Monday, August 3, 2015

Partners in Crime - Episode 2 Review - The Secret Adversary

My review of the previous episode

The world's most inefficient spy couple return! Last week left both Tommy and Tuppence in a dicey situation - Tuppence on the verge of being recognized by an evil man (with an evil birthmark!), Tommy cornered in a sleazy house in Soho by another evil man (sans birthmark). Both cliffhangers quickly resolve - Tuppence slips back to her typing job and Tommy not so much slips as stumbles crashing into the false identity of "Drennan," a rich conspirator happily unknown to the others except by name.

Tuppence figures out that Rita is, indeed, working with Brown towards some overarching, nefarious purpose. We already knew someone would be assassinated: could it be the American Secretary of State, arriving to sign a treaty? Once she leaves work, Tuppence hypothesizes with Uncle Carter and her new friend James Peel (also investigating Rita, and with suspiciously little reason to exist) on this development.

Meanwhile, Tommy's secret is found out by two others - a gangster and a prostitute. The first demands cash for silence, while the second turns out to be the one who answered the Beresfords' ad in the first place (why, then, does she mistake Tommy for Drennan?). Tommy plays for time with his blackmailer, while the girl informs him that Jane Finn is being held downstairs. At last, Tommy's time runs out, but sheer luck (he really is frightfully inefficient) saves him, and ends with his blackmailer gruesomely offed onscreen.

After a heart-to-heart with Tuppence, this spurs Tommy to defy his uncle's orders and head back into danger. "Leave it to the professionals," moans the long-suffering Carter (who's quickly becoming my favorite character). The Beresfords - who, have, it turns out, been learning - drug the real Drennan, but are unsuccessful stealing his money, which means it's back to the suave Julius Hersheimmer, much to Tommy's dismay.

When Tommy finds that Jane Finn has been moved, he also manages to blow his cover and be captured by a man with rather less of a "heavy build" than he has. Really, Tommy - should have paid attention during sixth grade self-defense class. Tuppence, too, is caught by a poker-wielding Mrs. Vandemeyer (c'mon Tuppence, it's not exactly a Glock 17), and confined to her room, where she quickly escapes via the drainpipe (sloppy, these terrorist masterminds.)

Tommy's execution is averted just in time for the end of the episode, but it looks like Brown will use little George (who was bundled off last episode, in order for his parents to have adventures) to buy Tommy's allegiance, whatever good it may do him.

So where have we come? Not far from where we started - this episode suffers the fate of the dreaded middle installment - it exists mainly so time can pass. We don't see many new locations or characters, and the pieces are only slightly realigned after events have passed. But the series still has its charms - if it's knocked a bit off-balance by some too-grim scenes, it still let's Tuppence pick locks and shimmy down the outside of buildings and it's all very preposterously fun. Hopefully, next week will find the (still not quite) dynamic duo reunited and working on that chemistry thing.

My review of next week's episode

Want something good to watch? Check out my full list of good detective shows.



  1. could it be the American Secretary of State[?]

    Imagine if John Kerry was poisoned in a Soho brothel today? Patience. I'm still imagining.

  2. So many little and big things wrong. It's hard to imagine that anyone involved with the production (other than the set designers and dressers) is really trying. When you spend so much time on a drink spiking scene and flub it up, you have to wonder if even the director and film editor even watch the stuff. They should steer clear of three-card Monte games and 7-year-olds playing "find the pea." And pay closer attention when real spy movies use spy recognition codes. What's the point of having a sign like “200, all out,” if you don't have a set countersign that lets the original person know that you're on the same team? But why bother when you've already exposed yourself as a spy to the maid before you give her the sign? What if she were just a snoopy maid? Or loyal to the evil opera singer that you are surveilling? And no one with this production has ever used a manual typewriter. I dare you to hold a portable manual typewriter in your hands and make typing sounds. I usually demand nudity in order to go on watching when things are so dismal. But these nobs would give me Tommy without his kit.

    1. Yeah, I put most of that down to Agatha Christie's naivete, but come to think of it, I don't remember that part being in the book. And I see that your optimism from last week is quick evaporating. I'm still holding out for next week (like I said - curse of the middle installment), but it isn't really compelling me, so far.

    2. We are still watching the first episode--I keep reminding myself. The BBC often throws everyone in the deep end the moment they arrive because of budget constraints and I assume we are just seeing some of them flapping around, fighting for their lives. Agatha Christie's original story was well-plotted, as always, although vintage WWI spycraft given the date of publication. But the Bolshies are the bad guys and I think the current crop of BBC writers and production people resent Christie for that--besmirching their own. In the original, "Jane Finn" was carrying a treaty with the U.S., agreeing to go to war, on the Lusitania-- before it is sunk. The Bolshies want to embarrass the U.S and Britain by exposing that document to the world. Sounds a lot more reasonable than assuming anything happening to an American will destroy US-British relations so soon after WWII. Especially when a Russian assassin is responsible. It bothers me that Executive Producer Walliams is on-record saying they are playing it for laughs and tongue-in-cheek. To do Christie right, you have to start off loving the stories and the characters, and taking everything seriously. You can season with charm and wit and humor and idiosyncrasies with a light hand. As David Suchet showed us.


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