Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Marvel's Agent Carter 1.08: "Valediction"

“I know you loved him Howard. I loved him, too but this won’t bring him back. Howard , you are the one person on this earth who believes in me and I cannot lose you. Steve is gone. We have to move on, all of us. As impossible as that may sound, we have to let him go.”
- Peggy

Well ladies and gents, we’ve arrived at the finale of “Agent Carter”. Overall, I’ve enjoyed this little glimpse into the life of Peggy Carter. Even though it has the same creative team behind it as “SHIELD”, I feel like this had tighter storytelling. It’s almost the level “SHIELD” would have had if it had been able to start with the events of the second Captain America movie. We pick up pretty much right where we left off. Sousa, Peggy and Thompson get called to the movie theater and Peggy realizes it wasn’t a monster that killed everyone (as assumed by the theater owner) they killed each other. Sousa has the misfortune of finding the leftover canister with a little gas still left in it. He tries to kill Thompson and thumps Peggy pretty good. But he comes around and seems to recover all right. Things at the SSR are getting tense, though. With nine more containers of the gas, they really need to figure out what the Russian doctor is up to. That may be a little more complicated though when Howard Stark waltzes in to headquarters like he owns the place.

Howard hasn’t come empty handed either. I was right last week when I suspected whatever made the heater-goers attack was used in Russia. Howard confirms that one of the generals stole Howard’s inventions (it was supposed to keep soldiers awake for days but kind of backfired) and used it in Russia. Howard feels responsible for what happened and he believes the doctor is trying to punish him. Speaking of, he’s riding around with Dottie. They are heading out of the city when Howard and the SSR put a plan into motion that will draw out their enemy. Howard is giving a very public speech at City Hall. The SSR is assuming that Dottie will take a shot at Howard during the speech but things are a bit more complicated than that. The bad guys have rigged an automatic shotgun to start firing but not hit Howard. Not surprisingly, the plan is to get Howard back to SSR headquarters if there is an attack. It seems the bad guys had a different plan. Howard gets into a police car and it takes off. He’s been kidnapped!

The team converges on the now-abandoned police car where they find the driver dead. I was a little confused by this. I thought the driver was working for the Russian guy (who I’m just going to call Leviathan from now on). Then again, it seems Leviathan doesn’t have a problem killing his own people. Howard is now stuck in a car with Dottie and when he starts to flirt with her, she points out that he doesn’t remember her and when he calls her the wrong name, she cold cocks him. While trying to find Howard, Thompson and Peggy figure out where the real target is. There is a big celebration going on in Times Square and since the gas is best deployed aerially, they have to shut down all the airports. Unfortunately, Howard has is how private plane collection that the SSR was unaware of. Oh and Howard stupidly showed Dottie the location six months earlier when she was totally snowing him. She’s probably the one who stole the inventions from his home vault, too.

As our heroes race to save Howard, we see the Russian doctor use his hypnosis techniques to get Howard to do what he wants. He plays on Howard’s guilt of what his inventions have done and how they’ve been misused. He goes back to a time when Howard felt real shame (losing Cap) and ends up getting Howard into one of the planes to take off. He’s going to make Howard suffer all right, by having him be the one to deploy the gas. All the while Howard will think he’s on his way to rescue Cap from the ice. Time is running out because if Howard reaches land there’s nothing they can do. Jarvis offers to go up in another plane and shoot Howard down over water if he must. It’s a very moving moment when Jarvis is in the plane before he takes off. He knows what he has to do but he’s clearly conflicted about it. For all Howard’s faults, he’s still a decent boss and a friend.

Peggy gets into the radio room and there’s a pretty cool fight between her and Dottie. Dottie seems to have the upper hand and Peggy is getting tossed around quite a bit but Peggy ultimately wins. Dottie breaks a window with a bat and then Peggy manages to kick Dottie out the window. Of course, leviathan has taken off so it’s up to the boys to find him while Peggy desperately tries to get Howard to see reason and pull his head out of his fantasy. With some smart thinking by Sousa (hello earplugs) they take down Leviathan. Peggy’s having less luck with Howard. She can’t find a way to snap Howard out of his fantasy of finding Cap alive. Jarvis is within range so now Peggy has to make the decision of whether they shoot down Howard or not. I have a feeling they won’t because Tony hasn’t been born yet and he’s only in his late 30s or early 40s in the Iron Man and Avengers movies. Clearly Marvel values continuity in its franchise and won’t kill off Daddy Stark before his time. But they are still doing a good job of making the moment suspenseful.

Howard manages to snap out of it thanks to an impassioned speech from Peggy. It was a very moving speech for sure. Things look good except that Dottie has escaped so they likely haven’t seen the last of her. Back at the office the next morning, a Senator shows up to congratulate Thompson who does seem to take all the credit. It pisses Sousa off but Peggy isn’t bothered. She knows what he did and what she’s worth and she doesn’t need to be validated by other people. She turns down drinks with Sousa to go see her new digs with Angie courtesy of Howard. It seems Howard has had a change of heart and is going to destroy all of his bad baby inventions and Jarvis is entrusting Steve’s blood to Peggy. She ends up pouring it off a bridge. And in a bid at a second season, Leviathan gets a new cell mate in prison who looks familiar (I think he’s the guy who was one of the main villains in Winter Soldier.

I thought this was a very good ending to the season and if that’s all we get of Agent Carter, I’ll be satisfied. But I think Peggy has such spunk that I’d love to see her kicking butt and taking names when her follow SSR Agents know what she’s capable of.

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