31 March 2016

Agent Carter S2E10 "Hollywood Ending" review

For a show that has been slowly crafting an incredibly interesting story over the previous nine episodes, it has to be said that Agent Carter has somewhat dropped the ball in the season finale. Conveniently and unconvincingly dealing with the cliffhanger ending of "A Little Song and Dance" as soon as possible, "Hollywood Ending" goes on to deliver an unsatisfying conclusion to the season wide story, an uninspired affair that is quite easily the episodes biggest and most noticeable flaw.

Well, that and the complete lack of musical numbers this week.

Rejoined by Howard Stark for the second time this season, "Hollywood Ending" sees Peggy and Co take the fight directly to Whitney Frost by setting up a trap that they know she will willingly walk into. They do this by choosing to create a device that will open up the rift for them, which they can only do thanks to the help of an unlikely ally.

"Hollywood Ending" is just that - a Hollywood ending, an episode where the good guys win because they deserve to and the bad guys lose because they don't and everyone (well, nearly everyone) gets a happy ending of some description. It's too neat as a finale, a pay off unworthy of the set up undertaken by the previous nine episodes thanks to the pervasive feeling that you know how this is going to go down, stripping what should have been an exciting climax of any tension that it could have had.

It just doesn't have the same sense of unpredictability and urgency that had been building over the last few episodes, mostly thanks to its focus on the characters rather than the story. It's understandable in a way - uncertainty about the shows future means that the writers probably want to make sure that the audience are satisfied with the way these characters are left (at least for now), but in my eyes trying to "please the fans" doesn't excuse wasting the chance to really deliver a climactic ending to the season, which really, really limits how enjoyable the episode actually is.

Which is a shame when other parts of "Hollywood Ending" work so well. There is a real sense of emotional closure that although fairly predictable (and more than a little cheesy) still had me grinning at the screen, something which not a lot of TV shows actually manage to do. By now we are invested in these characters enough to genuinely want to see them succeed and be happy, and in the moments of "Hollywood Ending" where we are seeing these characters live up to their potential or achieve their personal goals and find happiness, the episode works wonders. It's just that these interesting and earned character moments are contained in an episode that from a plot perspective really doesn't live up to the set up of the rest of the season.

But even if "Hollywood Ending" was a more than a bit underwhelming in some regards (and it was), it hasn't done much to change the fact that the second season of Agent Carter was on the whole a better, more confident season of television than the first. Between more believable side-characters, a genuinely captivating villain, a more playful sense of humour and a greater focus on Peggy's present than her past, the second season of Agent Carter was a resounding success - and has done more than enough to prove that the show deserves a future, even if we do have to wait a few years or longer to see it.

This article was originally published on OutLoudCulture.

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