Every season of television has that one episode known as the “shit goes down” episode where all the plot threads converge, conflicts flare up, and/or everything falls apart, and “A Sin to Err” is that such episode for Agent Carter. It makes dramatic sense to place this after last week’s “The Iron Ceiling,” which was the show’s most thrilling hour in terms of pure popcorn entertainment, and since Agent Carter has the possibility of being treated as a miniseries rather than a long-form story it’s about time that everything came to a head. Although Peggy Carter has shown a knack for the art of being a double agent, serving her S.S.R. duties while aiding Howard Stark’s mission, the act can only last for so long before the ruse starts tearing apart.
Sousa’s private investigation into the mysterious blonde woman at the party finally places her as Peggy, leading Dooley to send the goon squad to apprehend her at the automat. She’s there with Edwin Jarvis as they work together in tracking down a female Leviathan agent that could have manipulated Howard’s playboy ways, and their scenes together remind me that Jarvis has unfortunately been missing for most of the previous two episodes, so it’s good to have him back in a sizable capacity. The fight sequence that ensues between them and Thompson’s S.S.R. squad is a standout that could go toe-to-toe with the best of the hand-to-hand bouts found in the Marvel movies (okay maybe not The Winter Soldier’s dynamically choreographed brawls, but most of the others at least). We’ve seen Peggy handle herself just fine in fights before, so to see her use those skills against the men who have underestimated her so much is especially exciting. The final knockout punch to Thompson is a real cherry.
Agent Sousa, however, doesn’t have it in him to pull the trigger on her. Sousa has always been an outlier of sorts within the S.S.R., not only because of his debilitating injury, but also because he’s the only one that doesn’t totally treat Carter like she’s beneath him. I’m not too sure that his decision is entirely consistent within character, as he’s already shown that he works hard to earn the respect of his peers and what better way to show that than to apprehend Carter after she’s revealed as an aide to Stark? Sure, there’s a parallel between them and their treatment within the S.S.R., but their actual goals in this story couldn’t be more different, so his decision to let her go feels fuzzy.
Meanwhile, as all this inter-spy fighting is going on, Leviathan is setting the stage for something more sinister and unexpected. Dottie, after acquiring a position, trains her sniper rifle on Chief Dooley’s office as he converses with extracted Russian Dr. Ivchenko and, in a clever bit of audience misdirection, uses the weapon to signal Ivchenko rather than assassinate him. See, the slippery doctor used his “rescue” last week as a means of infiltrating the S.S.R. to hypnotize and manipulate the agents. As far as the “villain gets caught on purpose” trope goes this one is pretty effective and much more so than when The Flash recently employed it in rote fashion.
Another nice surprise of the hour was seeing Angie prove herself as a capable and loyal friend to Peggy when the S.S.R. comes to interrogate her, elevating her status above “bubbly acquaintance oblivious to reality.” Angie’s previously just been an ancillary character who shows up rather frequently with little indication of where she fits in the overall story, so it was good to see the show writers realize this by finally giving her something notable to do besides chitchat with the heroine in her downtime. Girl power comes in numbers, and lord knows Peggy needs a close friend not connected to international conflict and espionage.
On the flip side, there’s Dottie making her play to kill Peggy for Leviathan and almost succeeding in doing so before Sousa and the S.S.R. halt those plans. Dottie has been shown as a rather twisted creation with her bed handcuffs and creepy investigation of Peggy’s apartment, and she continues that here as she delights in the lead-up to her would-be murder before flipping on a dime into clueless damsel for the agents. The deck is rather stacked against Peggy now that she’s in the custody of Dooley and Thompson and unmasked as a “traitor” working with the “enemy,” so either Jarvis will need to hatch an escape plan or Peggy will have to use her wits to convince the men of her right-doing. I’m betting on the latter.
EPISODE RATING: 8/10