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Well looks like this really was an ending for Agent Carter. This was the last episode we will ever see of this show. I have to say, as an ending it was really underwhelming. By no means was it actually bad, but it did not up the ante and end in the same great way that Series 1 did (or the two series of Agents of SHIELD). This ending will cement Series 1 as the better of the two series of this show. It was a good episode, one that certainly bears watching again, but when this show was so padded and building up towards the ending, we really should have gotten more than what we did.
One of the biggest issues I had with this episode was Jarvis's return to being the funny character. I had said at the start of this series that the attempts to be funny were not working and the show needed to stop with frivolous comedy and do what it did well in Series 1. Jarvis was at his best when he was shooting Whitney Frost at point blank range, or willing to do what it took to take her down after what she did to Ana. To have him go back to being the funny British butler and being accosted by thugs while getting the mustard, or helping Stark play golf near the rift, was a real disservice to his character. We could have seen him arguing for Frost's death, or for her to get sucked up in the rift, showing a darker side to his character. One that we already saw advocating for a more permanent solution. Having him be the dark character would have worked better than just reverting back to what we usually saw. This is not to say humour is always out of place, in fact some bits of this show were quite funny, but making Jarvis be the joke was a bad move for a character who had become that much darker.
I additionally did not see the point of Samberly this episode. He was supposed to be around to be the smart scientist when Howard was not there and whilst Wilkes was incorporeal. Having him here when both Stark and Jason were around felt a bit unnecessary. He is just a more annoying version of the two, with no special scientific expertise. In fact, in one scene his idea was immediately shut down and taken over by the other two genii, indicating just how superfluous he was to this entire plot. Him being annoying before was a bit funny sure, but that was his only character element and it was not needed here. He did not spot Whitney, he fainted, he did not come up with the idea to seal the rift, all he did was bumble around and try to be funny this episode, which was not needed in the finale. He never really felt as part of the Agent Carter family and if the intention was to make him a bigger part of that, they needed to do a better job.
That being said, there was a lot to love in this episode: I really liked how all the characters managed to have their moments to shine. We had Howard coming in and saving the day through his genius, Carter and Sousa finally hooking up, after Sousa nearly sacrificed himself to save the day, Wilkes reflecting on the relationship between him and Peggy, Thompson reflecting on what a jerk he has been, and even some heart-warming moments with Ana Jarvis and Manfredi. After this series we can really begin to recognise how much we like these characters. None of them (apart from Samberly) felt superfluous, and this show had really built up a family of characters. They may bicker, fall out, even try to wreck each other, but they will back each other up when push comes to shove. I wish we had seen this Thompson from day 1 in this series, rather than have him learn (again) that Peggy is usually right. However, this finale showed how much the show has become a team effort and that Peggy no longer has to be the Mary Sue.
I also really liked the cliff-hanger ending. It set the pace for what might have been a third series. It is sad that this is how the show ends, rather than just tying itself up and getting ready for the next series, especially now that it has tantalised us with that scene. Having someone shoot Thompson and take the dossier on Peggy raises all sort of questions. We have never known whether the dossier is real or a fake created by Vernon in order to destroy Agent Carter. Now, sadly, we will never know. It would have been interesting to see Peggy brought down by some scandal, revealing a side of her that no one would have known, forcing people to re-evaluate their opinions of her. It made for a plot I would have wanted to see and it makes me sad I will never see it.
Finally, I also liked the return of Howard Stark. The elder Stark has always been an interesting figure in the show, often being a bit of a deus ex machina. However, the show recognises that since he is a plot device he has to have some character, and we certainly had that here. His entry, where he ran over Whitney Frost and made a deadpan comment about it, was one of the funniest bits of the episode and worked well. Since Howard appears so little, having him make a few jokes or act out is nice, since it gives him character. Him playing golf near the rift worked really well, as did his joking with Manfredi. However, we also got a taste of his more ruthless side, such as when he advocated just stealing Whitney's work to foil her, or seeking to utilise Zero Matter to make a profit. This reminded us that he is a character with his own motivations. Given that this has played a role later on in the MCU (Zero Matter is basically Darkforce), with the character of Blackout, and will play an even bigger role now that Cloak and Dagger has been greenlit, I wonder whether Howard played a role (and whether this will be elaborated upon now that Agent Carter has been canned). It was good to see Howard and he ended what was a good episode well.