Time and Tide – Peggy and Jarvis investigate the break in site at Howard Stark’s manor to discover that the goods were floated out down a storm drain. Things get more complicated when the SSR instigates Jarvis as an accomplice to the Roxxon chemicals explosion following the discovery of his missing licence plate in the wreckage.
After last week’s universally critically praised debut (that caught the many international networks that passed on the show with their pants down and a face full of humble pie.... suck on it Channel 4!) Peggy returns still on the trail of the stolen Stark tech and the mysterious Leviathan at what must be considered a fair old pace. With a mere 8 episodes on the cards Agent Carter is wasting no time playing its hands which makes for a welcome change from its genre counterparts. We quickly get a confirmation regarding suspicions over Leviathan as their links to Russia are confirmed via the autopsy of last week’s dead guest star. This ties in to the comics version of the Leviathan organisation as mentioned in the past reviews (a kind of Russian Hydra equivalent). Yet answer one question and two more take its place as both dead Leviathan agents are confirmed as having their voice boxes removed (hence the scars) with a military background in same 478th Riffle Division that’s recorded as being wiped out in a battle in 1944. I think we can safely rule out zombies and afterlife resurrections (unfortunately) theories but this already points to some form of military cover up for the organisation’s founding. Also the terminology of the early SSR raid on the deceased Leet Brannis hotel room sets the off whatever the hell the rites approved Inhuman equivalent of spider sense is these days. Agent Krzeminski labels the obvious document hiding place within the chair as “amateur hour” and Brannis also left his typewriter communication equipment out on the desk for anyone to find. This raises one of two possibilities. Either that Brannis had little or no spy training implying he could have been “reluctantly conscripted” and that Leviathan’s techniques may be rooted in involuntary control of its members rather than fanatical devotion. Or that via some sinister ulterior motives he knew he would not be coming back an deliberately left everything for the SSR to find as part of a bigger plan? Only time and tides (through probably time) will tell but it’s fantastic to see the many different possibilities the series is already throwing out there.
The biggest surprise this week is how much of a gamble the episode tales with its tone. Both the first two episodes had an overall feel of fun to them but while this week does not abandon that entirely (the opening window routine is just brilliant and of course that accent from Jarvis) its overall feel is much more of a downer including the ending. Yet it’s achieved with both merit and context to establish the risks and dangers Peggy’s taking beyond that of bullet dodging. Now going from leading a double life to triple one requires sacrifices to be made in both her work and personal lives. The later being the most powerful. Having laid plenty of establish work last week of Peggy trying to establish herself as a serious and capable agent despite the fact that boss and colleagues can’t see her for more than a glorified secretary; here she has every chance to prove herself to the likes of Chief Dooley and the rest but can’t for risk of exposing herself or others to harm. None more powerfully shown than in her metaphorical grenade jump to save Jarvis from the SSR interrogation by faking an accident paperwork balls up that sees him walk free. She’s forced to become the incompetent and inferior female they want to believe she is for the greater good. You can’t help but feel for her as she desperately wants them to see her real competent self “I will call them in and they will respect me..... but they won’t, they’ll only use it to tare you down”. It only goes to amplify the intelligence in the handling of the over running sexism themes. It’s a subtle tap on the shoulder for all the modern independent women shouting “why didn’t dothem blah blah” at the screen.... because regrettably ladies, it was not that simple.
The Jarvis character was immediately fascinating last week and here it’s great to plunge further into his character. As soon as they mentioned treason even as a Brit myself I was thinking something directly against the crown. While they could have had all manner of fun there the actual story feels far much more in keeping with the character as a man who knows the pen is mightier than the sword and is adept at using it. Though not directly mentioned it’s fair to assume the woman in question is now his wife who even verbally creeps on to our screens the week with a few lines. Again there’s the sneaking suspicion of a reveal in waiting when we (hopefully) eventually see her face tying in to elsewhere in the series or even the greater MCU. This very much a Jarvis episode as much as a Peggy and well spoken gentleman also gets all the episodes best lines; “actually the death ray is accounted for; it’s in Nevada I believe”.
The final point of consideration is the mysterious figure seen watching the action from the shadows in the final act before making a more direct impact. This is a completely unconfirmed theory but due to its implications I’m flagging it with a SPOILER WARNING....... skip to the end paragraph if you’d rather not......... one other new arrival caught my eye this week. The boarding house breakfast scene was a rare stale moment in the episode but the unscheduled eviction did make way for the Ballet dancer from small town Iowa; Dottie Underwood. Firstly she’s played by Bridget Regan (White Collar, Jane the Virgin) which is too big of a casting name for thirty seconds of passing in the hallway every other episode (confirmed as a recurring role). Then consider the mysterious figure in the climactic car based scenes. The assumption would be a male (as the series makes out this is a man’s world) but their build was slender with lower less broad shoulders that their suit was trying to hide and the placement of that hat could easily be hiding longer hair. Then finally in a wider shot we get a clear look their shoes which are clearly sporting raiseded (though not high) heels that really don’t look like the male footwear of this time period. So if you haven’t guessed it already I believe mysterious figure was a disguised Dotti Underwood. Furthermore that she’s working for Leviathan and was deliberately sent to the boarding house as Peggy’s new neighbour to spy on her knowing that she’s on Leviathan’s trail. Considering the underlying theme of the show is female empowerment it would seem very in keeping with that to develop a main female antagonist as well as a hero resulting in hopefully a Buffy Vs Faith level epic confrontation between the pair in the series finale.
All in all despite the less happy vibe this week it was still a great episode that opened out the series into more dramatically diverse territory than expected. It had some great action, especially the big thug fight and through excellent writing even made us care about the fate of a less likeable character. Some interesting developments in the smaller cast as Sousa may well turn out to be Peggy’s future husband and potential conflict reveal between them send that to interesting places. Agent Cater continues to make for great entertainment in wonderfully unique ways to its rival series. So crack open that half bottle of schnapps and enjoy.