TV Review: Agent Carter - Season 1 Episode 8 "Valediction"
Join us each week as we review the latest episode of AGENT CARTER. Warning: the following review contains major spoilers for the newest episode of the show.
Episode 8: "Valediction"
Synopsis: Peggy faces the full fury of Leviathan, as Howard Stark makes his return in the explosive season finale of Marvel's Agent Carter.
Recap: The finale of AGENT CARTER's debut season picks up where last week left off. In the aftermath of Stark's toxin being released in a crowded movie theater, Agent Sousa accidentally doses himself and then attacks Agent Thompson and strikes Peggy before being knocked out. Meanwhile, Dottie and Dr. Ivchenko make their escape before being pulled over by a police officer. Playing the cute girl role, they almost make it away safely when an APB comes through for the pair. Dottie quickly draws on the cop.
Back at the SSR, Sousa awakens and seems to be back to normal. He apologizes to Peggy and the two quickly make their way to Thompson's briefing. Thompson explains that Ivchenko has ten canisters of the toxin at his disposal which is enough to affect the entire city. At that moment, Howard Stark arrives with Jarvis, prepared to turn himself in. The SSR agents place him under arrest but Stark has come prepared with everything he knows about the Battle of Finow which includes the true identity of Ivchenko: Dr. Johann Fennhoff. Stark tells the agents that he designed the toxin used at the battle. The toxin, Midnight Oil, was originally designed to be used to give soldiers extra strength when tired but instead amplified the side effects of sleep deprivation. The toxin was stolen from his lab and used at Finow which is why Stark went there to see the results of the massacre.
Stark suggests the SSR stage a pardon for him which would also draw Fennhoff and Dottie back. Peggy questions why Howard would risk his life and Stark says he must make amends for everything he has done or he won't be able to life with himself. Peggy takes Stark to the lab where his inventions are kept to get his bulletproof vest and Stark takes another item while she is not looking. Dottie and Fennhoff arrive at a private airfield, prepared to escape when they hear on the radio the news of Stark's press conference. Seeing the opportunity, they return to get Stark.
At the press conference, Stark is introduced by Thompson as an American hero. Before he can speak, shots ring out and Stark is guided away by Jarvis. As Peggy pinpoints a hotel window as the source of the shots, Jarvis puts Stark in the back of a police car which is driven by the cop who pulled over Dottie earlier, now hypnotized by Ivchenko. Peggy and Thompson find the gun rigged to automatically fire as a diversion when they learn of Stark's capture. Confused as to the motives of Fennhoff, the two agents realize it is V.E. Day and they plan to release Midnight Oil in Times Square. Deducing that Dottie and Fennhoff are leaving the city, they realize that the toxin can only be released from the air which reminds Jarvis of a hidden private airport that belongs to Stark.
During a flashback to six months prior, we see Dottie taken to a private airfield by Howard Stark while on a date. Back in contemporary time, Stark is tied to a chair and struck by Dottie. Fennhoff reveals himself to Stark who begs for the villains not to hurt any innocents and to just kill him. Fennhoff tells Stark that he found his brother dead at Finow, his eyes gouged out and flesh bitten off. He tells Stark that he will make him suffer for being a bad man and hypnotizes the playboy. Telling Stark to go back to the time of his biggest failure, we see Stark thinking of the search for Steve Rogers and Peggy pleading for Howard to bring Captain America back to her. As Stark takes off in his plane, Peggy and the SSR arrive just too late.
With twelve minutes until he reaches New York, Peggy heads to the radio room of the airport to try and talk down Stark while Jarvis will pilot another plane to shoot down Stark if they fail. Peggy says they cannot ask Jarvis to do it but he says Howard would want to be stopped. Peggy, heads up to the radio and finds Dottie and Fennhoff leading Stark. Dottie knocks the gun from Peggy's hands and the two fight. Dottie pulls a knife but Peggy holds her own, shouting over the radio to Stark that it isn't real. Fennhoff leaves and Dottie tells Peggy she used to want to be like her but now can be anyone she wants. Saying she thought she would be better, Peggy manages to kick Dottie out the window and down to her death.
Thompson and Sousa go after Fennhoff while Peggy tries to talk down Stark who thinks he is looking for Steve Rogers and not about to detonate the toxin. Fennhoff manages to knock out Thompson but Sousa holds Fennhoff at gunpoint. He tells Sousa he will not kill him after what he went through in the war. Sousa tries to shut him up, but Fennhoff begins to hypnotize him. As Sousa succumbs, Thompson begins to awaken and Fennhoff tells him to shoot his fellow SSR agent. As he approaches, Sousa turns and knocks Fennhoff out and then pulls earplugs from his ears. Peggy pleads with Howard to stop but he doesn't listen. Jarvis calls that Stark is a mile from the city and has a clear shot, asking Peggy if he should take it.
Peggy pleads with Howard that Steve Rogers died over a year ago. Stark says he can almost see him and that Captain America was the one good thing he did that brought peace to the world. Peggy tells Stark that he is the one person who believes in her and that they need to move on and let Steve Rogers go. As Peggy cries, Howard comes back to himself and turns the plane around, following Jarvis back to the airfield. Peggy leaves the radio room and sees Dottie is gone, a trail of blood leading away. The SSR take Fennhoff into custody and Stark berates Jarvis and says he is never to try and kill him. Stark hugs Jarvis and then Peggy and they decide what to do with Fennhoff.
As the sun rises over New York City, Peggy returns to the SSR as her fellow agents applaud her work on the case, shaking her hand and congratulating her. Thompson and Sousa ask Peggy if she will be staying with the SSR and she says she hasn't decided yet and is just there for her paycheck. A man arrives and asks for Jack Thompson. The man, Senator Walt Cooper, congratulates Thompson for saving the city and the country. Thompson shakes the Senator's hand and takes the credit for what happened. Sousa gets mad but Peggy says she doesn't need the approval of Thompson, a Senator, or the President as she now knows her value. Sousa asks Peggy out for a drink after they get off work and she asks for a raincheck as she needs to meet a friend. Sousa seems a bit disappointed, but Peggy smiles knowingly.
Peggy brings Angie to one of Howard Stark's residences where Jarvis tells her she and Peggy are welcome to stay after the altercations at her former home and workplace. Peggy asks Jarvis if he is happy to have his job duties calmed down. He mentions he will be reorganizing the spice cabinet but says he will drop it at a moment's notice to help Peggy. She asks where Howard is and Jarvis tells her he is negotiating the return of his property from the SSR which he then plans to destroy as no government should have access to his inventions, including Steve Rogers' blood. Jarvis tells Peggy Stark believes the blood was destroyed but his integrity leads him to believe she knows what to do with it. Standing on the Brooklyn Bridge, Peggy pours the vial of blood into the river below and says goodbye to Steve forever.
As the episode ends, we see Fennhoff muzzled and put into a prison cell. As he is locked away, we hear a man introduce himself. When he steps forward, we see it is none other than Dr. Armin Zola (Toby Jones). He tells Fennhoff they are lucky to be in an American prison as America is the land of opportunity.
Marvel Universe References: Ivchenko's real name is revealed to be Johann Fennhoff, the real name of Captain America villain Doctor Faustus. The radio call to stop Howard Stark from releasing the toxin was a nice callback to the closing call to Steve Rogers in CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER. Plus, a secret cameo from Armin Zola!
Review: What a way to end a season! There is still no confirmation as to whether AGENT CARTER will get a second season, but this finale certainly has proved that this short run of episodes could be one of the best overall productions from Marvel Studios. We are left with Dottie in the wind, the reveal that Fennhoff may have been a direct connection to the rise of HYDRA, and the closure of Peggy's past with Steve Rogers. Hayley Atwell was stunning all season and proved she can definitely hold her own as a character headlining a series. As both a precursor to IRON MAN and CAPTAIN AMERICA, AGENT CARTER wins on every level. Great action, great plotting, the perfect amount of humor, and a great dose of pulp makes AGENT CARTER the ideal continuation of THE FIRST AVENGER while also leaving enough room to develop the history of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. AGENT CARTER will now work as a nice bit of binge watching for Marvel fans and hopefully get several more seasons of retro fun.
Marvel's AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. returns on Tuesday, March 2nd.