[This is a review of Agent Carter season 2, episode 10. There will be SPOILERS.]
This season on Agent Carter, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) traveled from New York City to Los Angeles to help SSR Chief Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) with a mysterious case that led them on the hunt for Zero Matter and Whitney Frost (Wynn Everett). Though there were a handful of missteps this season, which included certain poorly executed character beats or the more manic humor from the first few episodes, season 2 of Agent Carter has provided a fun adventure that didn't pull any punches in terms of compelling consequences. The finale offers viewers an effective conclusion to the season - even if Whitney Frost and the Zero Matter are brushed aside too quickly in favor of tying up loose character ends.
In 'Hollywood Ending', directed by Jennifer Getzinger from a story by Chris Dingess and a teleplay by Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters, Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) returns in the nick of time to help Jason Wilkes (Reggie Austin) and Dr. Samberly (Matt Braunger) figure out how to open a rift and rid the world of Zero Matter without killing Whitney. Along with the unlikely allies of Joe Manfredi (Ken Marino) and Jack Thompson (Chad Michael Murray), Peggy, Edwin Jarvis (James D'Arcy) and the rest of the team set about freeing Whitney from the grasp of Zero Matter.
Throughout season 2, Whitney has been a formidable antagonist to Peggy, using her genius-level intellect and connections of the Arena Club and its Council through her husband Calvin Chadwick (Currie Graham) to carry out her plans with Zero Matter. Additionally, the season highlighted how both female characters came to be who they are, demonstrating that heroes and villains are not born, they're made. Everett has shined this season as Whitney, a woman who truly came into her own power with the absorption of Zero Matter and would do anything to continue gaining more power.
However, 'Hollywood Ending' does a disservice to all the character development of Whitney throughout season 2. Following the explosion of Zero Matter from Jason, Whitney absorbs even more of the substance at the beginning of the episode and becomes more of a punchline than a villain - complete with a horror movie ax murderer walk while the heroes run away, and being hit by a car to allow Peggy and her team to get away when they're too obviously outmatched. For the rest of the episode, Whitney, having been driven mad by the Zero Matter, is largely relegated to mumbling to herself in her room under the guise of researching another way to open a rift.
The only human side left of Whitney's villain comes in the form of Joe Manfredi, who makes a deal with Peggy in order help her save Whitney. Again, at the end of the episode, Whitney is imprisoned in a mental institution - with scratches on her face from where she clawed herself - and Joe is still in love with her. Aside from these brief moments reminding viewers that Whitney was once a person, and Peggy's insistence that Whitney chose her own path, 'Hollywood Ending' oversimplifies this season's villain for the sake of sweeping her aside as easily as possible and giving the other cast members more development and screen time. After watching Agent Carter develop Whitney as such a powerful and sympathetic villain earlier this season, the way the show wrapped up her storyline is a disappointment.
In general, the plot of 'Hollywood Ending' is one of the more simplistic of the season. When Peggy, Jarvis, and Sousa are at a loss for how to beat Whitney at her own game, Howard arrives to suggest that they simply steal Whitney's research and use it on their own. From there, the scientific trio of Howard, Jason, and Samberly are able to manufacture a Rift Generator and another gamma cannon - leading Whitney easily into their trap where they blast the Zero Matter out of her and arrest her. The one eventual hiccup comes when someone needs to shut down the Rift Generator from within the no-go zone where everything inside will be sucked into the rift. While everyone debates who should sacrifice themselves, Sousa goes ahead and does it. But, when the rope he not-so-securely tied to keep himself safe comes loose, Peggy jumps on it and saves him with the help of the others.
Though the plotline is rather simplistic, it does effectively conclude the main storyline of the season - that including the Zero Matter - and gives Agent Carter the chance to conclude many of the emotional story arcs as well. For instance, Sousa's heroic stunt effectively establishes his character as a romantic interest worthy of Peggy - an emotional arc Agent Carter has been building to all season through his relationship with Violet and the scene in which Jason threatened Sousa with Peggy's life for the location of the Roxxon uranium.
Additionally, the final scene between Peggy and Sousa in 'Hollywood Ending' brings back his inability to hold out from Jason when Peggy's life is in danger through Sousa chastising Peggy for allowing her own feelings for him get in the way of their mission. The two share a kiss that the show has been building to since season 1 and though the episode does not confirm Sousa as Peggy's eventual husband, it does establish him as a serious love interest following her relationship with Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) in Captain America: The First Avenger.
As for the other characters, Peggy and Jarvis get a nice moment that capitalizes on their argument from 'A Little Song and Dance', Jason goes on an apology tour with those he wronged while working with Whitney, and Jack has seemingly finally aligned himself on Peggy's side for good - even taking the dinner orders for the team when ordered to by Peggy in an excellent reversal of roles from season 1. Jack and Peggy discuss his relationship with Vernon Masters (Kurtwood Smith), who took advantage of Jack's ambition, and Peggy reveals she knew Jack was always a good man, seemingly concluding their two-season feud.
A good portion of the last few minutes of 'Hollywood Ending' works to set up a third season, or at least establish where many of the characters will be should Agent Carter return for season 3. Peggy presumably decides to stay in L.A. after she and Sousa finally act on their feelings for each other. Additionally, after Jack retrieves an Arena Club tie pin from Vernon's things, he discovers it's actually a key, and passes it along to Peggy. However, he holds on to the M. Carter SOE file that he attempted to blackmail Peggy with in the previous episodes - but he is shot in his hotel room and the file is stolen.
It's unclear if Agent Carter will receive a season 3, but the season 2 finale certainly set up a number of story and character threads that could be explored. All in all, 'Hollywood Ending' did effectively wrap up many of the emotional and plot arcs from this season - with plenty of Agent Carter's trademark humor thanks to Jarvis and Howard Stark. After such an enjoyable and, for the most part, well-crafted adventure in season 2, viewers can only hope Agent Carter will be back for season 3.
Screen Rant will keep you updated on the future of Agent Carter as details become available.