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MARVEL’S AGENT CARTER Review: “Time and Tide”

Marvel’s Agent Carter returned tonight with its third episode, “Time and Tide.” The hunt for Leviathan progressed ever so slightly, Jarvis’ (James D’Arcy) backstory was explored, and the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR) suffered a loss. Also, we learned the administrator of The Griffith Hotel doesn’t kid around. Miriam Fry (Meagen Fay) reminds me of Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter. She’s not evil, but she does have a deceptively sweet exterior hiding a firm hand. She didn’t even give Molly a second chance. I’m already hoping Peggy (Hayley Atwell) will put Miriam in her place by the end of the season.

“Time and Tide” emphasized the grave danger in which Peggy finds herself. When you consider the fact she’s working against the SSR to help Howard Stark, it’s understood she’s putting herself at risk. But this much risk? Leviathan’s men are after her, she’s coming close to getting caught by the SSR (and they would convict her of treason), and she has to pretend to screw up in order to save Jarvis’ skin. That puts her career on the line, which isn’t as serious as her life, but it may be to her.

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That was where we saw a beautiful human moment with Peggy. She has to put up with the sexist remarks and takes them in turn, but she still wants respect. Who wouldn’t? When she gets ripped a new one by Chief Dooley (Shea Whigham) and is forced to apologize to her rival Jack (Chad Michael Murray) after protecting Jarvis, it pains her. She’s frustrated, she’s embarrassed, and you can see she’s barely biting back a “I’m actually not an idiot.” Atwell played those scenes of controlled anger and sadness wonderfully and then came back to the same place once Jarvis and she found Stark’s equipment. You can see she wanted to redeem herself, and that she thinks it’s not fair. “I will call it in, and they will respect me.” It was reassuring to see her react in such a way.

Similarly, her interactions with Angie (Lyndsy Fonseca) add to Peggy’s character. Atwell plays Peggy’s emotions close to the surface so you see what the character is truly feeling underneath her dialogue. I can’t think of a better ending than to see her go to the diner just to talk to a friend. She’s taking Jarvis’ advice from the last episode to heart.

One aspect about the series that’s near the top of the list of my favorite things is seeing what Peggy uses as a weapon. In the two-hour premiere, she wielded a stapler and a briefcase. There wasn’t as much melee combat tonight, but she briefly got to use a piece of a wooden crate, some Stark tech, and a pipe. Her fighting style isn’t elegant or formal, but I’ll be damned if she doesn’t get the job done.

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Jarvis gets the job done too, in his own way. He’s handy, persistent, capable of putting on a tremendously endearing American accent, and he’s loyal. Perhaps to a fault. By that I only mean I’m not sure Howard Stark deserves so much from Jarvis. It’s a little like Han Solo and Chewbacca. Jarvis doesn’t owe Stark a life debt only for himself though (getting convicted for treason would have essentially meant his life was over); Stark helped save his wife and got her out of Budapest (again with Budapest). And there is indeed a wife, we heard her voice.

The dynamic between Peggy and Jarvis is natural. Atwell and D’Arcy have such chemistry that I find myself scooting closer to the television during their scenes. You don’t know want to miss a second of the way they toss words back and forth at each other. Watching their personalities do an awkward dance where they butt heads against each other and then slowly stop stepping on each other’s toes is a joy and the fact that they do so while searching for criminals and highly volatile tech is all the better.

Then there are the boys of the SSR. We didn’t get to know them much last week aside from seeing sketchy outlines. The picture got filled in somewhat tonight but not evenly. Jack’s temper and affinity for beating the snot out of suspects was mentioned a few times over the course of the episode but without any information about why he does so and why he’s allowed to get away with it. Dooley still comes across as a vague authority figure who’s protective of his staff, and Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) didn’t get as much screen time as I would have liked. But, they did feel like more a cohesive group.

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Ray Krzeminski (Kyle Bornheimer) caught me off guard. We didn’t know a ton about the character. He has a wife and a girlfriend, wasn’t painted as being the brightest bulb in the box, and was rude towards Carter and Sousa. I was surprised I felt sad when he was killed. I felt a twinge of sympathy for Jack. Even more surprising, I found myself wondering if Jarvis pulled the trigger. Peggy was concerned about leaving a witness and well, reference the above comments about Jarvis being loyal.

Agent Carter delivered another powerhouse episode with “Time and Tide.” There weren’t as many action-packed scenes, but we didn’t need them. The death of Krzeminski made a big impact from showing the tightness of the SSR to bringing the threat to the front door. Who could the mystery killer take out next? Additionally, we saw more of Peggy in everyday life and she gets more likable by the minute.

Before we go, let’s start a new tradition of highlighting the best gif from the previous week’s episode:

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What did you think of “Time and Tide?” Let me know in the comments or tell me on Twitter.

Gif via Tumblr

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