Agent Carter: 210 “Hollywood Ending” Review
Reviewed by Ollie Gregory.
And that’s it fellows, Agent Carter’s second season is officially over. And if a number of news outlets are to be believed the show is finished for good. There’s a lot riding on this episode, given that it could be the last episode ever, meaning the pressure was really on. The question on everyone’s mind – did it deliver, or did it disappoint?
I’m going to be completely honest and tell you that this episode was not what I expected at all. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t this. As soon as the episode began there was an odd, unusual sort of vibe. We started just where last week’s episode ended but the stakes weren’t there. Peggy (Hayley Atwell), Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) and Jack Thompson (Chad Michael Murray), find a barely conscious Dr Wilkes (Reggie Austin) lying under a pile of rubble. We learnt that by popping, Wilkes has been able to remove the ‘Zero Matter’ from his body. As the team try to make their getaway, they realise they are being chased by Whitney Frost (Wynn Everett), who is doing her best impression of the demon from It Follows (Oh my goodness that film!)
Fortunately, everyone’s favourite blonde psychopath is hit by a car. Inside the car is none other than Jarvis (James D’Arcy) and, you guessed it, Howard Star (Dominic Cooper). And this, is where the fun begins…
All season long the dialogue for Agent Carter has just been terrific, and this episode highlighted that. Rather than just having a huge battle for a season finale, they decided that they’d do what they do best, and have most of the episode just be people talking to each other. “That sounds really boring” I hear you think. Well actually, it’s not, you idiot.
For starters, we had Howard Stark back in the mix, and Isaac Newton’s fourth law is that anything involving Howard Stark is great. Remarkably, Dominic Cooper somehow managed to live up to my ridiculous expectations, and came across as witty, charismatic and likeable. Alongside Cooper, James D’Arcy too gave a fantastic performance, bringing Jarvis back to his humorous roots. The two of them work together perfectly, complimenting each other throughout the episode.
Also returning to his roots was Dr Wilkes. Having rid himself of the weird gross black goo, he’s back to his usual smiley self. Austin seems a lot more comfortable as the jollier version of his character, and works well alongside the rest of the team. Dr Samberley (Matt Braunger) wasn’t as good as he was last week, but he was still pretty great. Putting the three scientific geniuses together and making them bicker with each other was probably the greatest decision the show has made this season.
Hayley Atwell was her usual self too this episode, not that that’s a bad thing of course. She’s been great in literally every episode this season, and that’s a tough job to do, so props to her for that. One could argue that she’s carried the weight of the show on her soldiers and while there’s a lot of other great actors on the show, I’m fairly certain I agree. Alongside Atwell, Enver Gjokaj has also been consistently pretty great. While neither of them do anything too amazing this episode, it’s worth mentioning that neither of them have had a bad episode this season.
In terms of performances, this episode belongs to Ken Marino. The scene where Manfredi pretended to interrogate one of his men, as a means to get Whitney out of her room, was an absolute thing of beauty, as was his relationship with Howard Stark. Putting Joseph Manfredi on the good guy team and having him be friends with Howard Stark was a nice little twist, but there is a moment of uncomfortableness when you remember all the horrible things Manfredi said regarding race when he was kidnapping Wilkes. Maybe it is just me, but smiling and laughing doesn’t excuse being a racist scumbag (There’s a political joke here but that’s not what I’m here for).
There were a number of problems with this episode though, many of them regarding Whitney Frost. Wynn Everett’s performance wasn’t terrible, but it was a little bit cliche and frustrating. I realised this episode that most of Frost’s character development seems to happen between episodes. She changes a lot, but it’s very rushed and she never seems like the same person as she was the previous episode. We also never got to see truly become Madame Masque. While the show seemed to suggest she was about to a number of times, it never really happened. She didn’t get a completely messed up face, or wear a cool mask, or have a cool fight. She spent most of this episode either whining or crying.
The action sequence at the end was also very unusual. The CGI was a little bit rough around the edges, especially when Frost was getting the ‘Zero Matter’ sucked out of her, but it wasn’t too aggravating. The action itself was incredibly bizarre, replacing what would normally be a fistfight at the end of a season, with a one legged men being sucked towards the sky while four other people try to keep him on the ground. After last week’s musical section, I really didn’t expect Agent Carter to ‘outweird’ itself, but somehow it managed it.
Where the season finale really excelled was in its humour. The good guy team bounced off each other superbly and there was a lot of genuinely hilarious moments. There wasn’t a lot of stupid silly humour, just clever quips and comments to get the audience to chuckle. It was a great way to highlight one of the greatest things about this season, maintaining the fun 60s vibe till the very end (well, not quite the very end – spoiler).
While it’s easy to be critical of this episode, since it was clearly not the strongest this season, it did do a fairly good job of highlighting the things that have made the last ten episodes so great. The fun and vibrant world was on full display, with the huge action sequence taking part in Howard Stark’s own film set, and we get the stupid gadget that all other stupid gadgets look up to – the flying car!
There was a surprising amount of wrap-up at the end of this episode, but given that this might be the last time we ever see the show, it was fairly justified. We got to see Ana Jarvis (Lottie Verbeek) return home, and my goodness that woman is a pile of adorableness disguising itself as a woman. I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get to see Jarvis tell Ana that she couldn’t have children (unless it happened a few episode and I’ve just forgot), but that might just be because I’m a sadistic monster.
I guess you could argue that Manfredi did get his comeuppance for being racist in the sense that after everything he did for Whitney, she still wouldn’t love him. I like the fact that Whitney survived, and is now insane and desperate to carve her own face open. If we do get another season (Please Mr TeeVee!!!) then I imagine we’ll see her return, and we might get some proper Madame Masque action.
It wasn’t Agent Carter’s finest hour, but the slightly obnoxiously titled Hollywood Ending was a solid ending to a solid season. While the lack of viewers suggests this may be the ultimate end, the episode did end on a cliffhanger, with Jack Thompson taking a bullet to the chest. While it wasn’t one of the shows that received an early renewal, there are a number of stories suggesting that ABC will give it a third season. The ending certainly suggest the writers have enough material for a third season, but only time will tell if anything regarding Peggy’s file ever comes to fruition…