Recap: 'Agent Carter' - Underestimating women is definitely 'A Sin to Err'
The road to court martial is paved with good intentions. After weeks of trying to save Howard Stark's bacon, Peggy gets burned for her efforts in "A Sin To Err."
Last week, Peggy was among trusted peers, on a mission to Russia. Being the badass that she is, Carter was able to piece together that the child assassin, Howard Stark’s involvement with a secret project that ended in him throwing punches, and the military massacre on Russian soil are all connected. She even brought back a (suspiciously) helpful hostage.
But does this count for anything with her boss, Chief Dooley? To a point. Now, instead of dismissing Agent Carter out of hand when she argues that whoever assassinated Agent Krzeminski was the same person who broke into Howard Stark’s vault, he listens. While dubious that a MERE WOMAN would have the wherewithal to kill a man in cold blood — despite evidence to the contrary what with the tween girl assassin — Dooley takes a progressive step in giving Peggy permission to do her job.
Dooley is only one catching the hint, though. In ‘A Sin to Err,’ the error in question is definitely how most of men of the SSR — and beyond — are constantly underestimating women because of their gender. Even when one of said women is exhibiting competence RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM, the assume this must be a series of flukes. This dismissive mindset gets dudes maimed and/or murdered throughout the episode. From the dentist who assumed secretarial applications include a side-order of sexual assault, to the poor Red Shirt™ agents Peggy put down in the Automat, to Agent Thompson getting — rightly — punched in the face, men are continuously taken off-guard by capable super spies who also happen to have ovaries.
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Or maybe the SSR is just incompetent. I mean, they are letting a Russian doctor wander unfettered through their offices. Just because Dr. Ivchenko was in a prison cell, doesn’t mean you can trust him guys. One would think there'd least be a vetting process for a man who was in close proximity to a Top Secret Russian brainwashing program. But what do I know?
Speaking of underestimating women, it’s not just Peggy and Dottie who use their perceived weakness as a tactical strategy. Angie gets her moment to shine this week. Here is — as far as we know — an ordinary girl with no skills in espionage. Yet when she finds Peggy balancing precariously outside her window ledge, Angie just rolls with it. She might not know what Agent Carter does for a living, but she DOES know that Peggy covers up being demoralized by condescension and sexism at her job with a stiff upper lip mentality. Friends don’t sell out friends to their jerk co-workers.
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Knowing this, Angie relies on one of the oldest weapon in a woman’s arsenal: crying. A lot of men are uncomfortable with emotional outbursts, because they're taught from an early age that men are stoic and emotions are weakness. Binary gender norms hurt boys, too. But in this case, Angie is able to use our culture’s delineation of what is “girly” to terrify Thompson and Sousa out of her apartment, lest they catch a deadly case of emotional honesty.
Seriously, this show about the precursor to S.H.I.E.L.D. is blowing away the competition when it comes to holding up a mirror to society.
Odds & Ends
• I still think Agent Sousa is the man Peggy married. He found out she was the blonde but he didn’t sell her out and he couldn’t shoot her when she ran. Peggy/Daniel OTP.
• That creepy mind-control wedding ring used by Dr. Ivchenko has to be a precursor to Dr. Whitehall’s “compliance” device on “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” right?
• This show is hellbent on humanizing everyone. Dooley’s wife cheating on him while he was deployed kind of explains a lot of his distrust of Peggy.
• Howard Stark! You cannot mark your conquests with matching bracelets. They aren’t cattle!
• Who would send agents Peggy knows to covertly apprehend her? Another piece of evidence that the SSR is just bad at their job.
• All-female apartments in the 1940s must have been a hotbed for covert lesbian relationships.