Friday, March 26, 2021

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier - The Star Spangled Man

After The Falcon and the Winter Soldier kept them apart for the entire opening episode, "The Star Spangled Man" throws Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) together so quickly you almost wonder if you missed an episode in-between. Finally playing to the strengths of the odd couple pairing, and offering a more consistent narrative that doesn't ping pong around nearly as much as the show's opener, the second episode gives us a team-up not just between Bucky and Sam but, unexpectedly, working alongside the new Captain America (Wyatt Russell) and his sidekick (Clé Bennett) who discover the gang of Flag Smashers they've all been chasing (well, except for Bucky who just tags along to bug Sam) turn out to be super-soldiers.

The Sam/Bucky dynamic offers the best moments of the episode be it in the field or attending a couple's therapy session (which also reveals a bit more about the cause of Bucky's anger towards Sam). The choice to make John Walker a (seemingly) good guy is an interesting one that makes it harder (but not impossible) for our resentful heroes to walk away from his help. The opening sequence gives us a glimpse at the man behind Captain America's helmet (which he has no trouble taking off in front of the camera as it seems the United States Government is intent on promoting Walker's own achievements as an American patriot rather than choose to be secretive about who is carrying the shield).

Once again, the show introduces, but plays lightly on, racial tones both in a confrontation between Sam and the police and the introduction of an African American super-solider (Carl Lumbly) from the Korean War. As in the first episode, this segment feels rushed as if the show can't wait to get back to the "real" story it wants to tell. There's obviously more to delve into but with only four episodes remaining will we learn any more about Isaiah? We also get a bit more of the Flag Smashers themselves who feel a bit less like terrorists than lost souls mistakenly looking to recapture a world prior to the return of half the human race. Staying true to the format of the previous episode, "The Star Spangled Man" ends with the reveal of another character setting up Zemo's (Daniel Brühl) appearance next week.

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