Agent Carter will remain a significant blip in the massive timeline of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Following episode six’s shocking ending, Peggy Carter, now under the custody of the S.S.R., seems to be out of options. Leviathan is closing in from all sides. Dottie Underwood, a Leviathan sleeper super spy has exposed herself to Peggy and is thirsty for blood. Dr. Ivchenko is revealed to have mastered hypnotizing men during World War II as a desperate response to a shortage in anesthetics.
One of the most exciting parts of “Snafu” is the S.S.R’s interrogation of Agent Carter. We’ve seen the varying tactics of Dooley, Sousa and Thompson used on suspects in the past but never anything like this. Peggy is put through the carousel of strategies from the three men. They appeal to her heart, accuse her of being Howard Stark’s lover and unknowingly bring up Peggy’s ultimate Achilles heel, Steve Rodgers.
It’s telling that after Peggy attempts to exonerate Howard Stark, each of the men accuse of her of being “just another Stark girl.” Sexism has been rampant in Agent Carter, and to this point Peggy has used it to benefit her, but this situation required Peggy to do something altogether different. Pushed to the end of her wits, Peggy lays it all on the agents and Chief Dooley. She chastises them for a season’s worth of ignorance. (Oh, how rewarding that moment was.)
The episode continues to plot on after this emotional explosion. Ivchenko, still a simple psychiatrist to Chief Dooley, manages to hypnotize Dooley. While we’re given another example of how dangerous Ivchenko is, Jarvis arrives with a bombshell. After artfully getting past the “phone company” workers used to disguise the S.S.R. headquarters, Jarvis brings a signed confession from Howard Stark that also frees Peggy of all guilt. Curveball? Once alone with Peggy, Jarvis reveals (or is forced to reveal), that the confession is only a ploy of Jarvis. By chance, Peggy notices Ivchenko using Morse code to communicate with Dottie acorss the street and decides to lay all her cards on the table. She tells the S.S.R. everything — Howard’s plea for help, her personal investigations into Leviathan and that the orb she stole from the S.S.R. contains Captain America’s blood. With these admissions as her strongest evidence, Dooley, Thompson and Sousa begin to believe Carter — and that something more significant is at play.
Ivchenko, who has finally been given enough time with Dooley, manages to get the chief to give him an unknown Stark invention. To confirm Peggy’s accusations, Sousa and Thompson are dispatched across the street to find Dottie, with whom Sousa faces off and barely survives. After confirming Leviathan’s presence, the S.S.R. must refocus but Chief Dooley appears wearing a vest that is bound for explosion. After expressing his last wishes, Dooley sacrifices himself to save the rest of the S.S.R. The most disturbing revelation of the episode comes when the invention is revealed to be a gas which makes all those who smell it turn manic and murderous. The contents of it are tested on a movie theater by Ivchenko and Dottie.
The finale, “Valediction,” picks up from the massacre at the movie theater and immediately addresses it. As casually as we’d expect Howard Stark enters the S.S.R. with information on the gas and the mysterious Batlle of Finow. The gas is called “Midnight Oil.” It was created to allow soldiers to stay awake days at a time but it’s side-affects were well, murder. It was used at the Battle of Finow by General McGinnis against Howard’s will. Within the files of the battle we find the two Levithan agents from earlier in the season and Johan Fenhoff, or as we know him Dr. Ivchenko.
Knowing that he is who Fenhoff/Ivchenko is after, Howard implores the S.S.R. to set a trap with him as the bait. Clearly one step ahead, Howard is captured by Ivchenko and, you guessed it, hypnotized. In a moment that truly displays the complexity of Howard Stark and Dominic Cooper’s understanding of the character, we’re brought to wreckage of Captain’s America’s last flight. Convinced he’s finding Captain America, Howard flies toward New York City with the rest of the Midnight Oil that Ivchenko plans to unleash on the city.
Peggy, Jarvis and Agents Sousa and Thompson arrive at Howard’s hanger on edge and soon realize the scope of Ivchenko’s plans. Jarvis volunteers to take down Howard’s plane if need be and the Agents move to neutralize Leviathan. Peggy finally faces off with Dottie who proves to be her biggest adversary yet but the fight was missing substance. Dottie spoke of jealousy for Peggy’s life but their relationship wasn’t even developed enough for this to really hit deep. Dottie is eventually thrown from a window by Peggy and she gets to work trying to bring Howard back to reality.
Agent Thompson and Agent Sousa set out to find Ivchenko and Thompson for all his brawn is immediately knocked out by the doctor. When Sousa finds Ivchenko the situation does not improve. Ivchenko needs only to say the word “focus” and begins to hypnotize Sousa and attempts to make him murder Thompson. Thankfully, Sousa did something that Thompson would have never thought of, he brought ear plugs.
Peggy all the while is faced with the ultimate task, talk Howard down or order him to be shot down. Baring it all, Peggy tells Howard and through extension herself, that they both have to let Captain America go. Through Peggy’s heartfelt plea Howard finally snaps out of his mind control and New York is saved.
In almost tragic timing, immediately after Agent Carter reserves a much deserved ovation from the S.S.R., a congressmen shows up and immediately gives Agent Thompson the credit which he does not deny. While Sousa may have been frustrated Peggy tells him what we already knew, she doesn’t need the credit or the accolades, she’s confident enough without them.
With no guarantees of a second season, the end gives hope for another but also satisfies the journey Peggy Carter has traveled. As she poured Captain America’s blood into the river it was honestly believable she could move on with her life. But what would Marvel be without a cameo? Ivchenko, outfitted with headgear to keep him silent, is escorted to prison and his cell-mate takes immediate notice. The infamous Dr. Armin Zola (played by Toby Jones) is revealed to be his cell-mate and he wastes no time befriending Ivchenko and offering him a pen and paper. This is clearly a response to the seeds sown in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and even in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Hydra lives on and Leviathan is now a major part of that.
Marvel’s Agent Carter at first seemed like ploy for ratings and bridge between Marvel movies but in the end you’d be hard-pressed to call it that. The attention given to Agent Carter was serious and the result was a fun, intriguing and enlightening program.
Alain Pierre-Lys (@captainreality) is a staff writer for The High Screen and student at SUNY Oswego in the beautiful tundra that is central New York.