Synopsis of 1×04: Howard Stark returns to New York in hopes to retrieve one of his inventions, hiding out in Peggy’s apartment in the meantime. While Chief Dooley is overseas interviewing a Nazi general about to be executed, he appoints Thompson as the head of the SSR in his stead. Peggy’s new neighbor is not what she seems.
This episode made me so happy and so mad all at once. Mostly because of Howard Stark and Agent Thompson, though the latter just made me mad.
‘The Blitzkrieg Button’ opens with Peggy and Jarvis trying to track down a smuggling shipment that appears to be carrying more of Howard’s inventions, but is in fact just smuggling Howard. Yay! Howard’s back! This is probably less exciting for the smugglers who get beat up by Peggy, then get their asses killed later in the episode.
Howard has returned back to New York for the time being to check on which inventions have been taken and what has been retrieved by the SSR. However, since the SSR still wants him for treason, they’re kind of holding down his less obvious hiding spots as well. This leaves Peggy no choice but to sneak Howard into her apartment. By the way Howard asks “How’s Miriam,” this is not his first go round at the Griffith.
Through clever use of a dumbwaiter and Howard following his boner to attractive women, Peggy does manage to sneak Howard in and pass him off as her “cousin,” but not before getting nearly caught by Miriam as well as getting a lecture on the hours she keeps and how a woman her age can’t control her impulses. Excuse me while I roll my eyes over how little has actually changed.
Howard needs Peggy to go into the lab and see what inventions were recovered, and she’ll be doing this with the help of a pen camera that Howard invented. Which he’s weirdly excited about as he takes a selfie with Peggy, I kind of want to see that picture, but alas.
Back at the office, Chief Dooley has gone off to interrogate a Nazi war criminal named Hans Mueller about the two men that were presumed dead. This means that Thompson Michael Murray is in charge! Super. If you want to know how much he annoys me, take heed of the fact he calls Peggy “Marge” throughout the entire episode, makes her take the lunch orders, and disrespects Sousa the entire time even though he’s the only one doing any investigative work.
Can we talk about how great Sousa is though? He’s smart, resourceful, and empathetic. Not to mention he manages to knock a hobo trying to escape custody with his cane. Sure, he’s one step closer to catching Peggy when Thompson gets out of the homeless man that he finds by the docks who was spotted near the Heartbreaker, but he’s clearly the good man here. Much like Sam Wilson, he tries to connect and lend a sympathetic ear to the homeless man who’s also a veteran of the war. Thompson is just a dick, even if he is an effective one.
Peggy manages to get into the lab where the tech is being studied under the guise of grabbing lunch orders. This is probably one of the funniest scenes of the episode, as Peggy frantically takes pictures of the SSR scientists who have no idea what they’re dealing with at all, declaring that Howard is either a ignoramus or a genius.
In fact, in addition to that scene, all the scenes of Peggy being 100% done with Howard, and the girls of the Griffith all sharing how they sneak food back to their rooms (Carol’s mom knitted her a chicken pocket for her sweater), this episode is easily the funniest of all of them so far.
After analyzing the film, Howard determines that the SSR does have all of his inventions. However, there’s one he needs Peggy to steal back: the Blitzkrieg Button. What Peggy calls a “glorified lightswitch,” you might recognize as an EMP. The device was invented to turn off all the lights in London during the Blitz, but there was no way to reverse it. If someone in the SSR lab trip the switch, it would knock out the Tri-State Area for years to come.
Peggy leaves with Jarvis to retrieve the button from the SSR lab. However, when Peggy begins to question him about it, Jarvis gets nervous and begins to pull on his ear. Considering she spotted him doing this earlier in the episode with the smugglers, she calls him on his tell. She gets into the lab and retrieves it, but goes out the back to inspect it, finding another switch on the button. She flips it and instead of all the lights going out, a vial full of dark liquid comes out.
As Peggy tries to sneak out of the office, Thompson catches her and tells her with this stupid smirk that she’ll never be considered an equal as a woman, sad as it is to say. You don’t seem so sad about it, Agent Chad Michael Murray.
Back at the Griffith, Peggy confronts Howard about what was in the vial. He initially refuses to answer, but he does tell her the worst possible answer: it’s Steve’s blood. I don’t blame Peggy for punching him in the face for that and I’m surprised she doesn’t do it more after his line of reasoning of lying to Peggy using the metaphor of ceilings as he ascended the ladder of wealth and keeping the blood because he believes it has the potential to be used in medical science. Peggy calls him out for using Steve’s blood and memory in vain and for personal profit and that she won’t be doing Howard’s dirty work anymore.
What of the strange German smuggling man who was following Peggy though?
Well, predictably, he can’t get past the first floor to infiltrate Peggy’s room thanks to Miriam. He manages to sneak in the back way and nearly gets into Peggy’s apartment before he’s caught by her new neighbor Dottie. She starts to ask if he’s lost or if he’s looking for Peggy, but he just tells her to go back to her room and pulls a gun out on her. That’s when she asks if his gun is automatic and declares that she wants it. She then proceeds to go completely Natasha Romanoff on his ass, breaking his neck and stealing his gun from his dead body.
Okay… WHAT THE HELL?!
The next day, Jarvis tries to apologize to Peggy, but she refuses to hear it since the men in her office that disrespect her seem to respect her more than Howard and Jarvis do. As Peggy walks off, Jarvis goes up to Howard and tells him that after growing callused to apologizing for him, having to do it to Peggy really hurt. As it should have. Howard is left to stew in his own guilt as the obligatory Stan Lee cameo happens, asking him for the sports pages.
Dooley returns back to the office, self satisfied with the information he got from Mueller by pretending to hand him a cyanide pill. It turns out the battle the two Russians “died” at wasn’t a battle, but a massacre that the Germans had nothing to do with. Thompson managed to do something else besides go around the office being a dick and found a flight manifesto out to the same territory with Howard’s name on it. What kind of web did you weave, Howard?
As the episode ends, we see Sousa trying to put two and two together about the “women” that have been spotted, Peggy hiding Steve’s blood in her wall, Dottie posing with her new toy, and the mysterious typewriter coming back on while Dooley sits across from it.
As I said, this episode made me so happy and mad all at once. We got to see more of the wonderful dynamic between Howard and Peggy and how much Steve’s absence has affected them, Sousa being the actual best, and hints for further exploration of the Black Widow’s background. However, the upsetting parts weren’t just regular character drama. It’s the fact that Peggy’s uphill battle for respect against the SSR and even her landlord is something that resonates in real life. The main thing holding Peggy back isn’t the Nazis, HYDRA, or Leviathan. It’s the damn patriarchy.