Agent Carter's Season 2 Finale Leaves the Show's Fate in the Balance

Wednesday, 02 March 2016 - 10:40AM
Agent Carter
Wednesday, 02 March 2016 - 10:40AM
Agent Carter's Season 2 Finale Leaves the Show's Fate in the Balance
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This season of Agent Carter has been a bizarre and wonderful hodgepodge blend of detective noir, science fiction, supernatural, and musical genres. Despite the odd pacing due to the two double episode events, the season was as entertaining and well-written as ever. With its strong writing, colorful costuming, compelling character development, and dry humor, the show's second season was undoubtedly a success in the eyes of the fans, and the season finale was no exception.  
While it may not have been the strongest episode of the season, "Hollywood Ending" stayed true to its title and managed to tie up the Los Angeles arc nicely- and then it went and pulled the rug out from under us by ending on a major cliff-hanger, leaving us desperate for another season. This was a bold move given the ratings of the show, but hopefully it pays off and serves as the starting point for a third season.
The episode picked up where we left off with Peggy and Thompson in a standoff and Wilkes exploding spectacularly into Zero Matter. Before either Agent can get a shot off, they're interrupted by the explosion only to discover that Wilkes is now, miraculously safe and free of Zero Matter. This seemed a little too easy and convenient of a fix, but then I'm no expert in mysterious other-worldly substances. With Wilkes' Zero Matter hangover cured after expelling it all in the explosion, Frost regains her senses in time to absorb the pools of the ominous dark goo herself. Why the Zero Matter had such ill effects on Wilkes but not on Frost is a mystery, especially after the rift seemed to have chosen Wilkes over her just last week.

The team makes a run for it, escaping the grasp of Frost only with the help of a timely arrival by Jarvis and Howard Stark. We find out that the Zero Matter has consumed the world on the other side of the rift and is looking for a new world to infect and utterly obliterate. The brilliant minds of Stark, Wilkes, and Samberly come up with a plan to create a rift, but only after a gentle massaging of their collective egos from Peggy. Once they've opened the rift and lured Frost to it, the team plans to use another gamma cannon to extract the remaining matter from the unsuspecting Frost before closing the rift and saving the world in the process. The actual opening of the rift felt oddly anticlimactic, but watching Stark send golf balls soaring through the "incomprehensible rip in our world" made up for it.

Frost shows up, drawn by the rift and (supposedly without noticing) steps directly in front of the giant gamma cannon. I'm willing to let that slide since we've seen the kind of effect that the Zero Matter has had on her psyche, but it was still a disappointing end to such a powerful adversary, a fact which wasn't improved by the somewhat hokey special effects.

Things go wrong when closing the rift, but the teamwork that's become a defining characteristic of the show this season is brought to the fore one last time. Sousa risks his life in a valiant attempt to close the rift but thanks to a team effort- and the sacrifice of Stark's hover car (!!!)- he survives the ordeal. With the rift closed and the day saved, Peggy's work is done and she prepares to head back to New York. Peggy has plenty of reasons to return to the Big Appel, but Jarvis points out that she may also have good reason to stay a bit longer in the sunnier climes of California. And with that, Peggy visits Sousa in his office and the pair finally resolve two seasons of romantic tensions, sharing a long-awaited and passionate kiss.
Unfortunately, not everyone gets their happy "Hollywood Ending". Frost (now confined to a mental institution) has involuntarily forsaken Manfredi in favor of muttering sweet nothings to a hallucination of her dead husband Calvin Chadwick. Yes, the same Calvin Chadwick she murdered for being a horrible, backstabbing, all-around awful husband.  I'm not entirely happy with this ending for Whitney Frost because, despite her being a murderous evil genius, she was an intelligent and somewhat complex villain who deserved a more satisfying ending. Frost was too good a villain to go out this way, and I'm disappointed that she seems to have become the woman that she almost destroyed herself to avoid becoming: powerless, broken, and reliant on the support of her egocentric and patronizing husband. Whether or not she deserves to live out her days in a perfect hell after all she's done, it still isn't a particularly satisfying wrap up.
But, perhaps there is potential to see some stories moved on. The cliff-hanger at the end of the episode opens up a world of new questions that could be answered if we get another season. As Thompson is packing to leave for New York, he's shot by an unknown assassin and left bleeding out on the floor. The assassin steals the file we saw earlier in the season, which supposedly had information implicating Peggy in horrific war crimes. Knowing what we do of Peggy though, it's more likely that the M. Carter in the file refers to Michael rather than Margaret. This means that a third season could see Peggy deal with uncomfortable truths about her brother, or perhaps another quest to clear the name of someone she cares about. Earlier in the episode, Thompson also found a key disguised as an Arena Club pin and, given that we never saw the bodies of the remaining members of the Council, it's possible that we haven't seen the last of this Hydra-like organization. Hopefully, and potential future storylines would also feature the return of Dottie Underwood, whose escape from police custody leaves yet another loose end untied.  
Hopefully this isn't the last we see of Peggy and the team, but there's an overwhelming sense among fans and media that this is the last we'll see of the show. Low ratings likely say more about poor scheduling and promotional tactics than the show itself, as Agent Carter appears to have a devoted following. Agent Carter is one of the best comic book character adaptations on television, and that's without the protagonist having superpowers of her own! If this is the end, there's no denying that Agent Carter had an amazing run. The show has a talent for dealing with social issues and darker themes without sacrificing its own brand of lighthearted humor. Pair that with well-developed endearing characters, a stellar cast, and beautifully executed cinematography and it's clear that the world needs a third season of Agent Carter. Not to mention that Peggy is the intelligent, brave, witty, compassionate, resourceful, and complex female lead we've all been crying out for. Here's hoping she'll continue to grace our screens for another season!
Final Comments:
 -Whatever happened to Bernard Stark??? I miss Mr. Jarvis's feathered friend- er, nemesis.
-This episode provides further proof that Ana Jarvis is still the sweetest and kindest person who ever lived.
-I still don't like Samberly much, but neither does Sousa so I'm in good company.
-Wilkes survived the season and has a new job working for Stark- a perfect "Hollywood Ending".
-The smattering of clever allusions to the greater MCU were perfect this season without being overdone or heavy-handed. Case in point: this week's hover car cameo.
-Would it have been too much to ask for an "after credits scene" of Peggy and Jarvis having tacos together??

-Whatever happened to that Flamingo?
-Getting to watch Jarvis putting the mustard down was a beautiful testament to D'Arcy's knack for physical comedy.

Best lines/quotes/moments:
-"Jarvis, you just hit a woman with my car."
-"I know, sir."
-"She's a two time Oscar nominee!"
-"Is there a portrait of you in every bedroom?" "It's a collection."
-"You can't just walk into a man's home and take his butler hostage."
-"I don't speak megalomaniac. Fortunately, Howard Stark does."
-"Show of hands, who here has invented a Hoover Car? No? Nobody? I win." "It didn't even work." "The second one did."
-"I believe I can actually hear the sound of their egos growing."
-"Sir, we are standing before an incomprehensible rip in the fabric of our world. Use a 7-iron."
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Agent Carter