Saturday, 5 March 2016

Review - Agent Carter: 2x10 - "Hollywood Ending"


Agent Carter
Episode 2x10 - "Hollywood Ending"

Synopsis

With Whitney Frost empowered by the Zero Matter, Agent Carter must rely on both friends and former enemies to engineer a plan to rid the world of the alien substance and restore things back to normal.

Review

With no formal confirmation on a Season Three yet, this season finale of Agent Carter had the difficult job of providing viewers with a sense of closure but offering enough teases to get them to return for more. Season One managed this brilliantly by having Dottie Underwood escape into the night and dropping hints about Dr. Faustus and Armin Zola forming a partnership which would ultimately lead to the Winter Soldier's brainwashing in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Here, the writers rely more heavily on a potential third season with post-episode stinger that killed off one of the series' lead characters without any real explanation – if the series doesn't get renewed, it will be one sore kick in the teeth to fans of the show and yet another frustrating unsolved mystery due to a cancelled TV show. Yeah, I'm still bitter about the season finales of Alcatraz and FlashForward, even now! While this second season didn't have the same momentum and pitch-perfect social commentary as the original, it remained an enjoyable romp set against the glamour and glitz of Hollywood.

Despite the shock ending of last episode which saw Dr. Wilkes seemingly exploding into a mass of Zero Matter, he somehow managed to survive the experience and was even purged of the substance. The unpredictable nature of the Zero Matter was something that frustrated me throughout the whole of this series, and while the writers did address it with a few lines explaining that it affects individuals in different ways, I found myself slightly disappointed at the lack of information that was discovered about the substance. Hopefully, the air of mystery surrounding the Zero Matter and the Portal means that the writers plan to revisit it again in future storylines, perhaps even in Agents of SHIELD, although it does bear too many similarities to that series' current plot-line revolving around Terrigenesis and Inhumans. Despite a weak core to its season-long arc, Agent Carter has managed to shine through its wonderful roster of characters and the strong acting skill of its cast, and this final episode was no exception. I loved that this finale brought all of the lead and supporting characters together, with the notable exception of Dottie Underwood, and gave them all vital parts to play in defeating Whitney Frost. This series' strength came from its characters and relationships, to the point where I let out an audible gasp when Carter finally kissed Sousa and got her own 'Hollywood Ending'.


While it was great to see Carter and Sousa finally paired off together after Season One's subtle flirting and the rather under-utilised love triangle of this season, it remains to be seen whether Sousa is the man she eventually marries and is mentioned in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I'd like to think that he is, but Peggy has plenty of adventures before she reaches that hospital bed in the future – let's just hope ABC decide to continue showing them on their TV channel. If the series does return, I suspect it will revolve more around the Arena Club and Council of Nine, given Thompson's unceremonious exit in the episode's stinger. Perhaps we will find out why Dottie Underwood was so keen to get her hands on the key during the Season Two premiere? I'm guessing there is possibly some Russian influence behind the Council, linking the two seasons together and sending Agent Carter into the Cold War era. It would be fun if the series moved away from its post-war timeline and focused more heavily on the 1950s and classic espionage tropes. This season proved that simply increasing the super-powered elements doesn't always result in a stronger storyline, and perhaps a return to the series' original concept as a historical spy drama would work better.

This review feels more negative than I intended it to be when I started out – I certainly enjoyed this season finale, which offered a fitting end to Season Two's game of cat-and-mouse with Zero Matter, and my main criticisms stem from the pacing of the season and unfairly comparing it against its predecessor. As I said earlier, the ensemble cast continue to shine brightly in this series, especially Hayley Atwell, and the recent additions and change of scenery served only to enhance the series. While Season One felt like a spiritual sequel to Captain America: The First Avenger, filling in the blanks after Steve Rogers disappeared and left Peggy Carter alone and heart-broken, this second season felt a bit more out of place, borrowing elements from its mother series, Agents of SHIELD and fitting them into its post-War late 1940s setting. Hopefully, a third season (and this show needs and deserves a third season) will rectify these problems and craft a far more compelling season-long arc for Peggy Carter and her friends at the SSR. Judging from the stinger at the end of this episode, it is certainly a possibility.


Score - 9.3 out of 10


Easter Eggs/References
  • N/A
Mysteries
  • Who killed Jack Thompson?
  • What does the Arena Club key open?
  • What is the importance of those classified files involving Peggy Carter, and why did the Assassin take them?
  • Where is Dottie Underwood?

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