‘Agent Carter’ Post-Show Analysis, Season 2, Episode 10: ‘Hollywood Ending’
With Agents of SHIELD taking a much-needed winter break, Marvel’s other spy adventure series, Agent Carter, has been back for a two-month engagement, with Hayley Atwell reprising her role as Peggy. Our AoS recappers Agent Ziah Grace and Agent Chris Haley have been on hand to review the highs and lows as Agent Carter visited Los Angeles to bring down new foes. But all good things come to an end.
This week, it’s the season finale, and all of the action, adventure, intrigue, romance, mystery, and mad science come together for one epic conclusion! “Hollywood Ending” was directed by Jennifer Getzinger from a script by Michele Fazekas, Tara Butters, and Chris Dingess.
Chris: Well, Ziah, we're back for what is sadly our final (for the time being, hopefully) installment of Carter-Graphy! Two questions to get things started: What did you think of this week’s finale, and what did you think of the season?
Ziah: Well, this episode was by far the most imbalanced episode of the season, I think, with some of my very favorite moments, and some of my least. Regular readers of this column can probably take a stab at guessing them, but I did not care for the pacing of the finale at all. Whitney was dealt with almost perfunctorily and the title “Hollywood Ending” was sadly well-named, as all the special unique things about the show I’ve enjoyed were largely ignored in favor of a crowd-pleasing, largely rote ending. But it’s the journey, not the destination, am I right, Chris?
Chris: I understand what you’re getting at, but I don’t think this episode’s weaknesses bothered me quite as much as they seemed to have bothered you.
Ziah: At heart, I think I’m a pessimist and you’re an optimist. It’s why we make such a good team! Good Reviewer and Bad Reviewer.
Chris: I feel like a weaker episode of this show is still so much better than good episodes of most shows (coughcoughAgentsofSHIELDcough) so it’s fair to say we hold this series to a slightly higher standard. But yes, just as “life” is “a highway”, the adventures of Agent Peggy Carter are a journey.
Ziah: And what a journey! This has been one heck of a season, with some of my favorite character moments and acting in not only a comic book show, but any show I’ve seen this year. I’ve got my fingers crossed so hard they’re ready to snap that we get another season. I need more of Peggy and Jarvis and Dottie and Howard and Manfredi and maybe Sousa can take a nice vacation for a while somewhere nice. (Look, I’m sorry guys, I still don’t like him. I no longer dislike him, but I have no positive feelings for him. He is just a handsome guy who is on screen.)
Chris, how about you? What’d you think of the finale and this season as a whole?
Chris: Well, I don’t know what your hang up against Chief Sousa is, but other than that, I’m right there with you. I’m really going to miss getting to spend a little more time in the glorious Marvel past with Peggy and Jarvis every week. When all the other television I chose (or have been paid) to watch was disappointing, it was nice to know that Agent Carter would be there to save the day and bring the “TV Watched Enjoyment” average up.
Like I said, I think I understand what you thought some of the finale’s weaknesses were, and I agree that this was probably the weakest episode of the season, it was still stacked full of great moments, so I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still enjoy it. Even if the whole episode was tinged with a little bit of sadness that we won’t be seeing Peggy again for a while at the least, as well as that looming dread of what’s about to return.
As to the season itself, I think our previous reviews will obviously testify to the fact that I loved it. I’ll need a little space to be able to decide how I’d rate the two seasons against each other, but I can’t wait to be able to have them both on blu-ray (or for them to both be put on Netflix) so I can binge back through them all. And, of course, I hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of the series… especially after that cliffhanger.
Ziah: As far as sheer character arcs go, we’ve got some great (Jack Thompson’s heel-face-heel-face-fine-I’ll-be-good-corpse turn) and some disappointing (Whitney’s descent into the madhouse, Wilkes going to a lab to do lab stuff upstate), but all told, this was a story with a beginning, middle, and end with characters who really feel like they changed. Chris, what’d you think of where everyone ended up?
Chris: Well, you brought a lot of things up there, so let’s go through them one at a time.
- Jack: I think Jack was always a good guy, he just didn’t know what the whole picture was, and I had faith that once everyone’s cards were on the table he was going to do the right thing. Which he did! He even got everyone food! My faith in him was rewarded! All of which made his mystery murder, if not shocking, then certainly disappointing.
- Whitney: It’s awful to see her end up like that, but at least she’s alive (instead of being pulled to her death in the rift), so there’s a chance her brilliant mind is going to find a way back and she’ll escape to do more evil genius type things. Or just eat a lot of pasta with Manfredi. I’m fine with either.
- Wilkes: Your response to this one confuses me a bit. Did you not want him to get a new job at a world leading lab where he can work with people who will treat him as an equal and respect him for his brilliance?
Ziah: I mean, yes, Wilkes gets a happy ending on the show, but it felt very detached from the rest of the show. I suppose that’s to be expected when every other character’s ending largely hinges around them staying connected and finding an ending specifically with another character, while Wilkes goes off to a previously-unmentioned science commune. (Which is also Iron Man's future house.)
Quick rundown: the Jarvises stay together, Howard Stark continues to employ them, Peggy and Sousa get together, Whitney and Manfredi are still connected, and Jack gets shot. For Wilkes, It’s certainly a happy ending for the character, it just feels less emotionally invested for his ending to not really connect to anyone else’s. And maybe I’m just sore he didn’t turn into the Blue Marvel.
Chris: At least he didn’t get shot in the chest or thrown in an asylum! There’s also nothing to say he can’t still end up becoming the Blue Marvel.
Ziah: Speaking of Whitney, I did really like that the effect of Zero Matter led her to a compulsion to slash at her face, setting the stage for her Madame Masque persona, although I confess to being a little disappointed we never actually saw her wear the iconic mask. If the show comes back for season 3, hopefully we can see a back and forth between her and Dottie again!
Chris: I’m kind of glad this isn’t a “costume” kind of show. It certainly would have been cool to see it, and I’m sure they would have done something great with it, but I think it would have felt a little out of place with the tone of the rest of the show. Plus, Wynn Everett does such a great job with expressing a multitude of emotions and subtle nuances with her face that it’d be a shame to cover it up. That said, I would also love to see her come back and become a kind of deeply unsettling villain with a look along the lines of something like Eyes Without A Face.
Ziah: Oh that would be delightful. Speaking of, how’d you feel about how they beat her? I was hoping it would be a little more involved, just because she and Peggy have such wonderful arch-chemistry (because Whitney’s a scientist you see), and I was a bit disappointed that the threat became about Zero Matter and rifts rather than the season villain herself.
Chris: Yeah, after being the star of her story, she kinda became a pawn in Zero Matter’s game there at the end, but I’d like to hope that's so there's room for her to return. Like I said before, I’m glad they didn’t think they had to kill her off. As long as she’s not dead, there’s a chance there’s more in store for her.
Ziah: Quick sidenote that we never got a chance to bring up; I love that Peggy’s relationship to killing mirrors the established idea behind Captain America’s: the war was the war, and killing has little place outside of that. It’s a nice touch that connects her to Cap and makes her “superheroic” without putting too fine a point on it.
Well, Peggy’s staying in Hollywood, and as the rules of Hollywood go, she got her man. How do you feel about Peggy and Sousa getting together after all this build-up?
Chris: I’m for it! Why wouldn’t I be? They like each other! Who am I to tell them how they should feel? In my mind, people in that line of work would really benefit from being with someone who was also in the spy game. Not saying it’s a deal breaker if they weren’t, but it certainly seem like it would be easier to relate what was happening in your life and your everyday “work” stresses to someone who also knows what it’s like to be shot at and nearly blown up by super-science gone awry etc.
Ziah: Maybe someone who’s realized the error of her ways after years of working for the KGB, perhaps?
Chris: If Peggy liked girls I’d be all about that. Especially since if she did, I don’t think this show would have shied away from it at all. I get the feeling they’d have brought it right to the front of her character if it were the case, because Peggy Carter fears no 1940s social taboos. But since she seems to be all about Daniel, I want what makes her happy. I just want all these characters to be happy. Like I said during a previous episode, this show does such great work with its characters it even makes me want happiness for the bad guys. Well, I mean, not all of the bad guys. I was so stoked when Whitney killed all those council goons.
Hey, speaking of those council goons, what do you think is going to happen in that power vacuum now that she’s gone and so many of the others are dead?
Ziah: I don’t know? It’s a bit odd that the council seemed so connected to the key(s) that they found, only for there to be an even deeper secret. Maybe there’s a shadow-shadow council! Where even they don’t know who they are.
Chris: Hahaha! I like the sound of that. The more shadows the spookier it is.
Ziah: Somebody’s been reading Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark.
Speaking of scary, Ken Marino. Man, is this guy scary talented. He’s able to immediately sell that Manfredi would actually team up with Team Peggy to betray Whitney and still make it seem like he’s doing it for her, with nothing but love in his heart and spaghetti in his teeth.
Chris: Super talented. My wife walked in at one point while he was on screen and said she just couldn’t take him seriously and I had to launch into a campaign speech for how great he’d been on the show. Everyone just did an incredible job on this show. It really had that feeling like everyone was giving it their all.
Ziah: Speaking of, how great is Howard Stark? He’s been used in short bursts this season, but to great effect. I loved that he was old pals with Manfredi, and that he took the opportunity to hit on Rose.
Chris: Haha, he is also great! This show is just great! Howard’s a little bit of a big personality, some might say an overpowering personality, so it’s nice that they used him sparingly, but appropriately.
We also got to see that Ana made it home safely and she’s going to be okay, which I was certainly thankful for. And that even with all that has transpired, Jarvis doesn’t want Peggy to leave, which was obvious, but no less sweet.
Ziah: Jarvis literally bounding out of the house to give Peggy a ride was adorable, and everything I love about this show. These characters really like each other, and it shows so well on the screen.
Chris: I’m sure we could keep singing this show’s praises for ages, or pages, but I think this should just about wrap up our time in the wonderful world of Agent Carter’s section of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We’ll be back next week with the return of Agents of SHIELD. They were on a blue planet or something! Coulson was terrible at CPR! I can hardly wait. We’ll miss you until we see you again, Peggy Carter.
Ziah: Play us out, Bone Thugs N Harmony. Play us out.