Monday, April 19, 2021

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier - Truth

"Truth" picks up immediately after the previous episode with Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) chasing down the new Captain America (Wyatt Russell). For show that has been about moments rather than consistently good storytelling, the episode delivers with a strong action sequence that (along with a scene or two later in the episode) effectively ends John Walker's tenure as Captain America. While some may be wowed by the action scene which opens "Truth," it's the half-hour which follows where the series actually deals various issues it raised in previous episodes (and then promptly ran away to the next action scene). The big turn to end "The Whole World is Watching" no doubt had more people talking about the series, but it's here The Falcon and the Winter Soldier puts in the work on character development and storytelling.

As with the Captain America storyline, the Zemo (Daniel Brühl) also ends more ubruptly than expected with Bucky handing over the villain to the Dora Milaje. If the scene didn't feed into the larger theme of Bucky coming to grips with his past and confronting what Zemo made him do as the Winter Soldier, the entire scene would have felt like an afterthought the writers slotted in. Instead it works as as a building block to Bucky's evolution. Another piece, a big one, comes in the form of him helping Sam both as part of the community that comes together to help the Wilsons save their boat and coming to understand the complexities of why Sam initially turned down the shield. Sam's return to Isaiah Bradley (Carl Lumbly) also helps to flesh out the complexities of African-Americans' complicated view to the flag, the county it stands for, and the role of Captain America.

In what turns out to be the best episode of the series so far, Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman) and the Flag Smashers are given a smaller role allowing the show to delve into its two main characters and lay the foundation for Sam's next big leap. The only one given a smaller role is Sharon Cater (Emily VanCamp) who sadly the show seems unable to walk away from. While the Flag Smasher remain the big bad for Sam and Bucky to stop, it's the emotional journey both characters take during the course of the episode that turns out to be far more satisfying than anything the series has done up until this point. I can guess on what the finale has in store, and I was less impressed than some by Julia Louis-Dreyfus' cameo and the inevitable return of Hydra, but this is the episode where The Falcon and the Winter Soldier sold me on what the series could be at its best.

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