Marvel's Agent Carter Review by Henry Tran

Marvel's Agent Carter 1.08: Valediction

Marvel's Agent Carter 1.08: Valediction

Written By:
Michelle Fazekas and Tara Butters
Directed By:

I figured that this show had already broken so many of the usual tropes that the expectation would be that it continue all the way through the finale. That's rather unfair for something so new and young, but it's been such a delight running up to this point that the writers might have been able to pull it off one more time. Instead, the finale slowly deflates as it advances, moving from one familiar show type to another. It starts out as a glorified procedural to wrap up the final stages of the Leviathan plan. The re-appearance of Howard Stark also ensures that the plotline that was started in the first episodes gets resolved within the space of the season as well. It's an altogether neat and tidy finale.

The thing is, the episode commits a sin I never thought the show would do: Minimize the presence of its lead, its title character. For a brief stretch of the episode, Peggy all but disappears. It is due to the fact that Howard Stark re-emerges and immediately becomes the target that Ivchenko seeks to eliminate. The Doctor's motivation is simple and brief. He seeks to avenge those Russian soldiers and innocent civilians who were ruthlessly killed by the poison gas that was contained in Item 17. That gas was originally created by Stark to serve as a way to keep soldiers in the military awake for days on end. The gas was weaponized and used for more nefarious purposes, and Stark has to bear the weight and shame of being responsible for all that death. 

The show doesn't really possess a large connection with the modern day MCU, but this is one instance where the sins of the father mirror the sins of the son, with decades separating the two. Tony Stark faced this very same guilty feeling over the destructive power of his weapons in the first Iron Man film (as well as what looks like the upcoming Avengers sequel). Stark does do an admirable job of carrying this portion of the plot, which has to be done once the show got the procedural aspects of the SSR out of the way. It's just very odd for the show to devote so little time to its title character in the final episode of the (short) season.

Stark's overwhelming guilt allows for Ivchenko to initiate the final phase of his master plan. That means using Stark's shame and turning it around. He does the same thing that he did to Chief Dooley, preying on his victim's emotions to manipulate the situation to his advantage. This involves Stark flying a plane right into Manhattan, specifically a crowded Times Square that will be celebrating the first anniversary of V.E. Day. He does so under the guise of finally locating and "saving" his friend, Captain Steve Rogers from an icy grave. And so the last connection to the MCU plays out in the end. After brawling and soundly defeating an angry Dottie (a fight I thought was suitably brutal, but shorter than expected), Peggy has to go on the radio to talk to a man she has affection for, and he's also flying a plane on a doomed mission that will get him killed. 

Where she couldn't save Steve Rogers and was helpless to do anything as he plunged to his presumed death, she has an active part in getting Stark to snap out of Ivchenko's trance. At least here, this time, she is able to work out the anxieties that have been haunting her since the series began. She said that both of them had to let go of Steve, but I think she meant that for herself. It hasn't really been addressed in this short season, but Peggy still carries a torch for Captain Rogers, and Stark along with the vial of Rogers' blood were the only reminders of that part of her life. She saved Stark, which then allowed her to realize that in order to fully let go of Steve, she had to be the one to get rid of the blood in the vial.

She needed to do that in order to get to the next stage of her life. The denouement of the episode holds promise of the possibilities that may come if the powers that be ultimately decide on another season of the show. Peggy is now recognized within the office as a dependable, heroic agent, and that's definitely not because she's the only female there. She will get national recognition within time. In fact, I think the next season will depict the beginnings of S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Thompson might not be long for the chief position, and Peggy could certainly run the office when she's given more of the action. When that happens, she could recruit more female agents to balance out the office. Then she combines with Howard Stark to create what we know now as S.H.I.E.L.D. 

The epilogue featuring the surprise cameo appearance of Dr. Armin Zola fully suggests that Ivchenko's Leviathan element will be absorbed into HYDRA. Though half of that could have easily been averted had Sousa pulled the trigger and killed Ivchenko. The threat will eventually become much larger and much more insidious. Having someone like Agent Peggy Carter around alleviates many of the concerns that would pop up with that threat.

Our Grade:
The Good:
  • Peggy's current character arc wraps up nicely by the end
  • The connections to the beginnings of SHIELD are great to see
The Bad:
  • Peggy is oddly out of the center of the action for her own season finale

Henry Tran is a regular contributor of review for Critical Myth; The Critical Myth Show is heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @HenYay

Marvel's Agent Carter by - 3/2/2015 10:26 AM212 views

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