Synopsis of 1×05: Peggy calls in the Howling Commandos when a lead on Leviathan appears in Belarus. Dottie continues to be creepy as hell. Sousa gets closer to catching Peggy.

Rating: ★★★★☆

I think this episode could also be dubbed “Ashley doesn’t give a crap about Jack Thompson,” but we’ll get into that down the line. We just need to focus on the two major things: the introduction of the Black Widow program and the Howling Commandos.

Dottie's days in the Red Room. [ABC]
Dottie’s days in the Red Room. [ABC]
The episode opens with a flashback to Dottie’s childhood in Russia, where she was kept in some creepy boarding school where she was shackled to a bed, made to recite Snow White word for word, and forced to kill one of the other girls in hand to hand combat all at the age of 10. It then flashes forward to Dottie’s life currently as she wakes up in the morning, begins to exercise, and then proceeds to assume her cover as she asks Peggy at the diner what ennui means and plans to explore New York City. She “accidentally” knocks over Peggy’s purse and cleans it up, obtaining her keys in the process.

As Peggy walks to work, Jarvis catches up to her to apologize for not being upfront with her, but Peggy’s not hearing it. She does have every right to be mad since Howard treated her like a servant and not as a friend. She’s a federal agent, after all. She doesn’t deserve this crap. Except that Jarvis does remind her that, hey, she gets treated like crap there.

At the office, Sousa fills Peggy in about the Leviathan type writer. It’s coded, but their codebreaker isn’t very good. Peggy manages to flawlessly break the code, revealing that Leviathan is attempting to purchase Stark goods in Belarus. Dooley sends out Thompson, Ramirez and Li, but Peggy insists that she’s going along too. She served in the European theater in that area and she speaks Russian. She’s more than qualified to do so!

However, Thompson is being his usual jackass self and Dooley is hesitant since if Peggy gets killed, it’s on his hands. She then asks what would happen if she could get the 107th to help them out, and Dooley says that he’d have her pack her bags and head out. Considering the fact that the 107th were Steve’s battalion in the war, it’s only a quick phone call.

You know, I figure Peggy had to at least have some letters of recommendation from people like the Howling Commandos and Colonel Phillips. I know ‘misogyny’ is the word of the day, but you think that she could be taken a tiny iota bit more seriously by the other SSR schmucks since she has seniority on most of them. But hey, that’s a perfect world we nor Peggy live in.

I don't know what we did to deserve Hayley Attwell, but thank you. [ABC]
I don’t know what we did to deserve Hayley Attwell, but thank you. [ABC]
Peggy gets ready to head out with the boys when Thompson plays a joke on Sousa and Peggy by having Sousa walk in on her while she’s changing. They both get flustered, but Sousa notices a familiar scar on Peggy’s shoulder. Later, he calls for a background check on Peggy, confirming that she does have a scar and that it matches ones seen in the photos of the blonde. Uh oh.

Peggy and the other agents make the drop, Thompson still being a condescending dick until they meet up with the Howling Commandos. Well, rather, Dugan and some second stringers that call themselves the Howling Commandos. Apparently, Derek Luke, Kenneth Choi, and JJ Feild were all busy to be Gabe Jones, Jim Morita, and James Falsworth respectively, so we get Pinky Pinkerton (Richard Short), Junior Jupiter (James Austin Kerr), and Happy Sawyer instead. Which, hey, all comic book accurate! Just where the hell were they during the events of The First Avenger? 

Anyway, everyone is happy to see Peggy again and the group begins to make its way through Lithuania to Belarus. Peggy gives Dum Dum some bourbon and shares with him that she does believe in Stark’s innocence even though he’s a total wanker. The two lament about Steve without saying his name after Dum Dum admonishes Peggy for not being fun anymore. Man, I’d hate to meet the one person not of HYDRA origin who didn’t love Steve. They must be a very sad person.

As the Commandos and the SSR agents gather around a campfire later to share a few laughs and some food, we get a bit of Thompson’s back story. Apparently, he earned the Navy Cross during his time in the war because he saved his commanding officer and his platoon from Japanese soldiers looking to kill them. Ooo… War hero. Totally makes up for him being a dick. (Pssst… Not really.) This does officially take him out of the running for being Peggy’s husband though because she did state in The Winter Soldier that he was rescued by Steve in Europe and Thompson served in Japan. Hallelujah, he’s not the one.

Back home, Dooley is doing some footwork about Stark’s history prior to the current investigation. It turns out that Stark got into it with a one star general who later retired and Stark ended up getting a large R&D deal with the US Government. Dooley goes to Jarvis and asks what he knows. Jarvis claims to know nothing, but both Dooley and I know he isn’t telling the truth.

Back home, we see Dottie break into Peggy’s apartment, searching for something. At first, I’m worried she’s looking for Steve’s blood, but it seems like Howard and Peggy are the only ones who know about it. Instead, she goes looking for pictures of Howard’s stolen inventions and takes one of them out of the stack.

She then proceeds to be really creepy and unsettling around Peggy’s belongings, pretending to sound like her, picking up her picture of Steve and sniffing her knockout lipstick before leaving. Seriously, props to Bridget Regan for seriously creeping me out in this role.

Back on the front lines, the group goes to infiltrate the suspected Leviathan headquarters. They find the creepy boarding school from before with some animated film subliminally broadcasting the phrase “instill fear” in Russian. Soon after, they find a young girl dressed in black crying. Dugan goes to comfort her, but she proceeds to stab him and kills Junior by shooting him in the neck. Yiiiikes. If it’s this bad now, I hate to see what Natasha went through in the Red Room.

Realizing that there’s nothing left there, the group decides that it’s time to bail. However, before they officially can, they find two men in a jail cell together: a scientist named Nikola and a psychiatrist named Dr. Ivchenko. Ivchenko claims that the two were kidnapped by Leviathan to put together schematics made by Howard Stark. Nikola apparently knows, but he needs Ivchenko to be his translator. Something doesn’t seem right about this, but Leviathan is coming, so we can’t focus too long. Peggy needs an exit and a firefight is about to ensue.

During the fight, Li is shot by the girl and Nikola tries to use Happy as leverage to escape Leviathan. Ivchenko tries to reason with Nikola, but the scientist is killed before he can. Happy escapes, but Thompson freezes up and is unable to fight. Dugan finally comes to their rescue and Peggy gets Happy and Thompson out of there while still shooting at Leviathan. Dugan tries not to leave her behind, saying what would Steve say if he left his best girl behind. Peggy shoots back that he would say “Do as Peggy says!” Damn right, girl!

Still, Peggy gets out without a scratch and says her goodbyes to the Commandos. Ivchenko goes with the SSR, saying that he will help them anyway he can. On the plane, Peggy asks Thompson if he’s alright and that she understands why he froze up. He then decides to admit to the part of his backstory that he never told anyone before: the soldiers he killed were coming to surrender and he realized too late. He buried their white flag, never told anyone and the guilt has been killing him ever since.

I guess Thompson is the new member of the MCU “Cool motive, still murder” club. You know the one… it’s the group of conventionally attractive white boys that fangirls will defend claiming that they’re misunderstood even though they’ve committed terrible acts. They include Loki “Literal God of Lies” Laufeyson, Grant “Still a Nazi” Ward, and Jack “War Criminal” Thompson. We’re expecting Kilgrave from AKA Jessica Jones to join later this year since David Tennant will be playing him. Joy.

At the office, both Peggy and Thompson report back to Dooley about the results of the case. Peggy maintains Howard’s innocence, but Thompson doesn’t. Still, they agree to speak to Ivchenko about it and see what they can get out of him. Dooley congratulates Peggy on her work and Thompson offers to buy her a bourbon. It seems things are looking up for Agent Carter!

…Except for Sousa being right on her trail and Dottie shackling herself to her bed. Well, it’s a win for a day.

Despite the show trying to make me sympathize with Thompson, this was a great episode for MCU nerds. The Howling Commandos being awesome, people being sad about Steve, and the history of The Red Room starting to be explored? This show knows what we want and gave it to us in spades. Now if only Peggy and Angie would kiss or a reveal that Gabe Jones is the future husband, then we would be in business!

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