The network ads described this week’s episode of ‘Agent Carter’ as the “season finale,” as if there’s still some chance of a Season 2. Originally promoted as a limited run series, the show initially did well enough in the ratings to get people’s hopes up for a renewal. However, a ratings slide in subsequent episodes really makes that unlikely at this point.
I’ve expressed my disappointment with this show enough in previous recaps. Aside from the Howling Commandos episode, it has not even come close to living up to its potential. Considering how bad many of the other episodes have been, the finale is somewhat better than average, but still quite underwhelming.
In a brief callback to the first couple of episodes, ‘Valediction’ opens with the Captain America radio show that Peggy hates so much. It will not be mentioned again, but an advertisement for Diamond Toilet Soap is kind of amusing. “Be a Diamond Girl!”
The plot kicks off with the SSR investigating the movie theater where Dottie released a gas canister that made everyone in the audience go crazy. 47 people are dead as a result. Agent Sousa, in a totally dumbass move, picks up the canister and sprays himself in the face, then goes nutso and attacks Thompson until Betty and the others pull him off. The effect will wear off and he’ll be OK later.
The next day, Howard Stark and Jarvis waltz right into SSR headquarters, which still has very lax security despite all that has happened there. Stark surrenders himself in order to help stop Dr. Ivchenko, whose real name it turns out is Dr. Fennhoff. He explains that the crazy gas was the result of a botched experiment called “Midnight Oil” which was stolen from him by a corrupt army general named McGinnis, who used it in the Battle of Finow referenced in previous episodes. Although all of this backstory conveniently ties up that storyline, the whole thing seems completely extraneous and pointless. Does it matter that the gas had been used in the war? All Stark needed to say was, “Oh yeah, that stuff makes you go crazy,” and we would have plenty enough information to move on.
Anyway, Stark offers to let himself be used as bait in order to draw Fennhoff out.
Fennhoff and Dottie, meanwhile, head out of town when they’re pulled over for a routine traffic violation. (Stupid woman driver!) Fennhoff uses his hypnosis ability, which has now somehow become a magical superpower by which he can control the mind of anyone just by speaking a single word, to turn the cop into his unwitting henchman. The doctor decides not to leave town after all when he hears an announcement on the radio.
Thompson stages a press conference to publicly exonerate Howard Stark from any charges against him. As expected, Dottie disrupts the scene by shooting at Stark from a building across the street. Luckily, she’s a really bad shot.
But wait! It’s all a ruse. The gun was rigged to fire remotely and missed on purpose, in order to lure Stark into a police car where the hypnotized cop drives him away. By the time Peggy realizes what has happened, Stark is gone.
Fennhoff hypnotizes Stark into flying one of his own private planes into the city to spray crazy gas over the VE Day celebration in Times Square. Howard believes that he’s flying to the arctic to rescue Captain America. Peggy and the others figure out this diabolical scheme and race to the private landing strip just a little too late to stop Howard from taking off. Jarvis, the only other pilot in the group, hops in another plane and follows after him. If Peggy can’t talk Howard into turning around, Jarvis will shoot him down. (Good thing those private planes are armed!)
In the hangar, Peggy catfights with Dottie and tosses the evil assassin out a window to her presumed death. Fennhoff knocks out Thompson and tries to hypnotize Sousa, but clever Mr. Sousa is wearing earplugs.
Peggy gets on the radio and tries to convince Howard to come back, but for some reason it never occurs to her to come out and tell him that he’s been tricked. Nor does she maybe consider telling him that his coordinates are wrong and he should fly safely over the ocean or something. That probably would have worked too. Fortunately, Stark eventually snaps out of his trance despite her incompetence.
Fennhoff is arrested, but – shocker! – Dottie has miraculously survived and limped away.
The mission a success, Peggy is applauded at the office. Her coworkers finally respect her! Well, except jerkwad Thompson, who takes full credit for stopping the terrorist attack when a Senator comes to congratulate him.
In wrap-up scenes, Peggy and her friend Angie move into one of Stark’s spare mansions. Howard pledges to destroy all of his wayward inventions. Jarvis gives Peggy the vial of Cap’s blood, and she pours it off the Brooklyn Bridge.
Dr. Fennhoff is sent to prison with a mask on his face to prevent him from talking, but he’s put in a cell with evil HYDRA scientist Dr. Zola (Toby Jones, reprising his role from the two ‘Captain America’ movies). Great plan there, SSR doofuses!
I assume that Fennhoff and Dottie’s stories are meant to be cliffhangers to set up a hoped-for Season 2, but I’m very doubtful that such a thing will happen. Despite all of its promise, ‘Agent Carter’ turned out to be a big bust. (No pun intended, pervs.)
With this out of the way, ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ will return to its regular timeslot next week, and I’m quite surprised to find myself actually excited for that.