Episode Title: Valediction
Original Airdate: 2-24-15
And there it is. After a short but very interesting Season, Marvel’s ‘tie-in’ show to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, in the form of an 8 episode mini-series spin-off of a fan favorite character introduced in one of the movies, is at an end. ‘Agent Carter’s Season Finale nicely wraps up all loose ends and explains every tie bit and set up dropped during the course of the show. It’s a satisfying resolution to the story of Peggy Carter and her colleagues, while thematically concluding a more emotional story arc for the main character, making its title, ‘Valediction’ completely appropriate.
After the emotionally intense episode last week, ‘Agent Carter’ starts off with the S.S.R. agents investigating the theatre incident where people apparently killed each other in a savage fit, the cause of which was a gas invented by Howard Stark himself. While the S.S.R. try to figure out the evil doctor Ivchenko’s next move, Howard Stark reappears, giving himself up to the S.S.R. for questioning. Dominic Cooper reprises his role as Howard Stark this episode and brings with him most of the explanations for the set ups during the season, especially the mysterious battle of Finnow.
Apparently, Howard inadvertently created a gas known as Midnight Oil, originally intended to keep soldiers awake, but had lethal side effects, causing people to go into a psychotic and murderous rage, similar to those seen in the theatre. This was the reason behind the massacre of Finnow, where Ivchenko lost a loved one, and has blamed Howard Stark since. Those accidental side effects also cause intense damage to the throat, which explains away the mute henchmen. It’s a little disappointing that the reveal of some plot points set up during the series, which seemed very much in the realm of science fiction, to end up being a lot simpler.
Stark & the S.S.R. set up an elaborate trap, however Dottie & Ivchenko are still able to kidnap Stark in time for their ‘big plan’. The good doctor plans on releasing this gas all over New York, and hypnotizing Howard to do so an attempt at ultimate revenge; making him the cause of countless deaths. Things come to a head when Carter takes down Dottie in a less than gallant fight scene that ends simply with Carter using Dottie’s own momentum against her and kicking her out of the window. A fate that she eventually escapes, and even though Ivchenko is brought down, Stark is still under his control, piloting a plane into the heart of the city with all the crazy people gas on board. Jarvis is on pursuit, willing to shoot Stark down if Carter can’t talk him down with the radio.
This is a pretty poignant scene, thematically, while dramatically it feels like a letdown. In a similar scene to the ending of ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’, Peggy once against finds herself in front of a microphone, while a loved one is in the air on the verge of their death. She failed once to save her loved one, (Cap himself), so it’s an emotional situation to be faced with again. This time, Stark & Carter have a sweet moment of their shared love, admiration and sad-ness over Captain America’s loss, and ultimately Carter is able to tap into Stark’s humanity and snap him out of Ivchenko’s control. It’s a rare humanizing moment for Stark as well as he reveals more of his character than ever before. Despite being emotionally impactful, this scene being the final resolution of this season wide story arc, felt a little flat given that it played out simply through dialogue, and not any doing, and that not even great dialogue.
Things get a little downhill from there as the final wrap up of the episode is relegated to so many clichés with hugs & handshakes that my eyes were spinning in my skull. Carter returns to the S.S.R. to standing ovation and the very original ‘good work’ lines from her fellow colleagues. This is immediately undercut by a shady senator congratulating Chad Michael Murray’s Jack for all the hard work, which Jack readily accepts without acknowledging Sousa or Carter’s contributions. To which Carter has a personal growth moment, explaining to Sousa that she doesn’t need the approval of others in order to know her own value and believe in herself. It’s almost as if the entire show degrades into the very cheesy elements of the 1940’s dialogues that they were almost parodying in earlier episodes.
‘Agent Carter’ ends with absolutely no relevance to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe except for a stringer sequence involving Toby Jones’ Dr. Arnim Zola from ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ as well as ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’. His appearance in the same jail cell as Ivchenko, wanting to utilize his hypnotic abilities is the only throwaway to an MCU connection. Personally, I feel like Reed Diamond’s Dr. Whitehall from ‘Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ making an appearance would’ve made more sense given his use of mind control techniques in that show.
Personally, I am very disappointed with how ‘Agent Carter’ ended. The ending was a satisfactory end and a great emotional conclusion to the story arc featuring Peggy Carter, especially how the last scene of the show perfectly ties into the last scene of ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’, bringing closure to the character. However, I still felt that the show could’ve been more, especially as a prequel. Prequels usually tell self contained stories using familiar characters and worlds, while establishing connections to the original stories it’s conceptualized from, while ‘Agent Carter’ in no way connects to anything anywhere else in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There’s really not much to take away from ‘Agent Carter’ other than a period piece spy-drama featuring a female lead that had great moments of action, humor and an interesting story that may have been better if it was an original show without comic book connections.
What did you think of this week’s ‘Agent Carter’ Season Finale? Join the conversation below!