Valediction Plot Summary:
On the eve of Leviathan’s ultimate attack on New York City, Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) returns to help the S.S.R. His willingness to clear his name gives Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) exactly what she needs to fight the enemy.
Surprisingly enough, ABC hasn’t announced any plans for more Agent Carter. These season has now come and gone without any news. It sucks, for sure, but clearly the writers didn’t create the show to end after only eight episodes. Very little about “Valediction” is actually final. The only thing that really ended, at least for now, is the threat of Leviathan. Every other story was left definitively open ended. There is still plenty of tales left to tell of Agent Peggy Carter and her fight against ruthless evil and societal norms. As for this one, Agent Carter did an excellent job wrapping up its first season. “Valediction” wasn’t quite as good as “Snafu,” but it still handily ranks as one of the best.
So much of this finale worked, it’s tough to pick what was the best about it. I guess a good contender was how it was a great celebration of this entire cast. Not a single character was left in the cold on an uninteresting story. Even Angie (Lyndsy Fonseca) got a great little moment in the end, which I guess is all we could ask for with the episode’s focus. Edwin Jarvis (James D’Arcy), the ultimate sidekick, was finally given a commanding role as he literally held Stark’s life in his hands. Stark brought his trademark gravitas and openly threw himself into the fire to ease his guilt over Finow. Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) and Jack Thompson (Chad Michael Murray) had their heroic victory, along with revenge for their deceased Chief. I actually cheered when Sousa punched Dr. Ivchenko/Fennhoff (Ralph Brown) and pulled out his earplugs. Like a freaking boss indeed. This show really knows how to use its cast.
No matter what though, Carter was who she always is: the real star. Everyone may have had their moment but it was still this powerful woman leading the charge. You could tell things were different from the beginning too. When the S.S.R. goes to investigate the theater massacre, Carter is right there on the front lines. She’s no longer someone to file reports or get coffee. She’s now an equal in every sense of the word. The change from the premiere to the finale truly is monumental. That standing ovation she received near the end was amazing too. It validated everything Carter has tried to do since the war. Of course, when high ranking politicians came to congratulate the S.S.R., they praised Thompson for his work, which infuriates Sousa. The S.S.R. might have made a big stride towards equality but society as a whole is still one step back. How Carter reacted to the slight is just even more reason to love her. She simply doesn’t give a shit what political leaders think. She knows what her value is and it’s that self-respect that will keep her going. Also, you could totally see she enjoyed denying Sousa’s request for a drink.
The fight between Dottie (Bridget Regan) and Carter was an excellent scene. This is what we’ve been waiting for since Dottie’s emergence as a Black Widow and it did not disappoint. These two women, professionals in their respective fields, went at it with some incredible intensity. They even did it dressed up in nice clothing. The choreography was obviously on point. It wasn’t a mess at all. It was tightly constructed with the right focus on heavy hits. You could really feel Carter getting hit repeatedly by a baseball bat. Dottie getting kicked out of the window was absolutely nuts too. Of course, the woman didn’t die. That’s one of the things I expected going into this. Dottie has all the makings of being Carter’s ultimate antagonist. Every hero needs a rival and that’s what this relationship is. Dottie will come back and you can bet she will be more dangerous than ever.
This episode also served as a nice character focus on Stark, who we still learn more about with every appearance. I wouldn’t be totally shocked if Cooper gets promoted to a recurring role next season because the show really does get that much better when he’s around. What we saw in “Valediction” was a different side of this engineering genius. He feels guilty over everything that happened which prompts him to play bait for Dottie and Fennhoff. The fact that his biggest regret is losing Captain America isn’t really big surprise. Fennhoff using that to hypnotize him was a great touch though. The man is nothing without his humor too, and so much of his appearance contained some of the best jokes. My personal favorite is him making Thompson say that he’s a “hero for all Americans” and everyone is “humbled by his brilliance.” Close second is easily him guessing what Dottie’s pseudonym was.
I will say that I had trouble fully investing in Stark possibly getting killed by Jarvis. Sure, the tension was high, but c’mon. Tony Stark has to exist. We already know Howard grows from a young Dominic Cooper into a mature John Slattery too. There was no way Carter wasn’t going to talk the man down. Also, I love how Stark explained Finow better than Dooley ever did, essentially proving all of his investigations pointless. I already forgot everything Dooley found out, but still know it all because Stark was pretty clear on what happened. More proof that the late Dooley needed better material.
Lastly, Carter pouring out Cap’s blood was a nice bit a closure for her. “Valediction” saw her and Stark finally accepting that their Star-Spangled Hero was gone, a reference to the episode’s name. The blood vial didn’t represent hope for future medicine or cures to a disease. In Carter’s eyes, it was her desperately gripping onto one unshakable truth. Cap was gone, and as we all know, won’t come back for another 60+ years. You can make the case that the best in humanity could have used that blood for major advancements, but no one had a good track record with the other available vials. This at least made sure it never got in the wrong hands. Plus, now Carter has moved on and is free to find new love in this world. Let the shipping of her and Thompson or Sousa begin! I’m sure the whole fanbase will be broken off into Team Jack or Team Daniel with stupid names like Peck or Penial or, God forbid, Carmpson.
There isn’t a doubt in my mind that this show is coming back for more. ABC just needs to hurry up and announce it so we know for sure. There’s a lot of material left and I’m not just talking about the fact that Dottie is still alive. Carter still has yet to form S.H.I.E.L.D. with Stark, Hydra has yet to infiltrate the ranks, and there’s the small matter of Arnim Zola (Toby Jones) appearing at the end with Fennoff. The writers can even use this as a chance to introduce a young Nick Fury, though I really doubt that will happen. Then again, I never expected them to introduce the Black Widows, and here we are! Bottom line, Agent Carter has a lot to offer, and this finale is proof that this show needs to continue.
Luke Kalamar is Pop-Break.com’s television and every Saturday afternoon you can read his retro video game column, Remembering the Classics. He covers Game of Thrones, Saturday Night Live and The Walking Dead (amongst others) every week. As for as his career and literary standing goes — take the best parts of Spider-man, Captain America and Luke Skywalker and you will fully understand his origin story.