SEASON SPOILERS FOR AGENT CARTER IN THIS REVIEW.
If this turns out to be the only season of AGENT CARTER, at least it was a good one.
This episode centers around the relationship between Peggy Carter and Howard Stark, and the ways in which grief plays into their lives and relationships. Picking up the pieces after Dooley’s death and the massacre in the theater isn’t easy, and its made infinitely worse when Howard Stark appears in the SSR headquarters without warning. However, he’s trying to help: he offers to be the bait for Ivchenko (aka Johann Fennhoff), which goes horribly wrong when Dottie kidnaps Stark instead. The rest of the episode deals with Peggy attempting to save him and succeeding, which we knew she would, given the fact that his son hasn’t been born yet.
The episode, and the season as a whole, deals with how Peggy eventually works through her grief after losing Steve a year earlier. The show never overdid it–she isn’t a crying wreck–but the moments where Steve is mentioned are poignant and real. This is truly a testament to Hayley Atwell’s talent as an actress. Her grief is real, her tears come without too much strain, and I can see how the mourning process is eating away at her.
There is a sense of closure by the end of the episode, though, in a couple of scenes. First, when Peggy is trying to talk Stark out of destroying New York with the Midnight Oil (the gas that caused both the massacre at Finau and more recently in the movie theater), there is a real parallel between that scene and the final scene of The First Avenger. Peggy is begging both of these men to stop what they’re doing. The real difference comes in the reason behind it: in the First Avenger, Peggy was being selfish. She wanted to Steve to live and be with her. However, in Agent Carter, she wants to save the hundreds of thousands of people in Times Square celebrating VE Day. These are very different reasons behind her actions and it speaks to her development over the season that she is able to forego her own selfishness and worry about complete strangers The second scene comes when Jarvis returns Steve’s blood to her, and Peggy symbolically says goodbye to Captain as she pours it into the Hudson. My heart melted a little as she whispered, “Goodbye, my darling.”
It adds a bit of bittersweetness as we realize that Captain Rogers isn’t really dead. It brings up questions of what could have been and adds a bit of mystery to the whole ordeal. I find it interesting that Steve Rogers, a year after his death, still elicits such an emotional response from both Carter and Stark. Yes, he was a great man, and yes, they lost him too early, but he was just one man. He is my favorite Avenger, don’t get me wrong, but nobody else seems to have their identity entirely wrapped up in the ideology of Captain Steve Rogers.
There were Easter Eggs throughout the entire series, which is right on par with the other MCU installments. In AGENT CARTER, we see Leviathan, the origins of the Black Widow Project, and at the end of the season we see Doctor Zola talking with Doctor Fennhoff (Ivchenko, remember) in prison, which gives us a hint at the upcoming Winter Soldier Project. Clapping and squealing like a little girl definitely did not happen on my couch tonight, ahem. (Remember Doctor Zola? He’s the Hydra scientist who helps Red Skull weaponize the tesseract’s power in CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER.)
Though the hints of what’s to come in the MCU are great, I was disappointed in the lack of any real threat from Leviathan. After the entire build-up in these last seven or eight episodes, you’d think that Leviathan would reveal itself and be the Big Bad everyone expects. But they don’t. Does this mean there’s another season coming? Please?
Overall, AGENT CARTER was a great series. Short and sweet, without any fluff or BS thrown in. I enjoyed the character arcs of Carter, Jarvis, and especially the agents Sousa and Thompson. Though Thompson takes the credit at the end, he knows that without Peggy’s help, he wouldn’t have gotten anywhere with the Stark case. And while Sousa tries valiantly to defend her honor, in the end Peggy understands her own value and doesn’t need anyone else’s opinion. She’s a strong woman and a great character.
I hope we get to see more of her in another season of AGENT CARTER, but if we don’t, I’m damn well glad I got to see her in this. The final episode is aptly titled “Valediction,” as it was a beautiful tribute and goodbye to Peggy and the gang.