Monday, April 26, 2021

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier - One World, One People

The six-episode run of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier concludes with Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) becoming Captain America and working with Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), and at times even the disgraced former Captain America (Wyatt Russell), to take down the Flag Smashers. Along with putting Sam in costume for the first time, the episode also features the character calling out politicians for their cavalier attitudes which led to creation of the Flag Smashers and their movement. Although never mentioned in the series, the entire world shakeup was caused by selfish decision of Tony Stark which the world is still paying for long after his death. While the episode earns points for Sam calling for change, it shouldn't be lost on audiences the episode ends soon after and prior to the show introducing just how such change could fix the complicated problems of the world which look to be the true legacy of Tony Stark.

The action-heavy episode features Sam fighting Batroc (Georges St-Pierre) again, although he struggles a little more than I'd like with such a D-list villain. Sam isn't able to save Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman), who is shot and killed before she can revel Sharon (Emily VanCamp) is the Power Broker as the show triples down on attempting to link the bland character to a second mysterious, and ill-defined, bland character. For a last-minute shocking reveal, this misses the mark. Sharon's primary focus when introduced was to cut the homoerotic tension between Captain America and the Winter Soldier. With the job fulfilled, I'm not sure why the MCU feels the need to continually try to sell the character as anything more than a supporting character who has long overstayed her welcome.

The episode ends in a Lord of the Rings-style sequence of epilogues where the super soldiers are killed (wrapping up that loose end), Sharon is pardoned (creating her role as a double-agent), Walker gets a new costume and identity (awkwardly announcing his comic book moniker), and Sam makes a trip to Isaiah Bradley (Carl Lumbly). The last works as a nice coda for their relationship, but continues on with a trip to the museum which is a bit confusing in how Sam manages a memorial to the hero in record time (does becoming Captain America give you power over the Smithsonian? And is there a super-hero who can smelt metal statues in a day we just haven't been introduced to yet?). In the end, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will be remembered as a transitional series mainly for Sam (Bucky's growth takes a backseat here, only returning for one of the short ending vignettes). It provided some great moments, but could never find the consistency to reach its potential which often felt rushed and drawn-out at the same time.

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