Marvel's Agent Carter (2015) season 1, episodes 5
"The Iron Ceiling"
WRITER: JOSE MOLINA
DIRECTOR: PETER LETO
AIR DATE: February 3 2015
‘The Iron Ceiling’ brings back some familiar faces from Peggy Carter’s past, in the form of the Howling Commandos, who we’ve of course seen in Captain America: The First Avenger and earlier in the season on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in flashback. Some of them are newcomers to the audience, though not to Peggy. The episode also moves into the second half of the series run for Agent Carter. One hopes there’ll be more of this series yet to come.
The core story concerns itself with Agent Thompson (Chad Michael Murray) and Carter (Hayley Atwell) taking on a mission into Russia, apparently to intervene in a transaction between the elusive Howard Stark and Leviathan. This requires them to work with the Commandos, headed up by Timothy “Dum Dum” Dugan (Neal McDonough), and brings them into a complex where a training program for sleeper agents seems underway. The program seems to be a precursor to the concept that will eventually give rise to the Black Widow program. Before it’s all said and done, though, they’ll be leaving with a psychiatrist, Doctor Ivchenko (Ralph Brown), who is not quite what he seems.
Dum Dum Dugan and Peggy Carter
Other plotlines are playing out at the same time. Dottie Underwood (Bridget Regan), a housemate of Peggy, whose motivations have been puzzling, seems in fact to be a product of that very same Soviet program. Things become at least a bit more clear for the character this time out. And back at the SSR, Agent Sousa (Enver Gjokai) seems to be closing in on the mystery woman who’s been at the edges of the Stark investigation, an investigation that’s striking close to home.
There are character moments throughout the episode, but one worked the best, and with the unlikeliest character. Agent Thompson, who has largely thus far been a chauvinist pig, relates his own war experiences to Peggy, and we finally see the vulnerable human being behind all the bluster. In relating what happened, and confiding about the trauma he went through, it humanizes him and makes him sympathetic. It takes what until now has been a one dimensional character and finally gives him some depth.
Having a chance to see the Commandos again is always welcome - and Dugan especially. Unlike the SSR where Peggy has struggled to be respected by her co-workers, there’s an automatic and innate respect that comes her way from the Commandos, and perhaps that plays a factor in Thompson’s changing point of view. McDonough has such a good handle on the character that you believe him in the role. It’s a bit of a shame we can’t see the character in the current day - unlike the comics universe where a good number of the Commandos have remained relatively young in the current day, there is no Infinity Formula in the cinematic Marvel universe. Perhaps a grandson who takes after the old man?