Agent Carter wrapped up its season (possibly its series) with a finale that was at times messy but ultimately satisfying.
Thanks to the icy scythe of cancellation looming over the series, fans went into this final episode filled with equal measures of anticipation and dread, despite a last minute ray of hope thrown out by Peggy Carter herself, Hayley Atwell.
The show had to tie up a lot of loose end in a final hour that felt rushed, but all of our favorite secondary characters save for Violet and Bernard got a final moment in the spotlight. Rose and Howard flirted. Samberly fainted in the face of danger. Joseph Manfredi got what was left if his girl. Dottie (or Vincent Adultman) probably shot Thompson in the episode’s cliffhanger, because this show still has the blood of comic books and 1940s movie serials in its system.
The episode lived up to its title of “Hollywood Ending.” We got moments of sharp wit this series has made a trademark thanks to brilliant physical comedy from James D’Arcy and a jar of mustard, Peggy feeding the egos of the science bros with a shovel and Howard cracking errant drives toward an unstable rift in space-time. Ultimately, Whitney Frost is foiled and the day (and Sousa and the universe) was saved thanks to some fake science, quick actions from Peggy and quicker thinking from Jarvis.
The only flaw was there was no final one-on-one showdown between Whitney and Peggy. It would have been nice, but there was a lot of ground to cover in that final hour because there was also the resolution of Peggy’s love triangle to get to. Wilkes didn’t get the girl (sticking a gun in the face of a girl you are crushing on is never a good idea) but he did get a job working for Howard, which isn’t a bad consolation prize.
That just left Peggy and Sousa in an office lit by the “magic hour” sun and filled with sexual tension.
Yep. The kiss that has been teased twice finally happened.
So where does the series go from here?
Agent Carter is in a weird netherworld at the moment. While Season 2 underperformed in the ratings (the finale’s overnight numbers were pretty dismal), Variety TV critic Maureen Ryan, among others, made a strong case on the eve of the finale for ABC to keep soldiering on with Agent Carter given the myriad of streaming options out there, the demand for Marvel branded content and the optics of the network claiming a desire to be more diverse on one hand yet cans a quality show that stars and is run by strong women on the other.
Atwell seems game for a third season and it would be a shame to break up a cast and writing team that is creatively firing on all cylinders. Agent Carter’s ultimate fate may rest in the success or failure of Atwell’s pilot.
There’s no question ABC is a believer in Atwell and wants to make her a star. She is a cornerstone of a focus on procedural series that is being handed down to the new network president. While Atwell said she was promised that doing both Agent Carter and another series is possible, it just doesn’t seem likely for a number of technical reasons. The best hope is that the pilot flounders and ABC picks Agent Carter up to keep her in the network fold while it finds a vehicle that suits her talents. Given the direction ABC wants to head, this pilot would have to be rot awful for the network to not pick it up.
ABC being ABC, fans of Peggy and the gang will be left twisting until May when the network lays out its plans for the 2016-2017 season. (It does give Agent Carter fans a couple of months to flood ABC with calls and Tweets of support for the series, so there’s that.)
Even if this is the last we get of Peggy Carter and her adventures, seeing a beloved character achieve a measure of professional and personal happiness isn’t a bad way to part.