Season 2 of Agent Carter has been an exciting roller coaster of character driven action and the season finale was no exception. After the last episode left fans on a pretty big cliffhanger, the beginning of the finale is somewhat anticlimactic, but the rest of the episode zips along, offering fulfilling character development and some of the best lines in the entire series. Oh, and Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) is back. The last episode of the season for one of the strongest shows on television right now definitely leaves fans wanting more.
The show picks right up from the exciting cliffhanger of the past episode where it was uncertain if Carter (Hayley Atwell) shot Thompson (Chad Michael Murray), whether or not the Gamma Bomb detonated, and what happened when Dr. Wilkes (Reggie Austin) exploded. This episode answers all of these questions immediately and in somewhat of a nonchalant fashion. While Carter is holding a gun on Thompson to keep him from detonating the Gamma Bomb some kind of wave comes along and knocks them off their feet. Uncertain as to what just happened, Carter, Thompson, and Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) decide to go in and investigate (it’s unclear why Thompson agrees to go in with them instead of carrying out his plan of detonating the bomb). Inside the building, they find that a huge mess and Zero Matter laying all over the floor. It’s like a supremely powerful, interdimensional teenager’s bedroom. As they’re pulling a Zero Matter-free Dr. Wilkes from the debris, they notice the Zero Matter pooling together. It’s gathering to Whitney Frost (Wynn Everett), who has just gotten up. A chase ensues, as the protagonists run away at a leisurely speed and Frost lumbers after them like Jason Voorhees in a Friday the 13th movie. The good guys are saved as a car slams into Frost and Jarvis (James D’Arcy) and Howard Stark pop out.
When everyone is back at Stark’s lab, Wilkes explains that Zero Matter is like a cancer that has ravaged its dimension and is now trying to metastasize into ours. Meanwhile, Frost has become obsessed with opening the rift again and releasing the rest of the Zero Matter. As she spends more and more of her time scribbling on walls and mumbling to herself, her boyfriend Joseph Manfredi (Ken Marino) becomes increasingly worried. He gets a nice bit of screen time here and hopefully gets to reprise this fun role. After consulting with his beloved Nonna, he decides to seek the help of Carter and her crew. When Manfredi interrupts them at lunch holding Jarvis at gunpoint, things are tense for a moment until it’s revealed that he and Stark go way back and are old buddies, because of course Stark would have Manfredi as a friend. Together, they hatch a plan to steal Frost’s work on a machine that will open another rift.
Manfredi distracts Frost by telling her that he needs help extracting information from one of his goons. When she leaves her room, Carter and Sousa sneak in and start taking pictures of all her formulas and work. When the henchman unexpectedly confesses to working with the Feds (much to Manfredi’s shock and chagrin), Frost heads back upstairs, prompting Carter and Sousa to hightail it outta there.
The next scene delivers some science bros doing the science bro thing that Marvel does so well, as Stark, Wilkes, and Samberly (Matt Brauner) decipher Frost’s work (even though Samberly is there trying to ruin everything like he always does with his presence). They falter in their work for a moment until Carter reassures them, “I’m standing in front of the most radiant minds on the planet.” To which Jarvis notes, “I believe you can actually hear the sounds of their egos growing.” As everyone is working on a rift generator and various other projects for their plan, Stark takes a moment to hit on Rose (Lesley Boone) who is only in this episode to be hit on by Stark. Samberly gets jealous, although it’s a bit unclear as to whose attention he’s more jealous for, and asks Stark, “I can call you Howard too, right?” To which Stark responds as any human being without a limitless tolerance for irritation would with, “Nope.” Elsewhere in the lab, character arcs are drawing to a close all over the place. Wilkes apologizes to Sousa, Jarvis reveals to Carter that he finally told Ana that she’s sterile, and Thompson displays a rare and beautiful moment of humility as he takes everyone’s dinner orders.
Finally, Carter and her team gather at Stark’s movie studio for the final showdown. They set up the rift generator, successfully open the rift, and wait for Frost to be drawn to it, which doesn’t take long. As they wait, Stark attempts to drive golf balls into the interdimensional rift. Jarvis offers the advice, “We are standing before an incomprehensible rift in our world. Use the 7 iron.” Thompson asks Carter is she’s going to turn him in for his actions with his former mentor Vernon Masters (Kurtwood Smith). She is telling him that despite his misguided failings, he’s a good man, when they hear Samberly scream. They also may have heard the excited cries of viewers at home, as it appears that Frost offers sweet relief from the wet, cloying blanket of insecurity and incredulity that is Dr. Samberly.
When Frost approaches the rift, they blast her with the Gamma Cannon, separating her from the Zero Matter, which is immediately sucked into the rift. She’s arrested easily and somewhat anticlimactically before the heroes realize they’ve got another problem. The remoter controls for the rift generator have broken and the only way to shut down the rift is to do it manually on the actual machine itself, which will almost certainly get the volunteer sucked into the rift. Everyone is volunteering and proving their selflessness, when Sousa ties himself into something and charges after the rift generator. He succeeds in shutting it down, but as it’s closing it tries to suck him in. His rope slips, but it’s caught by Carter, who’s caught by Stark, who’s caught by Thompson, who’s caught by Wilkes. Everyone comes together as a team and everyone is redeemed! What this episode lacks in exciting climatic moments, it makes up for in character development and redemption, which is really the strong point of the show, anyway. In a great callback to Captain America: The First Avenger, to close the rift, they have to put the core of the Gamma Cannon into Stark’s hover car (which he now has fully operational) and send it into the rift to close it. Just as we think everything has come to a satisfying close, including the episode, Samberly shows up. He wasn’t dead; he just fainted. Dammit! Hopefullly, next season will take out Carter‘s Jar Jar Binks.
The episode closes with Carter preparing to head back to New York. She says her goodbyes to Stark, Wilkes, and the Jarvises. She and Wilkes lament that they only ever got the chance for half a dance. Well, that’s more than the no dance she got with Captain America. Maybe she can get a full dance with the next guy. Not-so-subtle lead-in to her farewell with Sousa. As he’s chiding her for saving his life, they finally share the kiss that everyone’s been waiting for and it seems as though Agent Carter might just stay in L.A. a bit longer.
The last couple scenes in the episode, show Frost in a straight jacket in an mental institution and Thompson getting ready to leave for New York. When Thompson goes to answer a knock at his hotel room door, a silenced pistol shoots him. A mystery assailant who is never fully revealed, takes the redacted file that Carter dismissed as being completely fabricated by Masters and leaves.
With satisfying character arcs completed, Agent Carter leaves viewers on this bit of mystery and suspense. There are so many places for the series to go from here, it should be an impatient wait until the third season. You hear that, ABC? Third season.