Throughout my reviews for this season, I’ve complained a few times about the seemingly endless set-up that plagued the first half of the season. Here’s what I had to say about it back in my review for episode four:
With a week between each episode, far too much of my attention …is focused on remembering minor details from previous episodes, trying to figure out which puzzle pieces fit where, and guessing where this season might be going.
Now, one month and 6 episodes later, with the finale behind us and all the puzzle pieces in place, I can finally answer the question I’ve been asking basically since the season began: was the payoff worth it? Eh, not really. If this had been any old episode, “Hollywood Ending” would have been just fine, but as the last episode of the season, and possibly ever? What a waste. The only way the first half of this season would have been able to justify all the set-up is if the conclusion was so satisfying that it retroactively made everything worth it. See, for example, the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. . The first half of the season is slow, but when the shit hits the fan in “Turn, Turn, Turn”, everything suddenly becomes worth it. So let’s look at the various threads of Agent Carter this season and see if the ends justified the means:
The season opened with the return of Dottie Underwood, and her release/escape from custody was the driving plot of two full episodes. At the end of this season, Dottie is…missing without a trace. I guess I understand the desire to turn Dottie into a recurring adversary for Peggy, but with a third season pick-up looking unlikely, Dottie’s disappearance feels much more like a thread the writers just kind of forgot about rather than part of a larger plan.
Final Storyline Score: C+
Kurtwood Smith was a great addition to the cast this season, and Vernon’s connection to The Council had great potential as connective tissue between the SSR and Whitney Frost. And for less than an episode, we actually see this pay off, as Frost is essentially using her influence over Masters and Manfredi to control both the SSR and the mob as basically a single organization. Unfortunately, that all goes away when Vernon decides to betray Frost and he dies anticlimactically before the finale.
Final Storyline Score: B
Jack goes back and forth from being an asshole to a slightly nicer asshole for 9 episodes, then commits to being a good guy right before getting shot in a cliffhanger ending that will likely never get resolved.
Final Storyline Score: F-
The flashbacks depicting Peggy’s past in episode 4 were one of my favorite parts of this season, and added even more depth to an already fascinating character. Like Agent Coulson, Peggy Carter went from a one-off character in a Phase One movie to one of the most fleshed out and integral parts of the MCU. Adding elements to her backstory like her broken engagement before meeting Steve Rogers and the death of her brother worked extremely well for this season…until the finale. Twice during “Hollywood Ending” we were treated to a close-up shot of the heavily redacted file supposedly detailing war crimes committed by “M. Carter”. Earlier, we were led to believe that Vernon Masters had fabricated the file to create dirt on Peggy, but now I’m not so sure. If that were the case, why bring it up again in the final moments of the season? Either there’s some truth to the crimes Peggy committed, or the “M. Carter” referred to on the file is actually Michael, not Margaret. If that’s the case, the mysterious figure who shot Thompson may very well be the not-so-dead brother of Agent Carter. All of that is just speculation of course, but whatever the answer actually is, it could be an interesting story-line for season three…if we ever get one.
Final Storyline Score: A-
Peggy’s Love Life
My personal vendetta against love triangles aside, I have to give credit where it’s due. This is one of the only story-lines of the entire season that was succinctly and satisfyingly tied up in the finale. Peggy and Sousa finally get together, but it didn’t take Wilkes turning evil or dying to make that happen. Instead, Peggy and Jason have a mature realization that they would never work and part as friends just before Peggy meets Chief Sousa for a super hot make-out sesh.
Final Storyline Score: A (albeit reluctantly)
And finally we come to one of the greatest disappointments of this episode. I’ve called Whitney Frost one of the most interesting villains of the MCU, and I meant it. Wynn Everett plays Frost as a completely insane, evil, but totally sympathetic villain corrupted by her own lust for power as well as the dark influence of the Zero Matter. And how is such a great villain finally defeated? Uh…Carter and the gang turn a machine on that takes away her powers without much of a fight, then spend 5 minutes playing a game of inter-dimensional Tug-of-War. Of all the story-lines that were so carefully set up this season, this is the one that had the most potential to really stick the landing. Episode after episode built Frost up as a brilliant woman who was slowly amassing more and more powerful, becoming more and more unstoppable, only to have her defeated with the literal push of a button.
Final Storyline Score: C-
2 Delightful Tacos out of 5. There’s one thing about this show that will never disappoint me, and that’s the incomparable Edwin Jarvis.
The return of Howard was a nice touch for the finale, and some of the rapid-fire dialogue between him and his compatriots was pretty great.
Howard: “What am I doing wrong, Jarvis?” Jarvis: “Sir, we are standing before an incomprehensible rip in the fabric of our world. Use a 7 iron.”
Jarvis: “I believe you can actually hear the sound of their egos growing.”
I know it was a serious moment, but when Wilkes said “Whoever shuts [the machine] down will be in the danger zone,” I couldn’t help but hear Kenny Loggins.
From what we saw of her, Ana Jarvis is just as wonderful as her husband is, and she was criminally underused this season.
It may seem as though I’ve been harsh on Agent Carter in these reviews, but make no mistake: there’s nobody who hopes this show gets a third season more than me.