Acts of Treason: A Review of Marvel’s Agent Carter Season 1, Episode 3 “Time and Tide”

Posted: January 14, 2015 in Marvel's Agent Carter, Reviews, TV
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Episode: 103
Airdate: January 13, 2015
Directed by: Scott Winant
Showrunners: Tara Butters, Chris Dingess, Michele Fazekas
Written by: Andi Bushell

After the explosive (implosive?) two-part debut last week of Marvel’s Agent Carter, will we get more of the same in Episode 3? Being that Carter has only been ordered for eight episodes, and with the two-part opener we’re already almost halfway through the story arc, maybe tonight is a time to slow things down just a bit, so we can get to know the main players a little better. While tonight’s episode is more exposition-heavy, it still has its fair share of explosive action, and goes so far as to kill off a regular character, showing that its gutsy and gritty approach to secret service spy drama as evidenced last week is not a one-off blip. Click through to read my full review.

Spoiler Alert: This review will briefly discuss events of Episode 103 of Marvel’s Agent Carter, “Time and Tide”, and is written with the assumption that you are up-to-date on the series so far.

The main storyline from last week continues, with Agent Peggy Carter [Hayley Atwell], assisted by Howard Stark’s butler/man-servant Jarvis [James D’Arcy], trying to track down a bunch of Stark’s stolen “toys.” The effects of these weapons can be quite devestating, as we learned last week with the implosive destruction of an entire chemical plant. Stark has been accused of treason, and while he is on the run, Carter and Jarvis continue to try to clear his name, and protect innocents from whomever controls the weapons cache.

There is some solid movement on the investigative front tonight, with most of the work being done in the mode of police sleuthing, as opposed to the high-stakes undercover work Carter did last week, entering right into the dragon’s den. Here, she uses logic and reason to figure things out, showing that she has a keen mind to go along with her formidable physical abilities. While not quite so aloof, she is beginning to feel somewhat like a 1940s era female Bond, save for the more lascivious proclivities of her male counterpart.

During the course of her investigation, Jarvis is put into a compromised situation, and they need to reevaluate their relationship and the basis of the necessary trust between them. This leads Carter to a franker self-evaluation as well, adding depth to her character, and creating more sympathy toward both of them and the decisions they have been/are being forced to make. This level of complexity and depth is, to my mind, a rare thing on network television, a realm too often made up of two-dimensional cardboard entities even on the best of programming.

Carter’s personal life is also examined, with some time spent in her new boarding house residence, and some tension in her relationship with her friend from the diner, Angie [Lyndsy Fonseca]. While Carter has to continually put up with and work around the casual misogyny of her office co-workers, we see that there are petty abuses of arbitrary power between women as well, as the landlady of the boarding house shows how very strict she can be in kicking out a third housemate. I’m looking forward to the inevitable come-uppance, when Carter calls this rather miserable matriarch out on the carpet.

A few things do get resolved in this episode, but with the death of one of the regular supporting characters, Carter is forced to reevaluate yet again her role as double-agent, working both for the SSR and for Howard Stark. She takes a bit of a tumble in this episode, but I wouldn’t quite characterize it as a fall. She’s also involved in one well-choreographed fight, so there is a bit of physical action to go with all the introspection and investigation.

Office tension continues to define her work situation, and with the increase in tension at home, it is good that she is able to work things out with Angie after a pretty honest heart-to-heart – at least as honest as Carter can be, given the nature of her work. At one point. she is forced to act in a clearly unprofessional manner in order to protect Jarvis, something which does nothing for her desire to be taken seriously in the office. There are clear indications that the temperature is about to get hotter for Carter, as even her most loyal ally within the SSR – Sousa [Enver Gjokaj] – appears to be questioning her judgement and abilities. And who is the new roommate [Bridget Regan] at the boarding house? We know her name is Dottie, and that’s about it – but her effusive mid-west attitude came across as false to me, not in a “she-can’t-act” kind of way, but in a “she’s-hiding-something-but-it’s-subtle” kind of way.

All told, tonight’s episode did everything it should have: it moved the main storyline forward, it further developed Carter’s work and home environments, and it ramped up the tension on all fronts as the series approaches its mid-point. Unfortunately, we’re going to have to wait two weeks for the next episode, but after that, it’ll be a run of five straight weeks through to the season finale – and hopefully, so long as it continues this strongly, news of a renewal for next season.

Steve’s Grade: A-
A more introspective and procedure-heavy episode still had its share of action, and further developed both Carter and Jarvis, enhancing and complicating already sympathetic characters. The eight-episode focus allows for a wonderfully condensed main story arc that looks to be moving forward without losing steam.

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