Agent Carter, Season 1, Episode 6, “A Sin to Err”
Written by Lindsey Allen
Directed by Stephen Williams
Airs at 9pm (ET) on Tuesdays on ABC
The farther Agent Carter moves past its initial stage of world building and character expansion, the more its confidence increases. These bravado storytelling shifts not only allow the show to expand Peggy’s world of espionage and danger, but make the characters around her more vivid. Last week, Agent Carter finally found the time to make Peggy’s coworkers interesting and even gave them a reason to care about her in return, prompting them to start viewing her as something more than a secretary. This week, everything is turned on its head as the SSR proves Peggy is the mystery woman they are after and takes action to detain her. The episode capitalizes on the agents’ only recently established compassion towards Peggy and flips it, with Sousa and Thompson far more betrayed by her presumed actions against the SSR than they would have been a few weeks ago (Thompson’s is a more drastic shift than Sousa’s, of course). Thompson allows himself to be caught off guard by Peggy’s fighting skills in the alley even though he’s heard what she is capable of, still underestimating her willingness to knock out a fellow agent. Sousa (foreseeably) falls prey to his feelings for Peggy and lets her run away. The fight in the diner between Peggy and the federal agents sent to detain her is as stylistically elegant as anything this season and a rollercoaster to watch. It is telling of how far the show has come from that her ability to evade capture is believable, instead of feeling like the other agents involved are incompetent and Sousa and Thompson only allow her to go for the sake of plot machinations.
The writing credit for “A Sin to Err” goes to Lindsey Allen, and it’s easy to wonder if having a female writer affected how much Hayley Atwell, Lyndsy Fonseca, and Bridget Regan get to do throughout the episode, compared to previous installments. For a series that is completely centered around a female agent, Peggy has been mostly surrounded by male agents and allies to this point. The other women are peripheral characters, important only when needed, even if their inclusion does involve entertaining moments like Dottie’s exploits in the Griffith. This episode puts all the female characters front and center and shows just how sidelined they have been until now. Dottie gets another flashback, this one set during the war and capturing her work as a fully entrenched Black Widow operative, and Angie gets to prove herself as a friend and actress as foreshadowed during her recitations of lines in the diner.
At first it seems as if Angie’s lies in service of Peggy’s safety are a goodbye between the two friends as Peggy leaves the Griffith for the time being, but Dottie and Peggy’s paths finally cross when both are acting as agents and the results are as rewarding as expected, preventing Peggy from escaping the clutches of the SSR. Although it may not be time for the dueling spies to have an all-encompassing knock-down drag out fight quite yet (even if that is surely coming before the end of the season), Dottie planting a kiss on Peggy to knock her out is a solid consolation prize. It’s an unexpected development for an ABC show but is a genuinely awesome scene as Peggy is stunned with the gesture and then realizes she has been played by her neighbor. It also means Bridget Regan is now kissing ladies in support of being an undercover assassin of sorts on two network shows each week, which is plain great. The strange part is that Dottie doesn’t take Steve Roger’s blood from Peggy while she is passed out, either because she doesn’t know it exists or because she has a longer game to play. The SSR’s focused efforts on getting information from Peggy about her involvement with Stark and the weapons shows the other side of the double standard she is subjected to in the department. Whereas before Peggy had to work twice as hard to be taken seriously as an agent, now she has to fight with triple the conviction to avoid being mistakenly punished.
Of course, the SSR’s distrust of Peggy is coming at exactly the wrong time in their fight against Leviathan and the cache of weapons being brought into the city. She is the one person that has ties to both sides of things and has enough knowledge to help the agency in a big way, but instead she is stuck in an interrogation room answering impossible questions while the actual Leviathan network is continuing to carry out its exploits, endangering the country. While the agents focus all their attention incorrectly on Peggy, the most immediate threat is one that they let into their circle of trust voluntarily. The Russian informant brought back from last week’s mission as a resource to find Leviathan is in fact a plant working with Dottie to obtain an item from the SSR and transfer information. The sequence of her going to the dentist’s office with a sniper rifle is an excellent piece of misdirection, leading the audience to believe she is about to assassinate him when in fact they are expertly passing messages back and forth in Morse code. Dottie’s instructions to kill Peggy Carter may primarily be bad news for the titular heroine, but the web of danger surrounding her is constantly expanding to encompass all of the SSR faster than they can see it coming. Having Peggy captive may seem like the smart thing, but it is the most dangerous move yet by the unknowing Dooley, Thompson, and Sousa.