On the D/L – Agent Carter
Season 1 Episode 5 – “The Iron Ceiling”
Definitely the best episode of Agent Carter yet as it took the show to a new location and gave us a nice change of scenery from the urban locales that we’ve seen so far.
There was so much great stuff going on in the episode that it’s hard to know where to begin. I really liked that the episode took a bit of a break from trying to clear Howard Stark’s name and spent some time developing the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe.
One way that the episode does this is including the Black Widow training program. The gist of it is that the Russians are training girls to be very lethal agents. Peggy’s neighbour Dottie is definitely one of them and it gives an interesting look at where Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanov got some of her skills. She mentions in The Avengers that she started young so here we see that in practice.
There was also an impressive Disney connection as the young girls seem to learn English by watching Snow White. It comes across as oddly sadistic and it makes the whole thing seem really unique. I liked the subtle acknowledgement at how effective the training is when we see Dottie handcuffing herself to the bed because she associates that with a good night’s sleep. It’s all really messed up but gives good reasons for the Black Widows to be so uniquely skilled.
Peggy got to work with the Howling Commandos again. This is something that I’ve been looking forward to since the show was announces so I’m glad it’s finally happened. It is a slight shame that we only got one that we were familiar with but given that it was Neal McDonough’s Dum Dum Dougan I can’t really complain too much. I love McDonough’s Dum Dum and really want to see more of the guy. He absolutely owns that part in every way possible. It’s clear that he’s having a lot of fun playing the character and I like the natural chemistry he has with Hayley Atwell’s Peggy. It feels very honest and genuine. If only he was a mainstay on this show. Maybe The Howling Commandos will get their own 8 part series, how great would that be?
I really enjoyed the development that was given to Sousa, Thompson and Dooley in this episode. I was particularly surprised by Dooley’s characterisation in this episode. I like that he’s being put across as smart and objective in his desire to get to the truth. He seems willing to accept Stark’s innocence when the evidence starts to point that way and it’s clear that he genuinely wants to find the truth beyond his personal feelings and prejudices. Special mention to him sharing a scene with Smallville legend John Glover who is always a joy to watch.
Sousa had comparatively little to do but it’s obvious that he’s going to identify the mysterious blonde in the photo as Peggy but it remains a mystery what he’ll do with that infomation once he has it. At this point it could go either way but I’d like to think he will keep Peggy’s secret. It’ll certainly be interesting to see this develop.
Thompson was given massive amounts of development here. We were given a fascinating insight into the events that led to him being perceived as a War Hero and how he feels that he doesn’t deserve it. Hearing him open up to Peggy was a great scene and it showed a vulnerable side to the character that we haven’t seen before. Chad Michael Murray did a great job of putting across the emotional turmoil of the character and the chipping away at his bravado was handled brilliantly.
It was a nice touch to have him freeze up when faced with enemy soldiers. It shows that his experiences as a soldier have really affected him and placing him back in that situation isn’t something he’s overly comfortable with. It’s easy to be tough when dealing with the city cases he normally has now but when faced with reminders of his career during the War it’s a completely different story. I also liked that he invited Peggy out for a drink as if she was “one of the boys” suggesting that she is now respected by him after the way she reacted to him opening up to her.
My only criticism is how Dottie could sometimes be characterised. She seems to be a little too over the top in pretending to be an airhead some of the time. I feel like Peggy should have seen through such obvious acting especially when the old trick of pretending to be clumsy to steal something was used. Similarly the way she acted when she snuck into Peggy’s room was a little off for me.
The best episode yet and a welcome return for The Howling Commandos. Neal McDonough’s Dum Dum Dougan was the only returning presence for that team but he was more than enough for the needs of the story. Peggy and Dougan have such a real and natural relationship that makes their scenes a pleasure to watch.
I liked the establishment of the Black Widow training program and how that fleshes out the wider scope of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We are given a deeper insight into where Black Widow’s skills were honed. The audience is shown the end result of the intense training through Dottie who has embedded herself into Agent Carter’s life with Peggy being none the wiser.
I liked how Dooley was fleshed out to be an intelligent and fair minded person who likes to get to the truth of a situation regardless of what his personal prejudices are. It’s interesting how he’s willing to believe Stark’s innocence should the evidence take him there.
Sousa is closing in on Peggy’s secret and it’s a really tense situation that is being built up nicely. It’s ambigious as to what Sousa will do when he finds out so I can’t wait to see how this continues to develop.
Thompson’s scenes in this episode were excellent. I liked how he was torn apart when forced to relive his Wartime experiences and how ashamed he feels of the fact that he is called a hero for what he did. The story he tells to Peggy makes him seem really vulnerable and gives us a side to the character we haven’t seen before. I also like how it strengthens the bond between the two characters as Peggy begins to find acceptance from him.
One thing that bothered me slightly is how obviously duplicitous Dottie can be. Her obvious stealing after pretending to be clumsy act is something that Peggy should have seen through right away as well as the rest of her odd behaviour around her. I found the way she acted when she broke into Peggy’s apartment a little strange too.