Last week I talked about how the penultimate episode felt like it did not stand alone, that it needed the finale. Well, said finale has come and gone, and maybe I was right and maybe I wasn’t. I actually watched “SNAFU” again with Holly as part of watching the finale, and a couple of pieces I missed (maybe while jotting down notes?) helped bring the episode together, like that they mentioned running a test with the Stark tech – and thus the movie theater madness. So “SNAFU” might stand alone better than I thought, but it is still nice to watch them together!
Because this episode was more than just the conclusion to the previous episode: it was the capstone to the whole series. So it not only concluded recent events, it drew back to early ones, like issues with Peggy’s housing, or like the Captain America radio drama. We know what Leviathan was after, and why. We know why the early henchmen had no voicebox. We have confirmation that it was the hypnotist who lured them to Europe. This episode neatly tied up these sorts of lingering questions, while also finishing out the arc on the different characters. We even find out who robbed Stark! And along with all this, we emotionally close the door on Captain America: The First Avenger and turn to the future: and the future is SHIELD.
The SSR is still reeling from the tragedy they just experienced, and the death of Chief Dooley. But a new case to investigate of course pops up: a theater full of people who killed each other. They are in and investigating, and Sousa finds the nearly empty canister that it all came out of. I say nearly empty as it sprays him with enough of the gas to have him murderous and trying to kill Thompson. Granted, that shouldn’t take too much, but it happens.
We also find out that the gas sears the throat, so Sousa is lucky he didn’t get too much. But this is why the Leviathan agents were the way they were – it marked them as survivors of this gas. Why would Stark make a weapon like this?
Howard Stark shows up at the SSR to clear that up. They move past their desire to arrest him, and listen. It wasn’t a weapon, but was designed as a stimulant for the soldiers, to keep them going. Well, that didn’t turn out at all, instead leading to murderous rage etc. So a general deployed it at Finau, the mysterious World War II battleground that kept coming up, that Chief Dooley had been investigating, which Howard Stark had visited (where he saw what the gas could do – he wasn’t happy), and where the hypnotist (who now has two names I don’t know how to spell so he’s keeping his title) survived in a gas mask, plotting revenge.
Stark says that this gas is called Midnight Oil, and that they likely have ten more canisters of it – enough to make much of New York go mad. They seem to be there with that in mind, to punish Stark by having him see his creation destroy his home city. So Stark offers himself as bait – because then they can control what their opponents are doing.
Flash to the hypnotist and Dottie, heading into an airfield. Dottie is out procuring them a plane, via violence, and the hypnotist is in a car listening to the radio – where he hears that Stark will be at a press conference. I love the exchange that followed:
“A new opportunity has arisen.”
“Just since I left the car?”
Couple scenes on, they’ve captured Stark, and taken him to a hangar with one of his hidden planes. It was Dottie who robbed his vault! Which is made better by the fact that he can’t remember her name – which does not amuse Dottie nearly as much as it amuses the audience! The hypnotist then uses a different tactic than he has before. Before, he did positive sorts of hypnotism, to befriend the SSR and get away with things. With Stark, it’s a hypnotism of pain: taking him to his greatest failure.
And his greatest failure is not having found Captain America. The one thing he has done that has caused any good to happen.
So he is easily convinced to go flying out, thinking he is hunting for Cap – though he actually has the deadly payload of the Midnight Oil onboard and he’s headed for a large collection of soldiers. It’s V-E Day.
The team shows up, and send out their only pilot to stop Stark – Jarvis. Meanwhile Peggy fights her way past Dottie to the radio, to try to talk Stark out of it. It’s a close thing – Jarvis almost has to shoot Stark out of the sky. However, Peggy connects with Howard over their shared love for Captain America, the best among them.
The good guys win, the hypnotist is taken into custody, Dottie escaped. Stark gives Peggy and Angie one of his “smaller” homes to live in. And Jarvis has the best gift – stolen from Howard, who thinks it was lost in the struggles with Leviathan. Captain America’s blood. This Peggy takes out and, in an emotional scene, pours it off of what I am pretty sure is the Brooklyn Bridge.
He was just a boy from Brooklyn.
The Biggest Spoiler
It’s time for a lightning round, and first and foremost, the final scene! The hypnotist is in a Hannibal-Lecter-esque face mask, so he can’t speak. However, his cell mate talks enough for both of them.
Arnim-freaking-Zola. And Hydra begins again.
Final Thoughts on Dottie
I’m happy Dottie lived and escaped, because I have to admit her fight scene with Peggy was not satisfying. It was kind of “yay, Peggy won, of course Peggy won, title character.” Of course, she got kicked out a window, so Peggy did a pretty good job of the fight, but still. We’ll be seeing her again.
I also like that we found something that could get under her skin. After how much work she put into creating her cover identity, after brainwashing and being taken apart and rebuilt into a life as a weapon – Stark didn’t remember her. It was such an insult to her. And he keeps guessing names, and getting them wrong! At the end, he thinks he remembers it, and talks about the “steel trap” of his memory – but I doubt that was it either.
Final Thoughts on Agents Thompson & Sousa
While Peggy is headed off to get to the radio and fighting Dottie, Thompson and Sousa are on their way to face off with the hypnotist. And like last week, Thompson has good advice – don’t let him speak.
And like last week, when Dottie kicked Sousa’s butt, Sousa didn’t listen! The hypnotist got the drop on Thompson, and Sousa comes walking in, gun drawn. And lets him start talking! And hypnotizing! SOUSA WHY DON’T YOU EVER LISTEN! And Sousa turns his gun on Thompson! Oh no! And then… oh wait, nope, down goes the hypnotist. Thompson is confused, as are we… until Sousa pulls out his earplugs. Well played, sir.
The other scene of note with these two is towards the end. A Senator comes in to thank the SSR for a job well done, looking for the agent behind it all – looking for Agent Thompson. Obviously. And Thompson pauses a moment, looks back at Carter and Sousa, and then he takes the credit, walking back to talk further with the Senator in the Chief’s office. Likely his new office.
And Sousa turns to Carter and says he is going to march in there and set the record straight. Not even really just for himself, but for Carter. But Peggy smiles and says that she knows her own value, and it doesn’t matter if no one else does. I would add that the final juxtaposition of the two was in this – as it shows that Sousa does not necessarily know his own value, and is still looking for validation from others.
Final Thoughts on Howard Stark
Stark, after all that’s happened, wants to destroy all of his inventions – or at least the dangerous ones from the vault. Still in his future are things we know from the movies, like Stark expos, working with Whiplash’s father on the Arc Reactor, hiding secret messages to his son, and getting killed by Hydra. He has a lot of reasons to be paranoid, and we definitely see the beginnings of this here.
Did it feel “comic book?”
To the last, I would say the show kept from feeling too comic booky. Sure, there was a crazy evil chemical that drives people crazy that was going to be deployed over a whole city… but that’s really just the comic book version of chemical warfare, so it’s not so far from believable. The hypnotist turned out to be just really good at hypnotism – there had been theories that his ring is magic (or alien), but if so then Sousa’s earplugs shouldn’t have worked. Right? It all ended up pretty human. I would even say that Leviathan seems like it might have been a fairly small organization, mainly centered around the hypnotist and his few remaining folks from the Russian war efforts. But maybe there’s more! Hopefully we get a second season to find out…
Did it feel like you needed to have watched the other movies and shows?
This episode was the emotional conclusion to Captain America: The First Avenger. Well, for everyone but Captain America. In the movie, we get to see Cap’s reaction. He breaks out, heads into Times Square, and it brings him up short. He talks to Nick Fury, and he claims he’s good with ending up 70 years in the future. Except… he had a date.
However, for characters like Howard Stark – who we know hunted for Cap – and for Peggy Carter – said date – we didn’t get to see what their future looked like, their life. The rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is happening 70 years later. But this show kept it in the past, kept us with the events that mattered in that time and place, instead of drawing in all the connections for the future continuity. This episode held to that… right up to the end.
Because sure, having Arnim Zola in prison there, waiting, is a follow-up from First Avenger. But it’s also a prequel to Winter Soldier, as we know that one day, Toby Jones will be playing a talking computer – the immortal Herr Zola. Brain in a 1970’s computer. Hydra. This was a huge teaser for what I can only assume is a season 2 which will have much more to do with the rest of the MCU!
Did it matter that it was a female lead?
And finally, the final thoughts on the lead, Agent Peggy Carter. Hayley Atwell has been amazing. She is playing the character who was the equal of Captain America, while also reminding us just how hard a thing that is to be. But in this episode, she gets to be the grieving, vulnerable person just a bit. But in a good way. She gets closure. I think from here, she’s ready to move on, confident, with a purpose, and not giving a damn what the men around her think. I really hope there’s a season 2, because she is a storm that can’t be stopped.
As of this writing, I see no confirmation on a Season 2 yet, but I really see no reason why this is not going to exist! I would say: count on it.
Thank you for reading my series review of Agent Carter! It’s been a fun show to follow. For a different perspective on the show, my wife Holly wrote a review on my main blog, Comparative Geeks. You can find me there after this, geeking out on any number of things!