Partners in Crime episode 2 review
Episode One of Partners In Crime left Tommy and Tuppence both in a difficult fix of their own.
On the hunt of missing girl Jane Finn and a secret recording that promises to reveal the identity of a legendary Soviet assassin known only as ‘Mr. Brown’, episode two opens with husband Tommy being mistaken for a close ally of the assassin himself, and wife Tuppence undercover as a maid, complete with blonde wig, to faded soprano Rita Vandemeyer.
After a close shave where both guises narrowly miss being foiled, Tommy and Tuppence immerse themselves as undercover agents with, predictably, Tommy having more difficulties keeping up his chosen charade than Tuppence. The nervous awkwardness of Tommy in the lion’s dead of Brown’s gang is made even worse by the gang’s ‘safe house’ being in a Soho brothel. Not a natural home for Tommy. This is a nod to the playfulness of Agatha Christie’s characterisation, executed by a fittingly demure and clever performance from David Walliams.
Meanwhile, Tuppence takes to espionage like a duck to water, convinced of Rita’s involvement with Brown. This is secured by the arrival of a mysterious package from Brown himself. Rita immediately hides the package in a locked room, which spurs Tuppence to try and get into the room and find out what the package is.
Tuppence feels unleashed in this episode, growing in confidence as an intelligent, daring and resourceful secret agent and woman. Jessica Raine’s sparky portrayal and Zinnie Harris’ witty script acknowledge this, as Tommy asserts, “You are ingenious, you know that?” With a smile, Tuppence retorts “Getting into my stride”. She’s not wrong.
On hand to help Tommy and Tuppence out with anything that requires a certain degree of technical knowledge is Tommy’s old war friend Albert, played convincingly by Matthew Steer. Albert is just the kind of geek any amateur sleuth would want at their disposal. Albert’s technical capabilities make him a useful plot device, and it’s only mildly frustrating that he brings little more than convenient solutions, rather than any real conflict or drama.
Glimpses of 1950s London pepper the episode, with an anchoring mid point outside Kings Cross St. Pancras station, a nice call-back to Paris’ Gare du Nord where Tommy and Tuppence’s journey started.
It’s here where Tommy and Tuppence hijack Drennan, the close ally of Mr. Brown whom Tommy has just about been getting away with impersonating. They stalk Drennan into a good old English boozer and spike his pint, buying enough time for the pair to go back undercover and follow their instinct, despite a direct order not to from Tommy’s Uncle Carter.
With Tommy back in the brothel and Tuppence back under the blonde wig pretence of the dutiful maid, the pace of the episode picks up. Tommy is certain the missing Jane Finn is being kept by Brown’s gang and Tuppence is certain Rita is in it up to her glottal.
The stakes are raised when both Tommy and Tuppence are discovered as imposters. Unbeknownst to each other, they’re both contained by Mr. Brown’s cohorts and threatened that they will be dealt with. It’s a much-needed crisis point – how will they get themselves out of this one?
Of course it’s quick-thinking Tuppence who makes a run for it, via a slightly whimpering big escape moment down a drainpipe, whilst Tommy is left bound in a basement with a hangman’s noose around his neck.
Do we really believe anyone’s going to string Tommy up and kick the chair away beneath him? Possibly not, but we go along with it to see where it takes our hapless hero next.
Which is one final plot twist away from the end of the episode, with Tuppence en route to save Tommy, albeit sidetracked suddenly by a mysterious discovery of her own, and Tommy blackmailed into switching loyalties.
These final moments make for a promising next episode, which will be the concluding part of the story. The hope is that Tommy and Tuppence are reunited to solve The Secret Adversary mystery together, as that’s when this pair are at their strongest, in their own clumsy but endearing way.
Did you catch Partners In Crime episode 2? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Don’t miss episode 3 on BBC1 at 9pm on Sunday 9th August!