'Agent Carter' Boss, Hayley Atwell on Cliffhanger Season (Series?) Finale

Executive producer Michele Fazekas and the actress talk with THR about why season two of the critical darling bubble drama ended with a cliffhanger.
Kelsey McNeal/ABC

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the season two finale of ABC's Agent Carter.]

All isn't fair in love and war on ABC's Agent Carter.

By the time the credits rolled during Tuesday's season two (and possible series) finale, SSR chief Jack Thompson (Chad Michael Murray) found himself laying in a pool of his own blood after finally picking the right side: Peggy's (Hayley Atwell). Thompson was shot by an unidentified person who was after the redacted file on Peggy's supposed "war crimes," which she denied ever committing earlier this season.

Is Thompson dead? Is Agent Carter going to be back for season three now that Atwell has signed on to a drama pilot at the network? The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Atwell and Agent Carter executive producer Michele Fazekas about the erstwhile egomaniac's fate, Peggy finally kissing SSR's West Coast chief Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj), the future of the Marvel period drama and more. 

You killed Jack Thompson right as he became likeable. Ouch?

Michele Fazekas: He got shot. He only got shot.

Wait, he's not dead? He seemed pretty dead in that final shot of him laying on the floor in a pool of his own blood ...

Fazekas: He's not necessarily dead. He got shot. That's all we show. It certainly didn't tickle. [Laughs.] But we were really clear when we talked to Chad about it, we were like, "Just so you know, you are getting shot. And that is all we are saying."

Why end the season with that cliffhanger?

Fazekas: What I really love about Thompson's arc for the season is it really is a great journey for him. He, as we have said a lot, puts his ambition and his ego over other things, over sometimes doing the right thing, and he often doesn't care who gets hurt or who is upset about it. And as we've established with Vernon Masters [Kurtwood Smith], he's been trained to do that. This is his mentor, this is somebody who was a like a friend of his father's. He was trained to be that guy. In great part because of his relationship with Peggy and his experience at finding out what kind of person Vernon Masters really was, he actually decides to do the right thing in the end at great cost to himself. It symbolizes how much he had to sacrifice to do the right thing.

It was extra heartbreaking because Thompson finally redeemed himself and got his ego in check by then, and that scene where he actually got everyone's dinner orders was proof of that.

Fazekas: Right, we wanted to call back to the first season with that scene. His arc became organic. We didn't start off this season going, "And by the end, Thompson is going to get shot." It felt organic from the story to end there. Even in the last episode, he still tried to kill everyone because in his estimation, it was the right thing to do, even if it wasn't morally right. He made a hard choice for the greater good. So we didn't completely change his character. He did what he thought had to be done, even if it wasn't totally right.

Peggy and Jack have gone on such a roller coaster with each other over the past two seasons. How does Peggy feel about Jack by the end of the finale?

Atwell: I would not have as much patience for Jack Thompson as Peggy does. It's quite remarkable what she'll put up with. She sees the bravado and the mistakes he continues to make even in the second season, so she knows he's not exactly trustworthy. But Peggy appeals to the greater good in people and encourages them to act for the greater good. That's how she deals with Thompson. He's capable of making some really awful decisions but she doesn't think he's intentionally a bad guy. I think that's pretty generous of her. [Laughs] I don't think I could do it.

Peggy denied that the war crimes in the redacted file were true. But someone was willing to kill the chief of the SSR to get it, so does that mean there was some truth to it?

Fazekas: Think about what you, the viewer, has seen of that file in the episode where Thompson used that device to look through the redactions. Think about the details of what you saw before you jump to any conclusions. I won't give any more hints than that. The file itself is obviously dangerous to somebody.

Can you tease who the killer is, or is that something you want to save for a potential season three?

Fazekas: No, I'm going to save that for season three. [Laughs] Sorry! We have an idea though.

Before he died, Thompson showed Peggy that the Arena Club pin is also a key. Do you already have a plan in place for what it unlocks or opens?

Fazekas: We have an idea for what that is. It's not entirely open-ended. We have some idea of where that leads. We didn't know until very late in the season that it was a key. We knew it was something other than just a pin but we didn't figure out what it was until we broke episode 10.

At the end of the finale, Peggy decided to stay a little longer in L.A. Do you envision a permanent move to L.A. for the show for the rest of the series?

Fazekas: The nice thing about this show is because Agent Carter is about a spy organization, you can pretty much place it anywhere. I loved doing Los Angeles. I loved how the show looked, everyone looked amazing, Hayley looked fantastic. I have nothing against doing another season in Los Angeles. But we're so flexible about that, so that will end up being determined by the story we want to tell.

Peggy and Sousa finally kissed (passionately) by the end of the finale, which was something that's been teased since pretty much the beginning of season one.

Fazekas: Oh yes, a lot of people have! A certain network executive, when we pitched it to her, she just screamed, "Yay!"

So if Agent Carter goes on to season three, will Peggy and Sousa be in a relationship? How do you envision that will change the show?

Fazekas: We're certainly not saying that this is definitely who Peggy Carter ends up marrying. They established in Captain America: The Winter Soldier that she ends up getting married at some point down the line. I would be interested to see Peggy in a relationship. She doesn't seem like a woman who would just kiss a guy like that and things wouldn't change. She's committed to trying to actually be in a relationship with Sousa. So what is that like for her? What is it like to be working with someone you're in a relationship with? There's fun to be had there. But I don't think she goes into it lightly.

Dottie (Bridget Regan) is still out there. If/when the show returns, will she play a bigger part next season, possibly as the main villain?

Fazekas: We will put Bridget Regan in as many episodes as she wants to be in. She has like two other jobs. [Laughs] But I know she has said that she has now put it into her contract that she can work on Agent Carter whenever it fits into her schedule. So we will use her as much as we can. We love writing Dottie. She's a character that you can put with any other character and it will be amazing.

What surprised you the most about how this season turned out?

Fazekas: We had so much fun leaning into the comedy. We knew the actors could handle it because they're all naturally funny people. I never thought we'd do a musical number with dancers and singing! But that was some of the most fun I've ever had working on a TV show. But not only did we have fun, funny physical comedy, we also had real serious stuff happening like Ana [Lotte Verbeek] getting shot and Jarvis [James D'Arcy] going down his dark journey. My favorite scene that I've ever written is in episode nine, the argument that Peggy and Jarvis had in the desert. You say the worst things to the people that you love. They say things that are so hurtful and terrible, but there is truth behind it all, and you could only say that to somebody that you love. I was most surprised at just how much of a variety of emotions we could explore in each episode.

Did you think Tuesday's episode was a satisfying ending if Agent Carter doesn't get renewed? Leave your comments below.

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