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Howard Stark returns to help stop Whitney and save the world from a full-on Zero Matter invasion.

 

Hollywood Ending

This episode takes up where the last left off, with Peggy threatening to shoot Jack and Dr. Jason about to explode Zero Matter all over Whitney. Only the latter actually happens, and with less disastrous results than anyone expected. Peggy and the crew investigate the blast area and find Dr. Jason, alive, well and Zero Matter free. Whitney wakes up and absorbs the free Zero Matter, which is just lying about in puddles. None of this makes sense.

They need to escape, and fast, because Whitney is now more powerful than ever. But she’s stopped in her pursuit by … a car. Yes, that’s right, Howard Stark, followed by Dr. Samberly arrive on the scene, hit Whitney, and load everyone into their vehicles. Apparently, Zero Matter is not immune to traffic. It really should have picked someplace other than Los Angeles to begin its quest to infect the world.

Back at Stark Tower, the team has to find a way to build a gamma cannon and a new containment chamber to rid Whitney of the Zero Matter and keep it out of human hands once and for all. It is during this discussion that we also realize that in addition to losing his Zero Matter, Dr. Jason apparently lost his passion for Peggy, even though they’re now both solid and healthy. I suppose this is to conveniently make way for Sousa, who has a moment with Dr. Jason in which they both acknowledge that they dig Peggy, but I guess the good doctor feels bad for the man with the crutch? I don’t know. This, unlike literally every other Marvel TV show, is the one series that could do with one or two more episodes to flesh out both plot and character arcs.

Anyway, Ken Marino helps Whitney recover, taking care of her and trying so hard to get her to notice him. But she is all consumed with the Zero Matter’s whispered plans. She is working toward opening a portal to the Zero Matter’s universe, allowing it onto Earth so that it can destroy everything. Ken Marino talks with his Nona who says that if he really loves Whitney, he’ll make a “deal with the devil” to save her. So he goes to Howard’s house.

Apparently, he and Howard are old pals, which makes perfect sense but is in no way germane to the story. Ken Marino says he’ll distract Whitney long enough for them to copy her portal plans. The idea is that they’ll open the portal, de-Zero Matterize Whitney, and figure out a way to close it once and for all. Sousa and Peggy go forth with cameras, and because Sousa is his typically incompetent self, he snaps a photo of Peggy while they only have moments to gather a tremendous amount of delicate science intel. The worst part is that his stupidity, like Zero Matter, seems to frequently and arbitrarily infect everyone around him. It’s all downhill from here.

Howard, Dr. Jason, and Dr. Samberly all work to piece together Whitney’s notes to create the interdimensional rift machine. Peggy walks in to find them arguing over naming rights while Rose watches. Doctor Jason has previously shown no interest in anything beyond advancing humanity through science, and they’re using Howard’s equipment and money, so once again we get a badly-timed joke that fits neither the characters nor the story. We have work to do here, folks! It’s the last episode, probably ever! Anyway, the figure it out quite conveniently and decide to set the trap at Howard’s 188 acre movie studio, where no one will be harmed.

They open the portal, and Dr. Jason reminds them that when it closes, they need to be at least twenty feet away from the machine or they will levitate and be sucked into the Zero Matter darkness. Whitney senses its power, makes her way there, and almost destroys their plan because they concocted this trap with no back up. They zap her with the gamma cannon, removing her power, but because she’s taken out Samberly, they don’t have a way to close the portal until the cannon recharges. Jack takes her away into custody. While they argue about who should risk initiating the manual shutdown, idiot Sousa tethers himself to a pole with a shoddy knot and makes his way toward the lever to initiate manual shut-down himself. The knot, of course, slips because he picked a cord that was too short. Peggy, Howard, and Dr. Jason have to form a human chain so that they’re all within 20 feet of the portal, facing certain death. Jarvis comes along with Samberly, now awake, and they conveniently use Howard’s hovercar, mentioned only once in passing, to detonate the portal and close it forever.

Whitney’s locked up. Peggy and Dr. Jason make their peace, talking about what might have been, even though it’s still totally possible for Peggy to hang out with the hot doc in Malibu. Instead, she decides to stay in Los Angeles because she sees Sousa in his ridiculous printed shirt and makes out with him in his office, blinds open, in front of all their coworkers. Way to be professional, Pegs. I expect nothing less from Captain Incompetent, but you’re PEGGY FREAKING CARTER! Jack, who gave Peggy the hat pin that Dottie stole in season one and showed her how it turns into a little key, goes back to his hotel room to pack for New York. He gets a knock on his door. I assumed it was Dottie, since she’s still out and about and hates Jack, but it’s a mysterious suit. The suit shoots Jack and steals the file he had tried to use to blackmail Peggy, which she’d told us was fake. And that is our season finale.

Paul Lee, former head of ABC, was actually canned because of Agent Carter and Galavant’s low ratings, so unless new chair Channing Dungey has a heart for excellent lady stories and a willingness to better market this show, this ridiculous final episode, the worst of the series, could be its last. My heart breaks to see this wonderful show go out on such a low note. This season was uneven, but overall quite good. I don’t know why they decided to forgo all the excellent character work in favor of poorly written comedy for their series finale, but here we are.

I would love to see a season three, but I am also just so upset at how abruptly this episode dealt with the carefully paced mystery and how it completely abandoned the foundations it was laying for the start of SHIELD. I’m also not sure how I feel about an Agent Carter without Jack, who was pretty clearly dead in that final shot. He’s such a fun foil for Peggy. I also wish they’d give Peggy some more lady friends and colleagues. Hayley Atwell shines when she’s bouncing off of other actresses and sharing knowing looks about her fellow agents’ incompetencies. Anna Jarvis, Rose, and Dottie all showed potential, and all of them, most egregiously Rose, got sidelined as support staff in order to make way for a love triangle that bore no payoff and more of Dominic Cooper’s unnecessary mugging. When, exactly, does he turn into John Slattery in the MCU? I hope it’s soon.

So that’s that. This could be my final Agent Carter recap, but it’s been fun while it lasted. Here’s hoping the show’s middling ratings and crummy last episode do not deter other networks from producing female-led ancillary superhero shows, or that perhaps Marvel can turn to Netflix to save this little gem, should ABC not want to do so. Like Peggy, I’m going to choose to be hopeful.

 

Directed By: Jennifer Getzinger

Produced By: Tara Butters, Louis D’Esposito, Chris Dingess, Michele Fazekas, Kevin Feige, Alan Fine, Stan Lee, Jeph Loeb, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, Joe Quesada

Written By: Michael Fazekas, Tara Butters; Story by Chris Dingess

Starring: Hayley Atwell, James D’Arcy, Enver Gjokaj, Chad Michael Murray, Reggie Austin, Bridget Regan, Kurtwood Smith

Network: ABC

Release Date: March 1, 2016

Run Time: 42 minutes

Rating: N/A

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