans. Apparently, he didn't want any part of Spider's dealings, but gave him the name of Gino DeLucia as a potential buyer. This checks out with Mustachio's notes, and he fulfills the final part of his mission.

"ELIMINATE ALL OPPOSITION"

Mustachio shoots the man, retrieves his knife from his hand, walks over the dead body of a young woman, and leaves.

The next day, Peggy Carter is at Daisy Clover milk, with a real lab coat and fake American accent.

With a disguise like that, no one will suspect that she's secretly Superman.
She claims to represent the health department, and says she has a court order to inspect all the trucks, allowing her to scan them all for Vita-Rays. She finds nothing. And there's a reason for that; there's a truck missing, due to a sick driver. Peggy gets a name, Sheldon McFee, and leaves to find an address.

Over with the SSR's finest, they're overseeing the shipment of what's left of Roxxon: a fifteen-foot metal sphere, made out of the compressed remains of a building. Somehow, this super-compressed building is being transported by a simple flatbed truck. Though perhaps this can be chalked up to most of the refinery being blown out of the implosion radius. After all, as Thompson notes, they're dealing with some serious stuff. Agent Krzeminski is less helpful.

Agent Krzeminski: "You think it's magnets? ...What?"
Agent Thompson: "You got steel fused with wood, fused with iron, fused with concrete. Last time I checked, stone and wood don't carry a magnetic charge."
Agent Krzeminski: "Well, excuse me, Sir Isaac Newton."
Agent Thompson: "That's gravity, you dumb ape."

So... how exactly did Krzeminski ever get a job with the Strategic Scientific Reserve?

They head to go see the people at Roxxon, under the impression that whatever this is, it was done on purpose by none other than Howard Stark. Except for Krzeminski, who gets to stay behind pull the ball apart with a crowbar, which seems to be more in line with his skill set. Or lack thereof.

Inside SSR HQ, Peggy gets an address. Before she leaves, she gives Sousa a tip on the horse race he's planning on betting on.

Agent Sousa: "You sure?"
Agent Carter: "Not at all; that's why they call it 'gambling.'"

She prepares to leave, to take care of some "personal matters" (I guess menstruation only gets you one day off at the SSR), but takes note when Sousa gets a file delivers. Apparently, someone got a picture or two of that blonde that was spotted with Spider before someone murdered him, and he's going to examine them.

Agent Carter: "Can I help you look?"
Agent Sousa: "I thought you were leaving?"

But before Sousa can examine them, Krzeminski comes in to tell him that he's been put in charge of prying apart the Roxxon ball. Carter gets put in charge of some reports, and takes note of exactly which drawer Sousa is locking the photos in. Surreptitiously, she phones up Jarvis and is as brief as she can be.

Agent Carter: "The SSR is looking into Roxxon at this very moment; that car sustained damage at the site and is likely to be teeming with Vita-Radiation. Make it disappear."

Jarvis agrees to ignore the linens in the wash and do just that, pausing only to touch base on the milk truck as Peggy brings him up to speed on that, too. She goes to plan her photo heist while Thompson and Dooley meet with a Mr. Jones at Roxxon (Ray Wise). He talks about what a shame it is that his old pal Howard turned to the dark side, and offers the agents some whiskey. Or maybe bourbon. Whatever it is, it's brown.

Agent Dooley: "It's 10:45 in the morning."

But that doesn't stop Thompson from having some.

Agent Thompson: "So what came between you and Stark?"
Mr. Jones: "My wife."

"She found out about the affair I was having with him. What can I say? He fills out a chorus girl getup nicely."
Jones tells the SSR agents that Howard attempted to buy the now-leveled refinery in the past, and he suspects that this is Howard's revenge. The next question, of course, is how the heck Howard Stark accomplished such a thing, which makes Mr. Jones a little nervous. He knows the answer, but only because he has spies inside Stark Industries. When the agents tell him that they're willing to let that slide, Jones spills the beans on the nitramene Howard was working on and its theoretical effects. He mentions its relationship to Howard's work on Vita-Radiation, and that gets Thompson's attention....

Back at the office, Peggy attempts to nonchalantly sneak over to Sousa's desk and use her lockpick brooch to steal the photos. Unfortunately, her phone picks that moment to ring, so she hides under Sousa's desk... just as he walks back into the room.

Luckily, her years of training in slapstick have prepared her for comically getting out of this scrape.
Luckily, she manages to sneak under her own desk before he arrived. With that bullet dodged, Sousa gives the suddenly-appearing Peggy the phone, and she gets a new assignment from the chief. She soon arrives at Roxxon and gets the standard greeting from Mr. Jones.

Mr. Jones: "Well, I didn't know our government had such good taste in secretaries. What's your name, darling?"
Agent Carter: "Agent."

"Really? I thought that was Coulson's name."
Peggy hands over the Vita-Ray detector and gets told to stick around for the next phase of the plan. They'll be looking for people who might have been secretly involved in the Roxxon incident by scanning all the workers for Vita-Radiation, and Peggy gets put in charge of using the detector on the women.

Agent Thompson: "I volunteered... but Chief said it wouldn't be 'appropriate.'"

Before the scans begin, Peggy borrows the device to check herself with it in the ladies room. She's clean, apart from her watch, which she chucks in the bin in to maintain her cover.

Peggy: "Sorry, nana."

The scans go smoothly, even if they don't find any lingering Vita-Rays. Not even on a fellow with the name tag of "Van Ert," who Peggy recognizes as the guy making the nitramene.

Or quite possibly the candy shop owner from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Of course, she can't do anything with this knowledge she's not supposed to have. So instead, after Van Ert comes up clean, Peggy suggests that they should scan the clothes the workers came in with; those would hold the radiation longer than the regularly-laundered Roxxon uniforms. Van Ert, realizing that the clothes he wore to work are probably swimming in Vita-Rays, decides to run away. Dooley and Thompson run after him as fast as they can while Peggy tries a simpler tactic. She uses the nearby stairwell to beat Van Ert to the lobby. Once there, she smacks him with a briefcase she took from some random guy, allowing Thompson to slap the cuffs on him.

Agent Carter: "Can I be of any further assistance?"

They haul Van Ert to their HQ and put him in the interrogation room. Mustachio might like to use a knife in his interrogations, but Dooley prefers to use a stick and a carrot as his props. And he mixes the metaphor up even further by telling Van Ert that this is just like fishing.

"Y'see, I'm a man who likes to keep his cards close to the chest while fishing.
Because when I keep my eye on the ball, I can get the whole nine yards of wax."
Dooley explains that Van Ert is a big enough fish to satisfy his bosses. But if Van Ert helps Dooley catch a bigger fish, then Van Ert might be released back into the lake. Van Ert doesn't feel like cooperating, so Dooley explains that the deal is a now-or-never thing. If he doesn't offer up any info about his bosses, they have to resort to... other tactics. Van Ert responds with silence, so Dooley leaves the room, allowing Thompson to explain what the deal is with the carrot and the stick on the table. Or at least, the stick. Thompson lets Van Ert bite down on it as he softens the poor guy up with his fists, while the other agents watch from behind the two-way mirror.

Agent Sousa: "Hate to see what woulda happened if you'd left the carrot."

But Dooley is enough of a gentleman to give Peggy the rest of the night off so she doesn't have to watch the police brutality.

"Violating civil liberties is men's work, after all."
She heads for the Automat, where she waits outside for Jarvis while Angie yells at her from inside about an apartment she found. Peggy goes to hear her out, if only to shut her up, and ends up agreeing that the place sounds really nice.

Angie: "The only thing that could possibly make it better is if you lived next to me. Oops! You would. 3C if you need a cup of sugar."

Peggy changes her tone as soon as Angie mentions that they'd be living close to each other. But Angie's not an idiot. She doesn't know why, but she knows that Peggy doesn't want to live near her specifically.

Peggy: "I'm afraid I wouldn't make a very good neighbor."

Before they can hash out the issue, Jarvis arrives and Peggy is forced to leave. And to make things worse, Jarvis has the radio tuned to the bastardization of Peggy's wartime legacy.

Announcer: "Meanwhile, in the snowy mountains of the Eastern Alps, battalion triage nurse Betty Carver tidies up while the men defend their country."
Betty: "What a beautiful day to mend these pants."

Said no one ever.

Betty: "And my new Singer Featherweight 221 sewing machine makes stitching so easy."

Yeah, did you think product placement was bad today? There may have been a giant Doritos sign behind Bane's evil speech in The Dark Knight Rises, but at least he didn't actively shill it.

"The fire rises... because these jalapeƱo Doritos are so deliciously spicy!"
But as is wont to happen, Betty gets tied up by the Nazis as Peggy complains about the quality of the writing in Captain America's adventures.

"Well, excuse me, then!"
Jarvis says that he likes the show before quickly backpedaling as saying that the real thing is more thrilling.

Peggy: "Are you trying to butter me up, Mr. Jarvis?"
Jarvis: "Merely... pleased to receive your call."
Peggy: "Well, you are faster than a train."

But is he more powerful than a speeding bullet?

Jarvis confirms that he ditched the old car as they speed along to the address of the truck driver. With a little luck, they'll be in and out before Thompson beats a name out of Van Ert. For now, all Thompson's managed to accomplish is breaking his stick in two, along with a few other minor tidbits.

Dooley mentions that immigration has no record of a "Leet Brannis" entering the country, so Sousa's on the phone with Daisy Clover milk, looking for leads on that truck driver.

Agent Thompson: "I don't think he was the brains of the operation anyway."
Agent Sousa: "More like the Krzeminski of the operation."
Agent Krzeminski: "Joke's on you, peg-leg; I don't even know how to drive a truck."

No, seriously, what skill set does Krzeminski have to offer the SSR?

Dooley is intent on linking this operation to Stark, despite the overwhelming lack of any evidence to that effect. Sousa gets a name and an address, meaning our boys are right behind Peggy. And once Mustachio "eliminates" his next wave of nitramene dealers, he heads to the same address. Peggy gets there well ahead of the others and has Jarvis drop her off a short distance from the house. She tells him to head back home to his wife, but he seems to be a little disappointed. He'd rather stay and help again. But Peggy insists that she'll be taking a different ride home and heads up to the house to take a look at the milk truck parked nearby. As luck would have it, it's filled with nitramene.

A squeal on a radio alerts her to the fact that the driver (Devin Ratray) is inside the house, listening to the Captain America Adventure Program.

Betty: "If only Captain America were here to rescue me!"

As Betty whines and wishes, Peggy steps on a creaky floorboard while attempting to sneak up behind the driver. As Captain America shows up to save his damsel in distress on the radio, Peggy manages to hold her own in real life.  In fact, she manages to fight a little too well. She ends up knocking the guy out, meaning that she can't interrogate him. So instead, she cuffs him to a chair.

Peggy: "Whatever happened to a nice cup of tea and a civilized interrogation?"

"I prefer to use steak in interrogations, myself."
Before she can wait for him to wake up, Brannis appears outside, gets in the milk truck, and attempts to drive away. Luckily, Jarvis disobeyed orders and stayed behind to take a vital part out of the engine.

Peggy: "Put it back. I need to drive this thing out of here."

While he works, she reaches into Brannis' pocket, grabs his electronic voice box, and begins the interrogation. He wants protection, which she offers. But only if he can provide some useful information.

Peggy: "Who is Leviathan?"
Brannis: "NOT 'WHO.' 'WHAT.'"
Peggy: "Your employers?"
Brannis: "NOT ANYMORE."

Apparently, Brannis double-crossed Leviathan after they broke into Stark's vault. Interestingly, Brannis says that Leviathan only wanted one specific item from Stark's vault, allowing Brannis to try and profit from the leftovers. Brannis wants protection before he tells her what that specific item is, and Peggy has a little trouble debating the point because, as Jarvis informs her, the driver has mysteriously disappeared. So instead, Peggy has Brannis drive them all away at gunpoint while Jarvis gets to sit in the back with the volatile nitramene. Mustachio, after sneaking on the moving vehicle from above, has to ride on top.

While Peggy and Jarvis try to take care of their unwanted hitchhiker, Thompson and Dooley spot the milk driver running down the road while handcuffed to a chair. As they pull up next to him, things get tense with Peggy and the others. While Peggy fights Mustachio on the top of the truck, he manages to shoot Brannis in the arm through the roof, meaning that Jarvis has to take over driving duties, while a single vial of nitramene drops off its shelf....

Over with Thompson and Dooley, Mr. McFee the Milk Driver is going for a little ride with them. They tell him what they know and ask for some answers. Specifically, they want to know who beat him up and handcuffed him. And by God, they'll handcuff him and beat the information out of him if they have to.

Speaking of the person who did just that, she manages to knock Mustachio down and pull Jarvis to safety as the truck goes over a cliff into the water, detonating the nitramene, killing Mustachio in a way that, once again, reminds me of Wile E. Coyote. That sucker fell off of a lot of cliffs.

Jarvis managed to pull Brannis with them, but he's not doing too well. Worse yet, his electronic voice box is broken, meaning that he can't even answer any of Peggy's questions about the rest of Howard's weapons. With his last few ounces of strength, he draws a heart on the ground with a squiggle going through it.

The cop sirens in the distance tell Peggy and Jarvis to skedaddle, and they do. But not before she wipes away Brannis' last clue, meaning that there's not much for Krzmenski and Thompson once they arrive. Thompson's really getting ticked off with somebody taking care of everything before they arrive on the scene, but they have a new lead: a woman's footprint. They think it's probably that blonde from the nightclub, so they get after Sousa for not going over the pictures that were supposed to have identified her. But at the moment, Sousa's a bit busy with the clue he found: a key to the Hotel Cosmopole.

Back at one of Stark's penthouses, Jarvis is sewing up the gash on Peggy's leg.

Peggy: "You're quite good at that."
Jarvis: "Yes, Mr. Stark's zippers are under considerable strain."

TMI, Jarvis!

Jarvis tells Peggy that it's a good thing he ignored her instructions, and she responds with sarcasm.

Jarvis: "I can't tell if you're being arrogant or ignorant."
Peggy: "Both, I imagine."

Jarvis tells her that like or not, she's in a line of work that you can't do alone, even though she doesn't want to put anyone in danger.

Jarvis: "So your solution is to remove yourself from the world you wish to protect? Where's the sense in that?"

"If you were my butler, talk like that would get you fired."
Jarvis mentions that even Captain America himself relied on Peggy for assistance. Peggy doesn't respond with anything other than an "as you were," and Jarvis goes back to patching up Peggy's knee.
The next day, Angie takes Peggy for a tour of her new home, and her new neighbors.

Angie: "That's Mary; she's a legal secretary at Goodman, Kurtzbrook, and Holloway. Evelyn."
Evelyn: "Hi, Angie."
Angie: "Evelyn's a lounge singer at a club in midtown. Hi, Sarah."
Sarah: "Hi."
Angie: "That's Sarah. She's a slut."

Angie takes Peggy to Miriam Fry (Meagen Fay), the landlady, for an interview. Apparently, Miriam has some very strict rules and standards to live up to. But Peggy's references check out, and she seems to be a wonderful addition to Miriam's haven for "proper young ladies." As long as she obeys the rules. They're pretty simple; no booze, no men, et cetera.

It's like Themyscira, but with a lot less swordplay.
And with a new place to live, Peggy heads to work and finds her co-workers gathered around the nightclub photos. Once Peggy arrives, Dooley's very insistent to have her answer a question about one of the pictures.

Chief Dooley: "Settle a bet for us. Izzat Joe DiMaggio?"
Agent Carter: "...I don't follow boxing."

This gets a good chuckle out of the boys, and the bet money gets passed around.

Agent Carter: "You bet against me? How could you be sure?"
Agent Sousa: "I wasn't. That's why they call it 'gambling.'"

Sousa says that they got a couple shots of that blonde, none of which featured any part of her face.

Agent Sousa: "Nobody's lucky forever. We'll find her."

Downstairs, as Krzeminski listens to the Captain America Adventure program, he manages to pull an intact bumper out of the Roxxon ball. And the license plate to Jarvis' car. And with that, the episode ends. Now let's review the second half of the two-episode premiere.

2 comments:

  1. I would play good money to see a Captain America Let's Play channel. Also, fun fact, "Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg, and Holliway" is the name of the superhuman law firm She-Hulk works at during Dan Slott's run on the title. And knowing is half the battle!

    - That One Anon

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    1. Good catch. Not sure how I missed that. Maybe I was distracted by Angie's line after that.

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