Gahhhhhhh…I hate to become a stereotypical Jewish mother on the internet, but why do you do this to me, Agent Carter? I applaud you when do you things right. I have high hopes when you get a little shaky. I devote whole paragraphs to Hayley Atwell’s huge tracks of land. I watch every week with a fearful devotion bordering on mania. So why do you insist on hurting me with these lazy, slap-dash, idiotic episodes?
So the last chance at redemption episode opens with Peggy losing her last shred of Batman-like restraint and threatening to shoot Thompson so he doesn’t set off the gamma bomb. Take note of this almost heinous character development in Peggy Carter. She isn’t cleverly threatening Jack with a bullethole, she is warning him that a bullet is forthcoming.
But, a different explosion stops Thompson’s intended explosion, and they all assume everything’s safe enough to go back inside without setting off the gamma bomb (because eff your hopes and dreams, Britain). Wilkes is found unharmed but also free of the zero matter.
Remember how Whitney could expel zero matter and absorb people into her? Remember how Wilkes could absorb zero matter itself and use it to make himself physical? And, for awhile, Whitney went to insane lengths to keep him close for study alongside herself? Almost like they were two halves that could maybe destroy or unite with one another…well, eff your memory. It doesn’t matter what you remember. Wilkes is normal again by just not bothering to fight the zero matter anymore (which he could have done from the very beginning?) and letting it explode out of him. You didn’t gain anything by following his struggle with zero matter for the last season, and it’s not even going to play into the final conclusion. Joke’s on you, Audience.
Whitney Frost also achieves her final form by being even MORE powered by zero matter. So Peggy Carter and crew just start running away with the enraged, out-for-blood Whitney pursuing them on foot (Take note). Fortunately, though, Jarvis and Howard Stark arrive just in time to bring back the comical tone that made the show fun in the first place. And the gang makes their getaway leaving Whitney behind to helplessly watch them drive away (Again, notice this.)
Remember how Peggy was going to shoot Thompson less then seven minutes ago? And, not because Thompson was purposefully doing anything evil, but because he saw Whitney and her croonies as too big a threat to the world to not exterminate if they had the chance. Remember Peggy’s dark (paraphrased) words of “there was a time I couldn’t have shot you, but not now” and the cold reality of her life as an agent where the lines between friends and foes are blurred? Yeah, eff that, Howard Stark is back.
Here’s Jarvis forgetting his severe emotional trauma of the last few days and being funny again! Here’s the quips and the one liners! Forget whatever emotionally-devastating, character-changing, life-altering shizz was going on before! We’ve got to have fun now because the fun character is here! That how shows work, right? Someone shows up after a long absence and everyone automatically forgets what they were going through and adapts to the newbie’s tone! It’s great!
Whitney’s latest absorption of all the zero matter has turned her into John Nash, and dang it this makes her mobster boyfriend sad ’cause he liked her back when she wasn’t writing schematics for a device capable of opening a hell portal on the walls. With his help Peggy and Sousa break in to take photos of the schematics so Stark can create the device in the safety of his movie lot. They build the device, turn it on for testing purposes and Whitney wakes up in an 80’s music video.
What happens next is the biggest, brashest use of coincidence that you could ever imagine. And as mind-numbingly lazy as it is, it’s in no way the worst sin committed by this episode of television. So, this I’ll just recap. Zero matter can be held back by using high powered x-rays. (This could never have been useful information before this moment.) Whitney manages to walk – because as has been well established she can’t teleport or open portals, etc. – from her mobster boyfriend’s home to arrive at the perfect time on Stark’s movie lot where her ridiculously powerful powers are overcome in 30 seconds.
See, let me pause a moment and remind you how this is supposed to work. Stories are supposed to have a “climax” and this french thing called a “denouement”. The climax is where the hero of the story – let’s call them a protagonist cause that’s what they’re called – faces the major opposition of their story (antagonist). If done right, facing this antagonist is not only super physically dangerous, but also calls everything the hero believes into question. That’s why, say, when Darth Vader **spoiler** hurls the Emperor to his doom, not only has he physically done something impressive, he has also overcome decades of mental enslavement to the Dark Side in one glorious moment for his son. This is the climax. Lando blowing the sh*t out of the Death Star’s core, while a much bigger event scale-wise, is the denouement. The story is over emotionally, but we have to wrap up a few loose ends to know how the world works now that the bad guy is defeated.
Whitney wanders onto the set and stands in front of the portal – conveniently ignoring the giant gamma gun she’s seen before and standing right in front of it – and boom. The scientists (not Peggy) work their science, and Whitney is defeated. She’s left a screaming, normal woman who gets hauled off to jail. All the rats she’s eaten. All the humans whose lives she’s ended. All the power she has through the zero matter inside her. The entire episode spent drawing parallels between her upbringing and Peggy’s, drawing an invisible line of connection even though the two characters seldom actually meet. Yeah, eff that. They never have a showdown. Eat this bullsh*t instead:
Yup, big ole convenience bomb. Turns out they need the gamma gun to close the portal (whoops). But the darn thing take 20+ minutes to recharge every use (oops). Something no one planned for until the rift became unstable (whoopies) which didn’t happen during Stark’s leisurely golf practice, but is happening now for some reason (writer’s block). Meaning someone has to
do their job risk their life and turn off the rift machine manually, even though it means they may get sucked into the zero matter dimension. Sousa needs to distinguish himself from the other good men, so he ties himself to a pole with a cable and heads for the machine. When Sousa first start levitating, everyone’s reaction is the same:
That is, until Sousa needs saving. Now, THIS DOES NOT INVOLVE PEGGY. That is to say, the title character of this series is not solely integral to solving any of this conflict. Sure, Peggy is the first person who grabs the rope in time when it (conveniently) unties. But, Peggy doesn’t need to be “uniquely Peggy” to hold on to a rope. She doesn’t need any of her special skills or knowledge she’s gained from the past season to save her friend. In fact, three other guys are standing behind her doing the same job she’s doing, making her all the more unnecessary in what should be the story’s climax.
And no, the story’s climax should not be “Peggy saves Sousa”. The story’s climax should be, “Peggy must find a way to defeat Whitney, who literally holds the ability to devour worlds”. Does that sound exciting? Does that sound like an ending worthy of an actual hero? Does that sound like something say, Captain America or Iron Man might be asked to do in their story’s climax? But wait, how could Peggy defeat Whitney in a battle? Peggy is just a normal person. Whitney has the power of zero matter. Surely there’s no way Howard Stark could whip something up to help her. Surely Peggy couldn’t hold qualities that uniquely equip her to get close to Whitney. Surely the writers can’t be forced to set up villain AND create a weakness for her only Peggy could exploit. There’s no way any brain, or a room full of brains, could think at that speed! Not unless they were thinking for Batman, of course.
The story continues on it’s dumb*ss trek down bullsh*t way with a magic car saving the day, and Wilkes conveniently no longer being interested in dating Peggy. This makes her big song and dance “choice between men” a convenient no choice. And then insult to my full-body cast injury:
Congrats, Peggy. You got the one guys who wanted to be with you but was just impassioned enough to let you make the actual move. I couldn’t even enjoy horny, make-out like a teenager Hayley Atwell because I was so disgusted and morbidly depressed. Maybe if the show had in any way built up Sousa’s character besides ” good man, doesn’t suck at job”, I would have actually rooted for him over the option “Peggy Carter adopts a cat and leads a fulfilling career alone”.
And on that note, can someone assemble a super cut of every time Peggy deems someone “a good man”? I mean, really. At this point, Peggy, you’re someone calling a cat picture cute on the internet. You’ve given your stamp of approval out so often, it ceases to have any real meaning. So far, every *sshole who happens to not actually shoot the gun they have trained on you can still earn the “good man” stamp if a few nanoseconds go by. Men can be bad men, but necessary to work with. Men can be good men, but completely useless. Deeming most men a “good man” when their behavior varies wildly doesn’t make them magically good (like sex with James Bond) it just makes your protagonist look gullible as balls.
BOOB WINDOW ANALYSIS:
I was afraid this beloved part of the series would die out like my hopes and dreams of Dottie and Peggy moving to Colorado together, but fortunately in the last few minutes, fortune smiled on my humiliation.
It wouldn’t be Marvel without some inane cut scene meant to send us into a righteous fervor of fandom, demanding the next iteration of the franchise. This fan-demand is doubly important for a mini-series type show like Agent Carter, which has high production values but not the immediate return on investment like a movie can have. This cut scene is also a last-ditch effort to capture attention if you didn’t, say, creating a compelling storyline in your last half season. So what is meant to hook us in the last ten seconds:
Seriously, Agent carter? THAT’S what you’re going to hinge your Season 3 hopes on? “Who Shot Jack Thompson?” Guess what, Agent Carter, nobody cares. You see, you have done nothing this season except make Thompson really dumb, really selfish and still obnoxious. Then, in the ninth inning, you tried to write one episode that totally redeems all your past bad sculpting of his character. But it didn’t redeem him. It just made us all look around and make awkward sounds of encouragement like we were at your sophomore year art show. But you don’t deserve an art show sophomore year. You still need your classes in “story structure” and “How To Put Dottie In The Cut Scene Because You Actually Built Her As A Character And We’re Invested In Her Future”.
You’ve hurt me, Agent Carter. But, like an abused wife, I hope only for your return so you can redeem yourself by fulfilling your potential. You were really onto something. You created a villain that was concise, capable and great to watch and you destroyed her in the most uninteresting way possible. You consistently wrote Peggy as becoming more and more dangerously reckless and then had nothing pay off with her learning no lessons. You wasted everyone’s time. You’re like George Lucas after he got rich. And that is the worst condemnation of your crappy writing that I can muster.
Acting: Original Star Trek
Music: Didn’t notice
Effects: Actually pretty great…but like a Star Wars prequel, IN SERVICE OF NOTHING!
Britain Valenti has enjoyed our time together immensely. She sincerely hopes that Agent Carter will return, and that it will start pampering and loving itself in the way it deserves. Much as Britain did her own ungrateful webseries that lost ten pounds and now never returns her calls.