In the tenth and final episode of the second season ofÂ Agent Carter, the team devises a method to finally take down Whitney. Intrigued? Then itâ€™s time for Mark to watchÂ Agent Carter.
Trigger warning for ableism, specifically for depiction of mental illness and institutionalization
Season one ofÂ Agent CarterÂ was a lot more consistent and satisfying for me, so the ending to this series is bittersweet. I enjoyed the characters, and I would certainly be entertained if I got to see more, but most of this conclusion felt both rushed and restrained for me. Is that because the writers had to wrap things up without a third season? I donâ€™t know. My gut says thatâ€™s not the case, or else why would they deliver us such an upsetting cliffhanger?
Okay, I’m jumping ahead of myself. I felt the scope of the Zero Matter plot shrunk in this finale, so much so that it didn’t feel like the fate of the world was at stake. Part of that comes from a lack of definition. What WAS Zero Matter? A destructive force that ate another world? Did it work through individuals like it did with Whitney and, to an extent, Jason? How long did that process take? Did it give Whitney delusions of grandeur or did she actually have some sort of concrete plan in her mind?
I can’t believably answer any of these questions. Instead, I’m left to wonder if the writers ever had a plan in mind at all. What I’ve got to work with is a story about an actress who is disrespected for her brilliance and her age, whose expertise in science was ignored because women weren’t allowed to shine as she wanted. At Whitney’s core, there’s a fantastic story here, and I don’t regret praising what the writers did before this. She was such a great villain! Yet by the time “Hollywood Ending” arrives, she’s reduced to a one-note character who is violent and obsessive. All the depth and creativity is gone.
Aside from a few genuinely great character moments here, that’s pretty much my take on this finale. All the inventive science is missing and instead, each solution we’re given is simplistic and logistically impossible. How were any of these devices built in such a short length of time? I’ve suspended my disbelief plenty of times while watching this show, but the convenient way in which this conflict comes to a close felt artificial to me, if that makes any sense. I sat there, and I saw the writing, as opposed to getting to immerse myself in the story. That goes for the scene where Manfredi distracts Whitney long enough so that Peggy and Sousa can steal her designs for a rift generator. (Good name, Peggy.) Itâ€™s a funny moment (especially when Manfredi appears to discover an actual mole from his guy), but itâ€™s just a means to an end. Do we actually learn much of anything about these people?
I wonder, then, what this would have looked like with more time. We got two more episodes than last season, the pacing’s been relatively fine up to this episode, but that longing for more I’m feeling might also be due to the fact that I know I’ll never get another episode of this show. That seems to be the reason for resolving this season’s love triangle as gracefully as “Hollywood Ending” does. I’m surprisingly pleased with that! Jason isn’t disrespected as a character, and the writers offer him sympathy through Peggy without ignoring that he crossed a line with his behavior. Plus, there’s the potential for Sousa and Peggy to finally move forward with a meaningful relationship, which satisfies the part of me that enjoyed the chemistry between those two. I’d say the same of Ana’s development, as well as Jarvis’s. Both characters get closure after the upsetting events of this season, and without handing us a cliffhanger, there’s hope for future storylines.
It’s just unfortunate that the show gave us one of my least favorite tropes while closing out Whitney’s story. I mentioned earlier how one-note she felt in this episode, but her final moments are downright offensive. The writers invoke the whole “mental illness as punishment for evil” trope and stick Whitney in the hospital instead of ever examining any of the things they brought up in building her complex characterization. She’s not the marginalized person fighting for respect anymore; she’s reduced to a stereotype, one that feels like a cop-out for her characterâ€™s complex story.
And then weâ€™ve got Jack Thompson, who occupies a space somewhere between an ally and a wild card antagonist, which is a lot more interesting in this finale than most of this season. Heâ€™s forced to acknowledge that Peggy was right, and yet that doesnâ€™t mean his presence here is without problems. Thereâ€™s that fantastic scene where he wonders aloud if Peggyâ€™ll turn him in for colluding with Vernon (who isnâ€™t dead??? Who might be???), and she assures him that he is a good person. And maybe deep down, there is that version of Jack Thompson, and I would have loved to see that exploration in a third season. BUT NO, HEâ€™S BEEN SHOT, PEGGYâ€™S FILE WAS STOLEN, CLIFFHANGER FOREVER.
So it goes. Agent Carter ends with a literal bang, and weâ€™ll never know what happens next.
The video for â€œHollywood Endingâ€ can be downloaded here for $0.99.
Note: There will be a brief break in double features as I attempt to complete all regular reviews for both my sites to cover 5 weeks worth of reviews, which will accommodate my travel to Worldcon, the Discworld Convention, and my Europe trip. Please consult the Master Schedule to see when theyâ€™ll resume.Â
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