What If S1E1 review(WITH SPOILERS)

What If…. Captain Carter were the First Avenger?

So many thoughts on this story, this series. What If was the series I’ve been most looking forward to before I even found out about a Peggy Carter episode. This episode exceeded my expectations. Music keeps bouncing around my head as well, so we’ll be doing a little bit of a soundtrack for this week’s particular breakdown.

The Room Where It Happened

I spoiled a smidge for myself last week reading an interview with Head Writer A.C. Bradley. (She’s fantastic, btw) She talked about finding THE MOMENT. The Nexus Event that changed the course of this corner of the multiverse. A simple choice. In the film, there’s a moment before entering the booth where Peg pauses & turns back to look at Steve. 

Here, she opts to stay in the room. Something a woman in the 40’s was not meant to do. Sit in the booth, look pretty, let the menfolk do their thing. Since a mere woman was going to stay in the room, of course the men decided to as well. You’ll notice, even in the room, Peg was relegated to the back row. 

Some have said Bradley Whitford’s return as the sexist Colonel Flynn was played over the top. Nope. This is how women were treated in the 40’s. They didn’t belong in the room. They didn’t belong on the battlefield. If this hadn’t been a Disney show, it wouldn’t have surprised me to hear him voice concern about how the serum would have affected her ‘monthly mood swings’.

This is why it’s so important for us to make sure women ARE in the room, on the boards, on the benches. Because when women are in the room, things change. #RepresentationMatters

*Also, the utter ‘don’t tell me what to do’ look of defiance on Howard’s face when Flynn tells him not to flip the switch. 

We Found Love(In a Hopeless Place)

There will never be a universe in which Steve Rogers & Peggy Carter meet, where they don’t fall in love. I’ve read(bad) takes where people say ‘she didn’t like him until he got buff’ Wrong. Peg was always attracted first to Steve’s mind & his spirit.

One Woman Army

Once again, Flynn dismisses the idea of Peg going into the field, reminding her ‘you’re lucky to be in the room’. Ah how I’ve missed the Peggy/Howard dynamic! If only we could have written Jarvis in as well. Howard will never learn to be covert in ANY universe. 

Peg nails the patented Captain America variant of the classic superhero landing, before staging her one woman assault on the HYDRA convoy. Crikey O’Riley those moves! The animation style really lends itself to action sequences like this. Peg’s utter shock and joy at the extent of her enhanced fighting skills comes through Hayley Atwell’s voicing as if it’s actually an outtake of Hayley watching the scene for the first time and falling in love with her character all over again. “Are you seeing this?!”  

Storming back into Flynn’s office after the successful mission gave me Zodiac vibes. Flynn still somehow trying to dismiss her qualifications for fieldwork, but Peg’s not having any of it, demanding a much deserved promotion. “Captain sounds good.”

I am Iron Man

Howard knows exactly what to do with the Tesseract once he gets his hands on it, giving Steve his chance to join the war effort at long last. While Peg plans a rescue for the 107th, Howard beats his son to the punch and builds the first Iron Man suit. For someone who was more used to covert operations, Peg has no qualms about storming the POW camp head on. Now that’s how you take out a tower!

Ah Dugan! Missed you too you goofball! Bucky, you’re better than ‘Queen of England’ jibs, save that for mouth breathers like Hodges. At least with Zola already captured, we know Buck wasn’t used as a HYDRA labrat. That classic shot of Cap & the Howlies. *chef’s kiss* I thought after the whole ‘Miss Union Jack’ bit, we agreed never to let Dugan name anything ever again. I’m still petitioning that the writer’s room change the name of the suit after the war to Stark Knight MK1. (No matter what our Distinguished Competition has to say about the name rhyming with one of their characters.)

Once again, the animation style works fantastically for these fight scenes. Fighting at times can be compared to dancing. Speed, stamina, style, the ability to match or counter the other person’s moves. Carter& Rogers dance across the skies like it’s a Saturday night at the Stork Club. Imagine trying to do all those aerial stunts in a live action show! Also, piss off Flynn for trying to take all the credit.

The Way You Look Tonight

No red dress for this bar night, but then I can imagine the difficulty of finding outfits to match Peg’s new physique. Peg reminding Steve that he’s more than what others see him to be before it was a labrat or a dancing monkey, here it’s a skinny punk in a tin can.. Steve was always Peg’s hero and she was his. HOWARD! Bugger off!

Where Eagles Dare

(Ok that Iron Maiden song fits SO freakin right)No, no, no, not the train. We can’t lose Bucky again. Besides, Peg won’t feel the loss as strongly as Steve did. Oh damn, lucky save &an arm joke. Ok, we’ll all be ok…..Oh F*ck. Steve the Winter Soldier?

This Is War

Soldiers, civilians. martyrs and villains. Real people, real lives and deaths. While Flynn & Howard argue over the loss of the suit, Peg reminds them that there was a real person inside it, a real life lost. Flynn of course sees her outburst as evidence that she never belonged in the field to begin with. Of course that little worm Zola spills all the beans illustrating that this Red Skull is even crazier than the original TL one. Willing to destroy the world with his ‘Champion’ if he cannot rule it. 

Howard knows his strengths, but also his limits. Still, we might need a tech guy….

Theme of Shuma-Gorath

Castle de Krake -Castle of the Octopus….. Yep. No beating ‘round the bush there.I’m still surprised Howard went along, good for him. ‘A shield is not a plan.’ Eh, it’s more than 12% of a plan. Tentacles? Why did it have to be tentacles? Oops, sorry, wrong show. 

So the ‘Champion of HYDRA’ emerges and the first thing it does -take out the head of HYDRA. Irony much? Do not meddle in the affairs of Elder Gods, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup. 

Oh thank goodness Steve is ok, but of course he’s crazy insistent on getting back in the suit& into the fight. Spunky lil punk. Yes! Let’s give Peg a sword!!! Calamari? Really Bucky?

Welcome to the destined heartbreak. One must always make a sacrifice to save the world while the other watches helplessly. I think watching it hurt more this time, because after First Avenger, we all hoped events wouldn’t repeat.

Radioactive

Welcome to the new age, Peg. Returning to the world not as she knew it, finding that the war had been one, but her love had been lost. Still, this all leads to new questions about what happened AFTER. 

Without Peg(and Colonel Phillips) who founded & ran SHIELD with Howard. Bucky? Dugan? Steve? *fingers crossed, please don’t say Flynn* Bucky was saved from becoming the Winter Soldier, will that inturn save Howard& Maria Stark? Or will a new, different WS rise? (Perhaps a WW2 POW thought dead, but who would have an intense emotional connection for Peg? Maybe with the initials MC? Just a thought.) Would the arms race of the Cold War turn into an Armor War as nations attempted to create their own battle suits? 

Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story

I wonder too, how much Peggy changed society. Were little girls playing in the streets tossing trash can lids pretending to be Captain Carter? How many women said ‘No, I’ll stay in the room thank you.’? How many decided if Carter can lead men into war, I can lead a company? Become a scientist, a judge, president? If Carter can save the world, then I can change it.

I’m sure there were naysayers still. Misogyny isn’t erased by the actions of one woman. There would be Flynns out there. ‘She was just a science experiment. Everything special about her came out of a bottle. She’d have been NOTHING without the MEN of Project Rebirth.’

But there would also be those who were there, fighting beside her. Those who told her story, the story of the woman who became the First Avenger. I’d like to think one of them was a scrawny little comic-book artist, who never forgot his hero.

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