“Hollywood Ending” sounds like an apt title. It seems like this is the way of modern television: the story reaches its climax with ten minutes to go, giving plenty of room to wrap up the character stuff, dangle a couple of plot threads for the next season, and, once everything is satisfactorily resolved, introduce a thunderous cliffhanger. In the final scene, Chad Michael Murray’s character of Jack Thompson is gunned down, and a file, containing faked information meant to frame Agent Carter, is stolen.
Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, there hasn’t been a new season. This season only received between 2.35 and 3.18 million viewers when it aired on ABC in the first quarter of 2016. A year and a half later, ABC tried another Marvel series, Inhumans, which sadly managed even smaller numbers and didn’t get the good reviews and buzz that Carter had. Fans have crossed their fingers that Netflix might step in and order a season, though that seems unlikely. I’ll join them. I’d really like to see more episodes of this series one day.
I might have only said that tonight’s episode was more of the same double-crossing and double-dealing and not knowing who to trust but for the opening. It starts with a terrific little dream sequence staged like a musical dance number from the period. It is incredibly self-indulgent, but too much fun. I think it ran a little bit longer than our son really wanted, but I got a kick out of the change of pace. Peggy should get clobbered on the head more often if the results are this amusing.
I feel like I can’t add too much to what I’ve already said about Agent Carter. This is so unpredictable and does such a great job in keeping me constantly surprised. I certainly wasn’t expecting Dottie to meet her match so thoroughly. I wasn’t expecting one character’s betrayal. I wasn’t expecting another to see the light. I wasn’t expecting one character to be so grievously wounded and I wasn’t expecting another to just start pumping bullets into a bad guy as though nothing was left to lose.
That last point caused me to exclaim out loud, which I try not to do when somebody’s in the next room asleep. My cold is mostly gone, but Marie has a stomach bug and went to bed early, and here I am shouting like a teenager over a TV show. Wow, if anything remotely this fun was on ABC when I was a teenager, I’d have never left the house.
But you know what was on ABC when I was a teenager? MacGyver was…
Dottie’s finally back in this one. Since Whitney gave Peggy a pretty grievous injury last time, our heroes decide they have no choice but to break Dottie out and use her to get a sample of Whitney’s zero matter. Lucky for them Dottie’s being held in a facility in Los Angeles.
Nothing goes as planned for anybody in this episode. Kind of the through-line for this season is a conglomerate of the wealthiest and most powerful people being evil using patriotism as a cover for their greed and corruption. I’ve had a feeling that some of this lot would be meeting grisly ends at the hands of Whitney before the series finishes. I wasn’t wrong, but I was pretty certain that, of the three robber barons with speaking parts, one in particular would be the last to go. I was mistaken. He and half the council go down screaming as Whitney disintegrates and absorbs them. One reason I love this show is because nobody’s safe, not even a villain you thought would get his just desserts in episode ten.
What else? Thompson loses even more of his backbone, Daniel’s fiancée calls off their engagement, Peggy tears her stitches just opening a door, and Dottie loses her bid for freedom, waking up in a box all chained up and with a heck of a shiner, with Whitney Frost smiling down at her. Our son summed it up this way: “The two scariest women in this show… together!”
An absolutely delightful little change of pace with tonight’s episode. The story, which revolves around an unofficial break-in at a top-security Roxxon facility to steal uranium rods, is light and frothy and full of silly sight gags and slapstick, and Peggy zapping an old adversary with a device that knocks out your short term memory. It’s played entirely for laughs, and then Peggy fights Whitney and it goes very, very dark in a hurry.
Our son sums it up thusly: “Whitney Frost has always been mean, but now that she’s got that zero matter in her, she’s really scary!”
I am completely loving Whitney Frost, the villain of this piece. Our son briefly found her situation engaging as well. In this episode, she orders a cage of white rats from the lab, and he was delighted to see them. Of course, she’s using them for experimenting on her strange power, which disintegrates and absorbs her targets and makes the brilliantly black scar on her face grow. Frost wears her hair in a Veronica Lake ‘do, so she’s able to hide it for a time, but by the end of the episode, there aren’t any more rats, and she’s been forced to reveal her power to her husband to get rid of a threat, and the scar has reached down to her chin. Our son wasn’t quite as pleased to realize what that empty cage meant.
And he’s drawing connections between Frost and Dr. Wilkes, who was blasted by the zero matter explosion but with a very different result: he’s intangible. Not sure how he’s able to stand up and not sink through the floor, but, you know, comic book science. Anyway, Wilkes can’t touch anything, doesn’t feel the need to eat, and can’t sleep. After several days awake, he’s starting to hallucinate, as any of us probably would, but he’s having particular hallucinations of zero matter coming through walls and blackboards. Our son is sure that something very bad is going to happen with these two characters, and perhaps when they meet again, there will be an explosion.
I was mistaken, but I thought for sure his favorite bits would be the ones where Peggy and Jarvis kidnap their informant with the help of a powerful tranquilizer. Between Jarvis getting a jab of the same stuff and their captive waking up in the trunk of their getaway car while Chief Sousa’s there to hear the shouting, it’s a complete mess. Nice to see that every once in a while Practically Perfect Peggy has a situation more in line with what Larry, Moe, and Curly would come up with.
I am really enjoying Wynn Everett’s portrayal of the actress Whitney Frost. We learn this time out that this is just her stage name. She’s interested in the zero matter because she’s actually a scientist and had done some important intelligence work for the Allies. So she’s frightened by what the zero matter is doing to her body, but also curious.
I also like the occasional reminders that life was a lot less complicated in 1947. This time out, Chad Michael Murray’s character flies out to Los Angeles to complicate the plot. He has to catch a flight back, but he still has an hour before takeoff, so he can visit a social club where all the industrialist and political villains gather and have a drink first. Remember having that much time to kill before all the security precautions? I normally don’t have any time for “good ole days” nostalgia, but I can get behind going back to that.
I’m not kidding; I absolutely love the speed of this show. There’s a lot to be said for the more careful and deliberate plotting of a sixties show like The Avengers, but so much happens in an hour of this series. It’s not like I’m completely unaware of contemporary TV, even though I haven’t watched all that many shows over the last eight or nine years, but this program’s pace is exhilarating. When it does slow down for a quiet middle-of-the-episode bit of character development, it feels like we’ve already watched a full hour.
The pace, however, kind of left our son a little bit behind tonight. We had to try and recap all the various players and what we think their motivations are. Everything is centered around the super-scientific macguffin at Isodyne Energy. It’s not a symbiote, like I thought last time, but something they’re calling “zero matter” which was left behind after an atomic energy test ripped a hole in space. By the end of this adventure, Carter’s scientist informant, played by Reggie Allen, has disappeared after an explosion at the lab, and Whitney Frost, who evidently wanted to steal and sell it, is left with a livid, alien-looking black scar on her forehead. She may have to wear a gold mask to cover that.
Other than the nebulous “explain what I just watched,” the other, specific, thing we had to explain was what Daniel Sousa’s girlfriend meant when she talked about a bear claw she’d picked up for him. I wonder whether Koch’s Bakery downtown makes those. Kid deserves a good bear claw.
And so to Los Angeles, 1947, and the second season of Agent Carter. But before we get to California, there’s an old enemy in New York to handle. I figured we’d see “Dottie,” the villain played by Bridget Regan, again this season, but I didn’t figure we’d see her getting arrested in the pre-title sequence! But I still don’t think we’ve seen the last of her; Chad Michael Murray’s character, the chief of the New York office of the SSR, loses his prisoner in a tug-of-war with the FBI. Hmmm.
Over in LA, Peggy and some of the old gang are investigating a weird murder which has frozen a lake in the middle of the summer. They’ve got a powerful political enemy in California, and he’s shacking up with Whitney Frost, who I remember as Madame Masque from the comics. She’s played by Wynn Everett, and Reggie Austin plays a scientist who’s too good to be true, so it’s not a very surprising ending when he is seen experimenting with some weird shifty-shapey technology. I’d guess it was a symbiote, only those are from the Spider-Man comics, and I don’t think this production company had access to those trademarks in 2015.
One reason I enjoy this series: nobody seems safe. Other than Peggy herself, anybody in this program could be a traitor and/or toast. One fellow this week becomes both, and I thought he was going to stick around! I like a show that keeps me guessing.