In this episode Peggy Carter is given the all-enviable task of taking the lunch order at the S.S.R. precinct, and the fourth hour of Agent Carter only sporadically raises the excitement level above that low threshold. The sentiment was more or less the same during the previous episode “Time and Tide”: with only eight episodes in total, is there really enough time to spend on lunch order gags and Stan Lee cameos?
The good thing is that the executive producers of Agent Carter did confirm that the show is not a miniseries after all, despite that being the impression nearly everyone was under up until this point, and that a second season is a possibility. If so, a slower approach can certainly work. Still, though, even as each episode is full of stuff to like, it seems as if Agent Carter is less interested in telling a cohesive story and more interested in tying everything back to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Dominic Cooper returns as Howard Stark in “The Blitzkrieg Button”, and the episode title comes from a coveted invention of Stark’s able to shut off the electricity of an entire city in order to hide it from German bombers. Should it now fall into the wrong hands, Stark tells Peggy, New York could be plunged into irreversible darkness. The prevention of a permanent blackout sounds a heck of a lot more exciting than taking lunch orders, so Peggy opts for that. The button turns out to be concealing a vial of Steve Rogers’ blood, too, which could contribute to growing mistrust between Peggy and Stark.
Cooper’s great as Stark, and he gets all the best lines in “The Blitzkrieg Button”. But is he a little too much like his son? Robert Downey Jr. pulls off the womanizing genius inventor like no one else, and having Tony be the apple that did not fall far from Howard’s tree can seem at times to be a bit of a stretch. Throw in the fact that Mickey Rourke’s Vanko is also represented by his evil scientist father and Peggy’s new neighbor Dottie Underwood acts a hell of a lot like Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, and it becomes clear that everyone’s child ends up being exactly like them half a century down the line.
If nothing else, “The Blitzkrieg Button” made clear that Agent Carter has some sweet gadgetry. The long-range transmitter built into a typewriter is very cool, and continued use of it was teased at the end of the episode. An especially badass six-barreled automatic pistol also made a significant appearance, operating by an evil-looking blonde gentleman who ends up being killed by the end of the hour (that darn “Dottie”). These Bondian contraptions feel futuristic but authentic in a steampunk kind of way, and they tie in nicely to the Howling Commandos stuff in Captain America: The First Avenger and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
That villain, though — the evil-looking blonde gentleman who ends up being killed — was so instantly memorable during his opening scene and then so instantly forgettable as the credits rolled. The “Marvel has boring bad guys” argument is nearly as trodden as the “everything is connected in the MCU” gripe, but that’s partially because it’s just plain true. Peggy Carter doesn’t necessarily need a nemesis, but Agent Carter needs something for her to fight against for more than one episode at a time.