Marvel’s newest television series “Agent Carter” got off to quite a start last week with a double-episode premiere, and judging from critical and viewer reaction, folks liked it much more than the series it spun off from, “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” In the third episode of “Agent Carter,” not only is Jarvis arrested, but there’s possibly a secret in the offing. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on “Time and Tide.”
The bottom line is, whether you call it a prequel, a companion series, or an out and out spin-off, “Agent Carter” is indirectly connected to “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Comparisons are unavoidable, no matter how much more folks like “Carter” than “S.H.I.E.L.D.” Perhaps the black and white morality of its late forties setting that makes things simpler, or at least simpler than the constant gray area of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The opening synopsis, the ‘what has gone before’ in Peggy’s voice is deceptively simple and to the point. That’s not to say that one show isn’t as complicated as the other, but let’s say “Agent Carter” makes it easier to follow and more accessible to new viewers. “Agents of SHIELD,” take note, learn from your elders… or is that, your children? Regardless Carter is tracking Stark’s stolen inventions and trying to keep it a secret from the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR), who think she’s only good enough to answer phones these days.
The Boys of the SSR
This episode gives a chance to better get to know the boys of the SSR. At first these male chauvinist pigs, to label them with a tag from yet a different period, seemed to blend together in a mish-mash of hats and suits. Now as Agent Carter is not just fighting enemy agents and corporate espionage, but the attitudes of men who do not believe in the power of women liberated during their absence in the war, we see not all enemies are hiding behind broken voice boxes and implosion devices.
I’ve talked before about Shea Whigham’s Dooley, who as the head of this division of the SSR, keeps Carter out of the way and from taking on any real missions, despite knowing in the back of his mind how truly capable and experienced she is. There’s also pretty boy Chad Michael Murray in a grittier role than usual as Jack Thompson who may be worse than Dooley. Among the rest the one who really stands out is Enver Gjokaj’s Daniel Sousa. He and Carter have had a moment or two but as a fellow agent so brutally put – Carter won’t be trading in a shield for a crutch. Yeah, I’m rooting for him.
After some embarrassment involving Jarvis’ arrest and interrogation, which was both fun and revealing, Carter and Jarvis go directly to the scene of the crime – the vault that was robbed of Stark’s weapons and tech. Along the way Jarvis tells Peggy what Stark did for him and his bride. Not any of the secrets we were expecting or wanted, but still a good story. The more I see of Jarvis, the more I like him.
James D’Arcy’s facial expressions as Jarvis while doing his American accent to call SSR were hilarious and probably the best part of the episode. Zandow, the brute guarding the weapons fighting Carter would have been the best had Jarvis not had to save her. I hated that. Why can’t a heroine succeed on her own without help? I was outraged. And not just by the fake grief we were manipulated into with the death of an SSR agent.
While I enjoyed this episode, I have to confess it was not as exciting as the first two. I would really have to say it was solidly a disappointment if I’m being honest, what might be called a fill-in issue if it was a comic book. What we have here is an episode that gave us a lot of characterization, but very little meat of the overarching story. I really wish I could say I liked it as much as the first and second parts.
There’s nothing wrong with a filler episode that has lots of potent characterization in an ongoing series, but therein lies the problem. “Agent Carter” is a limited series, a finite part TV event. Every episode should have as much as can be squeezed into it. Just my opinion, but I feel a little shortchanged here. Hopefully it will get better next time.
Due to the Presidential State of the Union Address next week, “Agent Carter” returns in two weeks, with an episode that seems at first glance to return the focus to Captain America – “The Blitzkrieg Button.” See you then.