Whitney Frost wants to build a new door to get to the Zero Matter, and nothing's going to stand in her way–except Peggy Carter and the crack force she's managed to pull together. But will the Zero Matter manage to overrun the world before they can find a way to melt the Frost?
I thought everything was over with the cliffhanger last episode. Either both Frost and Wilkes would die, or Wilkes would survive as some sort of superhuman Venom-like evil spider creature. What I didn't think was that the explosion would only knock out Frost, and that she wasn't crazy when she kept asserting the Zero Matter wanted to come to her. Or maybe Zero Matter has no intentions, and is only a mindless eating machine. Whatever the truth about the deadly black goo (which once killed Tasha Yar on Star Trek), the cliffhanger's resolved in a way which leaves nothing resolved. Wilkes is Zero Matter free, and Whitney has it all. But the status quo hasn't really changed and doesn't... until two notable arrivals.
I loved the defection of Joe Manfredi. There's something that makes me grin about the notion of this man suddenly switching sides to betray his love in order to save her... and turning out to be old bar buddies with Howard Stark to boot. The scene where he consults with Nonna was wonderful and cheesy in a Godfather kind of way... and since I love The Godfather, I fell for it. I feel like Manfredi is one of the few characters on the series this season with an actual character arc; does Peggy really grow or change through the course of the last several eps? While I love the characters, sometimes they can come across as a bit cardboard. Regardless, Manfredi's expression at the end as he goes to meet his love bumped up the character several notches for me.
Howard Stark is always fun here, as well, but one weakness of this show is to use Stark as a solution for everything. He's just so smart, he becomes a Mary Sue; they call him and he invents a Gamma Thingy. It would be annoying if he didn't also get some of the funnier lines in the episode. With Stark and Manfredi in the picture, Peggy now has access to Whitney and a team of scientists and engineers. I guess it makes sense as a leader for her to go to each of her men, from Thompson to Wilkes, and reinforce their sense of self-esteem and strength throughout the fight, which she does. It makes this feel like a goodbye episode, though, and I'm hoping the renewal of the series is still in doubt. Each contribution turns out to be meaningful, and the way they rip off Whitney's research (and the way Souza ruins the research she has) made me, the doctoral student, laugh out loud.
By this time, the team's abilities seem like overkill for Whitney Frost. Whitney going mad through science was... I don't know, kind of meh for me. I like her as a character, but the loss of her obsession with power and her growing obsession with Zero Matter has taken a lot of her oomph. Instead of being scary, she's just pathetic. In this episode, she spurns Manfredi, spends most of her time in the bedroom, and attacks pretty much nobody. If left alone, would she truly have been able to build the dimensional machine she needed or would she just have expired from not eating and insanity? In the end it was fairly easy to take everything from Whitney. The special effects and Samberly machines had a very steampunk feel tonight, and the Gamma Cannon finally works (but was everyone else also freaked out about poor Samberly after that scream)? I approve that Stark's genius fails him slightly and it's Jarvis who really saves the day, turning Stark's hovercar into a delivery vehicle for the Gamma Cannon-Bomb, although I kept wondering if they had a remote control or something, given nobody flew it.
The bigger bomb for me was Carter finally opening up to Sousa. It was good for a minute... as was much of this episode. Souza was right about Carter trying to protect everyone. But overall it was too hurried, too pat, felt like a dozen episodes of exposition rushed into one. It added to the feeling of this as a series finale instead of a season finale. I guess I didn't mind that many threads were pulled together at the last minute, but the thing that would complete this episode for me - and excuse a lot of the too-pat problems - is if the Suit at the end which kills Thompson turns out to be Dottie Underwood in disguise.
Bits and Pieces
If the show does come back, it has a lot of threads to pick up. Thompson's murder, the mysterious key, the file with Information about Peggy Which Is Obviously Very Important Even If It's Thinner Than Buffy's High School File, Dottie... you name it, there's tons to do, and I still care enough about Peggy, Jarvis and Souza to keep watching, and I kind of really like Dottie.
Samberly and the pickled herring salad LOL.
The break-in into Frost's home was actually pretty heart-thumping. I guess she does inspire a hit or two of fear.
Manfredi distracting Whitney with a fake traitor who turns out to be a real one? Priceless.
The Arena club pin turns out to be a key, not just some decoration, which makes sense.
Stark Studio's film lot is pretty huge at 180 acres.
I wasn't too impacted by the death of Jack Thompson. It does mean that the possibility Carter will have an easier time of it at work is sort of gone; I think he's going to be replaced by an even meaner principal.
Manfredi: I don't know what to do, Nonna. When Whitney came back into my life it was like the clouds opened up and I had my very own ray of sunshine just beaming down on me. And now it's a ray of garbage.
Nonna: You must be sad, my boy. That is always when you become the poet.
Wilkes: Can I ask a question? Is there a portrait of you in every bedroom?
Stark: It's a collection. Every one is different. What? Art makes a house a home.
Stark: What am I doing wrong, Jarvis?
Jarvis: Sir, we are standing before an incomprehensible rip in the fabric of our world. Use the seven iron.
Despite the hurriedness of the episode and the feeling that they were trying to wrap up too many storylines, I enjoyed it. It feels like Agents of SHIELD with more humor. I just wish there'd been an actual final confrontation; this felt a bit let-downey.
Three out of four Hovercar-flying Gamma Cannons.