On the D/L – Agent Carter
Season 1 Episode 3 – “Time and Tide”
Agent Carter continues the short run of episodes before Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D returns to screens. Peggy and Jarvis close in on the thief of Howard Stark’s inventions as more complications are thrown their way.
As with the first two episodes the story flows really well and remains gripping throughout. A large amount of the screen time is devoted to developing Jarvis and give the audience a lot more insight into his life and his past. My favourite scene was a great discussion between Jarvis and Peggy about his dishonourable discharge. His reasons for doing so were as noble as it gets given that he did it all for his wife. There’s no sense of regret in Jarvis’ story and it’s clear that he loves his wife as well as the life he has. It’s interesting to see how devoted he is to those he cares about and suggests a deeper relationship between him and Howard than a simple employer/butler one. The development of Jarvis was incredibly subtly done through only a strained tone of voice and a few lines of dialogue. James D’Arcy played it perfectly and injects him with so much depth.
Jarvis’ sacrifice was nicely mirrored in this episode by Peggy doing the same thing. She is willing to risk her career by appearing incompetent when she interrupts Jarvis’ interrogation. Of course if Jarvis had talked then it would have rumbled her secret but she clearly has genuine affection for Jarvis so I do believe there was a sincere desire to help him. Lots of time has been devoted to Peggy being under-appreciated in her current position so it definitely is a big deal for her to risk her colleagues thinking worse of her.
Speaking of her colleagues this episode fleshes out Dooley and Thompson a lot more. Thompson in particular is a departure from Chad Michael Murray’s usual type of character -at least in my experience- and does a great job of portraying the hardened tough guy of the group. He is nicely intimidating in the interrogation scene and it’s not hard to believe that Jarvis’ steely determination might have cracked under this verbal onslaught.
Peggy’s relationship with Angie is covered in a little more detail with an uneasy friendship forming. Peggy is finding it difficult to reconcile her secret identity spy lifestyle with her normal girl persona which means at first she comes across as a little rude to those around her given that her natural reaction is to handle this alone. It’s a little misguided as it turns out since Angie has a really big personality and craves social interaction. She’s also a smart girl so Peggy will have to do more to keep her secret life from those around her. The more detached Peggy gets the more suspicious Angie will get. I like that the episode ends with Peggy realising how much she need a friend.
The decision to have Krzeminski killed in this episode turned out to pay off really well. He wasn’t a significant character or even a terribly likeable one -comments about Peggy’s taste in men being particularly disgusting- but his death had merit as he had already formed part of the backbone of the show. It also enhances the threat level of Leviathan as an organisation now that they have been responsible for killing someone central to the show the threat feels a lot more real.
I also liked the double edged sword of Krzeminski’s death being partly Peggy’s fault. It was her decision to get Jarvis to call her colleagues anonymously and get him into the situation that would get him killed. Peggy’s flaws and constant mistakes are becoming something of a running theme through the show. Part of this has to do with her not being taken seriously by her colleagues and having to hide what she’s doing from them. The problem with her approach is that it’s not working. So far it’s almost landed Jarvis in prison and indirectly got someone killed so it seems that her secret identity is actually doing more harm and good.
Having Peggy be a flawed character who makes mistakes is a great touch. It would have been really easy to make everything Peggy does be considered the right thing to do and have her supporting cast be idiots to make her look better. Not taking the easy way out is what makes this show so interesting. Peggy has a lot to learn before she can inevitably run S.H.I.E.L.D and her learning curve has some really serious consequences for her and those around her. I also like that she’s not invincible in a fight. She takes a lot of hits and is actually fairly easily overpowered by a much larger opponent. Her skills take her some of the way but she can’t handle everything alone.
In effect Peggy is living 3 lives. In one of them she is works for a secret organisation while pretending she works for the phone company to everyone she knows outside of work. In the second life she is a really competent woman posing as someone less competent than she is due to the restrictions placed on her gender in the workplace and in the third she is a spy who is solely responsible for clearing Howard Stark’s name. It’s only natural that these 3 lives would interact as several points and cause her issues along the way. This level of secrecy won’t be easily sustainable for long and I like that the cracks are already starting to show.
The investigation side of the narrative was a little clumsily handled. It didn’t seem like the location of the stolen goods was knowledge unique to Peggy. Her colleagues are competent enough that I think that at least one of them would have been able to figure it out. It wasn’t badly done by any means but still felt a little too easy for me.
A subplot involving an evicted tenant from Peggy’s building also felt a little tacked on as it was clearly a plot device to ensure that Bridget Regan’s Dottie could join the cast as someone who lives close to Peggy. It was a very small story element but it didn’t seem quite as organic as the rest of it. I will be very surprised if Dottie doesn’t turn out to be some sort of spy either working with or against Peggy. My money’s on against.
Another really strong outing for this show. Everything is being built really nicely and moving along at a decent pace without ever seeming rushed.
The exploration of Peggy as someone who is slightly out of her depth in trying to prove Howard’s innocence, keep her secret from her colleagues and maintain a civilian social life all at the same time is great stuff. It’s an interesting decision to have Peggy written as a flawed human being who makes mistakes that have really far reaching consequences as it really humanises her as well as adding lots of complexity.
Some welcome insight into Jarvis’ character and personality are given here. We learn that he is completely devoted to those he cares about at the expense of himself. There’s a nobility to his character and I like his tendency towards self sacrifice. The development was really subtle and very nicely done.
The stakes were raised in a really organic way with the death of a character seen in the previous two episodes. He has enough of a presence to have his absence felt and the death was treated as significant. It dials up the threat level of Leviathan nicely and makes everything seem a lot more urgent.
Some clumsy plotting was exercised in the investigation part of the episode. It seemed like Peggy found her way to the stolen technology a little too easily. It’s definitely something that he colleagues could have discovered by now. It wasn’t bad but did stand out a little bit.