Agent Carter: Season 2, Episode 10 - "Hollywood Ending"
It’s a wrap on the "Hollywood Ending" of Agent Carter season two; will there be a sequel?
Agent CarterAirtime: Tuesdays, 8pm
Cast: Hayley Atwell, James D’Arcy, Enver Gjokaj, Wynn Everett
Subtitle: Season 2, Episode 10 - "Hollywood Ending"
Air date: 2016-03-01
In the Agent Carter season finale, the main plot lines found resolution in a comic book sort of way, meaning that anything that looks like a neatly tied bow of resolution is only resolved until a writer brings it back at some point in the future, likely when it's least expected. So it goes.
Here's how the major season two plot points worked out.
Let's start with Zero Matter. Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper), Carter (Hayley Atwell), and Drs. Wilkes (Reggie Austin) and Samberly (Matt Braunger), figure out a way to open a rift, which attracts Whitney Frost (Wynn Everett) like a sabertooth cat to a tar pit. Of course, things go awry and Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) almost gets sucked into the void with the Zero Matter. Lucky for him, team Carter lassos his leg and hogties him to the earth. The only victims of rift are the aforementioned Zero Matter and Whitney Frost’s sanity.
Yes, Whitney is vanquished to a mental hospital, with foot solder Manfredi (Ken Marino) still soldiering on. He's a dedicated love interest, and despite him being apparently a ruthless mob-ish boss, he appears, to quote Guardian of the Galaxy’s Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), to be an "a-hole". But he's not, and I quote, "100% a dick". Whitney possessed beauty and power and brilliance, but because she never really accepted her intellect as a meaningful attribute (although she would wield it when needed), she believes the loss of Zero Matter and her subsequent disfigurement meant everything. Straight-jacket to paradise. Stay tuned, though; this is one of those aforementioned too-neatly tied bows that's likely to come back some day.
The Strategic Scientific Reserve, or SSR, has still not morphed into S.H.I.E.L.D., and after Vernon Masters (Kurtwood Smith) exposed the heavy hand of a corrupt War Department, the era of extra-governmental sponsorship seems like a logical next step. While the plot for the SSR isn't resolved, viewers know where it's going. Given the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe roadmap, a backstory around the formation of S.H.I.E.L.D. would be well-placed in Agent Carter. Too bad the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s production isn't more integrated with Agent Carter, because seeing this in flashback in a cross-over would be cool.
This season also touched on the Council of Nine, which Whitney Frost dispatches with much aplomb and little resistance, not long after the audience is introduced to them. They do live longer in the books, and shouldn’t be counted out yet. Those nine were just the highest-ranking members of a group called The Secret Empire, which is a US domestic version of Hydra. The repopulation of the Council of Nine might well make a good place to start the next series, and introduce, at least the sponsors, of the next villain or villains.
Those not killed by Frost made it out alive, save one. The biggest loser of the season’s wrap was Chief Jack Thompson (Chad Michael Murray), who’s shot in the heart at point blank range, and left for dead as the season faded to black. Again, this is a comic book-based world, so dead is never really dead. Then again, Thompson doesn’t appear to possess any special powers or that he was expecting any visitors -- save the one who just shot him and stole his files. He’s probably dead.
The biggest winner, for the moment, is Daniel Sousa, who gets THE girl. Carter hasn't been developed as a solid monogamist, so we'll see how that goes…
There's been much discussion across the web as to the overall season's quality and the satisfaction with the finale. Most of the conversation focuses on the perceived strength or weakness of Whitney Frost as a villain, and ultimately, the apparent ease with which she's dispatched. I found the character solid and plenty worthy of threat, but the situations the main characters were placed in never seemed to have that much jeopardy associated with them. Carter and her compatriots said they were in danger, but as a viewer, I never really felt it -- not at least in the same danger as Whitney Frost's mice or director Kenneth. Of course, the apparent fatal ending for Chief Thompson argues that the threats are very real (or at least those aimed at the actors' contracts are).
It's hard, of course, for a faux-noir adventure series to compete with the darkness of a Jessica Jones. Carter almost always felt dapper rather than gritty, snarky rather than desperate -- more 42nd Street than Faust.
Then again, that's OK for a television show running on a broadcast network. Could they have taken more risks, perhaps? Could they have gone dark, and put the characters through psychological grinding mills? Sure. But Agent Carter’s short runs are, to some degree, the cotton candy mid-season intermission between segments of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that tap increasingly into the zeitgeist that is the modern, or current, Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
As for viewers, perhaps their demise signals a long, agonizing superhero withdrawal, or perhaps both shows suffer from trying to balance too many things, and therefore never really find their identity: Creme of Wheat in a Lady Gaga world. Maybe the viewership issues stemmed from something as simple as the errors of the Agent Carter make-up team, who apparently discovered the one way to make their star unattractive: put her in a bad wig.
That being said, Agent Carter offers a good formula for future binge watchers: attractive, fun, related to something I already care about, and encapsulated in a short run. Unfortunately, for first runs, it appears viewership has significantly waned, and that’s carried over to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Both Agent Carter and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have special places in the ABC/Disney world, because they can be used effectively to drive other properties, to presage, and to introduce. If you think of future Blu-ray combo packs, the MCU isn’t complete without the.
But, as I remind my wife all the time, good science fiction is always better than no science fiction. I do hope Agent Carter returns, and that the showrunners find a way to push their Technicolor narrative deep into the heart of the MCU until it really starts to ooze something. If we’re gifted a season three, I’ll keep watching, along with my approximately 2.349M closest friends (more always welcome), until someone pries the Harmony remote from my black, necrotic, Inhuman fingers.