The third episode of “Marvel’s Agent Carter”, and second week on air took a decidedly more reflective approach. While still filled with action (maybe not as much as the first two) “Time & Tide” further explored Peggy Carter as a woman trying to overcome 1940’s sexism and defy the expectations her colleagues have of her. The episode played well with the strengths of the cast, particularly Hayley Atwell and James D’Arcy, and remained a consistent hour of television that makes the two-week wait for episode four on January 27th all so much more difficult!
Episode Three – “Time & Tide” continues with Agent Carter’s mystery symbol. The symbol, a heart with a wavy line through it, as left by assassin/thief Leet Branis during last week’s conclusion is a mystery to Carter. As she pages through a book on symbols for the drawing that may or may not be associated with Leviathan, she is crudely interrupted by a gentleman caller. The young fellow named Jimmy has scaled the walls to get to his girlfriend’s apartment. He mistakenly arrives at Peggy’s, which is one apartment over, and is greeted by the agent holding a gun on him. She then tells closes the window on him, leaving Jimmy to climb over to one more window. The scene plays as a great re-introduction to Peggy, as she is feisty and played charmingly by Atwell.
The following morning at breakfast, the landlady kicks out Molly as it is discovered that a man was in the housing complex. This is a big no-no and a direct violation of the rules. As the landlady tells a story of Houdini, Carter deduces that if she learns of how Brannis broke into Howard Stark’s mansion, she may be able to find the cache of stolen tech. Elsewhere, SSR agents search Brannis’s apartment and find multiple passports and a typewriter. After they further investigate, they learn that Brannis supposedly died two years prior and that the typewriter serves as a long-range transmitter. More pressingly, the recovered plate at Roxxon Oil from last week proves to belong to Howard Stark which further implicates the father of the as of yet unborn Tony Stark.
While Peggy is with Jarvis at Stark’s mansion, SSR agents Thompson and Souza arrive. They eventually bring Jarvis to HQ to interrogate him as they try to implicate him along with Stark. While Peggy listens in on the interrogation, Agent Thompson brings up charges of treason and a dishonorable discharge. The interrogation is interrupted purposely by Carter as she reveals that she “accidentally” took the stolen car report that the SSR said was missing. This gets Jarvis off the hook, but gets Carter reprimanded by her boss and fellow agents. Afterwards, Carter and Jarvis investigate the break in and rappel down the hole Branis used to tunnel up into Stark’s home. She asks Jarvis to tell her what exactly the SSR agents meant by when they brought up treason and a discharge. He’s uncomfortable and asks her to trust him, but she doesn’t fully as she really doesn’t truly trust Howard Stark. Jarvis then tells her of when he was arrested at Whitehall for treason. Apparently he had forged documents to ensure his wife’s safety and a way out of Budapest. She is revealed to have been Jewish and ultimately it was Howard who got them both out of their predicament. As they make their way down the tunnel, they are led out to sea and find a boat with the symbol Branis left for Carter right before he died.
Aboard the ship, Agent Carter and Jarvis find stolen Stark tech. She decides that she “will call them in and they will respect” her. Jarvis persuades her not to as he gives an impromptu interrogation seemingly meant to catch her in what would appear to be deceitful and treasonous actions by the SSR. He then says “If you wish to clear Mr. Stark’s name, you must do so from the shadows.” She reluctantly agrees as she understands that the SSR will never give her credit or the recognition she deserves and allows Jarvis to anonymously call Agent Souza to tip him off to the stolen tech. This leads to the first and only fight scene in tonight’s episode. Carter fends off a big goon and uses a device designed to massage that unfortunately cramps the muscles to such a degree that it breaks bones. Fortunately for Carter, the device breaks the goon’s arm and allows her and Jarvis to escape.
After the SSR arrive, Agent Krzeminski (Kyle Bornheimer) takes away the thug in a car. While stopped at a light, Krzeminski begins to figure out that Carter is the one scooping the SSR on their investigation as the ruffian reveals that it was British woman who subdued him. Another car bumps into Krzeminski’s rear, and he gets out of the car to confront the other driver. He is then shot to death, along with the thug Carter and Jarvis fought. It appears as if Leviathan is as shadowy and dangerous as Hydra. The following day, Carter learns of Krzeminski’s death at the office. She is saddened by his loss, even though she regards him having been “a brute, a cheat, disrespectful, and rude.” It was a nice touch that they showed Peggy’s remorse for Krzeminski as he was outwardly disrespectful and rude to her in the past few episodes.
Themes of trust, the need for friendship, and that no man (or woman) is an island were clearly expressed in tonight’s episode. It was important that we saw Peggy alienate and turn away from her neighbor, friend, and waitress Angie during a time she needed “English” after a bad day as Angie did not turn away from Peggy when she needed her to unload on. It’s refreshing to see the writers remain consistent with Peggy and not fall off in its third episode. The character and hero of the series, played magnificently by Hayley Atwell needs to appear as real and un-comic book like in order for the themes of this series to resonate and hold weight with fans and newcomers. We like Peggy and will root for her no matter what. We understand why she blows off Angie after she had a trying day at work. We understand why she feels bad and needs to patch things up by the close of “Time & Tide.” How many times have we walked off a job, gotten home, only to shut out our friends and family; those that care about us most just because we could be singularly focused and a little self-centered? It’s this kind of tapestry of human emotion and reality that makes Agent Carter more than just a comic-book show. The idea of trust and friendship were also beautifully shown largely in part because of the great actors. Tonight was an exceptional highlight for James D’Arcy. We’ve liked Jarvis from episode one, but given his back story we are much more likely to enjoy every bit of his screen time even more. Marvel has a terrific opportunity to create a unique portrait of an undiscovered time from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What works is that, “Marvel’s Agent Carter” does not have any obligation to deliver on heavy-handed homages to the bigger universe as Thor and Iron Man do not exist yet. While “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” takes place during the events of the phase one and two films, “Agent Carter” does not. Yes, we’ve gotten a few easter eggs, but we don’t need many as the focus should remain on Atwell’s character.
It will be interesting to watch Peggy Carter grow over the course of this mini-series. Especially as she decides to let more people into her life, particularly Lyndsey Fonseca’s Angie. Let’s not forget the addition of Bridget Regan as the new housemate, Dorothy. Regan, most recognized for her stint on USA’s “White Collar” and “Legend of the Seeker”, is certainly not going to be just a housemate. Marvel is known for clever twists and characters who may not be all that they seem and so it wouldn’t be a surprise if Fonseca and Regan prove to be more than the characters they’ve been introduced to us as. Either way, their presence works on “Marvel’s Agent Carter” and are welcome additions that make the world of the series even more believable.
“Time & Tide” made for another fun and entertaining look into the life of Agent Peggy Carter (and Jarvis, as well.) Tonight’s episode gets four out of five stars.
Marvel’s Agent Carter returns Tuesday, January 27th at 9 p.m. on ABC. Check your local listings.