“Marvel’s Agent Carter” finished telling its story of Peggy Carter saying goodbye to Captain America in the Season 1 finale on Tuesday (Feb. 24). But as one story closed, another opened. The episode ended with a surprise appearance by Toby Jones as Dr. Arnim Zola, and though the word “HYDRA” was never said, it’s clear the organization is getting primed for its comeback.
Anyone with a passing familiarity with the Marvel Cinematic Universe knows HYDRA is the most persistent enemy in that world. Though Captain America defeated Red Skull, the then-head of HYDRA, in “Captain America: The First Avenger,” it was revealed in “The Winter Soldier” that Red Skull’s former associate Zola started sowing the seeds of HYDRA’s return when he was recruited to SHIELD in Operation Paperclip after the end of World War II.
Even when HYDRA is largely defeated again in “The Winter Soldier,” the remaining heads of the beast continued to be a threat in the first half of “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD.”
So why is that important to “Agent Carter”? Because at the end of the finale, after Howard Stark got his redemption; Peggy let go of her last physical connection to Steve Rogers; and Souza finally asked Peggy out on a date, Zola seemingly started to try to recruit Dr. Ivchenko (Ralph Brown) to his cause.
Ivchenko was “Agent Carter’s” first main villain, and when the Russian doctor was eventually thwarted by Peggy, Jarvis and the SSR in the Season 1 finale, he was imprisoned with a Hannibal Lecter-style mask over his face that prevents him from speaking and thus using his hypnosis abilities. But as his cellmate Zola notes, they are both fortunate to be in an American prison, as “America is the land of opportunity.”
“A bit of time, a bit of quiet; new visions will arise,” Zola says in the episode.
As audiences learned in “The Winter Soldier,” SHIELD used Operation Paperclip to recruit German scientists with “strategic value.” Since SHIELD hasn’t been formed yet in the “Agent Carter” timeline, it seems safe to assume Zola’s incorporation into the agency hasn’t taken place yet. If he forms an alliance with Ivchenko while in captivity, as the final scene implies he will, then there’s a good chance that the Russian doctor is a future HYDRA agent in the making.
Better yet, this scene seems to hint that audiences will get a chance to see at least some of the growth of HYDRA during its early days of infiltrating SHIELD. Stephen McFeeley, co-writer of the “Captain America” movies and a writer on “Agent Carter,” told Zap2it
at the 2015 winter TV press tour that the discussion of how to potentially incorporate HYDRA into “Carter” is ongoing.
“As soon as we say ‘there they are’ and show the audience, we either have to have Peggy deal with it and get knocked on the head — because clearly she didn’t know about it — or we have to hide it from Peggy. It’s a storytelling question that we’re playing with,” he says.
Whether or not HYDRA is addressed again or Zola becomes a larger player on “Agent Carter’s” not-yet-confirmed second season remains to be seen. But regardless, there will always be this one tease of what’s to come for those who know what they’re looking for.