Agent Carter comes to a close, and we have your favorite sarcastic / sly look at it only on a Thursday instead of a Wednesday! Did Peggy save the day? Was Jarvis adorable? And what about all that Zero Matter stuff? All that and more in five thoughts below.
As this is the finale and we’re a day late with the review, a note: we’re going to discuss major spoilers from the finale. If that’s not a thing you’re into, then apologies in advance.
1. That’s a Wrap
As far as endings can go, this is about as tight as you can probably expect. Most things are wrapped up in a nice little bun: Wilkes is back to regular form, Sousa and Carter have their moment, and Howard Stark shows up to deliver a bunch of random and comedic lines at inopportune moments. It’s pretty much the apex of what we’re supposed to expect from the show, in all its cheery effervescent glory as it seeks to avoid the grit and glib nature of other comic programs with a wink and nod instead. While there are a few leftover threads (some of which I’ll cover below), the show does not waste time in leaving too many stones unturned, so there’s something to be said for that. You can tell they certainly planned to wrap most things up by the end, for better or for worse, the best thing I will say about Agent Carter this season is that it maintained its demeanor throughout. That’s perhaps the only consistent thing about this show this season; it wanted to be light-hearted and romp-y, and it wrapped up in that fashion.
Now onto the more critical bits.
2. So, How About That Zero Matter?
Probably the biggest grievance I have with the finale is how many questions they left unanswered. I’m not opposed to a show delivering a mystery and then not following up on it entirely; I’ll defend LOST until I’m cold and in the grave, and even then you can probably wake me up to defend the finale. That being said, the Zero Matter mystery in this season felt very unfulfilling. I get that the point of it was to tease things we’ll see in Doctor Strange and I’m all for sly tie-ins to the MCU (like the Council’s logo), but bringing in Zero Matter at all and then not delivering on it just felt like a waste. Like, here’s the big, complex thing that can change the world — at the very least we should get a tease of how Howard Stark stealing some leftover Zero Matter for some big machine that we saw in the background of Iron Man 2 or something.
3. Madame Masque
Thus ends the tale of Whitney Frost, our not-quite-supervillain. Whitney here never really lived up to the Madame Masque we knew in the comics; that character was a smart, savvy and incredibly dangerous spy, whereas Whitney Frost was more of a highly intelligent but ultimately psychopathic conduit for a force far too powerful for her to maintain. In that, there are both things I like and dislike about Whitney; I like that Whitney had a great origin and was highly manipulative of the other players all season long to put herself in a place of power. That said, I really dislike that she ultimately was left as a psychotic and broken character who couldn’t fend for herself and was reduced to a really poorly animated CGI defeat. She should’ve gone out on top, like Faust. Feels like a shame that she couldn’t even get the Dottie Underwood “gone missing” treatment.
4. Goodbye, Sad Michael Murray
Now lets look at that stinger. Sad Michael Murray (I’m sorry, I don’t care about his character name) spent all season being the dick he was last season, and finally got a moment’s reprieve this episode where he ordered dinner for Peggy and the gang. He was almost likable — and then his research that he was going to use to blackmail Peggy ends up being what he’s killed for by some unseen party. This… feels very underwhelming to me. It’s not a bad tease for whatever is to come, but it’s also incredibly low stakes — there’s probably not a character on this show I care less about than Thompson (Ok, fine, I’ll say his name), so what’s the point of using his death as a catalyst for what is to come? Especially because, all things considered, the people he was running with like Vernon Masters are now nothing more than an afterthought. It doesn’t feel like there’s anything anyone can really use to blackmail Carter in a way that feels relevant, so why the big death tease?Continued below
I suppose not knowing is the point, but as far as finales I’ll be thinking on in a few weeks time, I can almost guarantee you that I’ll still be trying to puzzle out the Zoom reveal from The Flash rather than dwelling much on this.
5. Hollywood Ending
All things considered, this season was weaker than the first. I feel like the first season pulled itself together very well in terms of having a likable cast and a streamlined story, whereas the second season didn’t quite know what it wanted to be: an homage to the era, a comic book tie-in, a spy romp or something else. There were definite high points and low points, but I think Agent Carter spent most of its second season somewhere awkwardly in the middle; it never stood up and out from the rest of the crowd of comic-themed television, and with more and more shows putting on capes and cowls every season the competition is getting steep.
That being said, I’d like to see a third season come about. Carter and Jarvis (Atwell and D’arcy) have great chemistry and make for really entertaining leads, even if the story surrounding them isn’t all that great. But they’re a pair worth tuning in for, and there’s something to be said for that: even when the show is at its lowest, I do still care about Carter and Jarvis and want to follow along with them for more. Perhaps that’s why a subpar second season feels like such a big letdown; everything about the first season had the typical growing pains you expect from this kind of show that you’d hope that the second season would just be Carter and Jarvis on point for high quality adventures — but with so much around them pulling them down, they can only keep the show afloat so much.
If the show does get a third season — and it’s very clear they want one — my only hope is that they lean on what works rather than try to spin too many plates. Less episodes and more for Jarvis and Peggy to do together is all we need here; the show doesn’t have to break the mold or try too much harder than that.