WARNING: This review contains spoilers
Agent Carter’s “Hollywood Ending” is a perfect end to season 2 that we must hope will not also be forced to stand as the series finale. Although we finally see Peggy and Sousa kiss in earnest to the dramatic swell of the music, Peggy’s story is no mere romance. In the mythology of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, she still goes on to found S.H.I.E.L.D., and it would be an incredible shame to let her series die without giving that plot point due screen-time. That is her legacy, for better or worse.
Not that I mind the kissing, because, whew, that was some sexy stuff. Although I was kind of rooting for Dr. Wilkes, it must be acknowledged that Daniel Sousa has a lot going for him, and I don’t begrudge Peggy her choice. The scene in which they finally put it all on the table was extremely endearing, Sousa pretending to chastise her over her obvious affection for him when she refused to let him sacrifice himself, though it would have been the rational thing to do.
What I liked about this (season) finale was how it unexpectedly left both Whitney Frost and Dr. Wilkes alive. I was sure at least one or both of them would be ultimately sacrificed to end the danger of the zero matter, but the writers didn’t go that route and I felt it was a much better choice for any number of reasons. Dr. Wilkes is offered a permanent position at Stark’s lab, and it’s the happiest of all his possible endings; if the show is renewed, I hope it is not his sign-off, because he could still bring much to the table moving forward.
For her part, Whitney is driven somewhat insane by the loss of the zero matter, and winds up in a mental hospital. Definitely not a happy fate, but again, perhaps in the event of the show’s renewal, it might be a temporary one. She remains an interesting character and I could see her being put to good use in future. The great and brilliant Howard Stark was in awe of her scientific work, which he summarized with the very Stark-esque observation, “If she weren’t a murdering psychopath, I’d be in love.”
I never fail to be amazed by how much better the show is when Howard Stark is there. While Peggy has great character chemistry with most of her supporting cast, there is something about the way she banters with Stark, and particularly the way the triad of Jarvis, Peggy and Stark all banter with one another, that just brings the show up to its zenith of humor, snark and wit. Episodes including him always shine extra bright, and this one was no exception. The scene where he is practicing his golf shot into their manufactured breech in the space-time continuum is preposterous, perfect and utterly emblematic of what makes the show unique and entertaining.
Finally, I found the scene in which Peggy and Thompson have their final debrief particularly rewarding. As I’ve said before, Jack Thompson’s character arc has actually been one of the most interesting on the show, and while I am sad it has ended in the way it did — with a bullet to the chest — I support the choice completely. By the season’s end, he has finally thrown in his lot whole-heartedly with Peggy, and shown himself to be a good man, underneath it all. I wanted to root for him all along, even and especially when he was being a selfish jerk, and it was nice to have that impulse rewarded even if, on his end, as the saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished.
I would be lying if I did not admit that Agent Carter’s chances of renewal are precarious, shall we say. But Peggy Carter is resilient, and good at getting out of tight spots, so maybe she’ll land an unlikely reprieve after all. Stranger things have happened.