Finally, the big showdown! Apprehended by her own teammates, Agent Carter faces Chief Dooley and Agents Sousa and Thompson as they figure out why Peggy colluded with Howard Stark and how much of this mess she’s responsible for since the manhunt began. Not surprisingly, Peggy crushes them with little effort. Sadly, we tend to see Peggy at her most dynamic and toughest when she’s placed in dismal situations (with exception to reteaming with the Commandos a few episodes back). If Jack is threatening to put his mitts on her despite the growing rapport they’ve recently developed, Carter is absolutely frustrating the hell out of the three. The odd thing is, the show has slowly turned frustrating for a growing amount of viewers who’ve become tired of the same tropes being hammered into oblivion.
We get it by now: Peggy Carter is a woman that’s not taken seriously and barely thought of within the office. She’s just as, if not more, qualified as her compatriots (despite them never being given an opportunity to showcase their supposed talents). Et cetera and so on. Yet the sexism card continues to be played with lessened effectiveness. As Carter is being interrogated by Dooley, Sousa, and Thompson individually, each playing to their perspective of women in the workplace. Dooley doesn’t care for it, Thompson can’t trust them, and Sousa is “the nice guy”. If I had to deal with that bunk day in and day out, I’d handle my own investigations, too.
While Peggy is mum about everything she’s done, Dr. Ivchenko (Ralph Brown) continues to gain more and more access throughout the SSR, thanks to his “friendship” with Chief Dooley. Thompson and Sousa have openly expressed concern to the Chief about how close he is to the good Doctor, but hey… he’s a good guy now! There’s no need to debrief the guy or detain him from sensitive materials! Let him roam around and tap Morse code to assassins across the street. There are times when common sense has to be thrown out to accept some of the actions within Agent Carter, and this is a big-time example. I accept the era then was proudly politically incorrect and super patriarchal, but one would hope they had stringent protocols when dealing with questionable assets.
Eventually, one of the top agents was going to bite the dust, but one could never have guessed the way Dooley went out. Shea Whigham’s portrayal of Chief Dooley was an odd mix of cantankerous charm and aloofness at times, but he made up for all of his shortcomings and distrust of Peggy in his final moments. Within the span of 42 minutes, Whigham went through a gamut of emotions so few of his cast mates have tapped into throughout the series. It is unfortunate Dooley’s bleak background wasn’t revealed earlier because it actually shook up the tiresome status quo. However, it served its purpose in humanizing a generally difficult and indifferent character.
While the agents are attempting to pick up the pieces at SSR HQ, Ivchenko and Dottie (Bridget Regan) test Item 17 during a matinee. First things first… if a woman enters a movie theater with a stroller, then leaves the aforementioned stroller in the middle of the aisle? YOU LEAVE. Something is damn sure about to occur. Who in their right mind just sits… you know what? Nevermind. It’s only a TV show. As expected, Item 17 – a chemical weapon – works swiftly and effectively, as all the patrons turn into mindless beasts; beating each other to death. Again, another slight to the build-up to the season finale: of all the potential destructive Stark devices Leviathan could have gotten their hands on, they go for a 28 Days Later nerve gas. It all seems so meager in scope.
As underwhelming as the last two episodes have been, one would hope the season finale of Agent Carter provides the action scenes we expect and the last-minute redemption of the surviving cast to restore that feeling of excitement and vivacity experienced during its premiere.
Agent Carter’s season finale “Valediction” airs on Tuesday, February 24th, at 9pm, on ABC.
Starring: Hayley Atwell, James D’Arcy, Chad Michael Murray, Enver Gjokaj, Shea Whigham, Ralph Brown, Bridget Regan
Dir: Vincent Misiano