Through the first part of its series run, Agent Carter hasn’t been subtle about the misogyny Peggy faces on a daily basis trying to make it in the “man’s world” of being a secret agent in the SSR.
It was a fact of life in post-War America that the same women who experienced real independence while building the planes and tanks that helped win the war, were then expected to return to their previous lives of cooking and cleaning without giving what they accomplished a second thought.
We’ve seen Peggy buck the attitude (that’s been heightened for dramatic purposes) and has continued the fight she picked up with Steve Rogers on that Army base all those years ago. A most crushing blow came in the previous episode when war hero Agent Thompson told Peggy that “no man will ever consider you an equal.”
That all changed with a visit to the Black Widow Finishing School in the aptly named “The Iron Ceiling.”
With a combination of skill, experience, willpower and connections to the legendary Howling Commandos of the 107th Division, Peggy gets her first task for the SSR that doesn’t involve coffee or sandwiches.
While the misogyny wasn’t subtle, how the writers showed how Peggy fit with the Commandos was. The highly trained Commandos treat Peggy as one of their own from the start. They share her booze, welcome her to their circle around the fire and most importantly seek her expertise in the field without hesitation, which is in sharp contrast to her own office that belittled her even though she broke the Leviathan code seconds after she saw it.
It’s hard not to compare Peggy in this moment to what’s been going on over on Arrow with Laurel Lance’s ascension to Black Canary.
The biggest non-“Sara was better” criticism about Laurel is that she hasn’t earned her heroic place. Oliver and Sara survived the crucible of The Island. Diggle has Special Forces experience. Even Red Ranger Roy fought crime on the streets by himself before training under Ollie. Armed with only a wig and a few months of boxing lessons, we’re expected to believe that Laurel will just seamlessly mesh with the rest of Team Arrow.
On the other hand, from the moment she introduces her current team to her former, there’s no question Peggy is a Howling Commando. Before the first shot is fired, Agent Thompson sees that some of the finest soldiers America has produced consider Peggy as, at the very least, an equal, if not a superior soldier.
There were plenty of opportunities to hammer home tales of daring from Peggy’s past around that campfire as the bottle of bourbon was passed around. Instead we got the breezy camaraderie of brothers in arms (and one-liners galore) when things were quiet and a combination of skill and bravery that Thompson failed to muster when things got hairy.
With just a few episodes left in this first run of Agent Carter, the pace is going to pick up considerably and if the previews are to be believed things are going to go to hell in a hurry for Peggy, but this was a watershed episode for the character because the SSR and the audience first see the person who will one day make an entire spy agency “do as Peggy says.”
Craig Wack could listen to Hayley Atwell say “wanker” all day. Please follow his Twitter.