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Before SHIELD: “Marvel’s Agent Carter”- Episode 8 “Valediction”

Inspired by the films “Captain America: The First Avenger” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, “Marvel’s Agent Carter” is a series created for ABC based on beloved Agent Peggy Carter. Our writer, DeShawn Blankenship recaps the mini-series each week, updating you with the very latest in his series, Before SHIELD.


Picture Credit: ABC/Marvel Studios

Welcome back, Agents! We’ve arrived at the final episode for the inaugural season of Marvel’s Agent Carter. We’ve followed Peggy Carter as she’s reassembled her life after the loss of her love, Captain America, and her struggle for respect in a male–dominated 1940’s America. She’s fought bad guys and good guys alike, staying hot on the trail of Leviathan, as they try to use Howard Stark’s designs to take over the world. Tonight, Peggy puts it all on the line to stop Doctor Ivchenko from turning New York into a battle royale. Will she succeed? Let’s find out!

We open just hours after the end of last episode. The SSR arrives at the theater–turned–abattoir, finding the remains of the customers. Peggy quickly deduces that they all killed each other. Meanwhile, Souza finds the canister of Item 17 and examines, only to have it discharge in his face. When Thompson arrives to check on him, Souza goes berserk, beating his partner senseless and attacking Peggy before he’s taken down

Dottie and Ivchenko are leaving New York when a cop stops them for running a traffic light. Dottie turns on her Iowa Girl charm,and the cop gives her a warning. He’s almost leaves without issue but an APB for her car comes over the radio. Before he can prepare, he’s staring down the barrel of her gun.

Souza awakems handcuffed to a bed with Peggy nearby. Souza is horrified that he attacked Peggy but she lets him off the hook. They join the rest of the agents and Thompson, now in charge, as he briefs them on what’s happening. Fenhoff has ten canisters of the gas and plans to use it. But how and where?

Before they can discuss it further, Howard Stark arrives and is promptly arrested. Souza and Thompson blame him for everything that’s happened, including Chief Dooley’s death. which he owns up to. Howard explains that the gas is called “Midnight Oil” and was supposed to keep soldiers awake and ready for combat. Instead, it makes people aggressive and prone to violence. The gas caused the massacre at Finnau after General McGinnis raided his lab. Howard flew to the village to see the results, leading to Howard’s refusal to work with the military. Cooper hits the right notes with Howard’s remorse and we see further parallels between the elder Stark and his son. Both men design weapons of war and eventually feel remorse at the horrors they helped create.

Howard offers himself as bait to lure out Ivchenko, whom Peggy reveals as Doctor Johann Fenhoff, aka   Doctor Faustus, which explains his ability to brainwash people. Alone with Peggy, Howard frets over how the SSR handled his inventions but she knows he’s putting himself in harm’s way to atone for the lives taken by his “bad babies”. Howard’s gone most of his life disregarding others’ opinions of him. He cares about how Peggy sees him, though, and he needs to help out. A radio reports that Howard is back and Fenhoff commands Dottie to head back to New York.

Thompson holds a press conference to clear Howard’s name. Thompson would rather swallow glass than sing Howard’s praises, so he allows Stark talk about his favorite subject: himself. Howard doesn’t get far, though. A shot rings out during his speech and Howard dives into a nearby taxi, driven by the cop from earlier, who lets him know that Fenhoff wants to see him.

Peggy and Thompson check the room where the shot came from and realize Dottie wasn’t trying to kill Howard. It was only a distraction so that they could kidnap him. Thompson tells her that there’s a veteran’s celebration happening today. Fenhoff is planning to make New York tear itself apart by releasing the gas over Times Square.

A bound Howard meets Fenhoff, who explains his hatred of the billionaire genius. His brother was among the casualties at Finnau, where Fenhoff watched the people tear each other apart. Fenhoff had a gas mask, so he survived. and he’s the one who set up the robbery of Howard’s weapons. Howard is genuinely remorseful but the doctor brushes it aside. Howard feebly offers that he’s not a bad person but Fenhoff disagrees. He’s been so successful because he’s a bad person, not in spite of it. He forces Howard to focus on his deepest shame: losing Captain America. Peggy appears with Cap’s shield and implores him to bring their friend home.

The SSR and Jarvis realize that Fenhoff wants to use Howard’s plane to release the gas during the festivities. Thompson believes that all of Stark’s planes are grounded but Jarvis informs him that Howard has another, larger vault with other planes. They arrive, ready to fight, but Howard’s already taken off toward New York City to deliver the gas. Jarvis volunteers to shoot his boss out of the sky while Peggy, Thompson and Souza go after Dottie and Fenhoff.

Peggy finds them first as Fenhoff continues brainwashing Howard via radio. Dottie and Peggy finally give us the fight we’ve been wanting all season, with Dottie gaining the upper hand. When she taunts Peggy about not being good enough, our favorite agent kicks her through a window to end the battle. Fenhoff escapes, but Peggy leaves him to her fellow agents while she attempts to talk Howard down through the radio , mirroring her last moments with Captain America. Jarvis is ready to shoot him down as Howard tells her that he’s bringing Steve home, because Captain America is the one good thing he’s ever done.

In a moving monologue, Peggy tells Howard (and herself) that it’s time they let him go. The heartbreak is palpable here and this scene hurts just as much as her final conversation with Steve hurts in The First Avenger. Luckily, Howard comes to his senses and follows Jarvis home.

Downstairs, Souza and Thompson engage Fenhoff. Thompson goes down early, leaving Souza alone with the bad doctor. Fenhoff offers to give Souza back his leg and dignity if he kills his partner, but Souza seems to overcome the brainwashing and knocks him out. Thompson sighs in relief when Souza removes his earplugs, showing that he’s probably the best prepared field agent the SSR has, aside from Peggy. Fenhoff is arrested but Dottie is in the wind and likely to return in a season two.

The following morning, Peggy receives a standing ovation from the other agents as she arrives to collect her paycheck. The moment doesn’t last, though. Senator Cooper arrives and congratulates Thompson, who  soaks it in, angering Souza. Souza asks Peggy why she lets him get away with it and, in the line of the night, Peggy explains her logic.

“I don’t need Agent Thompson’s approval, or the President’s. I know my value.”

There are too many characters with crippling self–doubt and angst on television these days, so Peggy Carter is a breath of fresh air. Souza must also be affected because he asks Peggy out for drinks after work. Peggy declines in favor of meeting a friend, but it’s clear she’s flattered by the offer. Souza is the man Peggy marries. I believe it.

Peggy and Angie meet with Jarvis, who shows them to one of Howard’s “smaller” homes, with only six bedrooms, eight bathrooms, and a telephone in every room. Angie is blown away by the place and even more blown away that Howard is letting the ladies stay there, free of charge, as long as they like. Jarvis informs Peggy that he’s going to organize his spice racks and get out of the adventure business, but if she ever needs him, he’ll be there. He also hands over Steve’s blood, explaining that Howard thinks it’s lost and Jarvis sees no need to correct that impression. Peggy is the only person he trusts with it, surprising even Peggy.

Later, she goes to a bridge and bids a private farewell to the man she loved as she pours out the last vial of his blood in existence. This was a touching moment showing that, while Peggy still aches at the loss of her love, she knows it’s time to move forward and return to the world again rather than relive Steve’s death.

Our show closes with Fenhoff, masked to keep him from speaking, being escorted into his new cell. The doctor looks defeated, but a familiar voice advises him that it’s not over. Arnim Zola steps from the shadows, saying that he’s a fan of Fenhoff’s work. His organization needs an individual gifted in mental manipulation. He hands Fenhoff a pen and paper to communicate and says that their work is just getting started.

This finale tied up almost every loose end (Dottie is gone, but we’ll probably see her again). If this is the only season, then we ended in a good place. I wish we’d learned more about Leviathan, but we know HYDRA is in the shadows and waiting to strike. Dominic Cooper was only in three episodes all season, but Howard Stark’s appearances always advanced the story and weren’t wasted on silliness. His remorse and sadness at the loss of his friend, as well as his dangerous desgins, foreshadows the burden that Tony inherits later in life. What did Peggy think of a young Tony Stark? I wish we knew. Tony follows the same path as his father, going from billionaire playboy to hero. Even if Howard never wears a costume, he’s still created two of the greatest heroes in the Marvel Universe.

It’s been a great ride, Agents! Thank you for joining me each week as we watched Peggy Carter’s ups and downs as a woman in the 1940’s. Let’s hope for a second season so that we can find out how Peggy Carter saved the world….Before SHIELD.

What did you think of the finale? Do you think we’ll get a second season? What’s next for Peggy and the crew? Comment below with your thoughts!

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One Comment on “Before SHIELD: “Marvel’s Agent Carter”- Episode 8 “Valediction””

  1. brakepointpage February 25, 2015 at 11:21 pm #

    Reblogged this on .

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