Rather than the customary “Previously, On…” segment where we see relevant clips from past episodes to get us up to speed, Agent Carter has hit on something inspired: have Peggy narrate the relevant backstory in the first person. This is great not only because it mixes things up, but also because it’s another way to make this show feel like a comic book. So far, Carter is on par with Guardians Of The Galaxy in terms of nailing a comics aesthetic, and in my opinion it’s the only comic-inspired TV show that does it particularly well.
But on to the actual show!
We open in the Griffith Ladies’ Hotel, where a guy shimmies up the wrong drainpipe trying to find his girlfriend’s window. Peggy Carter has no sympathy, which is yet another reason I love her. She doesn’t bend over backwards to be sweet or helpful when it doesn’t benefit her.
Meanwhile, at a much seedier hotel full of a different sort of ladies, the boys of the S.S.R. investigate Green Suit’s room. There’s some useful exposition here that answers a lot of my questions from last week about the “villain,” but sadly we quickly turn away from talk of Leet Brannis’ Soviet connections and onto this week’s far less interesting mission.
You see, once upon a time, Houdini came to the Griffith Ladies’ Hotel to show off his escape artistry, and with this random anecdote from the Griffith’s stern landlady, we hit upon the real theme of “Time And Tide” – Escape.
Two major escapes form the backbone of our plot.
First, we’ve got the S.S.R.’s arrest of Jarvis in connection with the Roxxon implosion, and his eventual escape thanks to Peggy’s quick thinking. (Though I’m wondering how much career self-sabotage she’s willing to undergo on behalf of Howard Stark.) Later, we discover Jarvis is a bit of an escape artist himself, having stolen exit papers to get his wife, who is Jewish, out of Nazi-aligned Budapest, and then managing to wriggle out of the resulting treason charges with some help from Stark.
Secondly, there is the escape which forms the main plot of the episode, that of Leet Brannis from Stark’s vault with a pile of dangerous plot MacGuffins and assorted gadgetry. (Seriously WHY would anyone invent a back massager that breaks every bone in your body?) This storyline is kind of a letdown in terms of overall mysteriousness, but we do get a hilarious Brooklyn-accented phone call from Jarvis out of it. Also, the arrest of a third potential villain, who was hiding out on the boat – and who can actually talk! – leads us to something we should probably come to expect from Agent Carter:
Anyone can die.
And this week, it’s the chauvinist Ray Krzeminski, who is executed by Leviathan assassins. It’s hard to get too worked up over the loss of the S.S.R.’s resident Neanderthal, and in fact this story turn made me wonder whether we could slowly kill off all the icky sexists until the S.S.R. consists of Director Peggy Carter, her trusty second in command Agent Souza (I STILL SHIP IT), and their team of crack telephone operator phone phreaking spies.
However, Peggy apparently has more sympathy than I do. The loss of Ray brings home the point that pushing people away can’t help her escape the constant loss which comes with the job of S.S.R. agent. Between trying to stay one step ahead of her keystone kop colleagues in the attempt to clear Howard Stark’s name and steering clear of Leviathan’s clutches, what Peggy really needs is someone outside her world of super-spies. Ideally someone who understands what it means to be a working woman in the postwar world. Someone like Angie, who she finally lets in during an endearing final scene which closes on a wide shot that can only be an homage to Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks.”
Which brings us to your homework assignment for the week. Did you dig this week’s reference to Houdini? Are you a total comic book dork? You’re going to love The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. This novel by Michael Chabon is the origin story of two escape-artist obsessed comic geek cousins during World War II who create a superhero based on the tale of the Golem of Prague. It’s another obvious jumping off point for Agent Carter – especially Jarvis’ story of escape from Budapest – and one of my favorite novels. And best of all, since the State Of The Union is next week and we won’t have a new episode of the show, you have two weeks to read it!
What did you guys think of “Time And Tide?” And I need to know: were you guys sad about Ray Krzeminski’s death, and/or, am I evil?
Sara Clarke is the creator of the web series Fake Geek Girls. When she’s not writing and directing her own film projects, she’s coming up with new questions for her next live trivia comedy show and slaving away at her TV production day job. She reads Ms. Marvel religiously. Find her on twitter: @sara_clarke.
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