Last week, in search of the missing Jane and the tape identifying Russian assassin Brown, Tommy had followed a suspect to a Soho brothel, while Tuppence had gone undercover as a maid to opera singer Rita. As Lou and Andy – sorry, Tommy and Tuppence – are about to be unmasked, Tommy is conveniently mistaken for a Mr Drennan, a paymaster for the Russian assassin, while Tuppence is saved by the arrival of Rita’s romantic admirer, who turns out to be Peel (Andrew Havill), a King’s Counsel and an agent of Carter’s. She persuades him to allow her to continue her deception without informing Carter.
Tommy hears plenty about plots, assassinations, Soviets, the CIA and American contacts, sees Jane locked in a basement, but is almost rumbled, with one of the gang demanding payment for his silence only to get his neck twisted by his suspicious boss.
The duo report their findings to Carter, and conclude that the target may be the American Secretary of State who is due in London to sign a nuclear treaty. Carter warns them off further action, but they intercept the real Drennan and drug him. They miss his cash, though, so they go to Jane’s Uncle Julius for money.
Tommy and Julius deliver the cash to the gang but Jane has gone, and Tommy is caught in her room. Julius summons the police, but bafflingly, though they carry off all the tarts, they don’t find Jane, Tommy, or his captor. Tommy is almost freed by a sympathetic floozy, who he realises must have sent them the packet of photos of Jane (last episode), but she too is caught.
Considering they have a fine range of torture equipment available, the baddies seem remarkably reluctant to work Tommy over, concentrating instead on glaring at him. Then they get a call from Brown revealing Tommy’s identity. So, hang on, Brown must be a double agent – our money’s on the smoothie KC, Peel.
Tuppence meanwhile investigates a mysterious package delivered to Rita, but is caught and has to make a daring escape through a window, the second best stunt in the episode after Rita’s cat Henry landing safely on a mantelpiece, presumably flung with great skill by an off-screen animal trainer.
Tuppence reports soprano Rita’s involvement to Carter, but when he comes to question Rita, she is dead, presumably killed by Brown because he thought she was about to sing (geddit?!)
Tuppence goes to Soho to investigate the mysterious disappearance of Tommy, and finds only his wedding ring and the word ‘Anassa’ written on a wall in the brothel.
So basically, this episode doesn’t advance the plot an iota; Jane hasn’t been rescued, the recording hasn’t been found, Brown hasn’t been identified, and all the action has taken place in the same locations as last week. Other than Rita being dead, we might as well have spent the time watching two episodes of Little Britain.
While Jessica Raine fits the part perfectly and portrays Tuppence as convincingly feisty, able and adventurous, the most galling aspect of the series so far has been the playing of Tommy as a fish-eyed, dribbling idiot, incapable of talking his way out of trouble, taking any initiative, getting into a fight or basically tying his own shoelaces. The sight of him burbling and cowering when he’s bulkier than his adversaries makes the portrayal of the character all the more ridiculous. He plays such second fiddle to Tuppence that he might as well be sitting at home listening to Arthur Askey.
Perhaps Tommy will burst into action next week, but the way things are going, Henry the cat has a better chance of solving the case. He clearly knows more than he’s letting on, but sadly he can’t tell us anything.
For our episode one review, go here