Last night the eighth and final episode of Agent Carter aired on UK television. I had hoped to write a post about each episode but instead this end of season post will have to suffice.
The previous episode ended with the Russian assassin “Dottie” deploying a stolen canister of a Stark mystery weapon in a movie theatre. The gas that came out of the canister caused all the moviegoers to kill each other.
In this final episode Howard Stark, played by Dominic Cooper, returns and explains that Leviathan have stolen his invention which was called Midnight Oil. It had originally been intended to keep soldiers operating without sleep. There was an unfortunate side effect in that it caused intense psychosis and all those infected ended up killing each other with their bare hands. The weapon had been used on a Russian battlefield in World War Two and now Leviathan are looking for revenge.
Eventually the Leviathan people kidnap Stark and hypnotise him with the intention that he will fly his own plane and deploy the gas over Manhattan.
Peggy pursues Leviathan to Stark’s airplane hanger and we finally get the long-awaited showdown between Dottie and Peggy. Their fight sequence in the hanger kind of reminded me a little of the fights in the Bourne movies in the sense that they were using anything that came to hand. Peggy finally gets the upper hand and Dottie is thrown from a window. But of course later her “body” is gone with only bloody footprints remaining.
And at this point I’m going to interject the observation that I can be quite thick at times. It was only after watching the episode that I read that Dottie, played by Bridget Regan, is in effect a first generation Black Widow assassin created in the prototype of the Red Room. It’s blindingly obvious in hindsight. I guess the fact that she wasn’t wearing a black leather catsuit was too subtle for me. Oh well, maybe in season two…
But back to this episode. I did like how the episode ended up with Peggy forced to talk to a hypnotised Howard Stark on the radio as he flew towards Manhattan. Of course this was a reprise of the end of the first Captain America movie where Peggy was tearfully talking to Steve Rogers as he crashed his plane in the Arctic.
If memory serves that scene from the movie was used as a flashback earlier in the season. And not only that: the start of this episode also used it on the Captain America radio play where it’s “Betty Carver” who talks to Captain America on the radio. There the static after the crash is recreated by a sound effects guy rubbing two pieces of paper together next to a microphone.
So I did find it a fitting place for the episode and the season to end up. Also I liked how Howard Stark’s hypnotic suggestion was portrayed. He sees himself standing in the Arctic next to his plane and Peggy appears with Captains America’s shield and asks him to save Steve.
After Stark’s Midnight Oil weapon has been recovered Peggy is rightly applauded by her male colleges when she walks back into the SSR office. This is in stark contrast (pun intended) with how she was treated as a glorified secretary at the start of the series. Then again when the politicians show up she gets none of the credit.
I’m actually skipping over a lot of other good stuff. Sousa tricking Dr Ivchenko. The friendship that has developed between Peggy and Jarvis. Jarvis giving Peggy the vial of Steve’s blood which she later pours into the river. Sousa trying to ask Peggy out. The list goes on.
The episode had a nice little “sting” at the end. It was kind of a post-credits scene only it wasn’t actually after the credits. The Russian hypnotist Dr. Ivchenko (played by Ralph Brown) in full Hannibal Lector gear is being put into a cell. A familiar voice speaks from the shadows and it is of course Toby Jones as Doctor Zola from both Captain America movies. This is a lovely little connection as of course we discover in Winter Soldier that Zola becomes integral in the post-war spread of Hydra’s tentacles. I found that to be a very satisfying link and one assumes season two of Agent Carter might just be exploring that.
A word on Hayley Atwell. She’s brilliant. Whoever cast the role back in the first Captain America movie should be given a bonus because Peggy has become integral to the origin story of the Marvel Universe and I can’t think of anyone else who could possibly play the roll.
And you know what else? Watching this season has made me want to watch both Cap movies again.
I believe the series is coming out to buy in the USA in September. I hope a UK release will follow soon after.