“Agent Carter” concluded but left a few questions unanswered that may or may not be resolved in the future.
Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), her allies and the SSR race against time to stop Dr. Ivchenko (Ralph Brown)—aka Johann Fennhoff—and Dottie (Bridget Regan) from unleashing a rage-inducing gas on New York City.
Tonight’s episode—advertised as a “season finale,” so ABC might be hedging its bets for a second season—was supposed to be the exciting climax to an eight-episode series…but it fell a little flat. This was due to having two characters placed in peril—Peggy and Stark—who have been established in Marvel Cinematic Universe films as having survived for multiple decades afterward. This robbed the final 10-15 minutes of some suspense. Instead, the episode went for an emotional finale, bringing both Peggy and Stark to what is likely turning points in their lives. Peggy finally let go of Steve Rogers (aka Captain America) and Stark came full circle and realized he, like his son will learn later, must do more to help others instead of indulging himself while creating weapons of war. That ultimately was what propped the episode up. It’s a rare instance where continuity may have sucked a little excitement out of a story.
That doesn’t mean the episode was boring. It moved at a brisk pace and brought most of the series’ plotlines to a conclusion. The rage gas, the Battle of Finow and Stark’s involvement with both were explained satisfactorily. He confessed to Peggy that Project: Rebirth (which created Captain America) was the one good thing he thought he’d done in his life. Like Peggy, he blamed himself for everything that happened, to which she told him to stop. This was a subtle hint that she realized she was doing this herself. What was left ambiguous was what exactly Leviathan was and how far their influence stretched. They seemed to be separate from HYDRA, but also similar to it. In the comics, they’re essentially a Russian version of HYDRA, but they don’t have the prominence of the latter.
As for Peggy, she finally earned the respect of her co-workers, who set aside their sexism to get the job done. She even brushed off Thompson, whom she saved during the mission, taking all the credit for saving the city. “I know my value,” she told Souza (Enver Gjokaj). The crippled agent then tried to ask Peggy on a date, implying that he’s in love with her. Is he the husband Peggy mentioned in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”? Finally, Peggy took the vial of Steve’s blood and poured it into the river, a symbol of her final goodbye to him. It was a touching scene that showed Peggy is both strong and tender.
Kudos must be given to the writers for having Souza wear earplugs when confronting Fennhoff. Smart move, and something that could easily be overlooked.
Speaking of Fennhoff, while he’s been enigmatic for several episodes, his true identity is that of Dr. Faustus. Well, that’s his supervillain name, which wasn’t used in the show (though it was alluded to in the previous episode since he was reading the book Faust). Regardless, he was adapted well. Faustus, who is a frequent nemesis of Captain America, was a psychologist who had the ability to exert great hypnotic control over people using only his voice. He was a perfect fit for the show.
One, or possibly two, parallels between the events of this episode and moments in Cap’s life occurred. The climax once again found Peggy talking to a man who believed in her over the radio while he was flying a plane on a destructive path. While it was her beloved star-spangled hero in “Captain America: The First Avenger,” it was Howard Stark here. Another big difference was Stark was under Fennhoff’s control and about to unleash the rage gas on New York (interestingly, Cap was flying a plane filled with explosives that was bound for New York). But here she succeeds in talking him down. The other possible parallel was Stark being shot at during a press conference where he declared his innocence. It was somewhat similar to Cap’s death in the comics, where he was shot by a sniper and then finished off by a mind-controlled Sharon Carter, Peggy’s niece (interestingly, she was being manipulated by Dr. Faustus). This was probably unintentional, though.
The last few minutes, however, also elevated the episode. A muzzled Fennhoff was met by none other than Arnim Zola (Toby Jones), who told him they could collaborate for a new mission. Undoubtedly, he was referring to HYDRA’s infiltration of S.H.I.E.L.D., as revealed in “Winter Soldier.” Could this be a possible plot for season two of the series?
Ultimately, “Agent Carter” is a solid show regardless of whether it gets a second season or not. Peggy is one of the MCU’s few action heroines. The series distinguished itself from “Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.” with its pulpy period piece (how’s that for some Stan Lee-style alliteration?) It was a good buffer for “Agents” during its hiatus.