Marvel’s Agent Carter – Season 2 Episode 10
Marvel’s Agent Carter wraps up its second –and possibly final- season with an episode that closes off the Zero Matter story while offering some closure for several lingering plot threads.
The ending to the Zero Matter problem comes across as a little rushed and doesn’t capitalise on the potential that was created over the course of the season. Howard Stark returns and helps to concoct a plan that basically amounts to opening a rift, ridding Whitney Frost of the Zero Matter and then closing it again. It’s a simple plan that has a clear objective so should have left plenty of room to explore Zero Matter as a concept and have things go wrong.
Unfortunately neither of these things happens. Everything goes according to plan apart from the closing the rift part but that’s easily dealt with using Howard Stark’s hovercar as a bomb and everything around Whitney and the Zero Matter is more or less resolved from there.
I was disappointed as I found the mention of hearing voices from beyond the rift and the Zero Matter almost calling to Jason but not Whitney to be fascinating. What was it about Jason that made him more desirable than Whitney? Is the Zero Matter a living entity? If so, what does it want?
There’s a half-baked attempt to answer that question when Jason talks about Zero Matter consuming whatever the other dimension is and wanting to do the same to ours. It’s a very brief exposition dump that doesn’t do anything to answer the questions that it really should. It does seem like Zero Matter is a living entity but it remains unconfirmed.
Considering the whole season was building up to Whitney being the central antagonist the resolution to this was incredibly weak. She spends most of the episode writing equations on walls while muttering to herself which only changes when the rift is opened and she is summoned to it by her connection to the Zero Matter. One quick blast from a Gamma Cannon later and she’s completely off the board as villains go. She shares minimal screen time with other characters and has nothing to do when in the little interactions she has. It’s a real disservice to see such a wonderfully written villain going out on such an underwhelming note. She does end the episode with the suggestion that she has fully descended into madness so maybe she can become more like the traditional Madame Masque from the comics.
Despite this the episode does succeed on a number of fronts where the main characters are concerned. Peggy’s friendship with Jack Thompson proves to be the most interesting as they have transitioned from rivals to friends who have a lot of respect for each other. Thompson is slow on the uptake but has finally realised that Peggy knows what she is doing and should be supported rather than controlled. The biggest gesture of his trust in her is when he takes the dinner orders and puts himself in that secretary role he once felt belonged to Peggy. It’s symbolic of the fact that he is willing to take orders from her without question and shows that some humility for Thompson has been achieved. In a way it’s very self serving which absolutely counts as consistent for this character. In this case helping Peggy is in his best interests so he happily follows her lead. There’s also an element of smug revenge in Peggy making Thompson take dinner orders but I’d say she’s more than entitled to that.
Thompson is the subject of the cliffhanger ending when he is shot and the fake redacted file that incriminates Peggy is taken. Why the file is taken is a mystery and the identity of the shooter is also unknown. There’s also the question of the pin that is secretly a key to something that goes unanswered. Considering we might never see this show again and these stories will be unresolved that is really frustrating. I really hope for season 3 to see more and have these things resolved. Of course, if there’s no season 3 then the Marvel Cinematic Universe will live on so at least we know whatever happens next will all work out somewhere along the line.
Peggy has to make a decision between Jason and Sousa in terms of where her affections will be directed. There is a nicely adult conversation where they both discuss what might have been before they both go their separate ways. With the benefit of hindsight it seems that Jason’s role was mostly to create romantic tension in the story of Peggy and Sousa getting together so from that point of view he is very underserved. At least he is shown to not be bitter about it and his ending is a positive one as he goes back to normal physically and gets a cushy job working for Howard Stark.
There is a resolution to the flirtation between Sousa and Peggy in that they get together and Peggy is very aggressive about expressing her interest in him. It’s a nice moment of payoff between the two characters and I like that Peggy is the one to make the first move with Sousa being completely taken aback by it. The circumstances that led them to this weren’t the most compelling but it’s a solid fit for both of the characters.
Jarvis and Peggy are always great to watch but I found Jarvis returning to his more lighthearted attitude a little jarring given what he has recently had to deal with. There should absolutely be some levity in this show as it gives the whole thing some character but Jarvis is still dealing with a profound loss. The subject is touched on when he says there is no point grieving over what never was and Peggy reassures him that he is the strongest man she knows but beyond that his role is more as the “funny man” which works as well as it always does but I would have preferred more depth after all he has been through.
Seeing him upset that he couldn’t drive Peggy one last time was really funny and Ana’s insistence that Peggy lets him take her is yet another example of how great that character is. I really liked how she wasn’t at all threatened by Peggy’s close connection with her husband. She also doesn’t hold Peggy responsible for what happened to her so they part completely as friends.
Howard Stark’s appearance in the episode brought a different energy to the whole thing as it always does. He had lots of great moments such as assuring Peggy he wasn’t having any lewd thoughts about her when he was holding onto her and then admitting that there was one and his admission that the best scientists steal the work of others before improving upon it.
His scene with Joseph Manfredi when he came to help Peggy deal with Whitney was excellent as well. It gave Ken Marino an opportunity to work with the main cast on a more casual playing field and show off the excellent comic chemistry with Dominic Cooper. There’s clearly a history between these characters and it was fun to see it play out.
My favourite scene was the debate between Jason, Howard and Samberly over how to get the Rift Generator to work. There was a lot of nonsense science in there but the actors all carry it well and have a really engaging nerdy dynamic. The smug look on their faces when Peggy tells them they are the “most radiant minds on the planet” was priceless as well.
The dimensional tug of war was a great scene as well with everyone pulling to keep Sousa from being sucked in. It offers a cheesy message that they can accomplish anything when they work together but it really works in the context of everything else that’s going on.
Definitely not the best conclusion the season could have had. Whitney’s isn’t used very well in the story at all and the Zero Matter remains a mystery with no real hint at forthcoming answers. The relationship between the core cast is handled really well and Howard Stark being around brings a great energy to the whole thing. Please don’t let this be the last we see of Peggy Carter’s adventures.
- the excellent handling of the main characters and their relationships
- unique energy brought by the presence of Howard Stark
- the hovercar
- a poor resolution to the Zero Matter plot
- Whitney being deprived of most of her personality and nuance