Legion contributor Christina Janke is recapping and reviewing Agent Carter for us this season. Follow her on Twitter @IntrotoGeek!
After a strong, action-packed premiere, “Time and Tide” slows things down a bit to put more strain on Peggy’s work and social life, as well as focus more on characterization than fights and explosions…er, implosions.
Being thrust into being a double agent by Howard Stark, Peggy has to fight a new war on two fronts: one against a mysterious entity only known as Leviathan and the other against her very own colleagues at the SSR. Then there’s that pesky curfew at the home front, but whatever. Peggy can roll 20s all day against the hotel’s strict as hell den mother.
The episode begins with Peggy curling her hair and looking over books of symbols. Her only clue to Leviathan now is a symbol that her dead suspect left at the end of Episode 2. Her research is interrupted by a mysterious figure climbing to her window. Never one to mess around, Peggy pulls out her gun and points it at the man’s head. Turns out he’s just a hapless gentleman caller who mistook his girlfriend’s window for Peggy’s. If you may remember from the last episode, the hotel for women does not allow men after dark, and they’re never permitted anywhere above the first floor.
The den mother somehow finds out about this the next morning and publicly evicts the poor girl whom the guy risked bodily harm to visit. She firmly reminds the rest of the women of the rules and that any goings-on in the hotel is nigh impregnable from her gaze. Peggy merely looks upon her landlady with confidence, “Challenge accepted.”
Meanwhile, the boys back at the SSR are doing some “damn fine detective work” after finding running the plate number they found in the wreckage of the mill implosion. The plate number, and the bumper it was attached to, belonged to Howard Stark’s car. Great! He’s back on their radar again. Since Stark is on the lamb somewhere, the SSR take in the next best person for questioning: Jarvis.
Jarvis, just like his employer would do, deflects every question with charm and wit. But that doesn’t last long when Agent Johnson (Chad Michael Murray…I know right?) reveals a few tidbits about Jarvis’ past. He managed to dodge a treason charge after being dishonorably discharged from the British military. Jarvis clearly sells the “I’m about to lose my sh**” where his wife Anna is involved and is about to spill the beans. Thankfully for Jarvis, Peggy cleverly intervenes with a comment that throws out any reason to hold Jarvis any longer.
Frankly, if James D’Arcy was never able to sell this one scene, we’d look at his marriage as just another throwaway topic of conversation. Indeed more weight would have been added if we actually got to see a body to go with the currently disembodied voice, but D’Arcy’s performance carries this situation just fine.
Peggy’s last-minute, feigned moment of incompetence to her boss in front of Jarvis (the suspect) put our hero in major hot water. If ever there was a moment you’ve been yelled at by your boss in front of your peers, then you’ll definitely feel the gut-wrenching guilt and failure that everyone makes Peggy feel for secretly saving her friend. And since this is a work place where chauvinism is worn like a chip on every man’s shoulder, Peggy is further beaten down by getting compared to the “damn fine detective” Agent Johnson.
The Anna situation is eventually explained, thank goodness. Jarvis and Anna met during the war. To save the Jewish Anna from the German forces coming to occupy Budapest, where she was residing at the time, Jarvis forged his general’s signature to get her out of the country safely. Jarvis barely avoided the noose thanks to Howard Stark jumping in to convince his superiors to do otherwise.
This scene in particular humanizes Jarvis greatly. Before, we only knew him to be Stark’s very capable English butler who hardly bats an eye when it comes to cleaning up his employer’s messes. Before meeting Howard, we only knew Jarvis as a British robot voice connected to all of Tony Stark’s computers. On Agent Carter, we finally get to see the human connected to the name, that he (and everyone else) is still feeling the painful effects of WWII.
The second best scene in “Time and Tide” is when Peggy and Jarvis finally find a cargo hold full of Stark’s weapons. Peggy feels the need to contact her SSR friends and (basically) rub it in their faces. She wants their respect and she wants Howard Stark to be exonerated. Since the war ended, Peggy has been feeling like all the work she has done was all for naught once she rejoined normal civilian life. She thought that after working with Captain America, she’s be able to stand with the men as an equal. Nothing has been what she was expecting and this one moment could be her chance to gain equal standing once again. However, Jarvis comes back with the painful truth: Peggy’s colleagues don’t want to respect her; they would just use her actions to tear her down and make her out to be worse than Stark. Realizing these possible truths, Peggy lets Jarvis call in an anonymous tip to the SSR.
Before the duo can make their getaway, Peggy gets jumped by one of Leviathan’s bruisers. It’s here that Peggy reveals that she is one hell of a fighter, even against a humungous ‘roid monster like the one in this episode. She doesn’t kill him, however. Instead she incapacitates him with a Stark device that breaks all of the bones in his arm (it was originally invented to be a muscle massager). The SSR is practically on their location, and Peggy and Jarvis don’t have time to deal with their guy, who’s now a witness. They leave him and the cargo to be handled by the SSR and hope for the best.
Peggy and Jarvis don’t have to worry about getting found out for long, though. While Agent Sousa and the others handle all the evidence taken from the scene, Agent Krzeminski escorts the perp back to SSR for questioning. I’m not sure if he left way before or way after the other agents, but he’s conveniently the only car on the street with their one and only suspect. Another car tails Krzeminski and rear ends him at a stop light. An assassin emerges from the offending car and takes out both Agent Krzeminski and the suspect.
Agent Carter and the SSR don’t get news of this until the following morning. Tensions in the office are flared up at its highest point. The agency wants revenge on Stark and whomever led them there in the first place — a “concerned citizen” would call the police, not the SSR directly. Peggy, even though she did tech care for Krzeminski, was hit just as hard over his death. She may be a badass double agent who can scrape and outsmart the best of them, but even she isn’t immune to emotions.
Peggy’s reaction isn’t as profound this time around as when she discovered her late roommate, Colleen. With Colleen, it was more immediate and visceral. She lived with this girl for months. Though they haven’t seen much of each other during that time, they were still relatively close. We can’t say the same about Peggy’s relationship to Krzeminski — he was a big jerk whose every other line was condescending towards Peggy. Her reaction to Krzeminski’s death was quieter and softer. By the time she arrives at Angie’s diner, Peggy has had time to think about her colleague’s death. She can’t tell Angie the sordid details about his death or even his line of work (everyone else thinks Peggy works for a telephone company) so all the grief, guilt, and fear has to be internalized and dealt with alone.
If you pay close attention to this scene, “Someone to Watch Over Me” is playing in the background. I take this as another mirror to Agent Peggy Carter’s situation, like with the radio show from the last two episodes. Captain America was Peggy’s safety net during the war. Now that he’s gone, she feels like she no longer has anyone to rely on when things get too dicey. She has to stay strong and save herself. But perhaps that’s why Angie is there. Though this mere waitress can’t be involved in Peggy’s real line of work, she can at least be a friendly companion with whom our hero can decompress and feel like human being. Female friendship goes a long way.
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