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Agent Carter Recap: “Hollywood Ending”

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The time has come: it’s the long-awaited season finale for Agent Carter‘s second season, and hopefully, this won’t be the last episode of the show ever. After two weeks in a row of two-episode chunks, I expected the finale to be two episodes as well, but it’s only one. I guess they’re really going to pack it all into 41 minutes, huh? Let’s see how they do.

This episode started out with a very long “Previously on Agent Carter” section, recapping the entire season thus far. Right after that, the episode itself began with another recap, starting with a “60 Seconds Earlier” title card and a refresher to remind us how much plot went by in the last few moments of the previous episode. That’s … a lot of recapping. It’s almost as though Agent Carter really wanted people to tune in for the season finale, but they also assumed that no one watched the rest of the season. Hmmm.

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And where did we leave off? Agent Carter pulling a gun on Jack Thompson, in an effort to prevent him from setting off a bomb that would kill Jason, Whitney, and Vernon. What Peg doesn’t know is that all three of those characters might already be dead, though, because we just saw Jason explode into a bunch of zero matter at the conclusion of the last episode.

Jack presses the detonator, and the bomb goes off—or so we think. Apparently, he didn’t actually press the button. The coincidental shockwave that our heroes feel reverberating in the area has to be Jason Wilkes’ own zero matter blast.

Peggy and company head back into the building, which is trashed and has little puddles of zero matter on the floor. Jason Wilkes is also lying on the floor—and he’s still alive!? Thank goodness … and he also appears to have expelled of all of his zero matter in the explosion.

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Meanwhile, the zero matter on the floor starts gathering itself into one corner … to re-enter the body of Whitney Frost, who is also lying on the floor, a few feet away from Jason. She stands up and re-absorbs all of that zero matter.

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Jack and Peggy carry Jason outside—he’s too weak to walk on his own—and Sousa follows them. Whitney’s close on their heels, though, and it sure doesn’t seem like they’re going to be able to outrun her, especially not now that she’s chock full of extra super-power juice.

Except then Jarvis and Howard Stark show up in a car and hit Whitney Frost with it. Howard is shocked, because Ms. Frost is a two-time Oscar winner, and his butler just collided with her—intentionally??? As Jarvis points out, it’ll take more than a car crash to take out Whitney Frost … not that Howard knows that yet, since he just got back.

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Meanwhile, Samberly shows up in another car. That’s enough getaway cars for all four characters to sit comfortably! And they do. They all drive away before Whitney even stands back up. It’s very convenient.

Back at the SSR, Jack and Sousa are handcuffing all of the other agents that were working with Vernon and the Council—and at least one of them already has decided to give up as much info as possible about the baddies. I guess those other agents can tell who’s on the winning team, here. Go with the good guys, folks.

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At Howard’s lab, Jason gives his science bro the long-awaited update about how his internal battle with zero matter has gone. Jason warns Howard (and Peg and Jarvis) that zero matter is an all-consuming destructive force that’s looking for “carriers”—like himself and, now, Whitney—to allow it to consume and destroy our dimension. Zero matter has already destroyed everything in its own dimension—now it’s out for more of the same. Meanwhile, Jason apologizes to Peg for the whole threatening-to-kill-her bit that happened while he was under the influence of zero matter. Now that he’s expelled the stuff, he seems to have come back to his senses, but he’s understandably shaken up by the whole experience.

Howard Stark plunges this whole moment into awkwardness by remarking that Peggy sure does end up in life-threatening situations a lot. “Maybe the problem is you,” he tells Peg. She gives him a thin-lipped smile and walks out of the room without another word. Of course, Howard doesn’t know that Peg’s had a rough few months. Still, why’s he got to be such a jerk all the time?

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Whitney Frost is working on some designs for creating another rift in the sky—presumably to let in some more world-destroying zero matter, since now the stuff’s controlling her. Joseph (a.k.a. Mobster Ken Marino) shows up. He’s starting to seem a bit concerned, especially when Whitney keeps shaking off his lunch invitation.

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Joseph goes to the living room, where his mother is working on some knitting, and tells her that he’s really starting to lose his patience with his new super-villain girlfriend. “She’s not acting like the girl I fell for,” he says. “Something’s got a hold of her.” Uh, yeah, dude. It’s zero matter. You know that, right?

While sharing a meal with Howard and Peg, Jason does seem to be back to his old charming self again. Ahh, I missed you, Jason!! Jason seems concerned about the efficacy of using a gamma cannon to destroy Whitney Frost’s zero matter. Meanwhile, Howard kind of wants some zero matter to study in his lab. Peg accuses him of attempting to profit off of the stuff. Howard dodges the question by complaining that they’re out of mustard … and where’s Jarvis with a new bottle?

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Jarvis is busy getting held up at gunpoint by Joseph Manfredi. Didn’t they update all the security in Howard Stark’s estate? How did Joseph get in? We soon have the answer to that, as we learn that apparently Joseph and Howard are friends and this entire bit is a lark for them.

Jason points out that Joseph is definitely not a friend to our heroes, at least not lately. After all, Joseph kidnapped Jason and strapped him to a table so that Whitney Frost could perform experiments on him. “That was wrong,” Joseph admits. “Mea culpa, Doc. Mea culpa.” Heh.

Joseph is ready to come over to the heroes’ side for the same reason that Vernon did: He’s worried about Whitney.

Howard points out that Joseph has a bit of a type—he likes to date, uh, powerful women. One of Joseph’s ex-girlfriends tried to throw him off the 59th Street Bridge, apparently. Joseph shrugs. Sure, he has a type, and Whitney was always a morally dubious woman. Still, the zero matter has definitely corrupted her.

Joseph tries to get Jason to agree with him on this, but Jason doesn’t buy it—he thinks Whitney was evil to begin with. It makes sense that he would think this, since Whitney threatened him at gunpoint in order to steal the zero matter from him. That was before either of them got infected with the stuff. Plus, Whitney was obviously willing to perform some unorthodox experiments on Jane Scott, which led to the woman’s death and Whitney’s willingness to cover it up.

Anyway, Joseph tells our heroes that Whitney’s trying to open the rift again. How is she planning to do it without the original uranium from the first test, Peggy asks. Jason isn’t sure, but he doesn’t want to underestimate Whitney’s genius. Peg suggests they open the rift themselves, send Whitney’s zero matter back inside, and be done with it. Jason’s dubious—they don’t understand how the zero matter works, since “discovering it in the first place was a fluke.”

Howard Stark interrupts with his own idea: steal Whitney’s research for making the rift and make it themselves. After all, he claims, the best scientists just steal work from smarter people. (Ah, the Edison method! Kidding, kidding …)

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All they have to do now is find a way to lure Whitney out of her bedroom, where all of her designs are stored. Joseph is going to have to come up with a better technique than a lunch date. He tries a different form of flattery: He tells Whitney he needs her to help him interrogate someone. He needs her to be the muscle—”the most beautiful muscle there is.”

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While Joseph and Whitney interrogate an underling—a guy who has no idea why he’s being questioned, by the way—Peggy and Sousa sneak into Whitney’s bedroom and snap a bunch of pictures of the designs. (Sousa also manages to take a picture of Peggy while they’re in there—a “souvenir” from her trip to California. I guess these two can be kind of cute sometimes, but also get back to work, Sousa! The clock is ticking here!)

Ironically, the guy Joseph’s questioning turns out to have some secrets to hide: He’s been working with the Feds. Whitney gets bored and heads back to her room. Peg and Sousa hear her coming back, mostly because of Joseph shouting, “Whitney, come back here!” for their benefit. Peg opens the window, and they manage to hop out of it just in time—but not before Sousa changes one of Whitney’s formulas by a couple of digits, hoping to “slow her down a little.”

Howard, Jason, and Samberly look over Whitney’s designs and almost immediately devolve into arguing over the naming rights for them. Howard brags that because he created a hover-car, he’s the smartest one there, so he should get to name the thing. It’s not even your design, Howard!! (Howard wants to name it “The Shears of God,” which isn’t a good name by any stretch.)

As for the design itself, it definitely will work, says Howard: “If she weren’t a homicidal maniac, I’d be in love.” Your friend Joseph already is, dude.

Here’s the problem with Whitney’s machine: It connects our world with the zero matter world. But how to prevent zero matter from leaking into our world? Our heroes want all of the zero matter to go in only one direction—away from us.

Jason comes up with an idea: use x-rays projected at the rift to keep the zero matter at bay. Howard says this might work, so I guess I’ll take his word for it. Where will they open up this rift? The studio lot for Stark Pictures—Howard can give all his employees the day off. Meanwhile, Whitney will feel the rift opening and come running as soon as they set it off, so they don’t even have to worry about inviting her.

Before Peggy walks out the door, she tells them what to name the machine: a rift generator. Short, sweet, and to the point. The guys all admit it’s not bad.

Rose shows up at Howard’s lab to help them construct the rift generator. Howard instantly turns on the charm with Rose. I hate Howard, but I like this pairing a lot better than Rose/Samberly (and seeing Samberly get jealous at Howard flirting with Rose is sort of satisfying, because I am a mean person, I guess). If Rose wants to pick between these two second-stringers, I vote Howard. You can’t do much better than a Stark when it comes to a fun one-night stand, right?

Meanwhile, Peg asks Jarvis how Ana’s doing. The question-within-a-question here: Did Jarvis finally tell Ana the bad news about the fact that she can no longer bear children? Yes, he did. Jarvis tells Peg that they had “a good cry over what can never be,” and now Ana has returned to her usual “optimistic, lovely self … far stronger than I could ever be.” Aww, Jarvis.

Jack Thompson shows up and asks how he can help. Peg tells him to collect their dinner orders. Ha! Then, he actually does it. Ohh, I like this show.

It seems like Jack goes all the way back to the SSR office just to call in the dinner order. (Doesn’t Howard have a phone?) While Jack’s at the office, or wherever he is, he finds Vernon’s old briefcase. Inside it, there’s a Council lapel pin. Jack messes with it and eventually manages to get it to click into the shape of a key. Hmm.

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At Howard’s studio lot, everybody starts setting up the various machines. Jason announces to everyone that they’ve all got to stay at least 20 feet away from the rift generator in order to avoid getting sucked into the rift. He draws a line in the sand to demonstrate this.

Howard turns the machine on. It generates a rift, as expected. Far away, Whitney senses it—also as expected.

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While our heroes wait for Whitney to show up, Howard starts hitting golf balls into the rift. Or trying, anyway. Apparently, his aim is so bad that he can’t even manage to hit a massive hole in the sky.

Elsewhere, Peg and Jack guard the entrance to the lot, waiting for Whitney to show up. Jack asks Peggy if she’s planning to turn him in once they get back to the SSR’s New York office. After all, the other agents who sided with Vernon ended up in hot water on Sousa’s watch.

Peg tells Jack she knows his heart’s in the right place. I’m not so sure if that’s the right call when it comes to Jack, but after Peggy tells Jack that she believes he’s “a good man,” he gives her the Council pin that he found in Vernon’s briefcase. He shows her that if you twist the Council pin in the right way, it becomes a key.

Would Jack have given Peggy this key if she hadn’t just promised him that she wasn’t going to arrest him after this whole thing was over? Ehh … hard to say.

Meanwhile, Whitney sneaks up on Samberly and overpowers him, which isn’t hard because it’s Samberly, and he was clearly the weakest link in this chain. Why was he manning the X-ray machine with no one guarding him? Sousa spots Whitney Frost heading towards the rift—he’s a safe distance away, on a balcony.

Whitney walks right up to the rift. She looks so happy and excited … you’d think she’d be upset that someone stole her design and that perhaps she’d feel more baffled by all of this, but I guess she’s too happy about the rift to care. Her spaced-out staring at the rift allows Howard and Jarvis to get a clear shot on her. They blast her with a gamma cannon, which forces her body to start expelling zero matter, all of which starts getting sucked into the rift.

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The zero matter is definitely gone for good from Whitney’s body now—even her facial scar is gone. Jack restrains her and drags her off, which is easy enough to do now that she doesn’t have superpowers.

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Except the plan’s just gone off the rails again. The rift is unstable, and Howard Stark can’t seem to close it now. The only way to close it would be a manual override, which requires walking all the way up to the rift generator and shutting it off. But that would require getting sucked into the rift in the process. Peggy instantly offers to do it, but then everybody else offers to do it, too—Howard, Jason, Jarvis, and Jack, in that order.

Meanwhile, Sousa ties a rubber hose to his belt and heads towards the rift before anybody notices or manages to stop him. Damn. Why couldn’t it have been Samberly, I ask you??

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Somehow, Sousa manages to reach the lever without getting levitated into the rift, but that doesn’t last long. As Sousa turns the lever, the rocks and sand around him start levitating into the air. Soon, so does he. He holds onto the lever and keeps turning it as best he can, but the lever doesn’t seem to be doing much of anything.

Meanwhile, the other end of the rubber hose comes detached from the telephone pole to which Sousa tied it before heading towards the rift. Peg manages to grab it in time, and with help from the rest of the guys, they all manage to keep Sousa’s body from flying into the rift. (Meanwhile, Howard manages to make a sex joke in the process of all of them holding the hose together. Ohhh, Howard.)

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Meanwhile, Jarvis and Samberly drive up in a car. Remember the hover-car that Howard Stark joked about having built several scenes ago? That’s coming back to save the day now. Jarvis suggests they remove the core from the gamma cannon, throw it into the car, then send the car into the rift. I have no idea why or how this works, but … it does.

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Pretty snazzy happy ending!

Howard and Peg end up back at the estate, arguing over zero matter yet again, while at another beautiful table full of food. Stark thinks he should get to have some zero matter for science studying purposes. Peg still thinks that’s the worst idea ever. Jason shows up and teases them for arguing non-stop.

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We learn shortly thereafter that Jason has just earned himself a job at Stark Industries. Science bros forever! Howard Stark ducks out to go skinny-dipping in his pool, leaving Jason and Peggy alone for a moment.

Jason and Peggy say their goodbyes. As Jason plans to stick around and work with Stark, and Peggy plans to head back to New York, there’s no way for them to really have a relationship now. (OH, COME ON.) Jason suggests that perhaps they go on one more date before Peg leaves. Peggy politely shoots him down. (SIGHHHH.)

Next, we see Peg leaving Howard’s doorstep with two suitcases in hand. Jarvis and Ana pull up in a car—Ana’s finally home from the hospital, just in time to see Peggy leave. Ana looks understandably disappointed about her new friend’s sudden exit.

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“You were going to leave without saying goodbye? Where are your manners?” Ana lambastes her. Peggy admits that she wasn’t sure Ana would even want to see her. I guess it didn’t occur to me that Peg might feel responsible for Ana’s injuries, but that makes a lot of sense. Ana pushes away those concerns by pulling Peg into a warm goodbye hug.

Jarvis offers to drive Peg to the airport, at which point she tells him she’s already called a taxi. Jarvis looks outright insulted by this. Ana convinces Peggy to let Jarvis take her, at which point Jarvis literally leaps into the air with excitement. It’s amazing.

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With five minutes left in the show, we return to Whitney Frost, who’s imagining her dead husband is back alive, consoling her. She pictures herself in a beautiful bedroom. But in reality … she’s in an asylum.

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Through the window to Whitney’s room, Joseph looks on, holding a dozen roses. An orderly comes by to let Joseph inside, but first, he’s got to lose the roses: “She’ll just try to use them to claw her face open.” Joseph gives him the roses and then walks into the room, where Whitney is still muttering about Calvin. Ohhh, Joseph. She’s just not that into you.

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Jarvis drops Peggy off at the SSR office, not the airport. Before she goes inside, Jarvis tries to convince her to stay in Hollywood-town after all—the weather’s great compared to NYC, and tacos are delicious. Peggy remains unconvinced. “Perhaps all you need is one compelling reason to stay,” Jarvis suggests.

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Cut to … Daniel Sousa, signing off on the last of the paperwork about the now-closed Isodyne case. He teases Peggy for not letting him get sucked into the rift. Wouldn’t it have been more “professional” for her to allow him to sacrifice himself, for the sake of the mission?

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She responds with a kiss—well, a whole LOT of kissing. I knew the show was trying to get me to root for Sousa over Jason, but … well, I don’t know what to say here. I got nothin’. Sousa shippers, you got your wish!

Jack Thompson, on the phone in his hotel room, learns that Peggy has decided to take even more vacation hours to stay in California. (How many vacation hours does she get? She’s been gone for months!) Jack’s still headed back to New York, anyway. He hears a knock on his door and assumes it’s the hotel staff kicking him out of his room, but actually, it’s an assassin. Jack gets shot and collapses to the ground. (Not sure if he’s dead or not. It looks like he got shot in the right shoulder, which is a strange place for an assassin to aim at point blank. Why not take the head-shot if you’re that close? Depending on whether this show gets a third season, and which direction the plot heads, I could see Jack either dying or surviving this altercation.)

Anyway, the assassin grabs Vernon’s briefcase from Jack’s belongings. Good thing Jack already gave that key to Peggy, right? We never see the assassin’s face. Looks like a guy—the assassin wears a man’s suit—but they’re tall and lean, so I was half-expecting Dottie. We don’t see their face, though, so it could be pretty much anyone—even Vernon, since we didn’t technically see Vernon die.

Just as promised by the episode title, “Hollywood Ending,” this season finale wrapped up almost everything in a tidy bow. Sousa, the clear love interest since the first season, has officially ended up with our heroine. All of the characters live in the Hollywood area now, too, so it’s conceivable that Peggy would get a transfer and end up working there, as well. Whitney’s safely behind bars and without her powers, although there’s some implication that she could get them back eventually (perhaps from Vernon, who might still be alive). Jason’s been shunted off to Stark Industries, which is exactly where I thought he’d end up, although I did hold out a naive hope that his charm would allow him to rocket into the roster of main characters (and also end up as Peggy’s boyfriend). The side characters regularly stole the show on this season, from Jason to Rose to Joseph Manfredi. (But NOT Samberly, who could have been excised from the show entirely, as far as I’m concerned.)

I know this season hasn’t been as popular as the first, but I actually liked it better in many ways. I love the dynamic between Jarvis and Peggy, and I loved Jason Wilkes and Whitney Frost as new, compelling characters. Unfortunately, I feel like I’m the only one who feels this way! In spite of the fact that there are so many new directions for Agent Carter to go, I have a bad feeling about the show’s future, especially after this super-conclusive finale.

What did you all think?

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Maddy Myers, journalist and arts critic, has written for the Boston Phoenix, Paste Magazine, MIT Technology Review, and tons more. She is a host on a videogame podcast called Isometric (relay.fm/isometric), and she plays the keytar in a band called the Robot Knights (robotknights.com).