ABC’s Agent Carter Valediction TV Show Review. Agent Carter: Season 1 Episode 8: Valediction brought Agent Carter’s griping season to a well executed conclusion. Working within the stingy framework of only 8 episodes, Agent Carter’s story unfolded at a break neck pace and Valediction stood up to the unenviable task of using a 1-hour block of television to resolve 7 episodes worth of loose plot threads in a manner that lives up to the audience’s lofty expectations.
After kicking off with a Captain America radio broadcast, Valediction picked up the story with the SSR team investigating the scene of last week’s theatre massacre at the hands of Dottie (Bridget Regan) and Dr. Ivchenko (Ralph Brown). While searching for clues Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) gets hit with a burst of the weaponized gas (midnight oil), offering the SSR team not only a first-hand account of what the weapon is capable of but also additional clues regarding the battle of Fennel and the voiceless men. After seeing his weapon used upon innocent civilians, Stark (Dominic Cooper) comes out of hiding and submits himself to the SSR, inadvertently playing right into Leviathan’s master plan. During an ensuing press conference meant to clear Stark’s name, a botched assassination attempt on Stark ends up being a diversionary tactic used to kidnap him and set Leviathan’s end game into motion. It is then up to Peggy (Hayley Atwell), Jarvis (James D’Arcy) and the SSR to track down Stark and stop Leviathan from unleashing their devastating plan.
With their Agent Carter series, Marvel created 8 charming episodes of television that were enjoyable from beginning to end. Having only 8 hours of television to work with gave each episode of the series a sense of urgency that rocketed the plot forward like a race car with its gas pedal nailed to the floor. With time being a limited resource for Agent Carter, the show never had a moment to waste on stagnant characters, idle conversations and superfluous spectacle. Everything that occurred on the show happened with a sense of purpose and ultimately lead to fulfilling conclusions.
Despite the show’s large cast and short season, Agent Carter did a great job of creating satisfying arcs for its cast of characters. Howard evolved from reckless playboy to tortured genius (destroying his inventions and foreshadowing the actions of his son Tony in Iron man 3), Jarvis morphed from Howard’s humble yes-man to self assured ally and friend (willing to drop anything to help Peggy as well as stealing Steve’s blood from his boss), and let us not forget our dear Ms. Carter herself. Peggy’s arc came full circle with the series bookending itself by her having life and death radio conversations with two of the most important men in her life. Although Peggy often comes across as tough as nails, the woman that she truly is feels more akin to a flower wrapped in barbed wire. Despite her fiery exterior, inside Peggy exists a loving woman tortured by losing the love of her life. For the past 8 episodes, Peggy’s grief over losing Steve constantly simmered just below her well composed exterior, manifesting itself in a consistent defiance toward any authority figure keeping her from making amends for the failures in her past. Being able to relive the moment that she lost Steve by saving Howard was a cathartic act that gave Peggy the strength that she needed to cut the emotional ties associated with losing Captain America and move forward with her life.
When the third act of the episode finally revealed the scope of Leviathan’s threat I found it surprising how low the stakes felt. Dr. Ivchenko/Fennhoff mass murdering 100,000 people in Times-square certainly counts as first class treachery, but his motivations and actions were rooted in an elaborate revenge story focused upon getting back at Howard Stark. It was somewhat disappointing that over the course of the series Leviathan went from feeling like a Hydra sized organization to a couple of rogue agents with an axe to grind. Ivchenko ending up in a cell with Armin Zola (Toby Jones) raised the potential for villainy back up as we all know that Hydra ultimately scores a victory by getting their slimy tendrils wrapped around the foundation of S.H.I.E.L.D.. What better way to bring back Agent Carter for a second season than depicting the birth of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the way that Hydra planted their insidious seeds of deception deep within its foundations.
In the end we got to see a semi-payoff for Peggy’s underdog ascension as she finally received some professional recognition when the SSR welcomed her back to the office with a standing ovation. Sadly, before Peggy could take a moment to bask in the warm glow of her teams respect and admiration, Thompson (Chad Michael Murray) came roaring in to steal her spotlight. We can clearly see that Peggy is a changed woman from earlier in the series as she accepts her role in the background now that she is comfortable being defined by her contributions and not her perceived value. Peggy knows that as the The Chief’s replacement, Thompson respects her and unlike before, will grant her the authority to do her job (should she choose to return) even if she doesn’t get the praise that should come along with it.
As of today no one can say for sure if Agent Carter will be back for a second season. The series did a fantastic job of wrapping up the all of its loose plot threads while still managing to leave just a few intriguing plot points dangling out there to carry the story through a second season. Agent Carter’s 8 episodes gave us a stylized New York that was a feast for the eyes, took us to exotic locations, re-introduced us to old characters and gave us some interesting new ones whose actions will set events into motion throughout the Marvel cinematic universe for years to come. If we never get that highly anticipated second season of Agent Carter and this season is left to stand alone, it will hold up as a thrilling and satisfying 8 episodes of television in its own right.
I still don’t get why the SSR storage room containing Howard’s inventions wasn’t treated like a potential first class bio-hazard zone.
During Dottie’s fight with Peggy, we got just the slightest peak at who she really is. I really want to see her explored further in another season.
Was it just me or did Peggy act of pouring Steve’s blood into the Hudson River feel reminiscent of Rose tossing the jewel into the ocean at the end of Titanic?
For a guy who likes to have himself tucked into bed by 9pm, it sure seemed like Jarvis was having a hard time letting go of Peggy’s temerarious adventures.
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