Agent Carter Finale Review: "Valediction"

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The term “finale” looms ominously over Agent Carter’s head. As of this final episode of its 8-part first season, there is still no indication that the action-packed series following the exploits of Peggy Carter will return for another season or if this is truly the end. The show seems to realize this fact as it leaves just enough threads open for a potential follow-up season, but gives the events that occurred throughout the a series enough of an ending. It’s a bit of a bumpy ride, but our Agent Carter finale review takes a look at this final episode and just what it does right – and wrong.
Picking up where last week’s episode left off (with a theater full of dead people), SSR agents arrive at the scene to aid the worst police officers in investigative history. The first officer they talk to can’t wrap his head around how people died, while Peggy simply pulls back a sheet covering a body, sees the clump of hair in the dead body’s hand, and makes the obvious assumption that the people all attacked each other. On a similar note, Agent Sousa is the only one who thinks to turn over the crashed baby carriage and notice the conveniently placed canister that unleashed the harmful gas. Agent Carter has always had some issues setting up the premise for each episode, but this is one of its more unintentionally comical attempts at doing so. Prior to Howard Stark eventually showing up, the first few scenes of the episode fumble along in a poor attempt at summarizing the events of last week, while getting across why those events were important.
Even once Stark arrives on the scene and mercifully pushes the story along, it leads into an equally goofy plot to draw out the Leviathan agents. Knowing that the Russian spies would want to kill Stark once and for all, they hatch a plan for the SSR to publicly forgive him of any and all crimes he’s committed as a way to get it announced on radio that Stark is in the open. The pacing of it all just never gets on track until well into the episode. Stark is shuttled off by someone working for Leviathan, and Peggy learns that the sniper shots were just a diversion. Then, Agent Carter and Agent Thompson just so happen to come across the realization that Leviathan’s target will be Times Square because Peggy sees some flags that happen to be walking by.
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Similar to a few plot issues I had with last week’s episode, Agent Carter is once again feeling rushed by its short season of eight episodes. It has to get a whole bunch of action stuffed in. The show once again feels the need to leave in investigative segments, but doesn’t bother to put any effort into them. Any Agents looking into the crime scenes just stumble upon clues and go down the right path no matter the circumstance.
Agent Carter‘s finale does eventually get into its normal routine – which has been generally pretty great in past weeks – but it falls mostly flat this time around. The big fight between Dottie and Peggy which we’ve been waiting weeks for is shot incredibly poorly with a dizzying amount of quick cuts. Dottie can’t even swing a baseball bat without the camera cutting twice before it makes contact. I wish I was exaggerating, but just watch the fight in the hangar again and try and mentally count the quick cuts. Hayley Atwell has proved to be a decent chroegraphed fighter (or at the very least passable) but her action scenes are hidden behind flashy camerwork as if she’s terrible. The way the fight ends is equally disappointing.
Oddly enough, the best parts of Agent Carter’s final episode are the segments that are setting up for disappointment, but end up being clever bait-and-switches. The first of such “gotchya” moments was set up in the very first scene. Those delightfully inaccurate radio show actors that have made a few appearances on the series previously come on at the start of this week’s episode playing through the climactic ending to the first Captain America movie where Peggy loses Steve Rogers in a plane crash. This comes into play later when Peggy is trying to talk a hypnotized Howard Stark out of unknowingly dropping toxic gas all over New York City. She ends up talking him down, instead of being forced to order he be shot down, and avoids yet again having a really bad day on the end of a two-way radio.
The other, even better, moment is Sousa dealing with Dr. Ivchenko. I can’t count the number of times a lot of trouble would have been avoided throughout the course of Agent Carter if the agents just had the balls to pull a trigger once in a while, and it looked like it was happening again in this episode. Couple the fact that Sousa was just pointing a gun at the dangerous Ivchenko with the fact that Sousa and Thompson had just talked about not letting Ivchenko talk and it was building up to a groan-worthy scene. At the last second however, Sousa pistol whips Ivchenko and shows that he had earplugs in the whole time – he wasn’t going to be hypnotized by the Russian therapist, he was finally getting the better of them. Definitely my favorite scene of the episode.
I was hoping that Agent Carter would end its short run with a few more ties into the Marvel cinematic universe but it didn’t (save for a surprise appearance at the very end). By the end of it all, everything that happened or was created during the course of the season is either destroyed or dumped in the Hudson River – meaning that Agent Carter is mostly a self-contained story for better or worse.

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