08 “Valediction” (Agent Carter season 1) [SPOILERS]

agent carter

For some reason, Agent Carter‘s first series is criminally short. Only eight episodes. I presume that’s some sort of precaution against it being awful and getting cancelled straight away.

Because, of course, that’s what Marvel products are known for.

But regardless, here we are at the final episode. I’ve enjoyed the previous seven episodes; giving the supporting cast of the first Captain America film room to run was a good decision on paper. On screen it has worked even better.

The story is well penned, setting an early-Cold War mood of suspicion and adding a Marvel twist, and giving its characters good story arcs to work with.

As with any series, though, all of that could be undone with a misstep at a critical juncture.

Why hello, critical juncture!

After Chief Dooley’s surprisingly moving self-sacrifice at the end of the last episode, Ivchenko and Dotty are on the run, with a gas that causes aggressive psychosis. Ivchenko has a grudge against Stark, who has returned to help fix the mess, and wants to make him responsible for an act of mass terrorism.

We get a lot of loose ends tied up here, and it’s done very well. Firstly, the Battle of Finow. Apparently a US Army general stole the murder gas (“Midnight Oil”) which Stark had developed to keep troops fresh and alert. It was dumped over Russian troops to get their blood up and they massacred each other — with Ivchenko surviving due to a gas mask.

So he wants revenge on Stark. The SSR attempt to draw him out into the open is horribly inept, with a gun rigged to fire automatically frightening them to putting Stark into a police car, the driver of which Ivchenko has already hypnotised. Ivchenko’s plan is to use the gas over Time Square, full for the VE Day celebrations, and destroy Stark’s reputation utterly. And he’s going to have Stark fly the plane.

The hypnosis is interesting. As with Dooley, Ivchenko has him confront his greatest shame, and makes him imagine putting it right. This is losing Steve Rogers, and he imagines that he’s picked up Steve’s signal, and is flying to rescue him.

When Peggy, Thompson and Sousa catch up with the Russian baddies, they are left with Peggy pleading on the radio with Stark to stop, as Jarvis pursues him in a plane, ready to shoot him down.

I loved this conclusion, honestly. On the one hand it mirrored the end of Captain America, where Peggy is forced to listen helplessly to Steve’s sacrifice. This is replayed on the Captain America radio show at the beginning of the episode. But here she has the power, and as she forgives Stark for not saving Steve, and herself moves past his death (Errr -Ed) — though it is her telling Stark that Steve was good before he “got a hold of him” which finally breaks Ivchenko’s hypnotism. It’s a triumphant moment, without all guns blazing.

Though, we do get another excellently stylised fight scene between Peggy and Dotty. And Sousa outwits Ivchenko with earplugs, taking him into custody.

This was such a good conclusion. No annoying cliffhangers if it doesn’t get renewed, but plenty more space for another outing. Peggy and her friend Angie are now living in one of Stark’s many mansions, and she pours Steve Rogers’ blood into the river. And, naturally, Jack Thompson gets the credit for the SSR’s success — though Peggy explains to Sousa that it doesn’t matter what others think of her, she knows her value.

And, actually, here she gets the respect she has deserved all season. She is treated as an equal by her SSR colleagues. And whatever the people upstairs think, her colleagues know that the victory was hers.

Agent Carter has hit a pretty entertaining nook here. The setting, the characters, they all work together not just to put flesh on the bones of the Marvel universe, but to be a solid series in its own right. It thoroughly deserves a second series.

But it is part of the MCU, and the final scene of Ivchenko in a prison, wearing a Hannibal-esque mask to keep him from speaking, underscores that. For some unfathomable reason, he has been put in a cell with Armin Zola from both Captain America films (and excellently reprised by the brilliant Toby Jones). So Hydra and Leviathan are about to join forces

I’d watch the hell out of that.

  • So, did Dotty want to get stopped by that police car, or is she just stupid? Because running a red light is pretty dumb for a master infiltrating Russian super-assassin.
  • Dotty is still on the loose, and the question of those girl assassins hasn’t been addressed yet. Season two, anyone?
  • If Sousa couldn’t hear Ivchenko because of the earplugs, how did he know that Ivchenko was telling him to shoot Thompson?
  • So Leviathan, this big scary Russian secret organisation, was one hypnotist and his grudge against Stark? That’s…disappointing. Maybe it’ll turn out he was just part of a bigger Leviathan organisation.
  • Though, that final scene of Zola and Ivchenko raises an interesting idea: what if Hydra’s mass-infiltration of SHIELD and the US, as revealed in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, was down to Ivchenko’s hypnotic methods?

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