Marvels Agent Carter S1.08 "Valediction" review

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Sure, yeah, three and a half stars might seem a bit mean, especially when we’ve been raving about this show so much previously and, also, as there’s a lot to enjoy about this finale – let’s be honest, any show with a clockwork-powered automatic rifle is worth a watch. Plus, the one-liners are as sparkling as ever (“Is it true that you were hiding at the residence of Barbara Stanwyck?” a reporter asks Stark).

But as a finale, it just felt a little underwhelming. The miniseries seemed to be building to a big, jaw-dropping finale – some defining event in the MCU history – and instead we got what felt like a reheated instalment of Dick Tracy. A well-produced, sassy and witty instalment of Dick Tracy, admittedly, but not quite the fireworks the first couple of episodes promised. We don’t even appear to be anywhere nearer the formation of SHIELD (though Hydra seems to have a head start if the final scene is anything to go by – great to see Toby Jones reprising his role as Arnim Zola from The First Avenger and showing Ralph Brown how to do an accent).

Fennhoff’s big bad scheme is all so amorphous and off-stage (we never even see a Times Square crowd scene to ram home the potential tragedy) it fails to inject any tension into the plot, while the big climax is hampered by the fact that a guy in a plane talking to a woman over the radio isn’t particularly visually exciting. Okay, we get the Peggy/Dottie fight which is decent enough, but way too brief. Plus Dottie looks so much the superior fighter that when Peggy wins you can’t help thinking the Russian spy threw herself out of the window on purpose. (Though she does bid goodbye with an obvious piece of foreshadowing: “Maybe I’ll be an SSR agent next. What do you think of that?”)

Radio Days

The Captain America radio serial team are back. They were least seen (and heard) in episode two, and it’s such a great device it’s a shame they weren’t used as the first scene in every episode, like a mix between a Greek chorus and a ’60s style “coming up in this episode” teaser device.

There are also some really slow-moving scenes of Fennhoff doing his “conditioning” shtick when the episode almost grinds to a halt. To be fair, at least the Stark scene reinforces that the guy has some deep-seated insecurities under all his glitzy bluster so it almost counts as a character scene, but the Sousa scene is just a gag that goes on way too long before it reaches its – literal – punchline.

It’s also a shame that Peggy lets Thompson take all credit from the Senate at the end. She may be happy with the knowledge of her own worth, but it’s hardly striking a blow for her sisters, is it? Maybe the point is that she knows making a fuss is pointless, as the world isn’t ready for women’s lib just yet, but it would have been nice to see her deflate Thompson’s ego subtly in some way by showing up in front of the senator.

So, yeah, there was a lot of dissatisfaction with this final episode, but you know what? It was still a fine old romp, with some gorgeous period detail and a few lump-in-throat character moments. Hayley Atwell was magnificent as usual, James D’Arcy was a hoot (to use suitable vernacular) and the shot of Peggy on the bridge looked magnificent, though we’d be surprised if that were really Steve Rogers’s blood – there needs to be a McGuffin for the next series.

Because, yes, while the US ratings don’t look promising, we’d love to see another miniseries, or even series. Perhaps it’s a show more suited to an outlet like Netflix or Amazon Instant Video, because the people who liked it really liked it, going by press and internet reaction; it didn’t engage a big enough audience for ABC but enough people may be willing to pay a subscription service to see more.

Marvel's Agent Carter is broadcast in the US on ABC on Tuesday nights.

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WritersMichele Fazekas, Tara Butters
DirectorChristopher Misiano
The one whereHoward Stark comes out of hiding to try to prevent Ivchenko (actually Johan Fennhoff) and Dottie from turning the crowds in Times Square into a murderous mob

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Available platformsTV
Dave Golder
Freelance Writer

Dave is a TV and film journalist who specializes in the science fiction and fantasy genres. He's written books about film posters and post-apocalypses, alongside writing for SFX Magazine for many years.