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Agent Carter - The Iron Ceiling - Review



Agent Carter, “The Iron Ceiling,” was written by Jose Molina and directed by Peter Leto. Molina’s credits include Dark Angel, Firefly (thank you for the Whedon connection!), The Vampire Diaries and Sleepy Hollow. Leto’s credits include Arrow and Under the Dome. This was the Agent Carter (Hayley Atwell) that I’ve been waiting to see since the first episode – the one who commands the respect of the likes of Dum Dum Duggan (Neal McDonough). For me, even her grief over losing Steve Rogers doesn’t explain how she allowed herself to become a doormat. Yes, sexism was rampant, but there were women in positions of power and she’d already achieved that, so seeing her as a doormat in her current position never rang true to me.

Things definitely heat up for Carter this week as both Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) and Dottie (Bridget Regan) are hot on her heels. Sousa uses the bullet wounds on Carter’s shoulder to identify her as the woman in the blond wig at the club. He’s clearly troubled by the knowledge, so it remains to be seen if he will tell Carter or Dooley (Shea Whigham) first.
Dottie is clearly a Russian spy tied to the Leviathans and the camp in Belarus. The camp for girls using Disney movies to teach the girls accents and turning out cold-blooded killers is chilling. We see that young Dottie (Veronika Bonell) had no trouble giving half her roll to Anya (Caitlin Carmichael) in the morning and then killing her in the afternoon. So what do we make of her giving Carter half her roll? She manages to steal Carter’s room key and find the hidden photos of Stark’s inventions from the SSR. She takes the one with Stark’s name clearly displayed on the crate. She also sits at Carter’s mirror and practices saying “I’m Peggy Carter” in an English accent. Regan brings just the right amount of crazy and chilling to the performance.

Meanwhile, Dooley is actually proving to be a good leader. He realizes things aren’t adding up and starts looking for more answers. He meets with a reporter and SSR Informant (John Glover). I love Glover, so I really hope we’ll see more of him on the show. He convinces Dooley he doesn’t have the whole story about what happened at the Battle of Finao. He questions why Stark would have gotten into a fist fight with a General. It’s clear that Stark was at odds with the American troops after the battle as he pulled his inventions from them shortly after. Is it possible that the dead are a result of the army using one of Stark’s inventions without Stark’s permission?

Dooley goes to Jarvis (James D’Arcy) for answers. He only asks the one question – about the fist fight with John McGinnis. Jarvis lies – and it’s hilarious to watch him reach for his ear with his tell and then stop himself because Carter alerted him to it last week. But it’s enough to tell Dooley – who really isn’t stupid – that Jarvis is lying. He tells Jarvis he’s not interested in a witch hunt and wants to hear Stark’s side of the story.

Jarvis tries to smooth things over with Carter, but she’s done being used by Stark. When she tells Jarvis that he’s merely Stark’s servant, Jarvis retaliates by calling her out on letting herself be just a servant at the SSR. Carter tells him she’s going to prove herself to her colleagues there, which she does very well in this episode. There's a nice moment between Carter and the newspaper vendor when he asks her if she's missing home, and she responds that she's missing something - possibly that sense of equality and authority. Had Stark treated her as a partner, she might have continued to work with him. It’s clear, however, that she still believes in his innocence, no matter how much of a wanker he is.

It’s interesting to watch Dooley’s relationship with Carter. She has already earned his respect before he allows her to go to Belarus as evidenced by him shutting down Thompson’s (Chad Michael Murray) objections. He even calls Thompson on having a crush on Carter. It’s clear that Thompson didn’t want Carter to see him at his worst. It’s also clear that Dooley does hesitate in sending Carter into the field because of the backlash of getting a woman killed. But Carter proves her worth as a de-coder – it’s a brilliant scene even if the code breaking is utter nonsense – and by getting the 107th Regiment.

I loved the entire storyline of Carter in the field. McDonough is simply brilliant as Dum Dum Duggan, and I have to say that I was pretty heartbroken when Carter turned down his offer to join the Howling Commandos – and even states that her days on the front lines are over! In fact, as you’d expect all the Commandos are entertaining – Happy Sam Sawyer (Leonard Roberts), Pinky Pinkerton (Richard Short), and Junior Juniper (James Austin Kerr). I loved Duggan getting the password wrong and how happy he was to see Peggy. They may use her first name, but their respect for her comes shining through in every scene. I especially liked how they turned to her for orders after Thompson gave his.

Carter sees a very different side of Thompson – and so do we. I haven’t been impressed with either Murray or his character up until this point, but Murray gives an excellent performance in this episode, especially in the scene in the airplane on the way home when he confesses his guilt to Carter. I loved how they played this out. She never condemns him – not for freezing or for what he did during the war. But she doesn’t offer him absolution either. Atwell is excellent in this scene as well.

The mission into the training facility is exciting and well-paced. Of course, having Duggan blast in to save them and Peggy telling him to “Stop wa-hooing and help!” was perfect. I also loved the relationship we see between Peggy and Duggan. When he chides her for not being as fun as he remembers, he can also commiserate that he misses Cap too. When the others are in awe that he served with Captain America, Duggan makes it clear that Peggy served with him longer – and the implication is that she deserves more of their respect. And finally, in the escape scene, Peggy tells Duggan to get going and he tells her, “What would Cap say if I left his best girl behind?” To which Peggy responds, “He’d say to do as Peggy says!” And then Carter gets her real hero moment.

When they return, Thompson is ready to give all the credit to Carter. She even gets a well done from Dooley. But the real proof that she’s had a break through with Thompson is that he invites her out for a drink with the rest of the Agents. The title of the episode “The Iron Ceiling” is a clever play on the “iron curtain” associated with Russia and the “glass ceiling” that exists – to this day! – that keeps certain people from rising above a certain point in their careers, especially for women. Combining the two is a clever way of emphasizing the barriers to Carter – and especially women in the military.

Of course, Thompson still believes that Stark was the one to give the Russians the blueprints that Nikola (Alex Veadov) and Dr Ivchenko (Ralph Brown) had when they rescued them. I also found it interesting that Ivchenko killed Nikola so quickly and ruthlessly. I don’t trust him!


What did you think of the episode? Did you like seeing Carter in the field, leading a mission? Do you want to see more Howling Commandos like me? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

About the Author - Lisa Macklem
I do interviews and write articles for the site in addition to reviewing a number of shows, including Supernatural, Arrow, Agents of Shield, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Forever, Defiance, Bitten, Glee, and a few others! Highlights of this past year include covering San Diego Comic Con as press and a set visit to Bitten. When I'm not writing about television shows, I'm often writing about entertainment and media law in my capacity as a legal scholar. I also work in theatre when the opportunity arises. I'm an avid runner and rider, currently training in dressage.

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