In 1937 Russia, young girls are handcuffed to their beds at night. When they awaken, they are shown films, taught lessons and trained in lethal combat. Jumping forward to 1946, we see that Dottie Underwood was one of the young girls kept at this brutal boarding school. She gets advice from Peggy on how to best experience New York, not to mention America. This is just before Dottie steals Peggy’s room key.
Jarvis tries to make things right with Peggy, who is having none of it. Back at the SSR offices, the race is on to decipher the message that came in on the recently-seized typewriter machine. Peggy cracks the code in no time at all. She writes out map coordinates. There’s mention of Leviathan, a covert Russian organization according to Dooley. The rest of the message suggests Howard Stark is selling weapons to the Russians. The only way Peggy can go on an overseas mission is if she can deliver 107th Regiment. She can. The Howling Commandos will meet them at the Russian border.
Thompson, Peggy and the rest of the team do a night jump to meet up with the Howling Commandos. They are: Dum-Dum Dugan, Happy Sam Sawyer, Junior Juniper and Pinky Pinkerton. Peggy gives Dugan a bottle of bourbon from her own private stash back in the States. She reveals her feeling that Leviathan is drawing them in for a trap. Of course, that’s why they have guns. Later that night, Thompson tells the tale of how he earned his Navy cross. His story earns him the respect of the Howling Commandos.
Peggy and a few of the commandos infiltrate the boarding school that was used back when Dottie was a young girl. The films they watched there were filled with subliminal messages like “instill fear.” A child’s cry is heard in the distance. Dum-Dum approaches the little girl. She seems innocent enough until she stabs him in the chest. Most of the knife caught Dum-Dum’s protective vest. Agent Li isn’t so lucky. He’s dead from the gunshot the young girl fired with Dum-Dum’s gun. The little girl escapes. Peggy is pretty sure Leviathan has been alerted to their presence.
The team finds two prisoners in a cell. One of the men being held captive is a brilliant engineer. The other is a psychiatrist who keeps him grounded and sane. The weapon Leviathan wants him to build alters the behavior of light waves. The prisoners are released. Escape is going to be tricky, as the team is pinned down. There are several casualties and fatalities. The genius engineer is shot dead by his shrink when he tries to negotiate an escape with the bad guys. Peggy calls for an exit plan from Dum-Dum as Thompson freezes under pressure.
BAM! A side wall is leveled. Looks like Dum-Dum came through with that exit plan. Peggy orders everyone out. Thompson is still frozen in fear. Peggy snaps him out of it. She’s a force to be reckoned with gunning down the bad guys as the rest of the team files into the escape truck. Peggy is right behind them. She leaps into the back of the truck as it speeds away. Later, Peggy bids adieu to her Howling Commando pals. She’s taking the psychiatrist back to the States. Much to Dum-Dum’s dismay, the doc is taking the bourbon along for the ride.
On the plane, Thompson is feeling bad for freezing under pressure. He admits to Peggy that his Navy cross came because he killed a team of enemy soldiers who were coming to surrender. He didn’t realize it until it was too late. Everyone believes he’s something he isn’t. Thompson says he’s been trying to tell the truth since he returned home from the war. Peggy offers him some comfort by letting him know that he just did.
Dooley continues to dig for answers on the Russian massacre from a battle that never took place. He learns that Howard Stark was there for the cleanup. He took a swing at a recently-deceased general. Stark then walked away from big contract with the army. There’s more to the story, but whoever knows the rest is keeping it to secret. Dooley seeks some answers from Jarvis. He’s just looking to get to the truth.
Sousa notices small marks on Peggy’s shoulder. They look like healed gunshot wounds. They look like the mark on the shoulder of the mystery blonde he’s been trying to identify in a photo. In other news, Dottie breaks into Peggy’s place. She finds hidden photos of Howard Stark’s inventions. She swipes one photo and takes note of another. It’s of Steve Rogers. Dottie sets it in front of a mirror as she does her best Peggy Carter impersonation. She then leaves the apartment making sure that it won’t look like anyone was ever there. Back in her place, Dottie handcuffs herself to her bed just like she had to do as a child. This is how she sleeps at night.
Back at the SSR offices, Thompson briefs Dooley on Agent Li’s death and the acquirement of intel as to Leviathan’s end game. The doctor they brought back with them doesn’t believe Howard Stark is a traitor. Neither does Peggy. Thompson still believes Stark is involved. As for Peggy, she’s actually invited out for drinks with the boys. Sousa stays behind. He’s still wondering what to make out of the connection between the blonde in the photo and Agent Peggy Carter.