To my shame, I have to admit that at first I didn't pick up who Dr. Ivchenko was supposed to be. He is of course supposed to be the famous Captain America villain Doctor Faustus. Now I've worked it out, this seems like a great inclusion as not only has he toyed around with Captain America but also Peggy Carter and he seems to fit the 1940's era that Agent Carter is set in than the modern day Captain America setting.
In the previous episode, we got a name for the mysterious gas that Dottie unleases on a lot of unsuspecting cinema goers. Called Midnight Oil, Howard tells us he didn't create it with the purpose it has now been given. Originally created as a way to stop war, it is now being used to cause war by bad people. Even so, it seems a little odd that Howard would keep hold of it even though he knew what it could do. Luckily, this was touched upon in a little discussion between Ivchenko and Howard and that cleared that up.
Despite only appearing in three episodes, Howard Stark really feels like the driving force behind the entire series and he plays a very important role in the finale. He, like Peggy, had to go through a lot when Steve Rogers AKA Captain America died and we can see that when we go back to watch the first Captain America movie.
But what really hits home with this episode is how Peggy's story is tied into her need to past her grief about losing Steve. Not once did the show really dwell on this but it did touch on it when it needed to and it is never more at the fore than it is here. Never was she a sobbing mess but whenever the topic of Steve was brought up you could see it eating away at her. But given that this series was set just a year after the death of Captain America, that makes perfect sense. But the end of the episode gives her a final scene with Steve where she pours away the blood sample she found into the ocean in a sort of final wave goodbye. And the fact that we know that Captain America is still alive just adds more sorrow to the scene where she goodbye to her love.
But before we got that farewell scene, Peggy had to stop Ivchenko and Dottie from unleashing Midnight Oil across New York and it was great to see Peggy and Dottie finally get to have a fight where we saw just how kickass both those women can be! The whole fight sequence was really well done and while we knew that Dottie was on a whole other level to Peggy, it was good to see her get the upper hand and kick Dottie out of a window. And the fight looked genuinely painful, obviously it was only acting but when Dottie goes after Peggy with the baseball bat, it made me wince with pain and I was watching it!
Obviously Dottie escapes, in a somewhat give us season 2 kind of way, but it will be great to see her again as I really enjoyed her character, even if she was completely evil. Probably my only quibble with this episode though was that it was only Ivchenko and Dottie who were representing Leviathan. Obviously they were both killers but the whole Leviathan thing came across feeling quite small.
There were also some nice parallels to the larger Marvel Universe here with the scene between Peggy and Howard, follows the same path as the scene at the end of Captain America between Peggy and Steve. Having been hypnotised and given orders to drop Midnight Oil on New York, Howard flies away to complete his task and it is up to Peggy to talk him out of it. But unlike with Steve, Peggy is more successful with Howard and the scene with Howard promising to destroy his inventions is reminiscent of what his son will one day do in Iron Man 3.
What was also interesting was how the final scene at the SSR played out. Peggy returns a hero for what she has done and even gets rewarded by Thompson, a man she hasn't had an easy working relationship with. But when a senator turns up and congratulates whoever stopped Leviathan, Thompson stabs Peggy in the back by taking the credit when he realises what it could do for him. But as Peggy says, "I know my worth. Anyone's opinion doesn't really matter."
But Peggy got a better reward when Howard allows her to live in his vacant house and also invites her friend Angie to live there too. Jarvis tells her that he would be honoured to work with Peggy again and given their fantastic friendship that has blossomed over the course of the series, it was a great place to leave them.
And then...we get Armin Zola! A major Captain America villain who we find Ivchenko is sharing a cell with. We never got to know how Hydra managed to infiltrate SHIELD but I have no doubt that this was a little tease for us viewers to show us how they might have managed it!
This wasn't the one and only series of Agent Carter, but had it been the last, with the exception of Leviathan and Dottie all the plot threads were tied up nicely. The ending was just perfect with Peggy finally managing to say goodbye to her love, Steve Rogers, completely unaware that he was still alive somewhere...