Howard Stark returns on tonight’s ‘Agent Carter,’ introducing the concept of the titular “Blitzkrieg Button,” although it proves to be little more than a distraction piled on top of a distraction for Peggy, who’s already working so diligently to lead what is essentially a triple-life. While the men at the SSR talk about what it means to be an agent, which is the most important part of who they are, it’s only Peggy who truly knows both the cost and the value of dedicating your life to the job.

Much of “The Blitzkrieg Button” is spent setting up the reveal that Stark has been lying to her about the titular weapon, which isn’t a weapon at all, but a holding container for a vial of Steve Rogers’ blood. Between Jarvis’ obviously choreographed nervous tic (a little too obvious, the way the camera holds on it so much) and Stark’s womanizing, along with Agent Thompson’s sad-but-true assertion that no man will ever view Peggy as an equal, we already know that Stark is hiding something. Of all people, Stark is the one man who has treated Peggy as an equal, who sought her out to help clear his name, who doesn’t just know, but actually acknowledges her capabilities. Which is why it’s so disappointing to see him behave like every other man she’s ever encountered. From the moment he arrives at her residence and begins paying nightly visits to different women, it’s immediately apparent that Stark hasn’t necessarily made an exception for Peggy. He’s just an opportunist.

And that opportunism is part of why he’s trying to retrieve that vial of Captain America’s blood—sure, using it to potentially cure illnesses and save millions of lives is a noble endeavor, but it would also net him millions of dollars in the process. Stark, like his son, has good intentions, but those intentions are duplicitous, motivated not just by morality, but by his sense of pride and the almighty dollar. Not even Tony can shake that pride as far as he’s come in the MCU, but at least Howard comes from an unprivileged background. He knows what it is to fight. He knows the price that must be paid. And he knows how next-to-impossible it is to get anywhere in this world unless you’re a white man with a silver spoon whose parents know some people. Not much has changed.

And the fact that not much has changed between the era of ‘Agent Carter’ and now is part of what makes the show thematically interesting, helping us relate to a time that’s not our own by anchoring us to something unfortunately timeless and easily recognizable.

The SSR remains a few steps behind Howard and Peggy, but they do make some progress in putting the pieces together this week, as Agent Sousa considers that maybe the mysterious blonde isn’t so blonde after all, and Agent Thompson successfully questions a bum. Meanwhile, Agent Dooley takes a trip over to Nuremburg to interrogate a Nazi, which proves much easier than it probably should be, discovering that the battle at Thurnau (I assume it’s Thurnau, which is a real place in Germany, and not “Finnau” as I kept hearing it) wasn’t really a battle at all—all the Russians were dead and “torn to pieces” when the Germans arrived. It remains unclear how Leet Brannis was involved, or if that’s even his real name, but at least the SSR is making some progress this week instead of comically fumbling behind Peggy’s progress.

Tonight we also learn that Dottie, one of the residents on Peggy’s floor, is not quite the demure and bubbly young woman Miriam believes her to be—she intercepts Doobin in the hallway and admires his gun before abruptly kicking his ass and taking it for herself. Who is Dottie Underwood, really?

Additional Thoughts:

  • It is unbecoming for a lady to read Freud.
  • Howard takes a selfie with Peggy with his camera pen. Of course he does. And he has tawdry photos on that camera pen, too. Of course he does.
  • Tonight brought our requisite Stan Lee cameo, as a man on a bench sitting next to Howard Stark.
Stan Lee Agent Carter
  • I, too, would like a purse in which I could smuggle dinner rolls, pickles, and a jug of gravy.

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