Review: ‘Agent Carter’ Gave Season 2 a ‘Hollywood Ending,’ But is the Finale Her Last?
And lo, Marvel’s Agent Carter has come to a “Hollywood Ending” of its Season 2 end, hopefully not the last we see of Peggy’s West Coast adventures. Still, with last week poised to take out at least two major characters with “Zero Matter” (cough, Darkforce), who survived the big finish? Did Peggy finally take down Whitney Frost, and otherwise get her man/men? What Marvel mystery will linger for Season 3? Find out in our full Season 2 finale review!
You’re warned of full spoilers for Marvel’s Agent Carter Season 2 finale “Hollywood Ending” from here out, but those left wondering by last week’s “A Little Song and Dance” cliffhanger if either Jason Wilkes, Whitney Frost or Jack Thompson bit the big one, good news! Well, good news, bad news. Jason’s expulsion of Zero Matter managed to prevent Peggy from shooting Jack outside the Roxxon facility, leading the team to discover that not only had Jason survived, but returned to a tangible form.
Less fun, however, was the remaining Zero Matter reforming inside a similarly-survived Whitney Frost, who fortunately proved slow enough to allow the team a hasty escape. After Jarvis and a returning Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) ran over the two-time Oscar nominee, anyway.
Whitney returned to work obsessively scribbling calculations back at her mansion, hoping to open the Zero Matter portal without the uranium rods used up last week, a prospect that led a worried Joseph Manfredi (Ken Marino) to make a deal with the devil to bring his beloved back to her old self. Namely, appealing to his old friend Howard Stark and associates to help him rid Whitney of the troublesome black ooze!
After a brief standoff, the team formulated a simple plan to have Manfredi lure Whitney out of her fervor by asking for help intimidating his muscle, during which Peggy and Daniel would sneak into the calculation-laden room to take photos, and build whatever gamma-powered device before she could. The plan proved a close call – Manfredi distracted by his hired goon actually confessing to some unexpected treachery – though Peggy and Daniel managed to slip out (and mess up a few of Whitney’s calculations) unharmed.
The combined efforts of Howard, Jason and Dr. Samberly manage to succeed in beating Whitney to the punch building the device (while Jack reluctantly takes dinner orders for Peggy), before the group sets up a portal at Howard’s abandoned studio lot. Opening the rift alerted Whitney to their success, but allows enough downtime for Howard to hit a few balls into the singularity, while Jack and Peggy set aside their differences. Jack even hands over a curious revelation from the late Vernon Masters’ possessions, namely that the Arena Club pin actually served as a key to an unknown lock.
Whitney finally arrived at the lot, and was swiftly blasted with enough gamma rays to remove the Zero Matter from her body (fixing her face in the process), though the singularity itself still needed closing. The ever-heroic Daniel skipped over the debate to attempt a manual shutdown himself, tying his waist to a street lamp with a firehose, and just barely manage to start closing the Zero Matter wormhole, though it took the team’s combined efforts just to keep him from being sucked in with it. In the end, it was Jarvis to the rescue by loading the gamma core into Howard’s semi-functional flying car, levitating the vehicle just enough to send it through and explode, closing the vortex for good. Hooray!
Of course, even with Whitney Frost now in the nuthouse (envisioning both Cal and her vanity mirror as Manfredi came to visit), there was still the matter of a few unfulfilled romances. Jason managed to score himself a job with Stark Industries in Malibu, but with Peggy headed back to New York, the two amicably parted ways. Jarvis of course insisted on driving Peggy to the airport, subtly pressing that Los Angeles suited her more than she realized, and hinting she might find a reason to stay (beyond tacos, which are delightful).
And find a reason she did! Sharing one last debrief with Daniel, Peggy and he needled one another over a job well done, given that Peggy seemingly broke her own rules to put someone else’s safety ahead of the mission. Flummoxed for a comeback, Peggy made all the shippers’ dreams come true by leaping into his arms, and ending the season with the two kissing in a chair. “Good point,” Sousa chides.
But wait, there’s more! While packing for his own return home, Jack answers a hotel door to the business end of a silencer, the mystery assailant of which shoots twice, and pilfers a mysterious, redacted file of Vernon’s they’d come across earlier! Season 3 mystery! Maybe!
Well, was it any good?
You wouldn’t be alone in feeling that this season of Agent Carter lacked a certain urgency, and the ratings quite reflected as much. “Hollywood Ending” didn’t exactly pick up steam after last week’s “A Little Song and Dance,” especially given that both Jason and Whitney survived the climactic blast with little to no consequence, only to delay the conflict further down the line toward the finale climax anyway.
Whitney herself seemed oddly sidelined, to spend the entire hour scribbling calculations for a machine she had no immediate means to build, taking a brief aside to shrug her shoulders at Manfredi’s man, and still wind up beaten by Team Carter anyway. Even in the showdown itself, she merely lost her powers and wound up in handcuffs, while no one fell prey to mysterious void in the end, even after Sousa’s noble sacrifice.
Of course, putting Sousa and Peggy together at last should delight a good deal of fans (Hayley Atwell isn’t sure if the two will actually end up together, given her Winter Soldier reference), even if the season never felt particularly about their pairing, and quickly cast off Jason Wilkes in the process. Seemingly killing off Jack Twin Peaks-style made for a decent closing stinger as well, though perhaps not effective enough to pique interest for a third season, which might do better to zoom forward into a different era of Peggy’s life.
And that’s really the rub, that Season 2 never seemed like it had enough to say on Peggy’s journey, at least in the manner Season 1 built an emotional core of getting over Steve Rogers. It doesn’t exactly help that 1947 feels even more removed from the Marvel universe than Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., dipping on the mythology end in a way strong characterizations could only balance so much. It doesn’t immediately look as if ABC will renew Agent Carter without careful consideration, and were we to see the last of Peggy’s onscreen adventures, “Hollywood Ending” certainly offered reasonable closure.
AND ANOTHER THING …
- Revealing Joseph Manfredi as an old friend of Howard’s was cute (as was the mustard gag), but a little late to throw into the final episode.
- The screener copy utilized both Iron Man 3 and Spider-Man 2 music, which I’ll presume was replaced in the final cut.
- Howard Stark had his first flying car in the original Captain America, but did that ever come up in Season 2? And what’s this new project he developed in Peru?
- Was there any ultimate purpose to naming the villain Whitney Frost, other than a superficial association with Madame Masque?
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3 will return next week, but did Peggy manage to close Agent Carter Season 2 with style?
Check Out 100 TV Facts You May Not Know!