Agent Carter Finale Review: Valediction, Season 1 Episode 8

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.

Agent_Carter_Official_Logo

Recap

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.

I want an American cheeseburger, and a press conference. Wait... Found on http://comicbook.com/2015/02/25/agent-carter-season-finale-valediction-recap-with-spoilers/

I want an American cheeseburger, and a press conference. Wait…
Found on http://comicbook.com/2015/02/25/agent-carter-season-finale-valediction-recap-with-spoilers/

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.

But seriously, don't mess with her. Found on http://www.themarysue.com/agent-carter-recap-s1-ep8/

But seriously, don’t mess with her.
Found on http://www.themarysue.com/agent-carter-recap-s1-ep8/

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.

Found on http://news.yahoo.com/recap-agent-carter-not-valediction-152000960.html where they also said "I can’t recall the last time a serialized drama got some [sic] many things right."

Found on http://news.yahoo.com/recap-agent-carter-not-valediction-152000960.html where they also said “I can’t recall the last time a serialized drama got some [sic] many things right.”

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.

Questions

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!

Agent Carter Episode Review: SNAFU, Season 1 Episode 7

I honestly don’t know that I have much to say about this episode. It’s the penultimate episode, and like how the first two episodes aired together in one evening, I kind of feel like this episode and the last episode should have aired together. It definitely left me wanting to see where it all ends up, because this was definitely not a complete thought!

What this episode also showed was that it’s not Peggy Carter who has a lot of development to do as a character – it’s the “fathead male coworkers” (as Angie put it last week) who have growing and development to do. This episode culminated and showed a lot of that, up to and including a heart-wrenching sacrifice. So it’s these male characters, Sousa, Thompson, and especially Chief Dooley that will be more of a focus this week!

Nice job getting all the important players into one shot, directors. Found on the review from http://www.themarysue.com/agent-carter-recap-s1-ep7/

Nice job getting all the important players into one shot, directors.
Found on the review from The Mary Sue.

Note: I found some great clips from the episode directly from ABC, but they don’t embed well in WordPress. You should be able to click them to get to the video no problem!

Questioning Agent Carter

At the start of the episode, we pick up where we ended before – with Peggy Carter in custody and being questioned by Agents Sousa and Thompson. It goes pretty much as you would expect – she tells the truth, they don’t believe it. She is calm in the face of it, because she believes that what she has done is right.

Meaning that she mainly reacts when they accuse her of the assassination of their fellow agent – she regrets that the most, but also was not the direct cause of it happening.

The agents go back and forth on believing her. She had built up some trust and respect from them in recent episodes, but not enough to withstand the evidence against her. So when Jarvis, traipsing in to save the damsel in distress, presents a story of a Peggy Carter who gave in to Howard Stark and his charms, well, they fall for it pretty quickly. Peggy, however, is disgusted with this and tells them as soon as possible that it’s a fake confession – rejecting that she needs saving and sticking with her story.

It helps that, as Chief Dooley tells her, they had begun entertaining the idea that Stark wasn’t behind it all – that they had finally reached the point that she wasn’t the only one who believed that. The things she uncovered in her investigation definitely helped get them to that point, though.

Leviathan Attacks!

They never really get a chance to work through the back-and-forth, the questions of what to believe and whether to still blame her – though it does seem like her being kicked out of the SSR was pretty final. Because Peggy wasn’t the only one in the hot seat after the end of last episode – Dottie knows that her cover has been blown. Indeed, Peggy spends time trying to tell them, if they’ll listen, that it’s Dottie they should be concerned with, and not herself.

And, sitting in custody (but near a window) Peggy also gets to see the Leviathan hypnotist sending a message – she finds out he’s a bad guy! Too bad no one is inclined to believe her at that point. Well, and too bad that the psychiatrist did his best to become best friends with Chief Dooley, working to solve his personal problems.

But there’s not much to lose by following Peggy’s hunch, and Sousa and Thompson head over across the street to investigate. Here’s where we see Thompson being less of a “fathead” – he tells Sousa to shoot first if they find Dottie. After seeing the young Russian assassin in Europe, Thompson understands what they might be up against, and he doesn’t like it.

This also gives them a chance to talk about how they had really been growing to trust Peggy, and how they’re conflicted. They can’t deny the fact that she’s outwitted them and beaten them up, but they can still doubt her motives.

Dottie escapes, of course, when Sousa doesn’t shoot. Listen to Thompson! Don’t give her a chance! Ah, he’s not listening as I shout at the screen…

Chief Dooley!

Found on http://www.themarysue.com/agent-carter-recap-s1-ep7/

Found on The Mary Sue.

Meanwhile at headquarters, the hypnotist makes his move. He hypnotizes the chief, using him to break into the lab he couldn’t get to last episode. There, he gets the Stark invention that has been the object of the whole season – which we see at the end, is apparently a gas to make people hyper aggressive? I feel like I just read that in Kingsman

Anyway, the hypnotist also uses the chief to lock up Peggy and Jarvis again, and to grab some other tech – mainly, a vest of Stark’s design which is self-powered, self-heating body armor. Impervious, but unstable. This goes on the chief as a distraction.

And it’s through the chief’s scenes that, for one thing, they finally made me pay attention and catch the chief’s name. That’s happened with several of the male characters, and I’ve slowly caught Sousa’s name, then Thompson’s, and now Dooley’s. Last episode we started getting to him, but this episode we really got a look into his life. Into his broken marriage, and how he has allowed the job to consume him. But really, what he would want is a second chance with his wife, his kids.

Which ends up tough with an overheating armor vest strapped on. The scientists have no ideas, Jarvis has no ideas, and even our eponymous Miss Carter doesn’t have any ideas. But at the last moment, the chief does, and he runs, jumps out the window, and just in time, as the vest explodes midair.

Dooley! Found on http://betweenscreens.com/2015/02/22/agent-carter-season-1-episode-7-snafu/

Dooley! NO!
Found on Between Screens.

The show has a lot of older prejudices and sexism in it, but they did a good job with Chief Dooley of bringing us back to an understanding that he was still good at his job. That he was trying to live up to the male-half of the equation, of being the good provider, and in doing so lost touch with what he was trying to provide for. But hey, he was good enough at the job that he, too, had figured out that Stark wasn’t behind all of this – hopefully everyone else picked up on that as well.

I’ll miss him!

What Peggy and Jarvis spent most of the episode doing…

Being locked up. Peggy and Jarvis were pretty much just locked in a room for the episode. However, this did not stop them from having one of the funniest scenes from the entire show. They are handcuffed together, and to the table in the interrogation room. And, well… this happens.

Sadly, they close the clip before the punchline. They realize something – they are in fact still attached to the table.

Questions

Did it feel “comic book?”

Last week I had concerns about the hypnotist, about how he seemed to be a bit too powerful – in other words, he was kind of comic book. They addressed this a bit this week by going all-in with him. The opening scene is of him during the war, using his hypnotism in place of anesthetic for someone undergoing amputation. In other words, they’re trying to say, “yes, he’s just that good.” At this point, we’re definitely just supposed to accept it… but it is pretty comic book.

I also mentioned how the eventual reveal of what we assume is the Stark tech – which turned everyone against each other – reminded me of a something I just read in a comic. Oh, and the overheating armor, from the father of Iron Man? Yeah, there were some comic-book feeling elements this week, some over-the-top elements.

However, Peggy got kicked out of the SSR this episode, and we’re reminded that there are risks and dangers in this fictional world that are greater than a bit of investigating can handle. There’s ridiculous stuff out there too. And the world is going to need SHIELD to handle these threats!

Did it feel like you needed to have watched the other movies and shows?

No, they kept all of the technology as a new idea, not as something we’ve seen in one of the movies or in Agents of SHIELD. They could as easily of relied on something we already knew from the rest of the Cinematic Universe, but they didn’t.

Did it matter that it was a female lead?

I’ll let Peggy answer this one…

Next week I will have the last episode review for Agent Carter! Can’t believe the season is over so soon, but that’s what 8 episodes gets you. For more of my brand of geekery, you can check me out over on Comparative Geeks, or on Twitter @CompGeeksDavid.

Agent Carter Episode Recap/Review: A Sin to Err, Season 1 Episode 6

This episode was about getting a chance. Our three main female characters all have this come up, and all to very different results. First we have Peggy Carter. She is questioning their Russian Leviathan expert all about the female assassins. She’s sure that this is an important angle – sure that it breaks the case wide open. So the chief stops her, and as she fights for her point, he sends her off. To follow her hunch. She proved herself last episode, and this episode, she’s shown trust. Given a chance.

The second woman to get a chance was Dottie. She had an interview! More of building her cover ID as a young professional woman, right? Oh look, and then the dentist she’s interviewing with sent the office home for the weekend… oh, he’s a predator and a womanizer, of course… surrounded by torturous dental implements… NO, DOTTIE, NO!… Yeah, that didn’t go well for the dentist. Turns out, Dottie needed the office for the view of the SSR office. She had a sniper rifle, she’s going to kill the Russian turncoat! Oh, wait, no, she’s signaling with him, and him back to her – he’s still Leviathan!

Found on http://marvel.com/news/tv/24069/agent_carter_confidential_exclusive_new_images_from_a_sin_to_err

Yeah, Dottie’s sections are regularly the biggest surprises!
Found on Marvel.com

The third woman to get a chance was Angie, Peggy’s other friend from the Griffith, felt like giving up on her acting. Another bad audition. However, she gets a chance to act and save Peggy in the episode – and it rekindles that acting passion. She’ll be an actress yet, unless like so many people around Peggy she ends up dead!

We got somewhere in each of the main cases this week, so let me look at both of those. There was definitely a lot of payoff to the storylines this week, and from here I imagine we will go crashing towards the finale!

Peggy’s Case

So Peggy was following her hunch, about the Russian assassins. This didn’t get too much attention, since we as the audience already know exactly where this investigation is going to lead. Indeed, Peggy’s breakthrough observation – that the sleeping handcuffed would be a hard habit to break – is something we found out last week. Although Jarvis brought it back into perspective:

“That is immensely disturbing.”

Still, she has the bright idea that a female spy could have gotten into Stark’s vault very simply – as women are Stark’s weakness. Peggy has also figured out that it must have been a woman who assassinated their agent a few weeks back. Though they didn’t get much in Russia, they did get this piece and it was critical.

And it got Peggy back working with Jarvis, so that was fun to see, along with the montage of him getting slapped by all the women he broke up with, on Howard’s behalf!

Sousa’s Case

The main tension of the episode is actually that Sousa has finally caught up to Peggy and the fact that she has been causing all the trouble they have been investigating. Well, at least half the trouble! He starts off by having her positively identified by a witness, one who had been beaten up by Peggy. With that knowledge, he knew what he had to do. He went to the chief.

Though we don’t see it getting green-lit, Sousa gets a chance this episode too. They take his allegations seriously, and send a whole team to pick up Peggy. Of course, she sees what’s happening right away. And it’s a great callback to earlier in the episode, when they talk about why female assassins are valuable – men underestimate them, and they get inside their defenses. Which Peggy proceeds to do, and takes out the team, escapes, takes out Thompson, and talks her way past Sousa.

And so they rightly figure the place to look for her is the Griffith – where she fled to get the vial of Captain America’s blood. Another great callback – Peggy escapes out the window, like the young man who climbed his way up episodes ago. There she makes it to Angie’s window – and Angie gets to act her heart out, keeping away the “fathead male coworkers” that Peggy’s always complaining about!

The escape! Found on http://marvel.com/images/gallery/gallery/334/agent_carter_confidential_exclusive_images_from_a_sin_to_err#0-992430

The escape!
Found on Marvel.com

Peggy almost gets away, until the obligatory run-in with Dottie. Who had Peggy’s knockout lipstick! Had forgotten about that. Peggy is moments from death when the SSR find them, and so we have to ask which is better – being brought in for questioning, or facing off with Dottie?

The episode ends with the chief leaving Sousa and Thompson to handle Peggy. Next week, we’ll see how that turns out!

Final Thought:

After all the talk about the “impenetrable” Griffith, the male Agents just keep walking and get up there just fine. The running joke that keeps on giving!

Questions

Did it feel “comic book?”

One thing I haven’t talked about much was the Leviathan turncoat-not-turncoat character. He is a psychiatrist and a hypnotist, and he tries several times this episode to hypnotize people. This does end up feeling pretty comic book, especially as he does it without people noticing, by talking and spinning his gold ring. However, they mostly use it for him to get information, and not for taking much action – oh, except for telling an Agent to go play in traffic…

Did it feel like you needed to have watched the other movies and shows?

No, much like most of the rest of this show, this episode was not really tied to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That said, this episode was the buildup of a lot of the storylines, so we’re definitely at the point where to appreciate it you need to have seen the rest of the season. However, the rest of the season is 5 episodes, so that’s not too bad to catch up!

Did it matter that it was a female lead?

As I mentioned at the top, we got to see how the story went for three different women being given a chance. We have one who got trust from her male coworkers (Peggy), one who lost faith in herself and found it again (Angie), and one who turned a stereotypical bad situation completely on its head (Dottie).

Not how he thought this was going to go. From the review on http://www.themarysue.com/agent-carter-recap-s1-ep6/

Not how he thought this was going to go.
From the review on The Mary Sue.

Even if it can be argued that Sousa also has a situation like this, where he is given a chance, it’s not the point. We don’t get to see the payoff moment for him, when he presents his evidence to the chief and gets his mission green-lit to go arrest Peggy. We get to see the results for the three women!

Agent Carter Episode Review: The Iron Ceiling, Season 1 Episode 5

You know, I’m not quite sure what they meant by “The Iron Ceiling.” After my discussion last week about Ceilings, I was of course thinking of that… but that’s not really it. There’s also the “Iron Curtain” between the East and the West in the Cold War, and that might be closer to it. This week had us heading to Russia, and drawing a connection between the enigmatic villain group, Leviathan, and the Russians.

Found on http://www.themarysue.com/agent-carter-recap-s1-ep5/ with their episode review!

A young Dottie, her secrets revealed.
Found on The Mary Sue with their episode review!

Indeed, we get to see Dottie’s training here, see her Russian Black-Widow-esque assassin training, learning charm, English, and kick-assery. Not much else with her this episode, except that she snuck in to Peggy’s room – out-spying her – and finds her files of information on the case. However, Peggy Carter is a woman of many secrets! The one we’re most concerned about from last week, the vial of Captain America’s blood, went unfound. Dottie found a secret cubby, and must have assumed she’d found all of the goods. She would be mistaken.

The bulk of the episode had Peggy re-connecting with her life in the SSR, a trip to Eastern Europe, and the legendary Howling Commandos! So on to that!

Peggy Carter: On the Case!

Peggy has kind of been a non-entity around the SSR since the show started. We’ve had scenes of her being shut out of the investigation, or from any real work, by the men. Indeed, we have seen an actual episode where her actual duty was the lunch order. She has also played into this, finding ways to get more time off and out of the office to work on the case where she is actually expected to achieve: working for Howard Stark.

But last episode, that relationship got strained. Thus following from that, Peggy throws herself back into her work. And no better time for that than when a mission is headed to Russia, where she apparently speaks the language – and has been there before, more than the others. She was quite busy during the war!

Agents Carter and Thompson, on the case! Found on http://screencrush.com/agent-carter-the-iron-ceiling-photo-gallery-howling-commandos/

Agents Carter and Thompson, on the case!
Found on ScreenCrush

The captain doesn’t want to send her. As he argues it, if he sends her and she dies, then he’s the idiot who sent a woman out in the field to get killed. If he sends her and someone else dies, then he’s the idiot who sent a woman to defend a man (or some such nonsense). Sure, there’s the chance that the mission is easy and goes off without a hitch, but they’re not expecting that – and rightfully so, as it turns out.

Because infiltrating the East was not an easy prospect, sneaking in, trying to elude the bad guys, and they’re not even expecting young assassin girls to kick their asses. They don’t even have a good way into Russia – it’s not like they have the 107th, the Howling Commandos… oh wait…

Peggy stepping out, making a call, and coming back with a confirmed meeting time and place for the Howling Commandos was awesome. It fills the internal need for her to show her value; fills a show-level need to include the Howling Commandos; and fills an audience desire to see them on-screen once more! When the captain asks for them, it’s like everyone is asking for them. And Peggy delivers.

The Howling Commandos

These are the team that worked with Captain America in the war. They’re from the comics, they’re from Captain America: The First Avenger, they even were teased in the Agent Carter Marvel One-Shot. We knew they were coming, but not when or how. And it’s exciting! We know, for instance, that one of the guys in Agents of SHIELD is a descendent. We know only Bucky died while serving with them (and he didn’t, so they’re just that much more undefeated) and were pretty great. Captain America is great, but he’s a shield, a defender, a leader. He needs a team.

The Howling Commandos from Captain America: The First Avenger. Sorry, Bucky... Found on http://marvel-movies.wikia.com/wiki/Howling_Commandos

The Howling Commandos from Captain America: The First Avenger. Sorry, Bucky…
Found on Wikia

So these are the good guys, the best guys, and so they get to be a strong counterpoint to the SSR guys around Peggy who have treated her like a secretary. With them, they know her, trust her, and respect her. She’s pretty much one of them, but more in a leadership capacity. When someone points out that the Howling Commandos served with Captain America, they point out that Peggy Carter served with him longer.

This episode gave us a lot about Agent Thompson, whose name I finally caught, and who had been left in charge last week. This week he’s leading the mission in Europe, and he also did not want Peggy to come along. Then there’s an awkward scene where there’s only one locker room – expressly a men’s locker room – and Peggy ends up going in to change into her action gear anyway. So Thompson sends Sousa over, for a very awkward moment. Thanks, jerk. But wait, plot point! Sousa sees Peggy’s distinguishing mark, a gunshot wound, and realizes she is indeed the woman he has been chasing who has been working with Stark. We’ll have to see where that goes later!

Sorry, tangent! Okay, so Thompson is there, and he respects the Howling Commandos. But not Peggy. Except he gets to watch the Commandos respecting Peggy, looking up to her. They end up around the campfire one night, telling stories. Thompson is left out of this camaraderie, until Peggy turns to him and asks him for a story. For a specific story, about how he got his Navy Cross. Showing she knows this about him, showing she respects it. And he tells the story, and he is accepted. She shows him respect, even when he doesn’t show her respect – and this seems to finally balance some scales. Later, Peggy also shows him deference when he offers his plan – and he stops and asks what she would do, which she then offers, and he decides to go with that.

Eventually, later in the episode, Thompson spills to her that his medal is a lie, that the people he saw and killed were not soldiers sneaking in, but people coming to surrender. A story he hasn’t told anyone. Opening up to Peggy shows he’s come a long way in his estimation of her. And as Holly put it, we’ve found out that Thompson has a soul.

Found on http://marvel.com/images/gallery/gallery/333/agent_carter_confidential_exclusive_images_from_the_iron_ceiling#0-992011

Found on Marvel.com

Oh, and in-between? In the words of The Boondock Saints, “There was a firefight!!!” Lots of action, a little Black-Widow trained Russian girl kicks their butts, everyone has to save everyone, and some characters die – including a surprising number of Howling Commandos. That made it feel like this would be their one appearance on the show, because you just can’t keep killing them off at that rate…

Questions

Did it feel “comic book?”

Certainly, this is possible. The Howling Commandos have a history in the comics, though they are not actually from the World War II era – they just show up in stories about the WWII era. And like many moments, the training of the Russian girls felt more spy movie to me than comic book – it felt like something you might see in a grittier Bond movie, like a Daniel Craig one.

Found on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sgt._Fury_and_his_Howling_Commandos along with the history!

Found on Wikipedia along with the history!

Did it feel like you needed to have watched the other movies and shows?

This maybe more than feeling the comic book connection. Seeing The First Avenger, in particular, seems fitting. Holly and I re-watched that this last weekend after this episode of Agent Carter, and while we get to see them a lot and they’re awesome, we don’t see them that much… honestly, there’s a lot more of Agent Carter. The Howling Commandos, more than anything, get an action montage. A pretty good one, but it’s not like they have half the movie for screen time.

They come on to the show as this storied, legendary soldier force. Which really is most of what you get about them in the movie. So while if you only watched the show you might feel like you’re missing something, it’s not much. This is, in fact, the reason why it’s so exciting to have them on the show: we haven’t seen enough of them yet!

Did it matter that it was a female lead?

Yes it did. First, back with the SSR, where she finally returns to her starting point: arguing with them about the fact that she is a valuable agent. She lost this thread for a while because rather than arguing, she was off secretly proving it. And then, with Thompson as the audience for it, it mattered that she was a woman being respected by the Howling Commandos. They were totally ready to take her lead, all the way. Indeed, this led to some great quotes I jotted down, so I can end with those:

“You sounded like Captain America there.”

“That’s no bad thing.”

 

“You used to be fun.”

(Pause)

“I miss him too.”

 

“[If Captain America were here] he would say do as Peggy says.”

 

“Not bad for a girl.”

(A glare, and a smirk)

“I hate you all.”