We’ve come to the end of our run of Agent Carter, possibly forever and as much as I wish I could say the show goes out swinging …it doesn’t. Let’s start with what worked.
Zero Matter Storyline
While the show manages to remove the Zero Matter from Whitney and save Jason it does so in a way that leaves the possibilities of both their returns open, which makes me happy. Whitney is an intriguing villain as she’s absolutely brilliant, yet utterly insane and in some ways justifiably so. Watching this intelligent, savvy woman constantly be told to stay in her ‘place’, while less clever men take charge and invariable screw things up is the flipside of Peggy’s journey from Season One and shows how things could’ve gone very, very wrong.
Jason is another great addition, a clever and astute scientist who, like Whitney gets pushed to the background though it’s due to the color of his skin not his gender. Having these two representing the two halves of a super-powered whole: the lust for power vs the wonder of discovery is a smart move that also explores what it was (and is) like to be a woman or a person of color in the United States. That Jason’s relationships with Peggy and Howard mirror those of Peggy’s with Cap and Tony and Bruce’s epic bromance, respectively, is just the cherry on top.
Another smart move of the show was in expanding the background players. On most shows this would come off as padding but the additions of Ana, Violet, Samberly and the expansion of Rose’s role actually enhanced the already established characters, giving them more depth. The fact that all of the actors in the parts brought their a-game and made each character actual people who are also, in their own ways, hilarious, definitely helped.
Which brings us to what didn’t work.
I know that seeing how the SSR eventually got infiltrated by HYDRA is necessary but in doing so the show made the SSR and it’s agents come across as incompetent at best, wildly and virulently corrupt at worst.
Kurtwood Smith’s Vernon Masters is frankly unnecessary to the proceedings and takes much needed time and character development away from Chad Michael Murray’s Jack Thompson. Jack spends the entire season being an irritant and obstructive to the plot in a way that doesn’t actually make any use of the fantastic background that was laid for him last year. This squandering of the character becomes even more stark in the final moments of the season, which I won’t spoil for you but definitely lay the groundwork for Season Three.
Enver Gjokaj’s Sousa barely comes off better as his waffling between Violet and Peggy does nothing but make him unworthy of both and the audience wonder what either of these badass ladies see in him. Which makes the show’s choice to pair him with Peggy, despite all of Hayley Atwell and Reggie Austin’s Wilkes’ chemistry seem like a copout. Especially in comparison to Agent Carter’s sister show Jessica Jones. Sousa at least makes up for his personal nonsense by being highly competent at his job and refreshingly trustworthy as an agent.
Overall the season has more good than bad: the intrigue and social commentary are very much on point; the return of Bridget Regan’s Dottie Underwood, who is now in the wind, is always welcome; and the way the show subtly ties into the overall MCU without beating us over the head are fantastic.
I’m looking forward to Season Three. Make it happen ABC.