Stephanie Watches Marvel’s Agent Carter: 1×08 “Valediction”

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The Leviathan plot came to a head in the season finale (it better just be a season finale!) of Agent Carter. Howard Stark finally returns after causing much mayhem for Peggy Carter, Jarvis, and the SSR. But he means to fix this, as he feels responsible for everything. But the “Midnight Oil” was not invented to make people viciously kill each other, it was to help soldiers stay awake during battle. It just didn’t work.

Dottie and the Russian hypnotist intend to deploy the “Midnight Oil” gas over Times Square, where hundreds of thousands of people have gathered for V.E. Day. Howard decides to use himself as bait to drive their attention away from the celebration, in the meantime getting Agent Chad Michael Murray to say a ton of nice things about him in a public forum to clear him of any wrongdoing and treason accusations.

The SSR’s plan goes awry when Dottie kidnaps Howard and takes him to his giant hangar that he stupidly showed her when she was trying to get info out of him and he was trying to impress another girl. Dottie seems a bit offended that he doesn’t remember her. Girl, do you know how busy Howard is with the ladies? Anyway, Leviathan plans to use Stark’s owns planes and Stark himself–after being hypnotized into thinking he’s found Steve Rogers–to deploy the gas over NYC. The SSR arrives. Peggy and Dottie finally have a knock-down-drag-out fight, which was full of awesome. Lots of loud, ruthless hits to each other. The hypnotist bests Agent CMM, but Sousa has ear plugs and doesn’t fall under his spell, so he knocks him out.

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Jarvis flies out after Howard, ready to bring his own friend down if he can’t be convinced otherwise. But Peggy, after a tearful conversation between both of these two men–trying to bring Howard back to his right state of mind and trying to get Jarvis to give her more time–she gets through to him. Howard is the last link she has to Steve and she can’t lose him.

The city is saved and Peggy returns to the SSR to a round of applause from the men that didn’t believe in her and/or thought her a traitor. But she saved the city and they know it. When a Congressman shows up to thank the SSR, he congratulates Agent CMM, who happily takes the credit. Dammit, dude, didn’t you learn anything? Sousa is rightly outraged (as am I), but Peggy keeps cool. Because Peggy is the epitome of class and cool.

“I don’t need a congressional honor. I don’t need Agent Thompson’s approval or the President’s. I know my value. Anyone else’s opinion doesn’t really matter.”

Peggy knows that she can’t measure her self-worth through the approval of others since it is so hard to come by in her life as a woman. She knows this will be an ongoing battle, but that doesn’t mean she will give up. She will let Agent CMM take the credit for now because that’s what he needs. Peggy’s friends are safe, the city is safe, she is safe; that’s enough for now.

Also, costume note: Peggy is wearing purple in this scene where she returns to the SSR. Purple generally signifies royalty, pride. And I think that’s exactly what’s she exuding in front of all of her colleagues. She is leagues above them in power, intelligence, ability, but she is also a class act, so she won’t be boastful of her superior capabilities.

Since Howard feels so guilty (I assume, anyway) for what he put Peggy through, he gives her and Angie use of one of his mansions to live in for free! Yay! I imagine many peach schnapps nights and gossiping for them to come. I imagine that every night is a silly slumber party for them because they are obviously besties now. I’m sure Peggy has filled her in on all her drama by now.

Despite this happy reunion, the episode ended on a sad moment. Jarvis returned Steve’s blood to Peggy without Howard knowing. But she knows the risks of keeping it, so she decides to dump it into the river. She can’t hold on to him anymore, just as she told Howard in the plane. She has to let him go. She has to move on with her life and keep fighting his fight. Because now it’s her fight. She is the superhero.

The music over this final scene was just so perfect for the era, the lighting, the coloring, just everything about this scene. That’s one of the things I’ve enjoyed most about this show, they really nailed the period atmosphere and aesthetic.

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We ended on a bit of a cliffhanger with Zola, perhaps in hopes that we can continue on for another season. And after this wild ride, I really hope we can. I want to see more of my Peggy Carter. If we could get this little interlude between Agents of SHIELD episodes every year, I think that would be an awesome way to break up the seasons and juxtapose the different SHIELD eras. So come on and renew it already!

Other things:

  • Howard trying to remember Dottie’s name and getting slapped each time.
  • “Humbled by his genius. No, no, humbled by his brilliance!”
  • Sousa asking Peggy out for a drink!!!! She said “Maybe another time” for now, but oh she smiled a lot after that. Please continue this show so I can see their budding romance. PLEASE.
  • “Ida, that’s her name! I knew I’d remember. Steel trap.” Peggy and Jarvis walk away rolling their eyes. Hee.
  • I wonder what will become of Dottie/Ida/Black Widow since she got away…
  • “I appreciate the finer things, I just don’t want to know what’s happened in and on the finer things.” (Fav line of the episode by far!)

Stephanie Reads Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 10 Issue #12

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When we last left Buffy, she was kissing Spike. Of her own volition. Without any rising music influence. Or sad post-death feels. And actually happy to do so.

And what does Spike do? He shoots her down.

Sure, they’ve both finally reached a place where they can just be friends. And neither one is using the other for the wrong reasons. But Buffy gave Spike what he always wanted: her opening up to him and being vulnerable and giving herself to him.

He now realizes what a “wanker” he was to her. But there’s no time to dwell because HULK ANDREW is ready to send the Scoobies on a new mission with his new friends Professor Xavier aka Clive (who Andrew is totally crushing on) and Julie. Not to mention, puberty Giles is still so insanely frustrated by his sexless adolescence, he is taking it out on everyone. Xander quips that he made it through a pretty sexless adolescence and survived. But Giles doesn’t want to hear it! Pimp Slave IV just isn’t doing it for him anymore.

Eventually Spike and Buffy are able to talk it out. She concedes to his earlier concerns and, while Spike agrees with what he said, there’s just one problem: “I’m in love with you.”

Awww. So, Spuffy fans, you will definitely enjoy this issue and what comes next!

Pick up your copy today from Dark Horse or at your local comic book shop!

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Stephanie Watches Marvel’s Agent Carter: 1×07 “Snafu”

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Things got really–pardon the pun–explosive on last’s night Agent Carter. With only one episode left of the hopefully first of many seasons, things really took off.

Peggy Carter was captured by the SSR at the end of the previous episode, as they assume she is working with Stark and Leviathan and is some sort of evil double-agent. And while yes, she is a double-agent of sorts, she had to be. When she finally fesses up (after learning that Howard Stark’s confession Jarvis cooked up was completely fabricated), they actually seem to believe her. Gasp! But they just don’t get how she could have possibly been doing this under their noses all along. So Peggy points out, in one of the best lines all season:

I conducted my own investigation because no one listens to me. I got away with it because no one looks at me. Because unless I have your reports, coffee, or your lunch, I’m invisible.

I cheered for that because it really is the takeaway from this entire series. They spent months doubting her worth as an agent, but finally they see she is truly capable. Sousa knew it all along, CMM saw it in Russia.

Unfortunately, they still have the Russian doctor and Dottie to deal with. He puts his whammy on Chief Dooley (hey, I finally remembered his name…a little too late), who locks Peggy and Jarvis away, then gets him to help steal one of Stark’s inventions.

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I loved the Peggy/Jarvis scene of them attempting to escape from their interrogation room. “I’ve just thought of someting. We are still attached to a table.” They are a perfect comedy duo and I need more of it.

Thankfully, Agent Chad Michael Murray discovers them (after they’ve broken the interrogation room mirror), but Peggy knows that something must be wrong with Chief Dooley. The Russian guy has strapped Dooley in to some sort of heat armor. One of Stark’s prototypes, of course, which has no release and if they try to help him out, they may all explode. Great. So, in a heroic last moment, Dooley sacrifices himself and jumps out of a window, exploding in mid-air. Super cool, but super sad.

And what were Dooley’s last words? “‘Atta, girl.” He finally believes in Peggy and realizes how important, how strong, how capable she is. He wants her to finish this fight for him. And oh, she will.

But she will have her hands full, considering what Leviathan has to unleash.

Other things:

  • “Mr. Stark never answered. I left countless messages. Nothing. So then I panicked, and panicked again.”
    “Oh, for the love of God, man!”
    “As I said, panic was involved.”
  • Sousa bravely taking on a Black Widow, despite his handicap.
  • Sousa believing Peggy.
  • Agent Chad Michael Murray believing Peggy.
  • Dooley believing Peggy.
  • Dooley was holding Steve’s blood so precariously over the floor. I was just shouting, PUT IT BACK, JEEZUS.
  • How creepy was that last shot in the theater? So good.
  • Hey, Howard, didja ever think about NOT inventing these horrible things? Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Don’t forget, keep watching reruns on ABC and Hulu! We need a second season!

Stephanie Watches Marvel’s Agent Carter: 1×06 “A Sin to Err”

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High off of the approval and success of her last mission, Peggy Carter is ready to get to the bottom of the little girls’ training school. She reasons that if Leviathan was trying to get to Howard Stark’s inventions, what better way than sending a woman? Since the SSR is blowing off her investigation, she reunites with Jarvis and takes matters into her own hands.

I need you to get me a list of all the women that Howard has entertained in the last year.”
“I don’t think there’s enough ink in the whole of New York to complete that request.”

What follows is a hilarious montage of Peggy and Jarvis visiting Howard’s former conquests so she can see if the women have marks on their wrists from shackling themselves to their bed posts. Unfortunately, none of them are a match and instead, Jarvis just gets slapped and kicked a lot. Poor guy. He better get a raise! But the final apartment has all the evidence Peggy needs. But while she’s researching, Sousa brings his own evidence that Peggy is connected to Howard. It’s all quite damning without her side of the story, so the hunt for her is on!

I absolutely loved the fight that ensued inside the locked up diner, especially with the happy jazz music playing over it. God, she is so badass. Every hit is so hard and brutal. But when she makes it outside, she’s confronted by Agent Chad Michael Murray. He tries to stop her and is knocked out for it. And yeah, that was just a wee bit satisfying. Sousa comes along, sees the unconscious agent and his suspicions grow even more. Dammit, Sousa, you really jumped the gun! And your stupid, cute little puppy dog face makes it so hard to be mad at you.

Peggy makes it back to her apartment to retrieve Steve’s blood, but the SSR is hot on her tails. Angie, seeing her friend randomly teetering on the ledge outside her window, decides to help her fend off the men without question. She starts crying and the agents can’t do much more than just feel insanely uncomfortable. “Please…stop…” I was laughing so hard.

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Peggy and Angie are developing such a lovely, beautiful friendship. I hope she becomes a true confidant for Peggy. That Peggy can come home at the end of the day, share some Schnapps with her, and talk about her crazy missions. Angie has definitely proven she can be trusted, even when she has no idea what the real story is.

When Peggy is almost out, she unfortunately runs into Dottie, who we’ve seen wreak all manor of havoc throughout the episode. But we get our first girl-on-girl action in the MCU. Hooray! Haha. Peggy is knocked out, but before Dottie can kill her, the SSR comes back to take her away. Nooooo. (Also hilarious that the only way the SSR can capture her is when she’s unconscious. Heh.)

SSR Head Honcho tells Sousa “Don’t go easy on her just because she’s a girl.” Oh, sure. While she’s your comrade and coworker, you can barely a muster a crumb of respect for her. But now that she’s in trouble and it’s convenient for you to punish her, you’re going to treat her like your equal? Ugh.

I have a feeling they’ll be sorry they took her captive when Dottie comes a-callin’. She has her orders, after all.

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Other things:

  • “Just the usual stuff. Complained about her fathead male coworkers a lot.” Angie is the best.
  • I’m now trying to imagine Howard and Dottie together. She doesn’t seem much like his type, but eh. He’s not one to discriminate.
  • Angie: What’s your grandmother’s name?
    Thompson: Gam-Gam
  • The Russian dude’s ring turning seemed pretty cheesy. And that scene between him and the random SSR dude went on for an unnecessarily long time.
  • Angie and Peggy hugs.
  • “I look forward to hearing what this is about someday.”
    “Someday.”
    “Take care of yourself, English.”

Stephanie Cosplays: Elizabeth Wig Tutorial – Bioshock Infinite

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Elizabeth’s hair is pretty normal, but sometimes the simplest hairstyle can prove challenging.

You will need:

  • Longish brown wig. I used the Eowyn wig in Mahogany from Arda Wigs
  • Comb
  • got2b hairspray or something equally strong, such as Aussie’s Super Hold
  • Hairdryer
  • Bobby pins
  • Hair tie
  • Blue ribbon

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Stephanie Goes to C2E2 Heroes Party 2015

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Every year, my friends and I make it a point to go to the pre-C2E2 parties. They usually have two: Heroes & Villains. And this year’s Heroes party was held at Geek Bar Chicago’s Geek Bar Beta location on January 24. I hadn’t had the chance to check out Geek Bar Chicago yet, so I was excited to finally go. The room, although a bit of a tight squeeze since it’s their beta location, was filled with excited cosplayers dressed as all sorts of Heroes from Black Cat to Daft Punk to Sora to Agent May. The Avengers played on the big screen and I found myself getting a bit distracted by it throughout the night. (I mean, who wouldn’t be distracted by Chris Evans? Ahem.)

Like other Geek Bar parties, they were well stocked with delicious foods and inventive drinks, such as the Dew or Dew Not Wings and Groot Sliders. Much meaty goodness for this carnivore. And their signature drink for the evening was the Tony Stark. It was so yummy I had two! My favorite aspect were the little pepper balls. Get it: Tony and Pepper? Too cute.

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Stephanie Watches Marvel’s Agent Carter: 1×05 “The Iron Ceiling”

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My dear Peggy Carter finally got to do some field work! Much to Agent Chad Michael Murray’s dismay. She had the skill and the connections to get herself there. The mission being a link between Howard Stark, Leviathan, and Russia. Despite their disagreement last week, Peggy clearly still wants to get to the bottom of what’s going on. She may not be all for clearing his name anymore, but she seeks the truth since she can’t trust Howard to give it to her. At least not right now.

Because of this mission, we delved into some of the Marvel history last night with a first-hand look at the Black Widows Training Academy (or the Red Room if you wanna be all accurate). Little girls with identical braids, shackled to their beds at night, reciting movies in unison (nice way to use the Disney connection with Snow White!), and then beating the ever-loving crap out of each other to the point of neck-snapping. Yikes. And of course, this leads us to Dottie’s true origin. Last episode, we all likened her fighting style to that of Natasha Romanoff, so it’s clear they trained in the same place. And Dottie still has to shackle herself to her bed at night… I’m so curious/eager/scared to see Natasha’s backstory in Avengers now. I wonder how long until she could stop shackling herself…unless she still does? HMM.

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This episode brought about the reunion of Dum Dum Dugan and Peggy! Yay! It was nice to see a jolly, familiar face and to see the bond he and Peggy still share. They have such a great back-and-forth as well. I hope he returns in future missions.

When they get to Russia, they investigate a strange place, obviously the training academy. They find a little girl and before they can do anything, she stabs Dugan, shoots one of the Commandos, and disappears into a vent a la Little Sisters in Bioshock.

The rest of the episode is basically Peggy kicking a ton of ass and Agent Chad Michael Murray crying in the corner. She ends up saving HIM and his world is flipped on its head. Suck it! He reveals the truth about his “war hero” past and maybe they’ve even bonded a little now. I don’t really trust him to ditch the sexist comments so he can be a cool dude in the office still, but maybe they’ll be a little more infrequent? Or who knows, maybe being rude to Peggy isn’t going to fly now since she’s such a badass.

Another strange flip was Sousa. He’s pretty sure he figured out that the mysterious blond who beat them to the punch in the first episode was actually Peggy. So, now he’s wary of her and he may be the cause of them calling her a traitor in the next episode preview. Noooo, just talk to her about it! You guys have a good connection. You would be so pretty together… Just …*smushes them together*

Anyhoo, Peggy finally got her due and proved she could handle the front lies just as well, if not better, than any man. This episode was really just a lot of fun. Especially Peggy with the machine gun holding her own to save everyone. Ugh, I love her. And yay, hugs with friends!

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Other things:

  • “What would Cap say if I left his best girl behind?”
    “He would say, ‘Do as Peggy says!’”
  • I missed Jarvis this week. Probably as much as Peggy seemed to.
  • “I hate you all.” (This was my favorite moment!!!)
  • Dottie is a creepo. Stay away from her lipstick and Steve picture, you weirdo!
  • “Dugan, I’m about to get very cross with you!”
    “Wa-hooo!”
    “Stop wahooing and help!”
  • “We just need a name for you.”
    “I’ll miss you.”
    “Miss You… Miss U.. .Miss Union Jack!”
    “Never speak again!”
  • Also, can everyone stop reminding Peggy that Cap is dead literally every chance they get???

Note: If you want a second season of this show, keep watching the episodes on ABC and Hulu! Over and over again! It’s all up to the fans! Just imagine next year, we could have a Tuesday night 2-hour powerhouse of Agent Carter followed by Agents of SHIELD. My dream.

Stephanie Watches Marvel’s Agent Carter: 1×04 “The Blitzkrieg Button”

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The lovable, womanizing Howard Stark is back this week to check on how things are coming with recovering his inventions. After sneaking him into her no-boys-allowed group home, she lets him know that the SSR has everything. After she takes photos using his fancy camera pen (of which she is vastly unimpressed), he tasks her with retrieving this orb that supposedly would black out NYC indefinitely if used.

She retrieves the item and, due to some suspicion thanks to a lying Jarvis (who kept tugging on his ear to her every question), she opens it to find a vial of blood. When she confronts Howard about it, he reveals that it’s Steve Rogers’s blood.

Peggy is understandably furious and punches the crap out of Howard. I love that that’s her initial reaction. And he deserved it, let’s be real. He claims he has it because his blood could cure diseases from cancer to the common cold, but that blood is the last part of Steve that (they think) exists in this world. She can’t let Howard use it for his supposed science, even if it could be for the greater good. Peggy still feels responsible for Steve, even in death.

“Steve Rogers dedicated his mind, his body, his life to the SSR and this country. Not your bank account. I made the same pledge, but I’m not as good as Steve was. I forgot my pledge running around for you like a corporate spy. So thank you, Howard, for reminding me who Steve was and what I aspire to be. For all I know, you did steal your inventions.”

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Peggy always seems so lost in her missions until the memory of Steve reminds her who and what she’s fighting for. She’s fighting for his cause and his memory. And Hayley Atwell is so good at tugging on my heartstrings (and my tear strings). Her devotion to Steve’s life and his memory, to be the kind of person he was, keeps her going in this world where she is treated practically less than human by her SSR cohorts.

That being said, I really love how in many of the shots in which Peggy is with Jarvis or Howard, she is always physically placed higher up than them. Such as the above photo. Or the time when Jarvis was tending to her wounds. She can take her metaphorical higher place of power with them because they appreciate her skills and respect her for what she can do. Whereas she is always lowered back at the SSR.

Sometimes they really bash you over the head with the sexism in the show, but again, I feel like it’s a necessary evil. And when they finally give Peggy her due credit, it will be all the more triumphant.

The scene where she runs into Agent Chad Michael Murray was really heartbreaking. He’s a little drunk and gives her the gods-honest truth about how everyone in that office sees her. That she will be doomed to taking the men’s lunch orders forever. “No man will consider you an equal.”

YEAH, CAUSE SHE IS WAY SUPERIOR TO YOUR DUMB ASS.

AHEM.

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But then there’s Sousa.

Sousa, who is the shining beacon of non-douchebaggery in the SSR. He finds a homeless vet who saw a fancy man and a brunette woman go into the boat that had all of Stark’s inventions. I am now more convinced than ever that he will walk in on Peggy beating the crap out of someone and it will be wonderful.

I keep thinking back to the video of her playing in the Winter Soldier exhibit of how she says, “He saved over a thousand men, including the man who would…who would become my husband, as it turned out.” I don’t think we ever know who her husband is and it’s possible they left this purposely vague. Because while it could be one of the Howling Commandos (who are back next week, yay!), I think it could definitely be Sousa. Steve helped stop the war and therefore, Sousa was able to get out of the war and survive. Hmmm!

Anyway, some other crazy stuff went down with Dottie, who apparently has the same fighting skills as Natasha Romanoff. She took out some dude that was going after Peggy. We all knew she was up to something, but wow. So, now I wonder if she’s trying to help Peggy or if she’s working against her… Some people are theorizing that she is Yelena Belova, another Black Widow. But I thought she came well after Natasha Romanoff. *shrug* Guess they can play with timelines all they want in the MCU. But this could definitely add up, especially if they are heading to Russia next week.

This episode wasn’t quite as eventful as others, but I love that they’re letting Hayley Atwell exercise her acting chops because she is lovely and wonderful and magical and precious to me and I love her.

Other fun things:

  • “Why is your mustache so sad?”
  • I loved Peggy turning up the loud jazz as she banged a hole into her wall to hide the Steve vial.
  • “You don’t have to get changed with the door closed. I thought we were friends.”
  • Every time Peggy came back to her apartment, Howard was in another girl’s room. She is just so exasperated with him.
  • Dottie wants a pocket to store pickles? God, she is weird.
  • Stan Lee makes his Agent Carter appearance. Always being adorable.
  • The Nazi guy that the SSR dude visited in Germany was Sahjhan from Angel and the werewolf hunter in Buffy. Whedon peeps, FTW!
  • “Peggy, try Anna’s goulash? Peggy, does Jarvis know you can do 107 one-arm push-ups?”
  • THE AGENTS OF SHIELD PROMO THAT I WAS COMPLETELY UNPREPARED FOR!? I’m not okay.

Stephanie Watches The Fall

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I stumbled across The Fall on Netflix last year while looking for a new series to watch. Gillian Anderson aka Federal Agent Dana Scully being the main character was also a big draw. And with only 6 episodes in each season, that seemed like an easy show to get through.

“Easy” to get through it was not. (That sounds like Yoda.)

Scully–FINE, I’ll call her Stella Gibson–a Senior Investigating Officer, is assigned to Belfast to help out with an unsolved murder investigation. When the killer strikes again, she realizes this is not an isolated incident and the hunt is on.

Meanwhile, Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan from OUAT/50 Shades of Grey), appears to be a respectable family man, working as a grief counselor. He has those kind, understanding eyes and cares deeply about his children with a special bond to his daughter But the realization of his true life is revealed as he stalks brunette women, getting to know them intimately before he strikes.

Thus, the cat-and-mouse game between Stella and Paul is underway.

This show is fascinating, but also extremely creepy. Our TV culture is obsessed with getting its viewers to feel for the murderous/adulterous misunderstood man (e.g. Walter White, Don Draper, Dexter). By showing Paul’s affection towards his children is definitely an attempt at tugging on our heartstrings. But the moment he attacks, all that is forgotten and we see his true self.

“Men like Spector are all too human, too understandable. He’s not a monster. He’s just a man.”

Nope, not creepy at all!

Nope, not creepy at all!

Stella constantly reminds us that Paul is simply a man. That all men are capable of these acts. That we shouldn’t give him any credence because he feels godly or above a basic human because he is capable of such violence and heinous acts towards women.

In order to punctuate her point that all men have this capability in some form or another, she reminds a colleague that: “No, you’re not [like him]. But you still came to my hotel room uninvited and mounted some kind of drunken attack on me. I was saying no quite clearly. You ignored me and carried on…No, it’s not the same. But you still crossed the line.”

Stella is in charge of not only her work, but of herself. She has no qualms about taking men to bed for one-night-stands and shrugging them off the next day. She knows who she is and what she wants. And she breaks the rules to get there when need be.

“Why are women emotionally and spiritually so much stronger than men?
“Because the basic human form is female. Maleness is a kind of birth defect.”

One of my favorite things are the parallels in filming created between Stella and Paul. Their actions are mimicked, but in completely opposite circumstances, which just adds to the creepy factor. Stella doing seemingly mundane research, while Paul stalks his next victim. Or Stella taking someone to bed, while Paul cuddles one of his children. It’s just a really cool way to illustrate who they are.

Gillian Anderson is also British in this show, which took a bit of getting used to for me. She grew up in London and developed the accent as a child, but eventually trained herself to speak with more of an American accent when she moved to America. She can easily shift back and forth between her two accents, depending on the circumstance. Sometimes she does interviews with her British accents, sometimes not. It’s interesting. Anyhoo…

All in all, this show is dark, it’s uncomfortable, it’s squeamish, but it’s important. If you have 12 hours to spare and love the slow burn of a serial killer drama, I’d recommend checking out the 2 seasons of The Fall on Netflix.

And I sure hope there is a series 3 because it ended on quite a bit of a cliffhanger.