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MARVEL’S AGENT CARTER Review: ‘The Iron Ceiling’

I’m not going to waste any time. Let’s address the Black Widow in the room, shall we? “The Iron Ceiling” gave us a peek at Dottie’s (Bridget Regan) past and a look at her brutal training. How intense was it? She snapped another little girl’s neck, for crying out loud, and still handcuffs herself to her bed as an adult. Showrunners Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas have confirmed Dottie is indeed a product of the Black Widow program. I’m still feeling incredulous that we get to see this and that we’ll learn more in future Agent Carter episodes and in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Comic books, man. They’re neat.

Given what Dottie stole from Peggy’s room and the Leviathan connection on the mission, it seems like Dottie is definitely on Team Leviathan. I’m happy to be patient and enjoy Regan owning the role until we find out her endgame. I’ve seen Regan in a couple of different series now (White Collar, Legend of the Seeker), and she’s an incredibly versatile actress. Watching the switch flip from sweet and naive Dottie to ruthless killer Dottie is fascinating. Note to self: never trust anyone who tries to give away half of a baguette.

Also fascinating in the latest episode of Agent Carter? Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). And even Jack Thompson (Chad Michael Murray). With gushing about Dottie and the Black Widow program out of the way, I can move on. Carter decodes a message that comes through on the magic typewriter and after some effort and a promise to rope in the Howling Commandos, she convinces Chief Dooley (Shea Whigham) to allow her to head to Russia on a mission with Thompson and a few other agents from the SSR.


It was utterly refreshing to see Peggy alongside the Howling Commandos again. These are friends who served with her and Captain America during the war, and people that respect her as an equal. Dum-Dum Dugan (Neal McDonough) doesn’t waste any time making it clear he’s following Peggy’s lead. He’s not doing so in order to make a point to Thompson, but rather because he respects Peggy. I was happy to see it wasn’t overstated. It didn’t need to be in order to have an effect on Thompson. Peggy’s skills speak for themselves.

Side note: Kudos to the creative folks on Agent Carter for finding a natural way to bring the fan-favorite Howling Commandos into the picture.

Peggy continued to be nuanced and magnetic. Seeing her in the field was of course a callback to Captain America: The First Avenger, and it was a welcome one. She’s decisive and collected in the middle of combat, and her experience shone through. She kept moving forward even with a deadly little girl running around killing agents and took care of business. She happily didn’t rub her success into Thompson’s face even though she could have – he probably deserved it. Peggy’s better than that.

Her desire to be accepted and respected by her co-workers in the SSR is still apparent. She says as much to Jarvis. But, she’s not playing herself up in order to get the desired effect. She didn’t exaggerate about her skills in order to be sent to Russia, and I don’t think she’s ever misrepresented her talents to the SSR for the sake of trying to be an equal. Will her success on the mission make her peers sit up and take notice? At least in the short term, maybe.


Atwell seems to effortlessly embody Peggy Carter. She doesn’t falter and nails each facet of Peggy’s personality, whether she’s presenting her case to Dooley or joking around with the Howling Commandos. Hanging out with her old pals is probably the most relaxed and natural we’ve seen Peggy in the series, and Atwell played those scenes as though she was carrying less weight on her shoulders. It was subtle and brilliant.

Chad Michael Murray’s performance also falls into the brilliant category. We got to see Thompson as more than a sexist jerk in “The Iron Ceiling,” and it added some welcome dimension to the character and gave Murray the opportunity to kill it. Which he did. After hearing his story about the Navy Cross, I felt a tiny bit sympathetic towards him. You could see Peggy did as well (Atwell is so expressive), and it took real class on her part not to use his story against him.

Just as the man who seemed like her enemy in the SSR softened a little, the man who was her friend has learned the truth. Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) had a chance encounter with Peggy in the locker room that led to him being able to ID her as the mysterious blonde from the club. And he only saw Peggy’s back because of Thompson being a jerk. Go figure. He obviously thinks something else must be up because he didn’t take his discovery straight to Dooley. His hesitation has me stumped, but going by previews of next week’s episode, Sousa will be making his move soon.


Five weeks in, and Agent Carter has changed things up in more ways than I would have expected. The pacing has been positively gripping; it never lets you forget for a moment thatPeggy was reunited with the Howling Commandos in the latest episode of #AgentCarter. Read @amy_geek‘s review:  the stakes are high. Each week has been packed with information, smart dialogue, and exciting moments that leave me practically bouncing off the walls the rest of the night.

Before wrapping up, let’s look at the best gif from last week’s episode, “The Blitzkrieg Button” – this one doesn’t involve Peggy:


Gif via Tales of North

What are your thoughts on “The Iron Ceiling” and the Black Widow connection? Tell me in the comments or come talk to me on Twitter.

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  1. Faolan says:

    This show continues to be what Agents of Shield should have been. Great writing. Great acting. Great action. Great stories. Already in 5 episodes have introduced more Marvel history than all of the first season of AoS

  2. Taylor Anne says:

    I kind of freaked out when we got a glimpse of what the Black Widow program could have been like before Natasha was involved. That whole thing is so fascinating to me! I can’t wait to see what Dottie does next and how Peggy kicks her ass 😀

  3. soloran says:

    What gave me chills was seeing little Dottie share her bread with her fellow initiate, then kill that girl without hesitation on order, then see adult Dottie offer to share her bread with Peggie.  Definitely foreshadows a confrontation.

  4. Todd says:

    I’ve got a fiver on the Russian they brought back being “Leviathan” himself.  All of the “Leviathan is coming” foreshadowing coming to fruition because the SSR literally brings the guy into the country?  That’s just all kinds of comic book goodness.

  5. LAB says:

    My favorite line so far.Russian psychologist after boiler room escape:  “Not bad… for a girl.”Peggy with a chuckle: “I hate all of you.”     8^)

  6. Michael says:

    Loving everything about this series. The casting. The writing. The direction. The fact it has a STORY, which moves ahead from week to week, and knows where it is going but still manages to surprise us.  Many other shows could learn from this. ALL other shows could. Couldn’t have been happier to see the Howling commandos. They were so well cast it was a shame we couldn’t see more of them in the Marvel movies.