TV Review: Agent Carter - Season 1 Episode 5 "The Iron Ceiling"
Join us each week as we review the latest episode of AGENT CARTER. Warning: the following review contains major spoilers for the newest episode of the show.
Episode 5: "The Iron Ceiling"
Synopsis: Peggy is finally trusted with a mission and calls upon her trusted Howling Commandos squad for backup. But her cover could be at risk when SSR Chief Dooley also sends Agent Thompson with her.
Recap: Things get moving quickly this week as the episode starts with the back story for Peggy's neighbor, Dottie Underwood. We see a flashback to her childhood in some sort of training camp. Full of young girls, the trainees are fed, shown SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARVES, and trained in hand to hand combat. Young Dottie finishes her opponent by breaking her neck. The scene is sudden and surprising and one of the best moments from AGENT CARTER to date.
At breakfast, as Peggy reflects on the business card for Jarvis, Dottie asks her about sightseeing in New York before conveniently knocking over her purse and palming the key to Peggy's room at The Griffith. Jarvis comes across Peggy on her way to work and begs forgiveness on behalf of Howard Stark. Peggy doesn't want to hear it and insults Jarvis' job for Stark. Jarvis in turn asks Peggy why she wastes her time at the SSR if her male coworkers don't even see her but she says she will make them.
At the SSR, Dooley, Thompson and the rest of the agent frantically try to decrypt the magic typewriter's message delivered last week. A cryptographer is unable to crack it but Peggy realizes it was written in Russian and easily solves it. The message includes references to Leviathan, Havoc Reactor, and a meet coming up in a few days indicating Howard Stark is purchasing the items. Peggy demands to be put on the mission based on her prior qualifications in Russian and working with the code. Thompson is adamantly against her inclusion. Carter offers to bring backup if she can go. Suiting up in the men's locker room, Agent Sousa stumbles upon an undressed Peggy and spots a mark on her shoulder, reminding him of the photo of the blonde taken in the first episode.
Carter, Thompson, and a pair of SSR operatives drop into enemy territory and meet up with Dum Dum Dugan and the Howling Commandos. Equipped with some army trucks, they make their way to the rendezvous point from the typewriter message. While camped out, the team and Peggy share stories from the war. Peggy asks Thompson about winning the Navy Cross and he shares a story about his camp being taken by Japanese soldiers and quickly killing them before they knew he was there.
Dooley meets a friend, asking about the mysterious battle no one will take credit for. The friend, a reporter, tells Dooley that Stark was there for the clean-up of the massacre before soon later dissolving all relations with the U.S. Army. Dooley does not seem convinced but more and more he seems to realize there is more to this investigation that meets the eye. Dooley finds Jarvis to ask about Stark and the events at the massacre but Jarvis plays dumb. Dooley tells Jarvis to tell Stark he wants to hear his side of the story and gives him a contact number.
The commando team infiltrate the Russian compound which appears to be abandoned. The rooms are modeled after American classrooms and appear to be the same rooms from Dottie's flashback. They find subliminal messages coded in the cartoons and a single young girl crying in a room. When they approach her, she touches Dugan's hat and while he turns to ask Peggy why they call them bowler hats, the girl stabs Dugan in the chest. Luckily, he was wearing a newfangled bulletproof vest. The girl takes Dugan's gun, shooting and killing Agent Lee before escaping in a vent.
The squad tracks the girl and come across prisoners in a basement room. The prisoners tell them that they were brought by Leviathan to build a bomb based on a stolen blueprint designed by Howard Stark. The prisoners say Stark was never there but are interrupted by enemy forces on the attack. As the enemy converges on them, the scientist, Nicolai, declares he has the Americans trapped but before Peggy can talk him down, the other prisoner shoots and kills him. As they take fire, Thompson remains frozen and unable to act. Dugan blows a hole in the wall to help their escape. Peggy saves Thompson and kicks some serious ass and they escape just in time.
Back at The Griffith, Dottie enters Peggy's room and searches it, finding a locked box in a false drawer. There she finds the photos of Stark's inventions. She takes one and replaces everything. Before she leaves, she finds a photo of Steve Rogers and sits at her vanity and pretends to be Peggy. The creepy sequence ends with Dottie replacing the strand on the lock to alert Carter to intruders.
The SSR team and the Commandos shake hands as they prepare to depart. Peggy says her goodbyes to Dugan and her friends, bringing the Russian doctor back to New York to help battle Leviathan. Peggy chats up Thompson about what happened during the firefight. He gives her praise for her action under pressure but his hard on himself for cowering. He also reveals the soldiers he killed had surrendered and he didn't realize it. Thompson feels some relief sharing the story with Peggy in what could be the beginning of a friendship.
As Dottie prepares for bed, she handcuffs herself to the frame of her bed like she had been as a child. Back with Dooley, Thompson owns up to the events in Europe and say they don't believe Stark is involved. As they leave, Dooley tells Carter she did good work which she appreciates. As they leave for the night, Thompson invites Carter for a drink. Sousa declines, still pondering his discovery about Carter's dubious undercover work.
Marvel Cinematic Universe References: Dottie being a member of the Black Widow program is a direct reference to the origin of Natasha Romanoff. The Howling Commandos and Steve Rogers references abound.
Review: If last week's slowly paced episode was not your forte, this week's action-packed AGENT CARTER should make you very happy. The return of Dum Dum Dugan and the Howling Commandos is always welcome as is learning the backstory on Jack Thompson's time in the war. I may be crazy but I am beginning to think Thompson could be a viable candidate for Peggy's husband alluded to in CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER. The teases that Dottie is a Black Widow are pretty damn cool and connect this series even more to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole.
AGENT CARTER has made the male-centric time period a focus of the series and this episode addressed that head on in a very effective manner. The new mysterious Leviathan clues and the overall mystery/conspiracy definitely seem like they could be carried through future seasons of this show and possibly into CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR. If this show ends in three weeks with a satisfying conclusion, AGENT CARTER could go down as Marvel's best overall project to date.
Next on AGENT CARTER: "A Sin To Err" airs February 10th, 2015: Peggy discovers the shocking truth about Leviathan but doesn't realize that her true enemies are even closer than she imagined. Meanwhile, Souza is close to confirming the truth about Peggy and may just put her in the crosshairs of the SSR.