Agent Carter: Hollywood Ending – Was THAT Vernon Masters? (Recap/Review)

Agent Carter with its “hollywood ending” as season two finale was a thrill a minute as the good guys rushed to stop Whitney Frost, but in terms of shocking endings…Was that Vernon Masters?

 JAMES D'ARCY, HAYLEY ATWELL, CHAD MICHAL MURRAY, DOMINIC COOPER, REGGIE AUSTIN

Agent Carter with its “hollywood ending” as the season two finale was a thrill a minute as the good guys rushed to stop Whitney Frost, but in terms of shocking endings…Was that Vernon Masters? All gloved hands, snazzy shoes, suit and a gun complete with silencer? Is Jack Thompson really dead?

We may never know. While star Hayley Atwell is talking about season three, and how she would definitely come back, no-one at the network has said a word about another season.

Still, reality aside, the finale was excellent. From Jarvis hitting Whitney Frost (mid-rant) with Howard Stark’s car:

“Jarvis you just hit a woman with my car…she’s a two-time Oscar nominee.”

To Daniel Sousa dangling in midair as the zero matter ball threatens to suck him in, the finale was a definite success.

The car incident comes on the heels of Wilkes exploding and laying waste to the inside of the lab, blowing all the various players outside the building off their feet and curing Wilkes of his intangibility problem forever.  When they enter the facility Vernon Masters is nowhere to be seen but Whitney Frost crawls out from under a bit of wood, or cardboard, and appears to be stronger than ever.

The good guys (and Thompson who seems to be a white hat now that Master’s is “gone”) all beat a hasty retreat while Frost follows spouting vitriol.  Later, after the car incident, the villainess  starts working on a plan to open the rift letting zero matter into our world  permanently.

Joseph Manfredi (Ken Marino) is obsessed with Whitney’s transformation, something that he says has changed her from the girl he fell in love with. After speaking to Nonna he goes to see Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper).

Cue comic scene with Jarvis, Stark and Manfredi.

Outside the mansion, at a poolside repast, Stark is more concerned with the lack of condiments, i.e. mustard than he is with the real matter at hand. Bellowing for Jarvis to bring more mustard Howard becomes impatient.  He starts questioning whether the butler is cultivating seeds, “in there.”

Jarvis emerges from the house, arms held high with a jar of French mustard held in one hand. Manfredi stands behind the butler with a gun pointed at his back.

Manfredi: “I see a gun this guy sees heaven.”

Stark: “Easy. Easy. Let him put the condiment down.”

It turns out that the gangster and Stark are old friends and Manfredi wants his help to “fix” Whitney.  More comedy ensues when the gang infiltrate the house and Joseph lures Whitney from the bedroom to frighten one of his goons. Manfredi comes up with a fictitious charge that his right-hand man is working for another family.

After beating the guy a little he asks Frost to step in. Until that happens the beaten baddy repeatedly denies working for the competition. Once Whitney approaches,  however, things change. Hank (Chris Coppola) “breaks” when Frost reaches for him and a stunned Joseph learns that his cohort is working for the feds.

Sousa and Peggy take pictures of Whitney’s plans. After a joke at Stark’s expense, the two beat a hasty retreat but not before Daniel changes a six to an eight in Whitney’s formula. “That’ll slow her down,” he says before clambering out the window.

Team Stark fix the gamma cannon, build an x-ray machine and argue about what to call their new invention.  They set up their new zero matter rift opener, aka rift generator, at Stark Studios and open the rift. Frost does indeed know immediately when they have done this and arrives in due course.

Samberly sees her first. Carter and Sousa hear his scream and try to reach him via the radio. Frost shows up and walks right in front of the gamma cannon. Stark, and Jarvis shoot Whitney and blast the zero matter right out of her.  The device has to recharge and the containment plan is not working so the rift must be closed manually.

Sousa volunteers after everyone has basically thrown their hat in the ring. He ties an electrical cord around his waist and starts cranking the rift shut.

The other end of the cord sips loose from the lamppost and it is Hayley who first grabs the free end, followed by Stark, Thompson and Wilkes. While this desperate tug of war continues, Howard Stark reacts as only Stark can:

Stark: “Peg, I want you to know, I’m not thinking any unsavory thoughts about you right now! Wait! There’s one.”

Jarvis arrives in the hover car with Samberly who, despite the scream, is still alive.  They sacrifice the car to shut down the rift and save Daniel’s life.  The plan, which entails blowing up the gamma cannon power core, works.

Peggy and Jarvis truly make up, Ana is released from the hospital and Carter kisses Sousa. Whitney has gone mad after losing her power and Thompson carries on being a good guy.  This does not last long, however as the person knocking at his hotel room door shoots Jack with a silenced gun.

Point blank.

As Thompson has Vernon Masters’ briefcase and since no body was revealed at the blast site, it seems that this gloved assassin in a suit could well be a new and improved Vernon (Kurtwood Smith).  The shooter moves to the briefcase, collects the Carter file and leaves. 

The camera moves to a motionless Jack Thompson (Chad Michael Murray), lingers on his face and then…dissolve to black.

Agent Carter does have a Hollywood ending to its second season finale. Peggy “gets her man” and Wilkes is saved.  The only fly in the ointment is Thompson’s apparent death but, that too, is a Hollywood ending of sorts, like the “serials” of old;  a bit of a cliff hanger to keep the interest up.

Sidenote: A word of  complaint. Even “Agent Carter” appears to have issues with continuity. In the scene where poor Daniel Sousa is about to be sucked into the zero matter ball, the cord wrapped around his waist and the streetlamp changes. At the lamp, the texture and type of cord changes repeatedly. At one point being black and clearly an electrical cord and then changing into what looks more like a beige canvas water hose. At least twice. Come on chaps.

The season finale is a winner despite the annoying continuity issue. Atwell, who has at least one viewer in the palm of her English hand, turns in her usual brilliant performance and the chemistry between Hayley and Enver Gjokaj was perfect. 

James D’Arcy and Dominic Cooper were also spot on and mad props to Ana Jarvis, aka Dutch actress Lotte Verbeek for being the “perfect mate” to Edwin.  Fingers crossed that this delightful show comes back for another season, or more. A little “old fashioned Marvel” cannot be a bad thing. 

Agent Carter: Smoke & Mirrors – An Intense Cold (Review)

Agent Carter continues to walk that fine line between humor and some fairly intense characters. In Smoke & Mirrors Peggy Carter shows she can bluff, using “an intense cold” injection to break an unbreakable source.

HAYLEY ATWELL
Peggy Carter at that defining moment.

Agent Carter continues to walk that fine line between humor and some fairly intense moments. In Smoke & Mirrors Peggy Carter shows she can bluff, using “an intense cold” injection to break an unbreakable source. Jason Wilkes proves he is still top in his field, despite his weird distraction and Jarvis is willing but not always able.

This episode provides a double backstory element where the viewer learns of the humble (Whitney Frost), and not so humble (Peggy Carter), beginnings of the two main female characters.  The dual flashbacks for each character, that visit both Whitney, nee’ Agnes, and Peg at significant junctures of their lives explains much about each woman.

Whitney comes from the wrong side of the tracks, American tracks, and her mother sleeps with the landlord to keep a roof over her and Agnes’ head.  In England, Peg and her brother Michael play in the garden of a house that could belong to landed gentry.

Each memory shows how similar the two women are in temperament and attitude while their backgrounds are wildly dissimilar. Whitney (Agnes), is like Carter; intelligent and full of drive. The main difference is that Peggy’s life is shaped by war and tragedy while the young Whitney’s world is shaped by poverty and a mother who stresses that the world does not care how smart a woman is.

This focus on the build up of both character’s  past storyline, which has shaped them into the individuals they are today, seems to indicate that they will face one another.  It is interesting to note that the future Madam Masque was always more internalized than Carter. Not self-centered so much as just introspective and motivated more by her own needs.

Peggy on the other hand was set to live a life dictated by her soon-to-be husband, despite her brother Michael’s attempt to move his sister on a path more suited to her abilities and desires. It is his, her brother’s, death that motivates Peggy to stop the lie and take those first steps to becoming “Agent Carter.”

 KURTWOOD SMITH, HAYLEY ATWELL
KURTWOOD SMITH, HAYLEY ATWELL

Backstories aside, the episode also revealed just how influential the “Council of Nine” really is and that Vernon Masters (Kurtwood Smith) has been perfectly placed to play for the other side.  Whitney shows that coldblooded may be too tame a term for her pursuit of power and that SSR has a leak.

In Agent Carter, the cold war is ramping up, and Masters references the Hollywood 10 and makes a very unveiled threat toward “foreigner” Carter. (This appears to be the main thought process of the villains, later when Chadwick learns that Peggy kidnapped his lackey Hunt, he threatens deportation.)

Jarvis (James D’Arcy) and Hayley Atwell make a brilliant double act and their chemistry is spot on. D’Arcy is adept at comedy and his delivery is both perfectly timed and expertly performed.  As Carter’s “sidekick” Jarvis manages to be all manner of things to Peggy,  not least of which is being ready to take on all threats to his colleague. 

The fires of romance still smolder between Carter and Wilkes (Reggie Austin) as the scientist struggles to fix his “problem.” 

Whitney continues to do her own research, bringing in a cage of white rats to see if she can replicate making her director disappear. After one, inadvertent, success, the neophyte super villain goes on to do the same to the overconfident stool pigeon Mr. Hunt.

By the end of the episode, there are two memorable moments revealed via flashback. Peggy’s decision to enter the war as a field agent and pre-Whitney Agnes learning that in Hollywood one can be whatever they want.

 PRODUCTION SETS AND PROPS
Significant shot of Peggy Carter’s backstory…

Agent Carter also maintains that level of amusing moments, relying upon the atypical English delivery from Peggy, that makes this Marvel offering so much fun.

Example: As Carter and Chief Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) interrogate Rufus Hunt (Chris Browning) and Peggy gives him an injection she claims contains a deadly strain of malaria. Sousa questions her about this and Carter reveals that Howard Stark developed a cold injection. 

Sousa: “You gave him a cold?”

Carter: “An intense cold.”

It is brilliant to see Kurtwood Smith doing what he does best; portraying an absolute stinker of a baddy. In Smoke & Mirrors, Resurrection actress Samaire Armstrong  plays Agnes Cully’s mother Wilma opposite prolific character actor Chris Mulkey in Whitney’s flashback sequences.

Wynn Everett is disturbing as Whitney and she manages walk the fine line between delighted discovery (of her new power) and an underlying fear of this new ability.  Yorkshire actor Max Brown plays Peggy Carter’s older brother Michael with quiet conviction, in the limited time allotted his cameo appearance and Olivia Welch is spent on as the teenage Whitney/Agnes.

Agent Carter airs Tuesdays on ABC for 10 episodes. With six left in the second season, wise Marvel fans will opt to tune in “on the day.”

Marvel’s Agent Carter: Season 2 Premiere – Dottie, Zero Matter & Madame Masque

The second season premiere of Marvel’s Agent Carter sees the capture of Dottie, the existence of zero matter and the creation of Madame Masque.

SEAN O'BRYAN, HAYLEY ATWELL, ENVER GJOKAJ

The second season premiere of Marvel’s Agent Carter sees the capture of Dottie, the existence of zero matter and the creation of Madame Masque. Combining the first two episodes of the the show’s returning season, The Lady in the Lake and A View in the Dark, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) ends up in LA and survives a “dark” explosion that changes Whitney Foster from aging film star to super villain.

Carter is sent to Los Angeles by Chief Thompson (played with snotty effectiveness by Chad Michael Murray) because Chief Sousa (Enver Gjokaj), according to Thompson, asked for Peggy personally.   Eager to interrogate Dottie Underwood (Bridget Regan), things get off to a rocky start, where Dottie proves superior to Thompson’s questioning techniques, and they are interrupted by FBI head Vernon Masters (Kurtwood Smith) who informs the chief that SSR no longer have jurisdiction.

Once Peggy arrives in LA, she is picked up by Jarvis (James D’Arcy) who introduces the agent to Bernard the flamingo and Ana (Lotte Verbeek), the butler’s Dutch  wife.

The first half of the premiere introduces viewers to Whitney Frost ( in her pre-transformation stage, i. e. pre-Madame Masque) and  Detective Andrew Henry, aka “Detective Icicle.”  It also reveals that Dottie was after a lapel pin (with an ‘A’ on it”)  which is, according to showrunner Michele Fazekas, the symbol of a group of 12 rich white guys…A sort of competitive faction to Hydra…presumably.

The storyline has Carter assisting Sousa and Henry in investigating the re-emergence of a serial killer known as “The Lady in the Lake Killer.” This time, however, the killer has frozen part of Echo Lake on the hottest day of summer.

Sousa, who has a girlfriend that Peggy knew nothing about, and Carter track clues back to Isodyne Energy (in Pasadena)  the female agent meets Dr. Wilkes, who catches her eye, and vice versa. They also learn that Henry is the one responsible for the dead girl in the lake and for freezing the body of water.

The ice-making detective does not survive to appear in part two of the second season premiere as he is shot by a cop hired by senator hopeful, and husband to Frost, Calvin Chadwick (Currie Graham) who is also the head of Isodyne. Wilkes turns out to know much more about the company and what lies behind closed doors than he initially let on.

Marvel’s Agent Carter then moves into part two, A View in the Dark, which starts off rather comically, as compared to the more action oriented first half, with Jarvis and Peggy getting  physical.

 HAYLEY ATWELL, JAMES D'ARCY
Jarvis and Peggy getting up close and personal…

Wilkes and Peggy meet to talk about Isodyne’s “secret.” Carter goes alone, after cancelling the “date” with Sousa and Violet (his new girlfriend) when she finds an engagement ring.  The scientist and SSA agent have a meeting of the minds once Peggy reveals a lot of backstory and Wilkes decides he trusts her.

Frost learns that the the “12 rich white men” of ‘A’ have opted to shutdown the zero matter operation at Isodyne.  Wilkes shows Peggy how zero matter was created and Jason explains his theories and explains that the stuff can be contained. After Carter tells the scientist that they will be collecting the matter from Isodyne, hitmen sent by the company to kill Wilde strike.

Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) may be absent from this second season premiere but his presence is felt, as Peggy is staying at his place and using his car; the Leisure model, with champagne, a fold back seat and a mirror on the car ceiling. The vehicle also has a tracker. Called the “sock on the doorknob” it is this device that Carter activates when learning the Stark car has a flat when she and Wilkes attempt to flee the gunmen.

Being one resourceful female agent Peggy hot-wires another car and she and Jason escape.  As they try to get change for a pay phone, after Carter realizes that she has seen the ‘A’ symbol on the lapel pin before, Sousa gets a call from Jarvis about Peggy.

Sidenote: Nice touch when the chief asks “Who’s that clown?” The camera pans over to man in clown makeup sitting dejectedly on a chair in the talent agency reception.

The attraction between Jason and Peggy gets a nasty jolt of racism as they get change for the phone and the two head to the lab to retrieve the zero matter. Sousa erupts when he learns that Carter is in danger and at Isodyne, Peggy kicks major butt while Wilkes goes to get the fluid.

Seconds after the zero matter has been transferred, Whitney Frost arrives and fights with Jason over the fluid. The container breaks and a dark explosion erupts that engulfs the entire facility.  Carter survives but there is no sign of Jason or Frost.

Later, the first sign of Madame Masque appears as Frost looks in the mirror but there is no sign of Wilkes. In the Marvel verse Jason Wilkes is changed by his exposure to zero matter and becomes unstable, i.e. prone to invisibility and “intangibility.”

There are a number of familiar faces in season two of Marvel’s Agent Carter. The appearance of Kurtwood Smith is promising, and a treat, as is the re-appearance of Ray Wise as one of the men from ‘A’ and it has to be said Bridget Regan still rocks as Dottie.

 REGGIE AUSTIN, HAYLEY ATWELL
Wilkes shows Carter the beginning of zero matter.

The zero matter storyline is obviously a tie to upcoming  Dr. Strange film.  Hopefully Howard Stark will be showing up soon, on the series,  and James D’Arcy as Jarvis continues to delight while Atwell as Agent Carter enthralls and captivates, as usual. Reggie Austin is brilliant as Jason Wilkes…Nuff said.

Marvel’s Agent Carter airs Tuesdays on ABC. Tune in for some old-fashioned pre-Avenger’s espionage and action.