Here we are at the last episode of “Marvel’s Agent Carter.” I hesitate to say this is the season finale and no decision has been made yet for more, but let me be the first to say I wouldn’t mind, and would welcome another period piece break with these characters next year with the also as-yet-unrenewed “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Let’s enjoy it while it lasts, and meet me after the jump for my thoughts on “Valediction.”
What Has Gone Before
Peggy Carter was one of the most effective agents of the SSR during World War II, helping in the training of, and along on missions with, Captain America as he fought the Red Skull, the hordes of Hydra, and the Axis powers. After Cap’s apparent death and the end of the war, things changed (or perhaps went back to normal) and Agent Carter was relegated to the secretarial pool and getting coffee for the more able male agents. All that changed when inventor and war profiteer Howard Stark contacted her for a special private mission.
His most dangerous inventions had fallen into enemy hands, specifically an organization calling itself Leviathan with origins in a mysterious Russian battle during the war. After running afoul of this group, as well as the evil hypnotist Dr. Ivchenko, and Dottie, an early product of the Red Room project that would eventually create the Black Widow, Agent Carter now finds herself in temporary charge of the SSR, left crippled after an attack from within in the last episode.
Art Imitates Life
We open with one of my favorite bits from this series so far – the Captain America radio program. It’s a cliffhanger, just as with our real story, with Cap going down just as he did in real life, and his radio girlfriend ‘Betty Carver’ unable to help. The parallel comes into play later, and the despair carries over to the scene of a NY theater where Leviathan tested their madness gas, and the SSR has arrived to investigate.
Carter, Sousa, and Thompson are on hand to see the death and chaos left behind. When Sousa gets a whiff he went crazy and tried to kill everyone. Everyone is in agreement that a gas that imposes psychosis and homicidal rage is a very bad thing when the creator himself, Howard Stark walks into SSR headquarters. He comes with Jarvis with hands held high, but Stark might as well have brought a brass band, quite an entrance.
Stark reveals that the madness gas is called Midnight Oil, and it’s what was used at the Battle of Finow. As the gas also causes asphyxiation, those who survived had lost their voices, like those first few Leviathan agents Carter encountered. It’s a weapon that Ivchenko AKA Fennhoff has a plan for, but then Stark announces a press conference that lures the baddies back to the city.
It is unclear if the press conference clearing Howard Stark is actually a trap or a real cleaning of the sheets. Is it bait, or facts? No matter I suppose as Dottie and the Doctor come calling and kidnap our intrepid inventor. They take Stark to a warehouse of his and Fennhoff hypnotizes him to drop Midnight Oil on a huge civilian gathering in Times Square. There’s a mention of VE Day that isn’t clear because that’s a year earlier than this show is supposed to take place…
Widows and Captains
The attack on Stark’s secret warehouse was just the kind of spy show action we have all wanted from this show and the one it spun off from. Sooo very welcome. And the fight between Peggy and Black Widow Dottie was brief but satisfying. Why didn’t Peggy just shoot her? And yeah, we all knew there would be no body left, all the better to root for a season two of “Agent Carter.” When Peggy pours out Captain America’s blood, she was right, and it felt good, but I was left in a bit of a quandary. Shouldn’t there have been some sample of Captain America’s blood and/or DNA left for Bruce Banner to have used it in experiments in The Incredible Hulk?
The big shocker comes, spoiler warning, folks, when Dr. Ivchenko/Fennhoff is escorted to prison, with his jaws wired shit so he can’t use his hypnotism. His cellmate, a voice in the shadows, has plans for collaboration. As he comes into view, we recognize him instantly. It’s Toby Jones as Arnim Zola, a villain that is a continual thorn in Captain America’s side, and featured in both of the hero’s title films. These are two baddies who should not be in the same cell together. How about that season two now?
Always Room for Improvement
If in fact “Agent Carter” does come back, there needs to be some improvements. More Peggy Carter kicking ass. That’s what we like about her. No more mousy demure get coffee Carter – it’s boring. Give us what we want to see – the agent from the Captain America movie and the Agent Carter short, the woman the Howling Commandos respected, and that cool lady who tore through a half-dozen agents while Peggy Lee sang. That’s who we want. Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter kicking butt and taking names.
More Howard Stark. Dominic Cooper oozes snark and charisma, and we need more of that. More Edwin Jarvis. James D’arcy is the perfect sidekick/comic foil for Agent Carter. I would have like to have seen him interact with the Howling Commandos, and speaking of which, more Howling Commandos.
I would really like to see a second season of “Agent Carter,” more Dottie, and maybe next time we’ll get to see the Human Torch from the World’s Fair, like we did in the first Captain America movie.
Next week: The return of “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD!”