Episode 10 of Agent Carter is absolutely brilliant. My only complaint is that we did not see the return of that Pink Devil. But Stark did go for a swim in the nude, so I suppose the devil you know and all that.
“Hollywood Ending” begins with a horror movie-esque Whitney monstrously chasing after Peggy and her crew—only to be hilariously rescued by Howard and Jarvis, who hits Whitney with the car. Stark: “Jarvis, you just hit a woman with my car.” Jarvis: “I know, sir.” Stark: “She’s a two-time Oscar nominee.” Howard’s mildly amused horror was perfect. Bless Dominic Cooper. The scene could’ve read as trite or over-the-top, but the actors all manage to elevate the comedy.
Interestingly, Whitney has gone full-on crazy. Carrie Mathison and her wall of nonsense crazy. Except even in her manic Dark Matter state of mind, she is brilliant. Turns out, she’s discovered how to open a rift into where the Dark Matter comes from—which is big trouble, since Wilkes describes it as a devouring cancer (Reggie Austin’s performance has been wonderful. His portrayal has been stellar—complicated and heartfelt). She plans on using it to take over the world. Which makes Joseph Manfredi do something I never thought I’d see: ask Peggy Carter et al for help.
During a rather quippy meeting by the pool, Joseph shows up, holding a gun to Jarvis. But it’s all okay, because he and Howard are old friends, because of course they are. Among other things, they discuss Joseph’s wretched taste in women and form a plan to foil/save (depending on the character) Whitney.
Let’s talk about Joseph, though. I actually felt for him, because he was kind and loving toward Whitney. Repeatedly, he tried to care for her/feed her—the little things people do to show love—and each time he did, she flew off the handle. He’s not a one-note character, but there’s something impossibly sad about loving someone who cannot—for whatever reason—fully love you back. Whether it’s work (the crazypants wall) getting in the way or the ghost of an old flame (Calvin), I imagine it has to wreck even the most hardened heart.
Peggy and Daniel sneak into Whitney’s room to photograph her Wall of Science, while she’s busy helping Joseph. The only time she shows concern for anyone other than herself is when Joseph appeals to her affections to him (but he clearly cares more for her). It’s the only moment her hyper-focus cracks, although she quickly runs back from the task. The brief respite is long enough that Peggy and Daniel both get the photographs and make googly eyes at each other. This exchange may have been my favorite:
Daniel: “So, she’s real crazy?”
Peggy: “She’s a genius.”
Daniel: “Can you decipher it?”
Peggy: “I don’t speak megalomaniac. Fortunately, Howard Stark does.”
I love that Howard spends most of the episode being brilliant, a womanizer, or the butt of a joke. That’s Howard in a nutshell. But he does help build the Rift Generator—along with Wilkes and Samberly (who is a walking, hapless pratfall of a character). I do love the shift in Jack Thompson’s character, who not only happily took takeout orders for the team, but discovered the pin from the first episode is actually a key.
They use the Rift Generator to lure Whitney to an empty Stark Studios and employ a Gamma Cannon to knock the Dark Matter out of her back into the rift, before closing it off. Since nothing can go smoothly, Samberly vanishes (he passes out, because OF COURSE), the generator’s shutoff malfunctions, and they all argue about who’s going to switch off the generator at the base. While they’re all volunteering, Daniel ties a large extension cord around himself, attaches to a streetlamp, and nearly gets himself killed. I repeat again: because of course. This is, obviously, another way to illustrate the affections between himself and Peggy. And it did result in a rather hilarious conga line holding on to the power cord, completely with an even funnier line from Howard, who’s holding her from behind: “I want you to know, I’m not thinking about unsavory thoughts about you right now. Wait, there’s one.” SNORT.
Long story short: the rift gets closed thanks to Jarvis’s quick thinking, and Whitney basically crumbles. All her power is gone, and I wonder if it’s that loss or the effects of the Dark Matter that make her lose her mind. We last see her in a mental institution, having a hallucinated conversation with her dead husband, Calvin. Joseph, surprisingly stalwart, comes by to visit her, but he’s forced to leave her roses at the door. His devotion is touching, if not misguided.
Speaking of misguided, Peggy insists she’s going to back to New York. She nearly leaves without saying goodbye to Ana, who is gracious and lovely. I do wish we’d seen more of her/more from her character this season. There’s so much potential for Ana, and I do not like that we didn’t get to see her in action. We know she’s Jarvis’s sparring partner, so I think it’s only fair she gets to go on an adventure. Adventures for everyone! I did find it charming that she convinced Peggy to let Jarvis drive her to the airport. He was crestfallen, and the way James D’Arcy leapt out of the house joyfully, collecting Peggy’s suitcases, was perfectly adorable. The amount of hilarity D’Arcy manages to inject into his portrayal is nothing short of excellent.
Again, Jarvis is my favorite. He has too many amazing lines to recount (and his frightened hands in the air when Joseph held him at gunpoint was divine), but I can appreciate that when he tries to convince Peggy to stay in L.A. he mentions tacos. Because TACOS. He does sagely tell her, “But perhaps all you need is one compelling reason to stay.”
SHE FINDS HER REASON. And my ship no longer has holes, because she plants a kiss on Daniel—and then they make out in a chair, and I can’t even you how delighted I am. I also think it was tremendous that he lightheartedly chastised her for her reckless actions, right before she acted recklessly. It’s so important that Peggy is the one in charge of her own life, both career-wise and personally.
Of course, we have to tackle the sad elephant in the room: someone shot Jack and took the redacted Peggy file. I believe we are supposed to assume he’s dead. But if that turns out to be true, I’m going to be very ticked off. Because in the end, I liked him, and I wanted him to take more steps toward redemption and growth.
All that is to say, if we do not get a third season of Agent Carter, I will be bereft. Hayley Atwell is a wonderful actress, whose command and presence as Peggy is nothing short of exemplary. Consistently, Peggy knows her worth, goes after what she wants, and never backs down. And she does while looking utterly fabulous.
I don’t know about you, but I’d certainly like to be Peggy Carter when I grow up. *wink*