The second episode of Falcon and The Winter Soldier offers audiences the same action-packed cinematic experience that the premiere featured, as well as the same “leave you hanging” sensation as the episode yet again reached the climax in the closing seconds. It’s a clever way to keep you coming back for more.
Despite the high octane action sequences, the series relies heavily on its characters and their growth and soul searching is on full display throughout the course of the episode.
Falcon and The Winter Soldier Episode 2
(or Sam and Bucky go Soul Searching)
Episode two opens on faux Captain America — er, John Walker — as he prepares for a Good Morning America interview at his former high school. The celebrity-level hero-worship is on full display and there is something unsettling about seeing anyone other than Steve Rogers at the center of that attention. Especially as he refers to the late Captain America as his “brother” despite never meeting him. The segue from John Walker’s interview to Bucky Barnes watching the interview at that precise moment was perfect.
The interview with the perfect impetus to get Bucky out of his bleak apartment to track down Sam Wilson to harass him about giving up the shield. Of course, there are bigger things at play for Sam and why he chose to hand the shield over and the series is all about that journey for him. And he has his own mission that he is focused on which is facing off against the Flag Smashers and getting to the bottom of their plans.
Taking on the Flag Smashes does not go as planned (or not planned) for Sam and Bucky and they are aided by Captain America (Wyatt Russell) and his sidekick Lemar Hoskins (Clé Bennett) a.k.a Battlestar. John Walker might be a hero in his own right, he may have done the time and earned the stripes, but as Sam and Bucky work alongside him it only underscores the reason why they have to take the shield back. Unfortunately, there’s just one problem with Sam Wilson becoming Captain America and that is America.
Following last week’s bank scene, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier presents another uncomfortable truth about how America treats its Black communities. Bucky takes Sam to Baltimore, MD to meet Isaiah Bradley (Carl Lumbly); a Black supersoldier that fought against the Winter Soldier during the Korean War in 1951. Bradley wasn’t welcomed home with victory celebrations or national praise — he was incarcerated, experimented on, and forgotten. A bleak reminder of what it means to be Black in America.
And in case the audience missed the point of this conversation, the next scene features Baltimore’s finest threatening to arrest Sam because they think he’s bothering Bucky. It’s only when they recognize that they’re part of the Avengers that they de-escalate the situation and very politely arrest Bucky for the actual warrant out for his arrest.
Going after the Flag Smashers with Sam meant that Bucky missed his court-ordered therapy session. But if he hadn’t missed his appointment, we wouldn’t have been witness to the most uncomfortable couple’s therapy session (or staring contest) of the decade. Through this session, we get to the root of Bucky’s issue with Sam. If Steve thought Sam was worthy of the Captain America mantle, but he gave it away then that means Steve was wrong about him and by extension wrong about Bucky.
Falcon and The Winter Soldier may be about Sam taking over the title of Captain America, but it is also about Bucky Barnes reckoning with his past so he can have a future of his own.
With all of this going on in the lives of the titular characters, it’s easy to overlook the introductions of several other key Marvel characters. The Flag Smashers are nearly caught by the Power Broker Inc, a shady organization from the comic books. Not to mention, the episode closing with the reintroduction of Baron Zemo (Daniel Brühl), who fans will recognize not only from the comics but from Civil War and Black Panther.
The second episode of Falcon and The Winter Soldier was leagues better than an already excellent premiere. It featured palpable tension between Captain America and Sam and Bucky; hilarious amounts of snark and banter between Sam and Bucky; and laid the groundwork for the rest of the series. With the Flag Smashers seemingly having access to the supersoldier serum, Sam and Bucky have their work cut out for them.