The “Agent Carter” finale finds Peggy and Angie moving in together

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Well, friends, Agent Carter is over; we can only hope that reality will emulate the premiere’s title and that now is not the end. SEASON 2, PLEASE. Given that this is AfterEllen and we are all here for the f/f relationships, I’m going to jump to the end and talk about Peggy/Angie before any real evaluation of the whole show.

 IT IS CANON THAT PEGGY TURNED DOWN A DATE WITH SOUSA TO GO MOVE IN WITH ANGIE. THAT HAPPENED. IT IS NOT FANFIC.

The show, unsurprisingly, continues to avoid anything that reads as undeniably gay, and I think it probably intended us to think that “some other time” might indeed come, with Peggy’s smile to herself after Sousa turned away. (Annnd confirmed.) I do respect that they clearly chose not to have Peggy deal with any love stuff at all in the season, pushing back against the usual tendency to put female characters in romantic storylines. But at the same time, I wouldn’t have been surprised if Angie hadn’t shown up in the finale at all—her presence on the show has been pretty spotty over the last few episodes, so if they had decided not to spend the screentime, I would have been unhappy but hardly shocked. Therefore, I’m very pleased that they took the time to revisit her in the end and moreover to show how much Peggy cares about her: She gets to live in a damn mansion!

tumblr_nkc63wrELv1qjolv7o6_250lol forever at Angie’s face

Jarvis’ aggressively understated attitude in showing off the premises was also delightful—I appreciate that he likes to leverage his upper-crust Britishness for comedy!—as was Peggy’s quiet joy at seeing Angie so overwhelmed. She took real pleasure in being able to give this to her friend (cough), and I really hope any future seasons might give us some time with their Boston Marriage. (That Wikipedia has failed to include the frequent supposition that at least some women in Boston Marriages chose that path because…they…were in love…is very silly, but know that that is also a thing.) Imagine them having breakfast on the roof terrace! Imagine them lounging around their luxe estate in fancy dressing gowns! (Or negligees.) IMAGINE THEM THROWING A PARTY TOGETHER. After all, Jarvis told Angie it belongs to “you and Ms. Carter for as long as you might require it.” THEY CAN GROW OLD TOGETHER IN THERE, MAN!!!

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Also: Imagine Jarvis and Angie sitting around grumping about their crazy companion’ secret endeavors. Howard and Peggy run off to do something nuts and he and Angie get out the sherry and complain at length. (You’re welcome, fic writers.)

The other relationship of note for our interests here was, naturally, Peggy and Dottie. Despite my endless frustration at how no one on this show will just SHOOT ON SIGHT when it’s the obvious course of action (you don’t have to shoot to kill! Just kneecap her before you announce yourself, or something!) I of course appreciated seeing the two of them fight. It was every bit as knock-down drag-out as every fight either of them has had with a man, which was extremely satisfying.

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I especially loved Dottie’s speech to Peggy: “I used to be so jealous of girls like you. I would have done anything! To walk like you, to talk like you—but now, I can be anybody I want.” This brings up so many questions! What does she mean by “Girls like you,” first of all? It can’t be combat skills. Does it have to do with the Leviathan indoctrination, Snow White and all? Does she just mean girls who get to have their own lives? Girls who get to wear whatever they want and go wherever they please, instead of having to break their friends’ necks in a training yard and sleep handcuffed to their beds? What was it, exactly, that Dottie once wanted?

Secondly, “But now, I can be anybody I want” is just chilling. Dottie clearly sees it as a liberation, but it really speaks to how Leviathan has managed to make sure she has nearly no personality of her own: she’s a mirage of a person. Certainly she can recreate herself at will, but as many instances of media have shown us, that ability tends to lead to some kind of inner breakdown. What Dottie has isn’t freedom, it’s conditioning.

If we get a second season (PLEASE), I’d be very interested to see what Dottie does next. Will she return to Leviathan and remain their agent? Will she go off to be “anybody [she] want[s]” more or less a la pre-SHIELD Natasha Romanoff, out in the cold? In the meantime, though, she earns herself a quick trip downstairs by informing Peggy, “I thought you’d be better.”

tumblr_nkcaqpbe9Z1r7z4cyo7_r1_250Literally what happens to everyone who underestimates Peggy.

With those bits noted, then, I just want to give a quick rundown on the rest of the episode. Firstly, frankly, it didn’t have enough Peggy in it, and too often she wasn’t at the center of the action. It weirdly turned into The Howard Show for the middle third or so, and I did not appreciate it. I’m also not entirely sure how I feel about all the Captain America: The First Avenger parallels in this episode. On the one hand, Peggy’s grief has been an underlying part of her character for the whole show, and it deserves a serious wrap-up; and the scene of her letting Steve’s blood pour into the river and saying goodbye was genuinely affecting. (More affecting in my opinion was Jarvis’s stealing it from Howard and giving it to her, but maybe that’s just me.) On the other hand, like, how many times is Peggy Carter gonna be stuck on a radio begging a man in an airplane not to do something drastic?

On a pettier note, now that it’s been deployed a few times I can confidently say that I don’t think the hypnosis trick works very well for the show. I mean, I know Dr. Fenhoff (originally Dr. Faustus) is a Golden Age villain, and mind control is one of the oldest tricks in the book for comics; the tactic is pedigreed. Maybe the problem is in the execution. All I know is every time we traveled into some guy’s inner psyche I started itching to check my phone, and every time somebody declined to just shoot the guy I rolled my eyes. HE’S TOO DANGEROUS TO LIVE, Y’ALL.

That said, I do appreciate that he gave them a way to bring Zola back into the picture (one thing Toby Jones has going for him with Zola that Ralph Brown doesn’t with Fenhoff/Ivchenko is buckets of charisma). Also, his proto-Hannibal-Lecter mask was pretty wild. So there’s that.

As for the wrap-up? I loved that Peggy’s affirmation (or I suppose I should say “Valediction”) from the rest of the SSR was punctured by the reminder that she has not Fixed Sexism in these short eight episodes. It was a lovely moment, but even I—someone who totally accepts the show’s sometimes over the top approach to sexism as pure wish fulfillment—was starting to feel a little uncomfortable with how on the nose it was. That coda was a nice way to bring a little needed realism to the situation. (Plus, if she had conquered sexism already, what would we do in following seasons, eh?) It made perfect sense that Thompson would take the credit right in front of her like the slimeball he’s always been—clearly he hasn’t learned anything from the guilt he was carrying over getting a medal for a war crime—and I’m glad they didn’t try to sell us on anything like his total redemption. He’s still a dick, just one who appreciates Peggy better.

Sousa’s indignation, and Peggy’s disinterest in it, was a nice callback to the first episode’s scene in the boardroom. I have to say, though, that while this sentiment is lovely:

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I’m not sure I’m really sold on it. I mean, it makes a lot of sense for the individual, but one of the show’s quieter problems has always been letting Peggy be too singular. As Caroline Siede put it in a great piece over at the AVClub,

In surrounding Peggy solely with male allies, Agent Carter runs the risk of implying she’s the only woman competent enough for the job. The show’s point is actually far more nuanced—because Peggy is so ridiculously competent, she’s the only one who’s able to break through the glass ceiling and keep performing this kind of work after the war—but right now Agent Carter is telling, not showing, that fact, which is both sloppy writing and a missed opportunity for representation.”

In much the same vein, I was sort of indignant at Peggy’s contentment at remaining in the background. “What about the rest of us?!” I wanted to squawk. “They need to know what we can do, dammit!! Blaze the trail!” I’m sure this was meant to be emotional growth from earlier in the show, when Peggy was more or less openly desperate for her colleagues’ respect and approval (“I will call it in, and they will respect me.”).Having told them to their faces last week exactly what they’ve done to her and why it was such a mistake, I think we’re supposed to see her as coming out the other side more confident and secure in herself regardless of what the patriarchy throws at her. But it felt to me just a little too much like resignation.

Maybe that can change in Season 2.

FAREWELL BULLETS:

  • My complaints aside, I have enjoyed Agent Carter tremendously and am so glad it exists. Long may it reign.
  • I didn’t comment on it because of focusing on, you know, women, but I was immensely touched by Jarvis basically throughout. He was willing to shoot Howard down! He stole Cap’s blood for Peggy! He would be honored to serve her needs at a moment’s notice anytime in the future! [VERY LOUD SOBBING]
  • But also could we please meet Anna at some point?
  • I did not find basically any of Howard’s behavior in this episode cute, as I was clearly supposed to. Sorry, show.
  • In case you didn’t notice—I didn’t at first!—here is a delightful illustration of how Peggy’s bringing Angie to live with her is a counterpoint to earlier in the season, when Angie was trying to get Peggy to move in with her.
  • A 40 MINUTE VIDEO OF CARTINELLI THROUGH THE SEASON
  • I sort of sideways-linked to it earlier, but here’s a post-wrap interview with the showrunners if that’s the kind of thing you’re into. (I eat it up and sometimes regret it.)
  • Here is a beautiful picture of Hayley Atwell and Lynsdy Fonseca being beautiful together.
  • And here they are with Ming-Na Wen. I may cry.

Last and most important: What would you ladies like to see from a Season 2? A direct sequel, or a time jump? (If a time jump, when to?) How would you like to see circumstances changed? Which characters do you want to keep, which would you like to lose, what new sorts would you like to appear?

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