[Review] - Agent Carter, Season 1 Finale, Episode 8, "Valediction"

Courtesy of Marvel Television Studios
The season finale of Agent Carter was exactly what I expected it to be. Which, I suppose, isn't as disappointing as it might sounds. The series was working towards a very specific end-game, and despite the many surprises, turns and reveals that went into getting us to this point, after last week, how things would play out became rather obvious. So, in that regard, I guess that the episode and the series was an organizational success. It did what it set out to do with tenacity and brevity, and soundly showed up it's companion series in the process.

And yet, taking into consideration all that came before it, the finale was a bit pedestrian. It was all according to plan, and all very by the book. It was an action finale, and as I feared, that left little room for things like character. Leviathan's plan needed to be thwarted; there wasn't a moment to lose. Not that they didn't make time for developments, and you can't fault the desire to have a Big Damned Finale. I was a good episode, that nicely wrapped up all the series specific threads, and left Ms. Carter in a comfortable place should her adventures never again return to television. But I can't see that happening, can you?

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that area  beacon for all the world to emulate.

This wasn't Peggy's night. Like last week, Peggy became a supporting character in her own story, as Leviathan's plan starts to form, and Howard Stark emerges from hiding. In a lot of ways, this was Howard's episode, for it was he that received the bulk of the episode's minority of character development, he that received that most screen time, and he that was involved in the most action. Which is fair to an extent, since he's the character we've spent the least amount of time with, and the character we all want to know better considering his relationship and influence over the MCU's heavy hitter.

And we got that. This episode, likely intentionally, grew a lot of comparisons between Howard's situation and Tony's eventual kidnapping by the Ten Rings. In fact, by the episodes end, the implication is that Howard has incurred his own "I Am Iron Man" moment, having faced his demons and admitted that he is a "bad man," faced his greatest failing and shame, and come out the other side with a clearer understanding of how he can help the world. He is destroying his weapons of mass destruction, in favour of building something new, something better. Instead of sharpening swords, he'll start making shields. That is both a powerful revelation, and moves the timeline forward towards how we know events will unfold.

Not that Peggy was left out. As I predicted, she and Dottie had a well orchestrated fight sequence, showcasing both of their finesse moves, as well as Peggy's tendency to bar-brawl when desperate. Dottie is a character that was underdeveloped, and with the possibly of her return left open, I hope that they develop her into a greater foil for Peggy. There was a hint of something deeper beneath the surface as she was attacking Peggy, a break in her psychosis, suggesting that the Black Widow program didn't break her entirely (something we know to be true in the future as well), and that under it all, she is desperate.

And then Peggy got the biggest piece of her character's development met, as she was forced, under mirroring circumstances, to finally let Steve Rogers go. Because Joss Whedon cut the scene from The Avengers, we don't know how Peggy reacted to learning that Steve was alive. And the brief scene in Winter Solider only showed us that she had moved on, that she felt no regret or bitterness. And now we've seen, with no reason in the world to believe he was anything but dead and no reason to keep waiting, she let him go. I think I mentioned during an early episode that it seemed like Peggy was still in a stage of mourning, and this series was about her moving on. This episode straight up did that, even affording her the ability to bury Steve, in her own way. It means that, when next we meet Peggy, she'll be a stronger, more complete and more emotionally free woman. She won't be shackled with guilt or loss, just fond memories and a quiet sadness.

The stinger at the end of the episode, with Zola appearing from the shadows, nicely sets up what we know comes next, and the next most logical direction for the series to take. Aside from all the Hydra nonsense that Winter Solider dealt us, the next challenge that Carter and her post-war compatriots will have to contend with is the idea of the wolf in the fold, and the Soviets become a greater threat and they have to start looking to old enemies as new friends in order to accomplish their tasks. It promises a less obvious foe, and in Zola's case, one that we know will ultimately be successful. I'm game to see how it all might play out.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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