Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) is fighting a constant battle. She does so not only as a secret agent for the SSR (Strategic Scientific Reserve), but also as a woman in a male-dominated profession. Marvel’s Agent Carter creates a strategic blend of sass, smarts, and action and has made it into a hit in the first season.
Last week’s episode of Agent Carter, “The Iron Ceiling” brought girl power out full force. Peggy smartly gets herself on a mission to Russia with Agent Thompson (Chad Michael Murray) and meets up with the 107th (Howling Commandos) to explore some dealings of Leviathan (which is clearly not a name for any type of good guy team) and some rumors of bad doings from Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper). While on the mission, we see Peggy finally showing the boys how it is done, fighting alongside the Howling Commandos who know her worth, not as a woman, but as a warrior. Agent Carter deals tactfully with the topic of sexism, showing that the fight can be a subtle one and the admirable woman will deal with the degradation with dignity and will continue to know her own worth despite what the world around her might think. The show not only reflects the struggles of women in the 1940s, but also illustrates the role of women in today’s world, and it does so without demonizing men. Instead of painting men as the enemy, Agent Carter shows more of a naivety of men in Peggy’s world than a deliberate mistreatment perpetuated by them. It also smartly illustrates that opinions can be changed, as we see the Howling Commandos interact with Peggy Carter with the utmost respect for her and her abilities. As we learn the story of Agent Thompson and his Navy Cross, we also come to see that all people are not who they seem and that gender does not a man make.
“The Iron Ceiling” displayed a pleasant mix of heart and levity that Marvel is adept at. We see moments of vulnerability from Agent Thompson, who typically portrays himself to others as the confident man who knows it all. We see Peggy showing a little attitude and pride in herself more outwardly then we have in the past. Meanwhile, even on a mission, Dum Dum Dugan (Neal McDonough) values his American made bourbon. In addition to the softer side of the show, seeds are being planted. Might Howard Stark’s innocence be believed? Is his true story coming to light? Has Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) figured out Peggy’s secret? We begin to see the history of Peggy’s mysterious new blonde neighbor, a female assassin, apparently trained by Leviathan.
Overall, ep. 5 “The Iron Ceiling” has been the pinnacle of Agent Carter episodes thus far in the 8 episode first season. It appealed not only to the thinkers amongst viewers, but also to those who are action hungry. This episode had no shortage of gun fighting and explosions, all created well within the budget of the show. Some television shows overreach their VFX, as television shows often find themselves with shallower pockets and less time on the clock for editing than their cinematic counterparts on the big screen. Agent Carter is ambitious, but realistic in its VFX.
You name it, Agent Carter has it. A nostalgic old time feel with a modern story. Well developed characters and writing and action to punctuate the moments of compassion. Witty banter and a dash of attitude. Next week, ep. 6 “A Sin to Err” brings Leviathan to Peggy Carter’s doorstep (or is it already there?) and Sousa closes in on Peggy and the truth of her recent actions within the SSR. “A Sin to Err” is the final episode before the season finale of Agent Carter. Be sure to watch on ABC on Tuesday, February 10, 2015.