In which Peggy Carter investigates Howard Stark's vault, and Ray Krzeminski tries to find someone to cover his shift.
“Time and Tide” is a strange episode of television for a series with only eight episodes on its docket. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it—it’s quite good, actually—it’s just that it’s the sort of open-and-shut case of the week deal you’d expect from a series with a full 22-episode order. As much as I’d like it to be, that’s not Agent Carter. “Time and Tide” moves the plot needle forward just slightly enough to matter in the show’s long game, but favors smaller character moments over big revelations.
That’s pretty cool.
The episode begins with Peggy curling her hair and looking up the symbol that the dead Leviathan agent traced in the sand in her Book of Symbols (lol) while a mysterious figure climbs up the waterspout to her window. Of course, Peggy Carter knows this and greets him with her pistol drawn—turns out he’s just a hapless gent trying to pay his girlfriend Molly an after-hours visit and he picked the wrong window. (You’ll remember that at the all-ladies boarding house Peggy Carter now resides in, gentleman callers are not permitted after dark.)
This secret rendezvous, of course, is not as discreet as the two young lovers hoped—the landlady chooses to make an example of Molly at breakfast by way of a really tangential story about Harry Houdini that ends with Molly being evicted. Such is gendered communal living in the 1940s.
Meanwhile, the SSR boys are doing some Damn Fine Detective Work, investigating the hotel room that the key they found next to the Leviathan agent’s body last episode opens. There’s not much in the room, but they do manage to find one of those weird two-way typewriters that someone kept from the Fringe set. What’s more, Thompson tells the boys back at HQ that they have the autopsy results from the Leviathan agent, which introduce a weird new wrinkle: The man’s been dead for two years. But any further action is put on hold because they’ve found the owner of the license plate they found in the Roxxon wreckage at the end of last week: Howard Stark.
The attempt of Molly’s beau to break into the boarding house reminds Peggy Carter that she ought to see how the thieves broke into Howard Stark’s vault to steal his tech, and so she visits Stark’s mansion to talk to Jarvis about it. This is cut short by SSR Agents Thompson and Sousa, who want to bring Jarvis in for questioning. His response: “Oh, this is novel. I haven’t been in the back of a car in years.”
Stop being so unflappably charming, James D’Arcy.
Things then converge on SSR headquarters. Agent Ray Krzeminski is in the middle of trying to find someone to cover his shift when Thompson and Sousa bring Jarvis in for questioning and Peggy shows up, too, unconcerned that she’s a bit late. It’s a good thing she does show up—Thompson is convinced that Jarvis will give him Stark, and he threatens to deport Jarvis’ wife (whom we have still not seen, strangely) while hinting that he knows about Jarvis’ treason.
The butler is visibly shaken, but he’s saved by Peggy Carter, who bumbles her way into diffusing the situation at the risk of looking incompetent. But that treason accusation is definitely going to come up again…
NEXT: Breaking and entering
With that situation handled, Jarvis and Carter can go about doing what they initially wanted to do—exploring the giant hole the thieves carved into Howard Stark’s impenetrable vault. As they follow it down to the sewers, Carter asks Jarvis about the treason. He doesn’t want to say at first, but he mentions serving under a certain General who could have helped his future wife, then just a single Jewish woman named Ava, out of hostile Budapest. So he forged his General’s signature and got caught—only escaping the noose and making it to America with the help of Howard Stark.
The pair then reach the end of the sewage tunnel to find a boat on a nearby dock with the symbol that Peggy was trying to decipher at the episode’s start—and it’s pay dirt, since its holding boxes of Stark tech—one of which was supposed to be a back massager and ended up being a muscle-constricting, bone-breaking, glowing green doohickey.
Then, in the episodes’ best scene, Jarvis and Carter debate what to do with the weapons they’ve found. Peggy wants to call them in—arguing that her SSR colleagues will finally respect what she’s been doing and see that Stark is exonerated. Jarvis disagrees—because her colleagues don’t want to respect her. “They will not,” Jarvis says. “They’ll only use it to tear you down.”
And so Jarvis calls it in to SSR anonymously—but before they can get away, they have to fight the single tank-top-clad bruiser who was left to guard the goods. Agent Carter has proven that it is very good at fight scenes, and this one is fast and fun and exciting and complicates matters—since they don’t kill him (they just zap him with Stark’s Green Doohickey), he’s now a witness, one they don’t have time to deal with before SSR arrives.
Sousa and Krzeminski (he never could find anyone to cover his shift) arrive at the scene, and Krzeminski takes the hired goon into the office while Sousa deals with the stolen Stark tech. However, Krzeminski never makes it back—an assassin kills him and the bruiser he had in his back seat.
Then the morning comes, and the entire office mourns Krzeminski—while Agent Dooley announces who he’s blaming for the entire mess: Howard Stark.
And now, some thoughts:
Best line of the night is a toss-up between Jarvis’ “Actually, the death ray is accounted for. It’s in Nevada, I believe,” or Peggy’s sick Howard Stark Burn: “Mr. Stark would trust a shark to not bite him if it was wearing a short enough skirt.” We should keep track of these, and declare a winner by season’s end.
It really bears repeating how great that conversation between Jarvis and Carter is. Her role is one that’s undermined not by a lack of respect that she can earn back, but by something more systemic, an internalized worldview held by many of her male colleagues and the country at large at this juncture in history. It’s an important distinction to make, one that shows Agent Carter is interested in being much more thoughtful than the fun, but ultimately shallow “Women can kick ass too!” that the show’s earliest promos gravitated toward.
How about Molly’s replacement? I’m pretty suspicious of Dottie. Call it a hunch.
Trivia from last week I totally forgot to mention: Our esteemed TV recaps editor Dalene Rovenstine was absolutely appalled to discover that I neglected to mention a fun bit of casting in last week’s premiere: Sheldon McFee, the man Carter and the SSR spend the second hour tracking down, is played by none other than Devin Ratray, also known as Home Alone’s Buzz McCallister. So Kevin’s mean older brother grows up to travel back in time and be part of a grand WWII-era comic book mystery solved by Captain America’s badass crush.
Jarvis. Brooklyn. Accent.
IN TWO WEEKS: Howard Stark returns! And so will I! Will you? See you then.