Who is Leet Brannis? A question my fellow long time comic readers already recognize him as one of the criminal foes of The Whizzer. A small time crook and some time crime boss with a real longing for other peoples jewelry.

In this adaptation however Leet Brannis is definitively a cog in the Leviathan operation and it’s plans for industrial espionage and sabotage, but

  • who is or what is Leviathan (?)
  • did Brannis receive his laryngotomy as a part of there own incentives program,
  • could Leviathan have a tassit or more obvious connection too Hydra?

Only time will tell and here’s hoping for a few more golden age goonies to poke there heads in on Agent Carter. A Weasel Wills perhaps? Another small time crook with deep hooks into Stark Industries.

It’s all connected each episode so far has featured a small nod whether spoken or hidden in the gorgeous backgrounds. Roxxon oil a multi-national corporation seemingly behind all manner of depraved acts. Among other things being the sole sponsor of the Captain America radio show, with there “moth balled” facilities being used by Miles Van Ert deftly played by the great James Urabiniak to produce molecular nitramine for Leet Brannis at the behest of Leviathan. Roxxon has some staying power as Agents of S.h.i.e.l.d viewers will remember the Deathlok program was a subsidiary of Roxxon.

Dr. Ivan Venko remember him telling tales of woe of this newly created molecular nitramine to Peggy and Edwin Jarvis? He should be familiar since his son Anton Venko would some time later become the Crimson Dynamo (well a mix of Crimson Dynamo and Whiplash) of sorts as seen in Iron Man 2. If you recall from Iron man 2 it was Anton who sought revenge on Howard Stark or any Stark for treasonous incidents we’ve yet to see or hear from. What remains is how this plot is to unfold why does a brilliant scientist like Anton Venko double cross the government and Howard as it was foretold in Iron man 2. How does it connect to Peggy and this ever expanding case of industrial espionage?

Introducing Edwin Jarvis taking on the role that Paul Bettany originated in the Iron Man films in voice over only, James D’arcy take son the role as butler and long time confidant of Howard Stark while Paul Bettany moves onto a big screen role as The Vision in the forthcoming Avengers sequel. Is he a simple butler as he wants to be perceived or does he  he have more information then he’s letting on about Leviathan and their proclivity for industrial espionage? A very different take then that of the books as long time readers would know. Where in the future he still performs his duty as gentleman’s gentlemen for Tony having helped raised him after the death of his parents Howard and Maria. Occasionally popping his head in to reassemble the forlorn Avengers mansion.

For now we can wait and see how the story unfolds, Marvels Agent Carter returns with episode 4 with the foreboding title of “The Blitzkrieg button” on January 27th.

Hopefully you’ve seen Age of Ultron by this point?  I’m assuming that you have either already seen it (or as you are reading this) are planning on seeing it again for the second or third time!  If you’ve not seen it yet, but are planning on doing so in the future, please give this post a skip as spoilers abound!  As we’ve discussed already on this site this isn’t perhaps a perfect movie but it has lots to love and if you’re a fan of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) in any way, its a must see.  One question that is out there though is who is big purple guy that we see at the very end of the movie and what’s his deal?

Thanos battles Spider-Man and the Thing on the...
Thanos battles Spider-Man and the Thing on the cover of Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2 (1977). Art by Jim Starlin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well most Comic Universes have a couple of major villains … Marvel as large as it is has a specific foe that is the antithesis to each of their Hero’s and hero teams.  With Captain America you have the Red Skull (as we saw in the first Captain America movie), with the Fantastic Four its often Dr. Doom and with the X-Men its Magneto and Apocalypse (set to appear in the next X-Men movie).  There are many, many more examples of this (Spider-Man and the Goblin, Batman and the Joker etc…) in both Marvel and DC but one of the most iconic and instrumental storylines was the Infinity Guantlet arc written by Marvel in the late 80’s.

 

Well the big bad of that book is someone that you’ve seen a couple of times now – namely Thanos – and he’s not only appeared at the end of Avenger: The Age of Ultron, but he’s also made an appearance in a meeting with Ronan the Accuser in Guardians of the Galaxy as well as hearing from his flunky about how the Avengers screwed up his plans in the first movie. He will be the bad guy in Avengers: Infinity War.

OK, I know who he is, but what’s his deal?

The guy is Thanos. Thanos was one of the last sons of A’Lars, progenitor of the second colony of Eternals on Titan, and Sui-San, the last survivor of the original settlement of Eternals on Titan. Born with grey, hide-like skin and a massive body due to being born with the Deviant Syndrome, Thanos was a morose child who became obsessed with the concept of death. Through bionic implementation and long hours of meditation, Thanos augmented his Eternal strengths and powers so that his abilities surpassed those of all other Titanian Eternals.

Well if the comic book is anything to go by, Thanos really has a thing for a specific chick and he wants to impress her.  Sounds somewhat banal doesn’t it, but guess who Thanos’ flame is?  Yeah, you got it – in the Marvel Universe, the incarnation of Death is a female and Thanos believes that the only way to impress her is by basically destroying the cosmos and he’s going to use the infinity gems to do it!

What are the gems & what do they do?

Well you hopefully know by this time that all of the Marvel movies are interconnected?  You can also that in both Agent Carter and Agents of Shield too so its a really nice touch.  (Off topic – I’d be very curious to see if DC does the same with Gotham and the other DC properties – Arrow and Flash – as that would be a nice touch).  Well you’ve actually seen most of the gems already & each of these gems by themselves is extremely powerful.  Combined as Thanos plans … well lets just say that he could literally wield the powers of a not so benevolent god!  So far we’ve seen the following infinity gems:

Mind Gem

The Avengers franchise: The Mind gem is what was in Loki’s scepter and is currently in the Vision’s forehead.

Space Stone

The Avengers franchise: The Tesseract, AKA the Space Gem, has transported the Chitauri army to Earth via rips in space. The Tesseract is currently in Asgard. (Shown in Avengers, Captain America, etc.)

Reality Gem

Thor: The Dark World: The Reality gem was that red thing Thor was calling the Aether, and that “infected” Jane Foster.

Power Stone

Guardians of the Galaxy: The Power stone was what Peter Quill steals in the opening and they basically spend the whole movie chasing. You might remember that it figures prominently into the finale.

There are two other stones, Time and Soul, which will almost inevitably turn up in some of the upcoming films prior to Avengers: Infinity Wars.

Continuing on from our previous recap and review of the 1st half Agent Carter: Now is Not the End (click the link to see that review and get the detailed synopsis in case you missed it) this review will focus on what happens next and how Agent Carter continues to grow and develop.

One good thing that I probably didn’t mention or focus on in my previous review … Marvel and Disney have not seen the need to provide a whole backstory and history of Peggy Carter or Howard Stark.  Most TV shows spend the initial half of the season introducing the characters and why they are doing what they are doing.  Thankfully this is not the case in Agent Carter as I think they’ve rightly realized only people familiar with the characters and universe would be watching in the first place … they’ve provided some flashbacks off course, but it isn’t painful in any way and doesn’t feel forced.  For this I must say a heartfelt Thank You!

Now a really quick recap of what happened in the first half of this double-pilot episode if you don’t have time to read my previous post.

The war is over and the men who fought are back in the USA.  These men have the typical attitudes towards women of that era and many women are now relegated back to a “women’s role” v.s. the work they were previously doing.  Peggy while an agent at the SSR (Strategic Science Reserve). is also typecast by the men as nothing more than a glorified secretary and they further imply that the only reason she is in the position that she is in is due to the man (Captain America) that she had a relationship with.  When Howard Stark is wrongly accused of selling secrets to the enemy and is forced to flee the country, he requests Peggy’s help in clearing his name and in stopping the use and sale of his inventions.  Peggy investigates and finds that a nefarious group called Leviathan is behind the theft but before she can apprehend the villain he manages to escape destroying the Roxxon oil refinery in the process.

Episode 2 Recap

If you recall from the previous episode, there seem to be two people working for Leviathan – Leet Brannis who we heard speak at the Roxxon refinery and who destroyed it, and someone else … the man in the green suit that Peggy fought and who killed her roommate.  Well this episode starts with the man in the green suit getting instructions from Leviathan to track down Leet Brannis and do whatever is necessary to retrieve the merchandise.  As we already know, he’s no stranger to death and he quickly leaves a trail of bodies in his wake as he searches for Brannis.

Meanwhile, Peggy goes to the dairy plant that the truck (from the previous episode that Leet used to transport the nitramene) is from disguised as a health official and while she’s unable to find the truck, she does learn that one of the drivers has been sick for a couple of days and that he uses his truck to commute.

SSR also is continuing their investigation and while they may be behind Peggy, they are fortunately not complete dullards!  Chief Dooley, and Agents Thompson and Krzeminski check out the remains of the Roxxon factory – one giant ball of fused metal, wood, and concrete. Dooley thinks Howard Stark is behind the destruction, and takes Thompson with him to Roxxon while leaving behind Krzeminski to pick apart the remains of the factory for clues.

Back at the office, Peggy learns of the investigation and also that SSR has access to photos of the mysterious blonde from the nightclub – Peggy fearing that her secret will be known quickly tells Jarvis to ditch the car used in their escape from Roxxon as its been bathed in Vita-Rays which can be tracked down.  Called to the Roxxon factory she helps Chief Dooley and Thompson scan the employees for Vita-Rays also to see if anyone was involved in the explosion at the factory.  Realizing by testing herself that Vita-Rays can be washed off and will only stay on metal objects or clothing for a small amount of time, she identifies the scientist Miles Van Ert whom she saw previously helping Leet Brannis.  While he’s not initially implicated in the incident, Peggy “innocently” states that they should scan the employees’ clothes in the locker room vs the employees themselves.  Realizing that he is caught Van Ert tries to escape but is quickly caught (requisite comedy scene here, where the other agents chase Van Ert but the “smarter” Peggy simply walks down the stairs and knocks Van Ert down before he can escape the building).  At the SSR HQ, Thompson “interrogates” (lets be honest … brutally beats is more accurate) Van Ert and manages to get the name – Leet Brannis – from him.

Carter and Jarvis set off in the evening to find the sick driver (Sheldon McFee), but both the man in the green suit and the SSR team are hot on their tail also.  Carter sneaks into McFee’s house and while he tries to subdue her, she easily bests him and proceeds to tie him to a chair.  While she’s tying him up, she hears a car starting outside, and pulls a man out of McFee’s milk truck. It’s the same person from the factory, Leet Brannis. Peggy puts a gun to his head, and wants information out of him. Once she offers him protection, he tells her that Leviathan is his former employer, and they tasked him with stealing the Nitramene from Stark’s vault … Brannis however decided to double-cross Leviathan and sell Stark’s inventions to the highest bidder instead (hence the orders to the man in the green suit).  Carter takes Brannis and the truck full of Nitramene back to SSR, but before they get too far, the man in the green suit jumps onto the truck … he proceeds to shoot and incapacitate Brannis, but is in in turn disabled when Peggy nails his hand to the roof of the car with his knife.  As the truck careens out of control, Brannis and Jarvis jump to safety and the truck explodes (does the green suited man escape???) in the Atlantic as the dozens of Nitramene devices on board go off at once.

Brannis however is critically wounded and manages to draw a funny heart shaped symbol in the dirt before he dies.  Carter and Jarvis make their escape moments before the SSR agents arrive and find Brannis’ body as well as some other clues.  Back at the SSR HQ, Peggy sees the group going through the photo’s from the nightclub, but fortunately none of them portray her face and she feels safer … Krzeminski however finds the license plate to Stark’s car in the ruins of the Roxxon refinery.

Episode 2 Review

As mentioned in my previous review, Marvel and Disney definitely do not try to sugar coat the role of women and women’s rights in the 1940’s in the USA.  They are perhaps a bit heavy handed in their treatment, but to a large extent I’m sure that is how it was … a very male dominated society where a woman had to prove themselves at all times.  I guess the only thing I would say or disagree with is that Peggy has proven herself in the war.  Regardless of what some of these “agents” might think of her, you’d think there would be enough positive information and  resources available to prove that she is more than just another skirt.  That might be my logical left brain talking but I’ve always treated people by their actions and not just by their skin color or sex and you would think that logical minded individuals at that time would too.  I know that’s a very naive point of view but by portraying all of the men of that era (especially the ones she works with) as narrow minded misogynistic chauvinists, it takes away from the freedom and respect that Peggy properly received during WWII and makes her less brilliant than she really is.

Some of the key points of this episode however are that Jarvis too is marginalized – this time by Peggy herself.  When Peggy insists that Jarvis merely drive her there and then return home to safety, he disobeys!  This is quite a good and subtle twist and perhaps something that Peggy will herself realize & hopefully correct in future episodes?

For her part, Hayley Atwell’s performance is wonderful and the limited combat she gets to perform on screen – it seems each episode (so far anyways) will have her do some hand-to-hand combat, proving how much of a badass she is! – she executes with aplomb even when standing in high heels. On the personal side, she is forced to reach out to the waitress (Angela) as she searches for a new place to live after the death of her former roommate.

One bit of humor is the Captain America radio show.  It’s quite a nice way of bringing some of the back story to life and perhaps in some ways it goes to the way in which Peggy is perceived and treated by the men in her life, as the recording portrays the character of Peggy as nothing more than a damsel in distress.  However as the radio show plays during the penultimate scene on top of the truck as Peggy is fighting the man in the green suit, you can visualize her in the persona of Captain America, because Captain America is less about being Steve Rogers, skinny kid from Brooklyn with a chip the side of Alaska on his shoulder, and more about stepping up to do what is right – regardless of who you are!

Well that was unexpected!

This episode Agent Carter definitely has some very strange twists and turns to it, and some of them come completely out of left field (although I think I guessed some of it right) … but I guess before I get to that I should kind of explain how we got there in the first place.  If your call if you recall from last week’s episode Peggy has managed to further alienate the other agents within the office by acting like a complete bimbo when they were interrogating Jarvis with regards to the license plate found at the scene of the Roxxon Oil Refinery explosion.  We’d also seen her & Jarvis find Starks’ missing inventions and Krezminski get killed.

This week’s episode sees the return of Howard Stark as well as several new villains and as I previously mentioned a very unexpected twist.  The episode starts with Jarvis negotiating with some hoodlums for the release of a special package & when the initial negotiated amount of $50K is not sufficient, they attempt to shake him down for an additional $100K.  However Peggy is able to knock all of the baddies down and then Jarvis and her open the door of the rail car to find Howard Stark playing pool quite comfortably within!

Taking Howard back to his penthouse mansion Peggy realizes that she cannot let him go in as it is being monitored by agents of the SSR (by the way no one else has admitted or mentioned the similarity between this acronym (SSR) and the Waffen SS … I wonder if there is a hidden message somewhere?) therefore she has to smuggle him into her boarding house which as we already know from the last episode is monitored very closely by the dragon lady for any infractions – one of the most severe being having a male above the first floor!

However, Peggy manages to sneak Howard into her room by hiding him in the laundry shoot and although Howard acts the same as we’ve seen Tony act in the Iron Man movies (a real ladies man) she eventually manages to get him safely into her room.  In the room Howard gives Peggy a camera-pen which he has already invented and asks her to takes pictures of all of his inventions which have been captured by the SSR to make sure that they have everything.

Meanwhile at the HQ the chief and Thompson are having a conversation and it comes to light that they have identified both parties from Leviathan (I guess we can assume the man in the green suit was also killed and they found his body) as they didn’t really have any other way of knowing what he looked like I don’t think … considering the size of the explosion, that’s actually quite surprising!  Anyways, they’ve pieced together the fact that both of these men were supposed to have died in a specific battle during WWII. The chief determines that he will need to travel to Germany to a certain Colonel who was in that battle and find out from him if he has any details of what really happened.  He puts Thompson in charge and then sets out to Nuremberg.

Now while I don’t think it’s built into the show (I could be wrong), but when Thompson took charge of the team and the view of his face – the first thing that struck me was that this could be how HYDRA infiltrates SHIELD.  He’s a bit too blonde and blue eyed and it wouldn’t surprise me if there is some relation that we find out further down the pipe.

Eventually the Chief makes it to Nuremberg and interrogates the Colonel who informs him that while the Russians and Germans were there the Germans came later and had nothing to do with multitude of Russian dead.  It was something else that killed them.

Thompson meanwhile has taken a very different tack on the whole keeping things going and is very much taking charge with all of the other agents and is very strong minded with regards to what he wants them to do.   Sousa wants to go and fingerprint the phone that they received the tip off from and “persuades” Thompson that he should be allowed to do that.When he gets to the dock he finds two homeless people playing cards and after speaking to them for a little bit, realizes that one of them has some knowledge of what actually happened and takes him back to the station with him.

Carter meanwhile has been relegated to a secretarial role by Thompson and has been asked to get the lunch order for all of the “real agents” she uses this opportunity however to sneak into the lab where she is able to take photographs (using the camera pen) of all of the inventions which she then takes back to her room to show Stark. When the pictures are developed Stark informs her that there is one device that she needs steal back from the SSR as it is too dangerous to leave with them as they could inadvertently turn off all the lights in Manhattan and no one would be able to ever turn them back on again!

Interrogating the homeless man that Sousa brought back from the dock (and while there is a whole scene about the fact that he and the homeless man are actually the same even though they are dressed differently and have returned from war etc etc) he is unable to get any detailed information out of him and in reality it is Thompson in his normal douche bag way that basically bribes the man with food and alcohol to give up his secrets. It turns out the homeless man did see something – namely a well dressed man and a lady with dark hair at the docks just before the police showed up.

When Peggy breaks into SSR and steals the device, she opens it and discovers that it holds a vial of blood – not the machine that Stark told her about.  She immediately confronts Stark about the issue and blasts him for not being as honest with her as he should have been.  She asks him what the vial is and he admits that it is actually Captain America’s blood and that the government had 10 vials and he had one (he also alluded to the fact that the government has almost run out of their supply which leads us all question what have they been doing with it) and he wants to use his supply to find the secrets to a host of human ills.

I think you’re a man out for his own gain no matter who you’re charging. You are constantly finding holes to slither your way into in the hope of finding loose change, only to cry when you’re bitten by another snake. You’re a man who says “I love you” whilst looking over a woman’s shoulder into the mirror. Steve Rogers dedicated his mind, his body, his life to the SSR and to this country, not to 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.

Now while all of this has been going on it turns out that the thugs that were initially trying to shake down Jarvis are employed by a Mr. Mink and he is very unhappy with their lack of performance and decides that they need to be punished with a mini-gatling gun … not before stating that he will take care of Stark though. He manages to track Stark and Peggy down to the boarding house and is about to break into her room but before he does so is confronted by Peggy’s new roommate Dottie (I was right!) who basically snaps his neck!  Bye, bye Mr. Mink – we won’t miss you!.

When Jarvis tries to apologize to Peggy on Stark’s behalf we get one last surprise for the episode … the always awesome Stan Lee in one of his trademark cameos.

Review

OK lets talk about the big bad villain of this episode … Mr. Mink …  he wasn’t really scary was he?  His little gun while somewhat cool was also a bit too silly and it wasn’t really possible to take it seriously. A Tommygun or something would have been much more effective.

It was quite funny to see Howard act just like his son and be a complete womanizer … I guess the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree.  We had a couple of big surprises this week, Steve Rogers blood & the government using it for something – Peggy’s response to this was excellent … you could see that she actually felt some pain and her giving Howard a punch to the fact was oddly very satisfying.  We also got to see another new twist in Dottie … is she a precursor to the Black Widow project as has been speculated or is there something /someone else at work here?

Peggy is always solid and is able to make us believe in the world that she is inhabiting, but of course the coolest thing aside from Dottie is Stan Lee.  He’s never going to win an Oscar but its always great to see him making his cameo’s!