Episode Title: The Iron Ceiling
Original Airdate: 2-3-15
After some episodes that didn’t really advance the plot much, this week’s ‘Agent Carter’ gives us its best episode yet. Titled ‘The Iron Ceiling’, everyone from the writers to the cast blows the roof off this one with a story that encapsulates every aspect of a spy adventure series that this one was advertised as. The episode has dollops of adding back-story to certain characters developing them further, strengthening relationships, explosive action, familiar faces from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and dramatically advancing the story and raising the stakes for the remainder of the series.
The episode starts with a poignant flashback about Dottie, Carter’s roommate, played brilliantly by Bridget Regan, whom we saw skillfully take out the generic bad guy in the last episode. Apparently Russian, ‘Dottie’ (obviously an alias) was trained under strict conditions in Russia to be a sleeper agent, with other young school age girls. There are scenes of the girls learning an American accent by watching Disney movies, and then fighting each other to the death. It’s creepy but effective, and may have a possible connection to Avenger Natasha Romanoff, seeing how she’s Russian as well and definitely has similarly deadly skills as Black Widow that Dottie seems to exhibit as well. Coming back to current times, Dottie conspires to break into Carter’s room, only to find a picture, but thankfully not Captain America’s blood, which was hidden behind the wall.
While Carter, after an angry run-in with Jarvis, who she’s still pissed at for lying to her, walks into work with the entire S.S.R. going nuts due to a message from the other worldly typewriter, as seen on the ending of the last episode. Carter quickly decrypts the message that leads Jack Thompson on a mission to Russia. Carter quickly forces her way into said mission by promising the aid of the 107th Infantry Unit, otherwise known as The Howling Commandos as seen on ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ and more recently on the Season 2 premiere of Marvel’s ‘Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.’
The moment when the members of the first Captain America movie unite is a great one as it recalls those action sequences they took part in during that movie and gets to rekindle their friendship on the small screen. Not to mention the appearance of another Whedon alumni from ‘Buffy…’ , Leonard Roberts as ‘Happy’ Sam Sawyer, quite possibly Trip’s (from ‘Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.’) Howling Commando ancestor? The dynamic between Dum Dum Dugan and Carter is also great, as they even make references to the Captain himself in an emotional moment. ‘The Iron Ceiling’ is full of these great little character development moments, especially for Chad Michael Murray ‘s Jack, who confides in Carter after we find out that he’s not the badass soldier everyone thought he was. It’s a bitter sweet moment for me as the actor starts doing that lip pursing expression he does when he tries to… emote. However, it does humanize the otherwise male chauvinistic character and changes the dynamic in the show of him being more an ally to Carter than a rival. Although this dynamic may soon change given the previews for next week’s episode.
The important reveals of this week’s episode have major significance for the series down the line. In Russia, the S.S.R. Agents and Commandos stumble upon what looks like the school for young girls from the flashback, where they discover a scientist being held captive, who is working off of Howard Stark’s blueprints to create some sort of doomsday device for the person or group known as Leviathan as revealed in Episode 1. Stark’s absence finally throws doubt on his involvement in this to the rest of the characters, that even Carter goes on record to confirm herself with Chief Dooley.
Speaking of Shea Wingham’s Dooley, he goes on a bit of a mission himself while the others are gallivanting about in Russia. It’s kind of weird how in this episode all the typically inept clichéd caricature men in the show all of a sudden have importance and actually pull their weight. The always awesome John Glover makes a guest appearance as a reporter and friend to Dooley who gives him some exposition about the massacre in Russia that Dooley heard about from the Nazi General, where people were ‘ripped apart’. Glover’s character also reveals that Stark might be getting set up by the Government themselves, implying a conspiracy, which further causes Dooley to suspect that facts they currently have at hand.
After a few episodes of what seemed like really slow pacing, and light hearted stuff with big twists near the end, this episode the writers really amp up the pacing and has the story breaking out into multiple sub plots with almost every major and minor characters unravelling different parts of the story on their own, promising a massive culmination that will cause ripples in the plot set up so far. It’s the most progression of the story that we’ve had in an episode thus far since the Pilot. Things don’t show any signs of slowing down either, especially given that Sousa has finally uncovered that the blonde woman from episode 1 is really Carter in disguise, and next week’s episode shows her on the run from the S.S.R., a lot of things are about to hit the fan in Marvel`s ‘Agent Carter’.
Something of note: the word Leviathan refers to a biblical sea serpent, while a Hydra is a Greek mythological water monster. While Dooley mentions that Leviathan may be a covert Russian Organization, could we be seeing an offshoot of H.Y.D.R.A. setting up shop in this show?
Let me know what you thought of this episode below.