Things got even more serious as Sam and Bucky’s investigation gets deadlier, all the while gaining the attention of other interested parties. All this and more on this week’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier!
(Spoilers Ahead – You’ve Been Warned)
People Are Watching
As we saw at the very end of last week, Ayo (representing the Dora Milaje of Wakanda) is in Latvia, keeping tabs on Zemo. She’s none too pleased that Bucky set him free, considering that he assassinated King T’Chaka back in Civil War.
He tells her that it’s a mean to an end. And we’re treated to a brie flashback of Bucky’s time in Wakanda, finally breaking free of his programming. It’s a genuinely touching moment, conveyed beautifully by Sebastian Stan. Plus it helps to illuminate that part of his life, which hasn’t been shown too much in the MCU before.
Ayo gives Bucky 8 hours to finish “needing” Zemo before she captures him to face justice in Wakanda, but that becomes the least of his problems as new Cap John Walker and Lemar also catch up to the trio, not too pleased that Zemo is working with them.
Again it reinforces how bad of an idea releasing a terrorist was, and the series still hasn’t quite done its due diligence to justify Bucky’s decision to do so. He had been working so hard to maintain a good, clean record for his pardon, but then he decides with very little hesitation to break out Zemo. It’s not to say that he couldn’t do that or that he wouldn’t at all, it just needed to be a bigger moment and a harder decision for him to make.
They hatch a plan to track down Karli Morganthau of the Flag Smashers, and Sam feels that if he can just get a meeting alone with her, he can reach her person to person. It’s a callback to the support group he ran in Winter Soldier when we first met him.
And it’s a good reminder of how a series like this gives us more time to develop his character than most of the previous movies have. He almost as Karli convinced, until John Walker bursts in and does what he does, making everything worse.
“You Will Never Be a God”
In weird way, this episode actually gave us the best development from John Walker we’ve seen thus far. He fails in capturing Karli initially, and when Ayo makes her move to capture Zemo (which results in him escaping again of course), he’s defeated once more, reminded that he’s not the true “super soldier” that Steve was.
John Walker remains one of, if not the most hated character in the MCU, but this episode does him a great service character-wise. He feels like he’s living in the shadow of a legend, and that nothing he does will ever be good enough.
So naturally it causes him to fixate on the super soldier serum and wonder if having it would finally make him live up to the name and title he has. But this ulterior motive leads him down a dark path to stealing the serum without telling anyone and of course that shocking ending.
To be fair, Lemar had just been presumably killed (there’s no blood, so it’s very possible he’ll be alive but injured in the next episode), but his chasing down of one of Karli’s associates and beating him to death with the Captain America shield.
Seeing that symbol of purity tainted with blood is pretty distressing (although it’s hardly the first time anyone’s been beaten badly with it). And having everyone in the town square recording it with their smartphones will certainly have devastating effects on the PR campaign and Walker’s image.
Who Deserves the Shield?
But in many ways it’s the eventuality of the harsh truth that no one is worthy of that shield, at least no one living anymore. Steve was uniquely fit to be Captain America, proven by his years of unrelenting dedication, as well as the fact that Mjolnir deemed him worthy. Even before their conversation went to hell, Karli and Sam discuss that very idea.
She wishes to see a world without borders where everyone helps each other, but her methods involve acts of terrorism that kill innocent people. And John Walker wishes for a world of order and freedom, but he’s willing to beat unarmed people to death in public to do it.
Both Karli and Walker represent two extremes that are capable of doing horrible things and feeling that it’s justified. Even Bucky has towed this line with freeing Zemo and claiming that it was a mean to an end. Sam’s own philosophy of fighting the good fight, but doing it the right way seems to be the prevailing theme the series is going for.
Most likely, Sam still won’t take up the mantle of Captain America, as the series also seems to convey that no one should have that shield or that title/power. And honestly, it’s probably for the best. Because with the exception of Steve, absolute power corrupts absolutely.
What did you think of this week’s episode? What do you hope to see next week? Let us know in the comments!
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is streaming exclusively on Disney+
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