As Agent Carter entered its final hour, the agents of the S.S.R. jumped straight into a game of “Spy Versus Spy.” The question surrounding the episode and the show itself was whether it could be something more.
After the suicidal finish of the last installment, “Valediction” begins Peggy Carter and the men who once served as her office rivals stand united. The Russian agents who infiltrated their headquarters and sent their boss to his death are still on the loose and have in their possession a Howard Stark super gas that turned a crowded theater into a cannibalistic bloodbath. The entire fate of New York City is at stake, yet despite that, Peg feels dispassionately removed from the action.
As all this spins around her, Agent Carter herself is part of the action but rarely the focus of it. Even when she breaks in on the Stark hanger the Russians are using as a base and fights off Dottie for a chance to save the day, the undercurrent of the battle is less about Peg’s self identity and more about how Dottie reverting to a jealous schoolgirl mindset.
The heart of the story finally returns to our hero in the end as Peggy is left in her own show at the same place she was at the end of Captain America: The First Avenger – passionately speaking to a doomed man flying away from her via radio. Only this time, as she pleas with Howard to overcome Fennoff’s hypnosis and pull away from dropping a chemical cocktail on Manhattan, the final moment is finally her own. The show sets Peg’s real character arc on her feelings for Steve Rogers with her letting go of Captain America’s providing the ultimate dramatic conclusion to the series. It’s a worthwhile character moment, but not quite the final statement as series as progressive as this could have delivered.
From there, the mini series’ wrap goes by the numbers. The government gives Thompson credit for the entire operation, but Carter says her continued marginalization is irrelevant because “Anyone else’s opinion of me doesn’t matter.” It’s a fine sentiment but again sidesteps the battle so many viewers had invested themselves in. The show’s creators seem much more interested in a final tearful farewell to Steve Rogers as Peggy is awarded his last vial of blood only to pour it out over the side of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Between that moment’s relatively subdued capper, Peg and her friend Angie taking over a mansion from Stark’s stockpile of them and the final “origin of Hydra” bonus scene, the ending feels more like a “Please bring us back” moment than a triumphant victory lap. Still, the show has done more than enough to earn a second go round. Let’s hope the network doesn’t set this lady aside.
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