"Man of Iron, Woman Under Glass" Review
by Mike Helba
I was surprised by the choice of "Man of Iron, Woman Under Glass" as the second episode of Jeremiah.
One of the things that makes Joe Straczynski such a great genre writer is that he is a fan himself. As a fan, he sometimes uses his scripts to pay tribute to some institution or writer that preceded him. Often, this results in the delight if diehard fans. We all love inside jokes, nods, and homages.
However, I always fear that subject matter of this type can turn off the average viewer, the Joe Sixpack who isn't a science fiction fan. When Captain Iron is introduced, complete with a cartoon flashback in the disoriented mind of the injured Jeremiah, I can imagine thousands of casual viewers saying, "Um, right, whatever," and reaching for the remote control. Maybe I don't give them enough credit. I certainly didn't give Straczynski enough credit. Any unsure viewers who stuck around at least two minutes longer were likely drawn in by Straczynski's writing and stayed for the duration.
Captain Iron was a young, bright comic book fan when the Big Death arrived. His assumption of a superhero persona is his way of dealing with the death of his parents. There is a great deal of exposition about the positive role models embodied by superheroes and what it means to the world to know that they exist. Captain Iron is a force for good in his small corner of the world, and when called upon, he demonstrates true heroism that inspires others.
The other story in this episode concerns Markus Alexander and Erin in Thunder Mountain. Markus has kept a secret ever since he found himself abandoned inside the Cheyenne Mountain NORAD Headquarters when his parents died. Meaghan, an adult woman who contracted the virus but didn't die, has lived ever since in a sealed containment room in the complex. She could be the world's only chance to create an antidote, or she could start the spread of the disease again. Markus loves her, but the window that forever separates them is the only thing keeping him alive. Markus' failure to trust Erin with his secret brings them to conflict.
"Man of Iron, Woman Under Glass" contains another piece of foreshadowing about the overall arc of Jeremiah. When Jeremiah searches for information about Valhalla Sector, Captain Iron goes into a panic, flashing back to his role as some sort of experimental subject during his childhood.
In the end, my fears about the episode placement were unfounded. Straczynski conveys his appreciation of the positive aspects of comic books, and hopefully some non-fan viewers learned to appreciate the comic book medium more. The only disappointment was that Kurdy played such a small part in an episode so early in the run.