Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Recap: Agent Carter: "The Iron Ceiling"

Today, Agent Peggy Carter does what she does… well, I was going to say that she does what she does best, but she doesn’t actually punch a single person in the face this week. But as a consolation prize, she’ll be put back in her natural element alongside Captain America’s old crew.

So I guess that makes up for it.
The episode begins in 1937 Russia, where a roomful of little girls are handcuffed to their beds. Because in Russia, bedtime is bedtime. And if you think there's a monster under your bed, you put it down yourself. Builds character.

A woman comes in and uncuffs them one by one, during which time one of the little girls shares some secret bread with her neighbor.

And I’m sure these two will be best friends forever. Certainly longer than just today, at the very least.
Later that same day, the girls sit in a schoolroom, uniformly reciting the English dialogue from Disney's version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as it plays on the classroom's projector. Looks like the teacher doesn’t want to teach today. In my day, they used Finding Nemo.

But I have to wonder... how the heck did Russia get a copy of Snow White in 1937? It premiered in December of '37, but wasn't even widely released in America until 1938, and films weren't as easily distributed back in those days.

Anyway, we then cut to what I assume is what passes for gym class, where the two girls from earlier are made to fight each other. And when one of them loses, the winner snaps her neck, meaning that she won't get stolen bread anymore.

In the present day (by which I mean 1946), the winner of the fight wakes up. Her current name is Dorothy Underwood. And she has a new gun, so she's probably still in a good mood from yesterday. With no pilfered bread to eat....

Unless Angie taught her to steal rolls, too.
...Dottie hits the floor and starts doing sit-ups before later meeting with Peggy Carter at the local Automat.

Dottie: "What does 'ennui' mean?"
Peggy: "Uh, it's like melancholy. Um, sadness born of tedium or boredom. Why do you ask?"
Dottie: "When I knocked on Angie's door this morning, she said she was 'too consumed by ennui to come to work today.'"

Nah, Lynsey Fonseca was just unavailable due to contract legalities, or something. The internet's being vague.

Peggy: "Oh. And to think her acting teacher said she wasn't dramatic enough."

Dottie offers Peggy half of her baguette, but Peggy declines. Smart move, considering the last person Dottie shared bread with.

Dottie yammers on about her plans to see all the sights in New York City while Peggy stares at Edwin Jarvis's business card. When she finally snaps out of it, she gives her opinion on Dottie's planned route.

Peggy: "Tourist traps."
Dottie: "I'm sorry?"
Peggy: "If you want to get to know New York, if you want to get to know any place, you have to start with the people first."

You can't just read the guide book. You've got to throw yourself in, eat the food, use the wrong verbs, get charged double and end up kissing complete strangers.

Peggy rips up Jarvis's card as she makes mention of "phony, superficial" people to avoid, and comes up with a new itinerary.

Peggy: "Uh, you should start with Brooklyn first."
Dottie: "But... I'd rather see the Statue of Liberty."
Peggy: "Oh, she'll still be there."

Only as long as somebody keeps an eye on her. And keeps the Ghostbusters away from her.
Peggy: "But what she represents, the spirit of Lady Liberty is found in its people."

Yeah, yeah, Spirit of America, blah blah blah, you mess wit' one of us you mess wit' all of us. What you should do, Peggy, is point Dottie to a deli where she can get a nice Reuben. Then tell her to strike up a conversation with the oldest man she can find because old men have the best stories.

As Dottie prepares to start her journey, she accidentally knocks over Peggy's bag before putting its spilled contents back inside and handing it back. With that, it's time to head to Brooklyn.

Dottie: "How do I get to Brooklyn? Wait, don't tell me! I will figure it out myself."

Am I the only person imagining Dottie pulling some poor soul into an alleyway, demanding directions, and then disposing of the body?

Peggy leaves before Dottie does, allowing Dottie to reveal to the audience that she swiped Peggy's apartment key. On the way to the SSR, Peggy runs into Jarvis, whom she doesn't want to talk to, despite his attempts to explain that he wanted to tell the truth but couldn't.

Peggy: "How could you ever say 'Howard Stark wants you to steal Captain America's blood?' Oh! Yes, look. It is possible."

After the events of last episode, Peggy isn't interested in working for Howard Stark, which she now sees as letting herself become something for him to manipulate for his own personal gain.

Peggy: "What he needs is a servant and he already has that in you."
Jarvis: "And what does the SSR have in you?"
Peggy: "I am a federal agent, Mr. Jarvis."
Jarvis: "Yes. Finely trained in the skill and the art of fetching coffee."

Aw. Snap.

But Jarvis has a point. Every single amazing thing she's done to save the day lately has been in secret. Her coworkers don't know what she's been doing, and probably wouldn't believe it if they found out.

Jarvis: "Do you honestly expect they'll change their minds?"
Peggy: "I expect I will make them."

No matter how many Peggy Punches it takes!

Peggy arrives at work with everybody in a tizzy. Sousa fills her in that Mustachio's typewriter started printing out gibberish, so they brought in a cryptographer to crack it. And honestly, I'm starting to miss Krzeminski. That might sound a bit random, but he'd be the perfect character for me to give the line "I don't see what crypts have to do with it. I thought we were bringing in a codebreaker."

Anyway, Sousa and Peggy join the cryptographer as Thompson and Dooley try to tell him how to do his job.

Cryptographer: "It's clearly not a German cypher or the Turing method would work!"

Words are exchanged and penises are measured, so the only person without one to hold a ruler up to offers to take a look at it. She immediately identifies it as a one-time pad system, which he says he tried right away.

Agent Carter: "Did you account for the original message being written in Russian?"

Then she begins decrypting the cypher, which is impossible.

Okay, so I understand that most of you probably aren't cryptologists, so I'll put it in simple terms. Also because I learned this information in simple terms.

Let's illustrate this with a code from Gravity Falls: ZHOFRPH WR JUDYLWB IDOOV.

When you change each letter to the one three letters ahead of it in the alphabet (Z to W, H to E, et cetera) you get "WELCOME TO GRAVITY FALLS."

See? Pretty easy when you do the same thing with every letter! But how much harder would it be if you had to do something different with each letter to decode it? Back by three for the first letter, then back by seven for the second, then back by one for the third, et cetera. Wouldn't that be much harder to figure out?

The answer is yes. With such randomness involved, even a secret message that consists of simply the letter G repeated over and over would look like a string of gibberish after being encrypted. And since the specific encryption method is different for each message (hence "one-time" pads), these codes are mathematically impossible to crack without knowing the key ahead of time.

To make matters worse, Peggy translates the code as a set of coordinates that is incorrect in two different ways. First of all, she gives the coordinates as "53 degrees, 72 minutes North and 27 degrees, 37 minutes West." You can't give longitudinal coordinates in more than 60 minutes. And second of all, when I plugged the coordinates into Google Earth, it pointed me smack dab in the middle of the Atlantic in real life. In this episode, those coordinates will be distinctly terrestrial.

As Peggy translates the time and date for an upcoming meeting as 0800 hours April 27th....

Agent Thompson: "That's less than two days from now."

Sousa pinpoints the coordinates as being in the Mar'ina Horka Forest in Belarus. Which, in another error, was not known as Belarus until 1991. In 1946, it was better known by "White Russia," a translation of its name "Byelorussia," which has nothing to do with the drinks they serve there. I swear, this episode has more actual mistakes than any other. And since this episode establishes that the last episode took place in April, then Ernst Mueller shouldn't have been executed for almost half a year. So this episode is even making mistakes retroactively.

Thankfully, the decryption is completed without anymore real-life errors, as Peggy deciphers its message about a Leviathan transaction. Thompson and Sousa are in the dark about Leviathan, since only Peggy was around to hear Leet Brannis spill the beans, but Dooley recognizes it as an alleged secret Russian organization. And apparently, they made a deal for a "Havoc Reactor."

Agent Carter: "'One hundred thousand dollars American upon delivery, payable to... Howard Stark.'"

Well, that looks pretty damning, so the SSR agents are itching to get to Russia and arrest Howard Stark in the act... fully unaware of the fact that Howard isn't going to be there. Dooley quickly picks out a team, only for Peggy to tell him that since she's the most qualified person to be on that team, she's going too.

Since Peggy isn't actually in charge by any stretch of the imagination, this results in a meeting between her, Thompson, and Dooley in the latter's office. At first, it mostly consists of Carter and Thompson talking over each other, which Dooley puts a stop to in favor of talking like grown-ups.

Peggy says that her skills as a codebreaker will be needed, since any more intercepted communications will probably also be encoded. Thompson counters that Peggy's a girl, and therefore would need to be looked after the whole time, putting the whole mission in jeopardy.

"Every man in this room who stormed HYDRA's base and stopped them from bombing the world....
Oh, wait, that was just me."
Agent Carter: "Would you prefer to have a nanny wipe your noses?"
Agent Thompson: "I might."

Guy's got a thing for nose-wiping. I've seen weirder.

Since Thompson has seniority on this case, Dooley asks what he wants.

Agent Thompson: "Look. It's great that Carter cracked the code, and I am proud of her. I am. But we have no idea what we're getting into over there. Okay? I don't need brains."

Well, you seem to have done well for yourself without them so far.

Agent Thompson: "I need brawn. I need...."
Agent Carter: "You need someone who speaks the language and understands...."
Agent Thompson: "Ramirez speaks Russian!"

Thompson even goes so far as to say that even when she was out there on the front lines, she was surrounded by guys. And he’s made his decision. But given that it’s a stupid-ass decision, Peggy has elected to ignore it.

Agent Carter: "Agent Thompson, do you know what the smell of herring in the air means in the middle of a Belarusian summer?"
Agent Thompson: "Mmm. Someone's having a fish fry."
Agent Carter: "It means there is a wind blowing in from the Baltic. It means a snowstorm in July. And if you can smell the wind, it means you have thirty minutes to find shelter and build a fire before you die of hypothermia in the morning. I know all this because I've been there."
Agent Thompson: "Now I know, too."

Now, Dooley has shown in the past that he's not as much of a sexist jerk as Thompson. Sure, he still gives her crappy assignments because of her gender, but Dooley has shown a willingness to listen to Peggy's expertise.

However, he's still hesitant to send her out there in case things go wrong.

Chief Dooley: "I send you on this mission, you get yourself killed, I'm the moron who got a woman killed in action. I send ya, and one o' my guys buys it, I'm the one who set him up to die."

I’ll go into detail on Dooley’s spiel here in the review. Partially because I have a lot to say, but also because I’m excited to get to the good stuff.

Dooley tries to assure her that he's sending in the best, but she insists that the 107th regiment is better.

Agent Carter: "What would you say if I could deliver them?"
Chief Dooley: "I'd say 'pack your bags.' But that's not gonna happen."

Peggy storms into the other room, and Thompson asks Dooley if he actually intended on letting her go.

Chief Dooley: "Son. I like you. But I'm running an office here. I got the Vice President of the United States calling me at home asking me when I'm gonna deliver him Howard Stark."

Neat trick, considering that there wasn't a Vice President at the time. Vice President Truman replaced FDR after his death, and nobody filled the VP seat until 1948.

Chief Dooley: "I'm trying to run an investigation here. And I don't have time on my docket for your little crush on Carter."
Agent Thompson: "...Yes, sir."

Thompson begins outlining his plan to get into Europe, and Peggy comes back and finishes it for him, with the added bonus that the 107th will be meeting them at the drop point. Looks like Peggy's packing her bags.

Unfortunately, said bag-packing will have to be done in the Men's Locker Room, since Peggy doesn't feel like changing into tactical gear in the ladies' bathroom.

But instead of sending in Thompson, who's right there beside her, to let the guys know she's coming in, she just barges right in.

Agent Carter: "Oh, such fuss. Do none of you have sisters?"

I do, Peggy. And she doesn't barge in on me while I'm putting pants on. I kind of have to side with the guys on this one; if the situation were reversed, I think Peggy and whatever ladies she was changing with would be a mite upset that Thompson barged in to change his shorts and justifying it with "Didn't you have a brother growing up?"

You're just asking for a visit from the bad karma fairy.

The other guys aren't exactly thrilled that Peggy's coming along, but Thompson tells them to shut their mouths and obey Dooley's orders.

Thompson and Peggy get a little verbal sparring in while they change on opposite sides of a row of lockers before Sousa comes in with the field report for Thompson. Thompson pranks Sousa by telling him to go around the row of lockers to grab his compass, allowing Sousa to accidentally see Peggy wearing nothing but...

What appears to be a modern black minidress.
You might think that Peggy and Sousa are overreacting, but this was the 1940s equivalent of walking in on somebody naked. It was a different time, there were different standards on women showing off their shoulders.

As Peggy stands facing away from him to prevent him from seeing her completely-covered breasts, Sousa finds that he can't take his eyes off of her supple, luscious.... scar.

There you are, Bad Karma Fairy.
In little time, the SSR team is assembled and on the plane, ready to jump down to Europe. Agent Carter is wearing a parachute, naturally. The men are as well, which I think would disappoint Captain America if he were here to see this.

I wonder what Cap's stance on cooties is.
Thompson's nerves are getting the better of him, since this will be his first jump. But the jump goes off without a hitch, and I wouldn't be surprised if the pilot ends up in Lucerne for a quick fondue. Once on the ground, the SSR team runs into some mysterious strangers, leading to a standoff where they argue for a bit over which particular bird they're using as a code phrase.

Agent Carter: "The password is 'Eagle,' you apes."
Dum Dum Dugan: "Oh, hi, Peggy. Fellas."

That's right, Timothy "Dum Dum" Dugan (Neal McDonough) has arrived, straight from Captain America: The First Avenger. And Carter introduces the SSR agents to the rest of the 107th.

Agent Carter: "This is Junior Juniper, Pinky Pinkerton, Happy Sam Sawyer, you seem to know Dum Dum Dugan."

Oh, we sure do. But who the heck are the other guys?

Gabe Jones has been replaced by Sam Sawyer as the token black guy, Jim Morita is nowhere to be found, Montgomery Falsworth has been replaced with a different Brit named Pinky Pinkerton, and Junior Juniper was not on the original team either.

I’d chalk it up to the original actors being too expensive, but Kenneth Choi reprised the role of Jim Morita for the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “Shadows” alongside both Peggy and Dum Dum Dugan. So… what? Was it because Agent Li fills the niche of “Token Asian”? I mean, that’s basically why Happy Sam Sawyer was made into a black guy for this episode, to replace Gabe Jones.

Agent Ramirez: "You guys are the Howling Commandos!"
Happy Sam Sawyer: "I hate that name."
Junior Juniper: "I came up with that name."
Happy Sam Sawyer: "That you did."

Which explains why the name was never used in the first film. Junior wasn't in it.

Agent Ramirez: "Dugan. You fought side by side with Captain America, didn't you?"
Dum Dum Dugan: "Yeah. But not as long as she did."

Depends on your definition of "fighting alongside." The Howling Commandos were Cap's primary backup when he took down HYDRA throughout Europe. Peggy was mostly relegated to codebreaking and intelligence until the final assault against Johann Schmidt's stronghold.

Anyway, Dugan leads them all over to the trucks, and they begin their drive across Lithuania. Inside one of the trucks, Peggy hands Dum Dum a bottle of bourbon from the States.

Dum Dum Dugan: "See, the Germans are geniuses when it comes to beer, but no one knows bourbon like the US of A."

As they drink, Peggy fills him in on the whole deal with Howard Stark and Leviathan, which serves to remind the audience that snapping up all of Howard Stark's inventions like Pokémon isn't the only goal anymore. For reals this time. There won't be any sudden need to steal a device that turns out to be Captain America's blood. And more importantly, Peggy tells Dum Dum that Howard is definitely being framed, and this deal isn't what it seems.

Agent Carter: "He may be an utter wanker, but he is one of us."
Dum Dum Dugan: "So you think the whole deal is a trap. It's always a damn trap."

Sounds like something an old, bitter Admiral Ackbar would say.

As Peggy wonders what Leviathan hopes to gain by luring in the SSR, Dum Dum Dugan pops a cigar into his mouth, which Peggy pulls out and tosses away because this ain't cable, dang it. Can't smoke on network TV!

Agent Carter: "You smell bad enough."
Dum Dum Dugan: "And you used to be fun."
Agent Carter: "Yeah, once upon a time."

Back at the SSR offices, Dooley prepares to head out for the day as Sousa sits at his desk, ostensibly working. Dooley's going to meet a friend for a drink.

Chief Dooley: "Figured if I went home... wife might not let me out again. Women, right?"

Sousa smiles and chuckles, clearly thinking more about his work than joining in on Dooley's comment. After Dooley leaves, Agent Yauch hands Sousa the file he wanted. The file on Peggy Carter. After poking through it, he manages to confirm that she has a scar on her back. And when he compares her file to that picture of the mysterious blonde, he finds an identical scar. The game is up for Agent Carter.

But at the moment, she's in Europe, sitting around a campfire as Junior returns with an all-clear for their campsite.

Agent Carter: "You see any Abominable Snowmen, like the one in Tibet?"
Junior Juniper: "I-I never said 'Abominable Snowman.'"
Pinky Pinkerton: "In fairness, he did specify 'Yeti.'"
Junior Juniper: "Yeah."
Dum Dum Dugan: "Sorry, it was a little hard to make out words in between all the sobbing."
Junior Juniper: "Shut up. It was scary."
Agent Thompson: "So what is the difference between a Yeti and an Abominable Snowman?"
Junior Juniper: "One's real and one isn't."

Oh. I would have said that one's a robot controlled by a disembodied mind, and the other sounds like Cliff Clavin.

The Commandos laugh, but Thompson is clearly left out of the inside joke. So Carter brings up the mermaids in Japan and asks if Thompson saw any while he was stationed there. Thompson gives a generic answer as to the details of his service, but Peggy mentions the Navy Cross he earned.

The troops fall silent and Chad Michael Murray takes a deep breath as he prepares to launch into his big dramatic war monologue for the episode. You know the kind I'm talking about. It starts with a deep breath, and the storyteller alternates between looking down and looking into the distance, acting nonchalant while using mostly sentence fragments to tell the story.

Agent Thompson: "1945. Tsuken Island. Nothing detail."

Yeah, like that.

Long story short, while everybody was asleep, Thompson spotted Japanese troops sneaking into camp, about to kill the commanding officer in his sleep. So Thompson quickly took all of them out.

Agent Thompson: "Truth be told, I like the kid's Yeti story better."

"Well, maybe if you'd put mermaids in it like we wanted...."
But the kid passes Thompson a swig of bourbon straight from the bottle. Speaking of alcohol, Dooley's friend is a reporter. And Dooley wants to know if he knows anything about the Battle of Finow.

Reporter: "I wrote a piece on it for the Times. Shoulda won a Pulitzer Prize for it, too."

"I think they gave to some broad from the Planet writing about some palooka in tights jumping over a building."
But the guy's editor killed the story before it saw print.

Reporter: "I guess that's what happens when you implicate the Army and Howard Stark in a Russian cover-up."
Chief Dooley: "What's Stark got to do with Finow?"
Reporter: "He was there for the, uh, clean up of the massacre."

Apparently, the American General there, John McGinnis, got a sock to the jaw from Howard Stark like Captain America was punching out Hitler.

Any excuse to use this picture.
Reporter: "You'd think a guy as smart as Stark wouldn't, uh, hit someone twice his size."

It runs in the family.
But after General McGinnis beat Stark to a pulp, he resigned. And Howard Stark ended up giving up a contract to develop technology for the Army, severing all ties with them. Which is a very interesting move, seeing as how Howard's philosophy was that "peace" involved carrying a bigger stick than the other guy.

The reporter tells Dooley that while the SSR has evidence implicating Howard Stark, they don't have the whole story by any stretch of the imagination. And Dooley's determined to know exactly what that story is.

Over in Belarus, the Commandos are scouting out the big building at the coordinates for the deal.

Which happens to look a lot like Dartmoor Prison.
Thompson assigns everyone a team, but the Commandos would rather hear if Carter has an idea. And reluctantly, she says that they should head inside in larger teams to avoid getting picked off in smaller groups.

Thompson agrees, and reassigns everybody for the journey inside. Carter's team, featuring Dum Dum, Juniper, and Agent Li heads inside, finding what appears to be an American classroom. The same one that Dottie watched Snow White in all those years ago.

Agent Carter: "Does anybody else feel a chill going up their knickers?"
Junior Juniper: "I would if I wore knickers."

A Commando going commando. Sounds about right.

Li accidentally starts up the projector, showing a reel of The Dover Boys. Carter takes a look at it and finds subliminal Russian messages hidden within some of the frames.



Man, the Russians were hiding secret messages in cartoons even before Alex Hirsch was. Except that Alex Hirsch doesn't use his cartoons to create child soldiers.

...That we know of.

Junior Juniper: "Really regretting the lack of knickers right now."

Agent Li hears a kid crying, so they follow the sound to what appears to be a girls' dorm. And a girl.

Agent Li: "Why are there shackles on the beds?"
Junior Juniper: "It's Russia, man."

Dum Dum walks over to the girl, who seems to take a liking to his hat.

Dum Dum Dugan: "It's called a bowler hat. The reason they call it that is because... why do they call it a bowler, Peggy?"

Because it was invented by Thomas and William Bowler. Apparently, the little girl wasn't too happy with Dum Dum's lack of haberdashery knowledge and stabs him in the heart.

The universal language of "I'm not happy with you."
Then she grabs a gun and shoots Junior before getting away through a vent. Dum Dum wants to toss in a grenade after her, but Peggy reminds him that he really doesn’t want to lob a grenade at a kid.

Good thing Grunkle Stan wasn’t there.
Dum Dum's gear took the brunt of the knife, but alas, Juniper's dead. Meaning that the Smithsonian Captain America exhibit lied whenit claimed that Bucky was the only Howling Commando to give his life in service of his country. Heck, Bucky didn't even die, so that particular factoid is wrong for two completely different reasons.

Or maybe the Smithsonian isn't counting Junior because he didn't die during the war. Or maybe Thanos is screwing around with the Reality Stone.

Thompson's team arrives too late to do anything, so they join up to search the rest of the building while Pinky, Dum Dum, and Ramirez find a way out.

Back in America, Dooley has some more questions for Jarvis regarding Howard Stark and General McGinnis. Jarvis denies everything, and in a nice touch, considering last episode, Jarvis stops himself from grabbing his ear before lying about never hearing about any General.

But Dooley offers an olive branch before he goes, saying that all he wants to do is find the truth. And if that means hearing Howard Stark out, then so be it. As Dooley hands Jarvis a card with his number on it, the Commandos make their way through the building, eventually coming across two Leviathan prisoners.

Prisoner 1: "You are not Lewiathan? Who are you?"
Agent Carter: "We're the good guys."

I'll do what I can to refrain from "Moose and Squirrel" jokes.
With Peggy off being one of the good guys, Dottie sneaks into her room and searches the place from top to bottom. ...After having the key for a day. And having no idea that Peggy would be overseas. Or maybe she did. Perhaps this is all playing into someone's hand....

Thankfully, she doesn't find Captain America's blood hidden behind a picture. But she DOES find photos of Howard Stark's weapons, as well as Peggy's knockout lipstick. Before she goes, she indulges herself in front of the mirror.

Dottie: "Hello. I'm Peggy Carter."

Yep. She's nuts.
Speaking of nuts, one of the Russian prisoners spills the beans. He's a psychiatrist, there to look after the other guy, an unstable genius who was brought in to build something from stolen Stark blueprints. Kind of like getting the RYNO.

The psychiatrist (Dr. Ivchenko) insists that the scientist, Nikolai, is not "mad," not even angry, but "burdened." You know that scene in The Matrix where Neo can finally see the very code of the artificial world inside the Matrix? Apparently, Nikolai can do that with the world.

Dr. Ivchenko: "When you look at the field of grass, you see pretty picture. He sees biology, phytochemistry..."

Which is why he needs a therapist, since Leviathan is holding his family hostage.

Nikolai begins to wax poetic about the havoc reactor he's building, which can amplify light by altering the behavior of the waves. My guess would be that Stark's device uses radiation emissions to increase the intensity of a light source, resulting in Light Amplified by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Hmmmm... if only there was a convenient acronym for that.

They confirm that Howard Stark isn't actually here, since his presence would make Nikolai redundant. Which means that Peggy was right. The mention of Howard Stark was to lure them into a trap. And the trap suddenly springs, so they quickly free Nikolai and his therapist while dodging Leviathan's gunfire.

A firefight quickly breaks out, and people on both sides get hit. What our heroes need now is an idea.

Nikolai: "I know what to do. I know what to do!"

God, I miss Anton Yelchin
Suddenly, Nikolai takes Sam hostage and offers the Americans to Leviathan as long as they let him go.

Well, at least the token black guy won't be dying first, thanks to Juniper.
With Nikolai unwilling to listen to reason, Dr. Ivchenko finds himself forced to shoot his patient, starting the firefight again, making Thompson freeze up and start to panic. Luckily, Dugan blows up a wall and arrives with the rest of the team to save the day as big damn heroes. Ain’t they just.

Carter manages to snap Thompson out of it and get him to safety as Dum Dum tells her to get going without him.

I totally want that on a wristband.
Carter lays down suppressive fire before running to the truck herself, and the survivors all manages to make a clean getaway.

Dr. Ivhcenko: "Not bad. For a girl."
Agent Carter: "I hate you all."

Goodbyes are exchanged as the remaining SSR agents prepare to return to America. Dum Dum offers Carter membership with the Commandos, and even comes up with a nickname for her.

Dum Dum Dugan: "'Miss you'... Miss Union Jack!"

That's not nice, Dum Dum; you know Falsworth wanted to be called "Union Jack."
Peggy's response is as succinct as it is giffable.

I think I'll be using this more than once.
But Ivchenko has no place to go, so Carter offers him a job with the SSR, and he accepts. He also accepts the bourbon Dum Dum offers.

Dr. Ivchenko: "This is terrible. Might I have the rest?"
Agent Carter: "It's all yours."

"Это 5:00 где-то."
As the therapist curls up with the bourbon and falls asleep on the plane, Chad Michael Murray gets a second dramatic monologue where he tells the real events that got him a Navy Cross, explaining why he froze in the previous firefight. Those Japanese soldiers? They had a white flag. And Thompson shot them dead. Once he realized what he had done, he buried the flag before anyone saw it.

Agent Thompson: "Everybody thinks that I'm this guy I never was. And every day, it gets harder and harder to live with. ...I've been trying to tell that story since I came home from the war."
Agent Carter: "You just did."

As the two bond, Dottie cuffs herself to her bed back in New York and goes to sleep, bookending the episode. Or it would, if there wasn't another scene after this.

Once back at the SSR offices, Thompson informs Dooley that Agent Li died in the line of duty. And both Stark and Leviathan eluded their grasp, although they got valuable intel on Leviathan as well as somebody who might know more: Dr. Ivchenko.

Chief Dooley: "But he doesn't think Stark's connected to Leviathan?"
Agent Carter: "No. And I don't either."
Chief Dooley: "Noted."

And yet, they had Stark blueprints.

As Carter and Thompson leave, Ivchenko gets sent in to meet with Dooley while Sousa is lost in thought, looking terrible. Thompson offers him a drink at a bar, but he declines.

Agent Thompson: "C'mon, Carter. I owe you a bourbon."
Agent Carter: "I'll be right there."

She reiterates the offer to Sousa, but he declines again to he can keep staring at the photo of Peggy in disguise....

And with that, the episode ends. Now let's review and see why this episode is the best one yet.

...Good writing and an interesting plot, probably.

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