Valediction ties everything up in a bow for Peggy Carter that’s perhaps a little too perfect.
AGENT CARTER FINALE “VALEDICTION”
Director: Christopher Misiano
Writers: Michael Fazekas and Tara Butters
Original Air Date: Tuesday, February 24th, 2015
Starring: Hayley Atwell, James D’Arcy, Dominic Cooper
Previously on Agent Carter 1.7 “Snafu”: Peggy and Jarvis were arrested and then set free again in time to witness the death of an S.S.R. colleague.
ALL ABOUT THAT STEVE
Agent Carter is a television series that has been lauded, by myself and many other, for its progressive storytelling in dealing with a female protagonist working within the system and the confines of mid-20th century America and the aplomb with which it handled this subject matter is what makes the finale episode Valediction such a disappointment. At every turn everything that Peggy, Howard and Jarvis do is in service to Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America rather than working to build their own universe and deal with drama that helps carve out their respective places in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In the end, viewers are left to conclude that Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell, who does an incredible job), is only special as long as she lives her life in service to a man.
Valediction brings Howard Stark (played by the always great Dominic Cooper), led by Edwin Jarvis (James D’Arcy as one of the only likeable men from episode to episode), back to partner with Peggy Carter and her colleagues at the S.S.R. Howard and Peggy get a really nice moment together in the beginning, although moving forward Howard only serves to step into the role that Steve Rogers played in Captain America: the First Avenger and force Peggy to have to agree to let him die.
Spoiler alert: Howard Stark doesn’t actually die by the end of Valediction.
Peggy and her team deduce where Ivchenko (Costa Ronin), and Dottie (Bridget Regan), are fleeing to in order to commence their large scale attack on New York City and basically spend the remainder of Valediction taking the pair down. Not only have the writers Michael Fazekas and Tara Butters reminded the viewers that the characters of Agent Carter are only as good as they could possibly be in the shadows of Steve Rogers (yes, a white male), but they make the capture of both Ivchenko and Dottie pretty easy … despite the fact that the S.S.R. team has failed to do so for an entire season previously.
Director Christopher Misiano – who has done wonderful work in some previous episodes – doesn’t do much for Valediction, unfortunately. The various fight scenes that are peppered throughout the episode are almost impossible to watch with such frequent cuts being made. It would have been more interesting and more telling about the characters if the viewers had been able to see the different fighting styles that Peggy and Dottie employ, rather than seeing the combat from a slightly different angle every three seconds.
Valediction culminates in a scene where Howard is flying a plane and Peggy is trying to save him via radio contact. This was probably supposed to be a sweet call back to the end of Captain America: the First Avenger, but it feels tired, trotted out and, ultimately, lazy. Peggy Carter is a more unique character than this and so aptly played by Hayley Atwell that she deserved a little more creativity for the finale of her first television series.
In the final scene of Valediction we also get to see that the status quo has not changed: she commands no more respect than in the premier and is likely to spend the rest of her Cinematic Universe existence pining after Steve Rogers in a way that feel cartoonish, rather than an honest emotional response. Yes – there is a “stinger” scene of sorts and it almost makes up for the nonsense that proceeded it.
BOTTOM LINE: NOT THE ENDING PEGGY DESERVES
Valediction hits the plot points too quickly, the performances are good even if the actors don’t have great lines or character arcs to work with, Peggy winds up back at square one and Agent Carter’s season one finale doesn’t pass the Bechdel test … it’s really a mixed bag in the end.
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