By this point, we know that Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) is on the trail of something big. Howard Stark is on the run from the SSR, and while all the other agents are chasing him, Agent Carter is hunting down the mysterious organization behind the theft of all of Stark’s super weapons. (I can’t believe I just wrote “super weapons,” but this is, after all, basically a comic book.) The trick of the show is to keep Peggy one step ahead of her friends and one step behind her enemies.
“Time and Tide” finds her with her hands full on both counts. The SSR boys decide to pull in and interrogate Peggy’s one real ally, Edwin Jarvis (James D’Arcy), Stark’s loyal butler.
As an aside: Is it me or do heroically steadfast English butlers only exist in comic books? There has be to some kind of post-colonial theory that can explain why billionaire American playboys always seem to want a manservant from the U.K.
At any rate, while the SSR goons are sweating down Jarvis, Peggy is trying to figure out a way to help him. This sequence of the show reminded me of The Big Clock (1948) and its remake No Way Out (1987)—stories revolving around an investigator trying to find a killer even though the investigation leads to the investigator himself. Peggy is already the mysterious blonde woman glimpsed at a previous crime scene. Now she has to keep her coworkers from discovering that she’s working with Jarvis to clear Stark. By the end of this episode there is even more evidence pointing her way.
The story deepens what we know about Jarvis. We learn that he was dishonorably discharged during the war and charged with treason. The exact reason for all of that comes out later in the episode, and—in what is almost certainly a direct allusion to Casablanca—involves forged letters of transit. What could be more romantic?
One thing I like about the Carter-Jarvis relationship is its comfort with discomfort—the playful hint of sexual tension between our heroine and a (apparently) happily married man. Are we supposed to be rooting for the two of them to fall in love? The show has also been teasing us with the possibility of a romance between Carter and Agent Sousa (Enver Gjokaj). The scene of Krzeminski mocking Sousa’s crush on Carter with the words, “Let me give you a nickel’s worth of advice. She’s not going to trade in a red, white, and blue shield for an aluminum crutch,” is a pretty good tipoff that she will be, in fact trading in Steve’s memory for Agent Sousa. (Observant viewers will recall that in Captain America: The Winter Soldier we see an old newsreel of Peggy in which she says she met her husband while working for the SSR. There is exactly a zero percent chance that that line was not a heads up to viewers of this show.) So what we have in the area of Peggy’s love life is a long lost love (Steve), a married man (Jarvis), and a nice guy who seems like he’s the only one smart enough to discover Peggy’s secret (Sousa). Put all your money on Sousa, but keep an eye on Jarvis. It’s unclear where, if anywhere, that relationship is going.
Of course, this is an espionage show, so the main action here is trying to track down Stark’s missing weapons. Peggy and Jarvis manage to track the weapons—although “manage” and “track” maybe giving their investigation too much credit. They more or less just follow the giant hole in the ground of the armory. No one thought of that before Agent Carter? Really? It took a super agent to say, “Let’s follow the tunnel to the big boat in dock and then look on the boat.”
On the boat, they uncover the weapons, including a glowing green thing that messes up muscle tissue. Peggy wants to call in this discovery and take credit for following the hole in the ground to the weapons, but Jarvis points out that the SSR assholes will just assume she’s working with Stark. “They’ll only use it to tear you down.” At various points, the show’s handling of the era’s gender dynamics seems a little clumsy, but this moment really worked, revealing that beneath Carter’s cool exterior she really is deeply insulted by the sexist treatment at the office. She has to swallow her wounded pride before she lets Jarvis call in the anonymous tip.
Then a meaty thug shows up, and we get the episode’s big fight. (Three episodes in we’re pretty well assured that Peggy is going to throw down with a guy at some point.) It’s a good fight—but it’s a tad too good. I don’t know enough about martial arts to say what fighting style Peggy is using, but it calls attention to itself here as something that is, to my eye, a little too modern. But hey, a good fight is a good fight.
The episode ends with a mysterious figure killing the thug and Krzeminski. (I like the gag where the boss manfully says he’s going to call Krzeminski’s wife and Agent Thompson manfully says he’s going to call Krzeminski’s girlfriend.) Who is this mystery man? Did he allow the weapons to be found for a reason?
We’ll find out when the show continues on Jan 27th.
Jake Hinkson is the author of several novels, including the newly-released The Big Ugly.
Read all of Jake Hinkson's posts for Criminal Element.