Following a slower paced, character-driven penultimate episode, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier delivered on a (mostly) exciting finale. It was filled with action, but honestly it’s the poignant character moments that fans will enjoy!
The Avenger Formerly Known as “Falcon”
As the Flag Smashers crash the GRC vote in Manhattan and take hostages, the trio of Sam, Bucky, and Sharon (still eager for her pardon) arrive to try and stop Karli from her misguided but ultimately terroristic plot.
However, the ultimate scene-stealer of the episode (and the season) is the emergence of Sam as the new Captain America, wielding the shield, but also still flying with his wings. After seeing him turn down the shield in the first episode, it was really satisfying to see Sam embrace it, on his terms and conditions (more on that later).
As far as Marvel action pieces go, the overall conflict was decent. Not their best, but far from their worst. Aside from some super soldiers being able to do flips, there weren’t really a whole lot of superpowers on display.
Though we do get the return of Batroc which serves as both a rematch from the first episode as well as The Winter Soldier 7 years ago. Sam’s fight with him is probably the most actually suspenseful and tense moment of the entire battle.
As Bucky struggles to save the hostages, Walker shows up with his homemade shield, and while it initially seems like he’s out for more blood and revenge (particularly on Karli), he winds up being genuinely helpful and fights by Bucky’s side. That said, his new shield doesn’t hold up as well, due to lack of vibranium ingredients.
In a seemingly tragic, but inevitable conclusion, Karli dies for her cause but Sam ensures that her struggle was not in vain. As the GRC praises him on live TV for saving the day, he immediately scolds them for how they’ve handled the situation and how they need to do better or another Karli will rise up.
Ultimately, Karli was an idealistic teenager who turned to violent means to achieve an admittedly admirable goal (there are certainly real life parallels to this). In a lot of ways, she’s very much like Killmonger from Black Panther.
Both are morally right in their cause, but villainous in their means of achieving their goals. And ultimately both die trying, while the hero of the story takes up their cause in a less bloodthirsty manner.
Righting the Wrongs of the Past
In what is by far the most poignant and touching moment of the series, Sam takes Isaiah to the Captain America exhibit at the Smithsonian and shows him a statue and plaque dedicated to his service. There were certainly no dry eyes among fans who watched all the years of pain, discrimination, and despair on Isaiah’s face turn into tears of joy; a type of joy that he never thought possible.
One of the major themes (which also echoed real life) is the troubled legacy at the shield represents. America is meant to be the land of the free, but for a long time not everyone living in it was free. And that’s not even to mention the struggles with bloodshed, racism, and legal discrimination that lingered for decades.
These real life tragedies are analyzed through the lens of Isaiah’s story. It was no surprise that he felt that Sam shouldn’t take the title and shield merely out of his own self-respect. But part of what makes Sam heroic is his ability to start anew with the good.
It’s such a momentous moment for him because instead of walking away from the troubled legacy and the world (as Isaiah did so many years ago), Sam realizes that it’s better to take that legacy and change it for the better. Karli and the Flag Smashers wanted to tear down corrupt systems and accept all the collateral damage that would come with that.
But Sam (now known as Captain America) understood that sometimes it’s better to change a bad system from within and work to make it better. Between that, and him humbly turning down the honor at first, Sam has clearly demonstrated why he was worthy of being Captain America.
Setting Up Future Seasons/Spinoffs
But of course, this wouldn’t be the MCU if they didn’t try to set up future products in the last 10 minutes (much like they did in the WandaVision finale). Amidst all the chaos, we get a reveal that Sharon Carter is the Power Broker (to no one’s surprise).
In a mid-credits scene she gets her full pardon and plans on using it, as well as her new position in the government, to continue her illegal business dealings. We’re also treated to the debut of John Walker as US Agent, the much more morally gray version of Captain America.
Honestly, he was always an interesting character and it will be cool to see what they do with him, as well as how Valentina (aka Madam Hydra) manipulates him in the future.
What did you think of this finale? How did you like the series overall? What do you hope to see if they do another season? Let us know in the comments!
Captain America and the Winter Soldier is streaming exclusively on Disney+