I gave up recapping ‘Agent Carter’ a few weeks back because, like most of the viewing audience and even its own broadcast network, I completely lost interest in the show. Given that last week’s season finale will very likely also serve as the series finale, I suppose I should close this out with one final post.
I won’t bother running through every plot-point I missed over the last four episodes. The long and short of it is that conniving actress/scientific genius Whitney Frost (Wynn Everett) is infected with an otherworldly black goo called Zero Matter that has turned her into an evil, power-mad supervillain with the ability to absorb anyone or anything into her own body. Driven by a compulsion to get more of the Zero Matter, she tried to open another rift into the extraterrestrial dimension it comes from using a nuclear explosion, but Peggy’s almost-boyfriend Dr. Wilkes prevented that from happening by blowing himself up in front of her.
Wilkes was also infected by Zero Matter, but instead of driving him crazy, it turned him into a ghost. The explosion knocked all the Zero Matter out of him and made him corporeal again, but at the cost of all of it going straight into Whitney.
In the finale episode, called ‘Hollywood Ending’, Peggy, Wilkes and Peggy’s other almost-boyfriend Chief Sousa are rescued from Whitney by Howard Stark (who was absent for most of the season). Presumed dead (but probably not) is Sousa’s evil boss Vernon Masters (Kurtwood Smith). With him out of the picture, Sousa has no trouble taking back the SSR. Wilkes explains that the Zero Matter is like a virus, and if they can’t stop Whitney from bringing more of it to Earth, it will consume the entire planet until nothing is left.
Meanwhile, Whitney becomes utterly obsessed with finding a new way to open a rift, and locks herself in a room shut off from all human interaction while she works out scientific calculations. This drives a wedge between Whitney and her gangster boyfriend Joseph Manfredi (Ken Marino). Wanting his old Whitney back, Manfredi pays a visit to ask Howard Stark for help. Apparently, they’re old pals. How convenient.
Peggy reasons that the only way they can stop Whitney from bringing more Zero Matter to Earth is to open their own rift first and use it to return Whitney’s Zero Matter where it came from. The logic of this seems dubious to me. Unfortunately, not even the combined brain trust of Stark, Wilkes and bumbling comic relief third-wheel scientist Dr. Samberly can figure out how to get a rift open. The only person brilliant enough to solve that puzzle is Whitney Frost.
While Manfredi distracts his girlfriend, Peggy and Sousa sneak into Whitney’s room and take photos of her calculations, then bring them back to Stark and Wilkes. Somehow or other, they use this to develop a device that will open a rift before Whitney (whose work they’ve copied) can do it herself. In order to give themselves some space, Stark opens the rift in the middle of his own huge movie studio backlot. (He gave all the film crews the day off first, of course.) With that done, they sit and wait for Whitney. Wilkes assures them that she’ll be able to sense the open rift and will be drawn to it.
Sure enough, Whitney eventually arrives. Howard uses a big-ass gun called a “Gamma Cannon” to blast all the Zero Matter out of her, causing it to get sucked right into the rift. Hooray! The Big Bad villain is defeated! The only problem is that the rift won’t close again afterwards. The Gamma Cannon needs 20 minutes to recharge, but by that time the rift will expand and let more Zero Matter out.
Sousa volunteers to sacrifice himself in order to crank a manual override lever that of course happens to be inside the “No Go Line” beyond which stuff gets sucked into the rift. (Stupid planning to put it there, if you ask me.) His heroics ultimately amount to nothing. Jarvis saves the day by suggesting that Howard put the Gamma Cannon’s reactor core into his car (which we learned earlier in the episode can transform into a flying hovercraft) and send it flying into the rift. They do, it explodes, and the rift closes. The world is saved. Yay?
The next day, Howard officially hires Dr. Wilkes to work for him. Peggy announces that she’s going back to New York and says goodbye to Jarvis. However, first she breaks up with Wilkes and then makes out with Sousa. (The brilliant black guy’s just not good enough for her, apparently.)
We find Whitney Frost in a loony bin, hallucinating that her husband (whom she killed) is still alive.
The finale ends with Peggy’s jackass superior Jack Thompson (Chad Michael Murray) getting gunned down in his office by an unseen shooter, who steals a file on Peggy from him. I guess that’s supposed to be a cliffhanger, though I can’t imagine who cares about it.
Although ‘Agent Carter’ has not yet officially been canceled, this season’s ratings were terrible, ABC tried to burn it off the broadcast schedule two episodes at a time for the prior few weeks, and star Hayley Atwell has already been cast in a new upcoming series. I’d say the writing is on the wall, but then again I was shocked that the show somehow got a second season. As much as I doubt ABC will renew it for a third, stranger things have happened.
Like most episodes of the series, especially this season, the finale is a dull and plodding affair with a dumb plot that ultimately amounts to nothing. As a prequel, one of the biggest problems this show has faced is that the audience knows that very little that happens in it will have any lasting impact, or else the characters in the present-day storylines in ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ and the Marvel feature films would still be dealing with it. Since nobody in that show or those movies remembers Zero Matter, it’s safe to say that the problem got resolved without ever becoming much of a threat.
Also, the “Who Shot Thompson?” cliffhanger is a non-event. Nobody liked Thompson in the first place, and it seems perfectly obvious to me that Vernon Masters (who pointedly was never given an on-camera death) must be the culprit.
From its inception, ‘Agent Carter’ has felt like a major missed opportunity. A fun premise and period setting have been squandered with lackluster execution. I hope this really is the end, because I couldn’t bring myself to watch any more of it. This show is pretty much the worst thing in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.