After last week’s barnstorming double bill, the pace slows significantly in “Time And Tide” – an episode that moves the missing weapons mystery on a smidge, but is mostly memorable for some interesting character work.
It opens with a gleeful double bluff – the stranger lurking in the shadows and the dramatic music all setup for a gag about Jimmy sneaking above the first floor of The Griffith. It’s a moment that has repercussions later in the episode as Molly is busted and kicked out of the hotel for women. Dickensian Administrator Miriam Fry may be a comically broad antagonist at times, but Peggy’s nonchalant reaction to Fry’s petty playground intimidation tactics couldn’t be any cooler.
It’s keeping cool under pressure that proves Peggy’s greatest asset this episode after Jarvis is dragged down town for questioning. The interrogation starts as fairly standard cop show stuff, but turns increasingly tense as Thompson tightens the screw, revealing that Jarvis was accused of treason and dishonourably discharged during the war. James D’Arcy sells the idea that threatening his wife could push him to breaking point, but it’s a shame Anna still remains a mere voice in the cavernous mansion – how much more effective would the scene be had we been given a chance to care for her?
Once again, it's Peggy’s quick-thinking that saves the day, sabotaging Dooley’s best laid plans by revealing the location of Jarvis’ missing car report at an opportune moment. Peggy isn’t superhuman, and fighting a war on two fronts – one for the respect she deserves in the workplace, the other against Leviathan – is clearly taking its toll. As a result it feels like a hollow victory – a small step forward on the one hand, but a giant leap backwards on the other.
Peggy’s increasingly layered characterisation is one of the best things about “Time And Tide”. In the first two episodes she shrugs off the prehistoric opinions at the SSR because she has bigger fish to fry. But recognition for her work is clearly of the utmost importance, demonstrated best when she somewhat foolishly thinks to call in their discovery on the boat, despite the fact it could only possibly lead to her ruin. It’s heartbreaking to watch and Hayley Atwell does a remarkable job selling the sacrifices Peggy has to make on a daily basis.
The massage device turned deadly weapon that Peggy uses to take down her hulking assailant borrows its name from the villainous alter ego of comics character Frank Payne. The former Agent Of SHIELD wears a snake-like suit and has electrified metal coils around his wrists.
It may lack the regular pulse-racing set-pieces of the first two episodes, but it’s to "Time And Tide's" credit that you don’t really notice the missing action beats until one comes along nearly half an hour into the 42-minute episode. The fight scene, again, is nicely staged – a bare-knuckled affair that doesn’t hold back simply because Carter is a woman. It’s a little too reminiscent of the fight in the Agent Carter One Shot, but has a cracker of an ending as Carter downs the goon with Stark’s glowy Constrictor.
As always the episode is immaculately shot, staged, scored and written. Special mention this week goes to the lighting, with the sinister green of Sasha Demidov’s hotel room and the deadly red of the ship’s interior adding a touch of larger than life comic book flair to the otherwise gorgeous period production design.
If there’s a problem with this episode it’s that the threat still feels a little too nebulous. With Brannis and Demidov out of the picture, all we have to go on is the man in the trilby, who, for some reason, decides not to kill Carter and Jarvis as soon as they turn up at the ship, but instead waits for his guard dog to be taken away before making a move. Good job only one cop was guarding him, eh?
The death of Krzeminski also opens up interesting opportunities for the show - making the show’s cast expendable could mean more dramatic deaths before the end of the season. It’s hard to care about his demise given that we’ve only ever seen him behave like a Neanderthal, but writer Andi Bushell clearly realises this, undercutting his death with a brilliant gag: “I’ll call his girlfriend.” It’s Peggy’s surprisingly emotional reaction that really tugs on the heartstrings.
While episode three doesn’t hit the same highs as episodes one and two, a slight disappointment given that it’s only an eight episode season, there’s every sign here that Agent Carter will continue to be another critical hit for Marvel.
You may recognise the Griffith Hotel’s new resident, Dottie Underwood (Bridget Regan), as Legend Of The Seeker’s Mother Confessor Kahlan Amnell. We’d put good money on her being a Leviathan spy.
The Hole Truth
Both Agents Of SHIELD and now Agent Carter have featured stories about descending down a hole in the floor. Coincidence? Er, probably.
Worst. Spy. Ever.
Despite being generally brilliant, Peggy pulling back the curtain and peering out the window while Thompson and Sousa are two metres away was extraordinarily dumb.