Agent Carter: 1.07 SNAFU
Well that was an episode an a half. A shocking death of a main character, a thrilling battle between Dottie and SSR agents and the horrific device unleashed upon the unsuspected cinema goers made SNAFU the stand out episode of the season , leaving audiences on tender hooks for the finale.
This episode took all the strongest elements of the season and put them together in one 45-minute story. Peggy Carter desperately tried to convince her colleagues that she was not their enemy, that the real killer was out there, while still trying to prove that Howard Stark had been set up. Her speech to Dooley, Thompson and Sousa was emotionally heartfelt and served to convince them that she was indeed telling the truth about everything.
"I conducted my own investigation because no one listens to me." Peggy told them with frustration, weariness and desperation, with Hayley Atwell delivering a standout performance and easily proving once again why she got her own series. "I got away with it because no one looks at me, because unless I have your reports, your coffee or your lunch, I am invisible." Those words rang true with her SSR colleagues and delivered a quiet but standout moment amongst all the action and death unleashed upon this episode.
The tragedy of course was that they listened to Dr. Ivchenko for so long as he manipulated them into believing she was the threat. By the time they started to come round it was too late, particularly for Chief Dooley. Ralph Brown played an insidious, evil therapist well but it was Shea Whigham that really shone, first in his imagined reconnection to his family and the moment he 'woke up' with Stark's device strapped to his chest.
Dooley choosing to leap from the window and kill himself rather than hurt anyone was a jaw-dropping moment. Ivchenko was able to strike at the very heart of this unit and I genuinely felt sorry for Dooley; like Thompson he started off as a bit of chauvinistic pig to Peggy before growing into a well-rounded and sympathetic character in the space of a few episodes.
As for Bridget Regan's Dottie, she got to unleash her full villainous nature here, attacking the SSR agents and then detonating one of Stark's devices on the unsuspecting public. I was genuinely worried for Sousa when he came face to face with her outside the dead dentist's office and her spider-walk down the bannisters of the staircases to make her escape was spectacular.
If the death of Dooley had already struck and emotional blow, then the detonation of the device was the brutal icing on the cake. Just like Tony Stark dealing with the evil use of his company's weapons in Iron Man, here we saw the full horror of what his father's inventions could do and it begged belief why Howard would develop this gas in the first place. Dottie was a properly evil character wheeling the device in a pram into the movie theatre and of course she got out in plenty of time so as not to get caught up in the carnage; cinemagoers fuelled into a psychotic rage by the gas and literally bludgeoning each other to death. The poor usher, discovering the bloody carnage at the episode's end made for a great cliffhanger for the final episode.
It would also be remiss of me not to mention a long-awaited return to the Peggy / Jarvis partnership. After the events of Howard's brief return in The Blitzkrieg Button their relationship has been put to the test, but Jarvis coming to her rescue by providing a fake confession from Howard was incredibly endearing and their slapstick attempt to use the table as a battering ram to escape their imprisonment was hilarious.
SNAFU was a great episode of television and I find myself continued to be amazed that Agent Carter hasn't had anything near a dud episode in its first season. The eight-episode format certainly works. There is a hell of a lot to resolve in next week's finale, only then can we really tell if the short format was successful. But based on the season so far, I would be surprised if it didn't.