The penultimate episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier delivered on the series’ promises and now they just have to stick the landing next week to pay off on the emotional beats set up in “The Truth.”
In the wake of John Walker violently murdering the Flag-Smasher Nico in broad daylight, Sam and Bucky track him down in order to take the shield away from him. This whole action sequence was brilliantly handled — from the camerawork to the stunts to the performances. Walker’s insistence on using the shield as a guillotine in the heat of the fight is going to haunt me for a while, however.
Review: The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Delivers on its Promises
With the shield back in the right hands, Sam leaves his broken Falcon wings with Torres, which sets up Torres’ future role as the Falcon. I hope we get to see more of Torres in the finale next week, though I think they might just be introducing him to use in a future series or movie. Joaquin Torres is a really great character in the comics, so it’s exciting to see him being brought into live-action, even if it isn’t a perfect adaptation of the character.
John Walker’s angry white man bit intensifies as he is met with the consequences of his actions. The government comes down with swift, yet somehow weak, sanctions against him following the international incident he caused by murdering Nico. There is something to be said there about how a white man, acting as Captain America, can murder someone on foreign soil and walk away with a retroactive other than honorable discharge with no rank in retirement or benefits. Alright, so he can’t shop at the MCX anymore. Boo-hoo?
For the past week, Marvel fans have been seriously speculating about the surprise cameo in today’s episode and I think it’s safe to say that not a single person could have guessed that Julia Louis-Dreyfus would show up as hell-in-heels and Madame Hydra herself, Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine. Like, uh… what?
While Sam goes home to help Sarah in New Orleans, Bucky tracks Zemo down in Sokovia. For me, the scene between Zemo and Bucky was brilliant. Zemo has decided not to kill Bucky, Bucky has decided not to kill Zemo. There’s a lot of heavy emotional baggage between these two men and, at long last, Bucky is able to make some semblance of amends with it.
I still do not feel like Marvel has handled what happened in Sokovia the way that I would like to see it handled. The trauma that the country’s citizens endured because of the Avengers has been weaponized in a way that doesn’t quite sit right with me. But, without it, would there be a story for Helmut Zemo or Wanda Maximoff? We’re finally getting emotional exploration for “the heroes” but I want to see more for the “morally dubious” characters that have been driven by the ramifications of the Avenger’s actions.
With Zemo taken into the custody of the Dora Milaje to spend out the rest of his days at The Raft, one has to wonder if they’re setting up for an eventual Thunderbolts project. Logically, Zemo was better off in the high-security prison in Berlin. Stick him in the maximum-security specifically designed to hold super individuals and you have the makings of the Thunderbolts. (Hey, Marvel Studios, if you’re doing this and you need a writer — hit me up).
I am looking forward to seeing what Black entertainment journalists will have to say about Sam and Isaiah’s conversation. While it’s fun to get lost in entertainment, this episode felt particularly poignant against the backdrop of the Derek Chauvin trial and the senseless murder of Daunte Wright in Minnesota. As a white audience member, this scene packed a punch and I liked the way Sam internalized what Isaiah had to say and chose to fight to make a better future. This is what this series should have been about, but some of this messaging got lost in the first few episodes.
Despite the heavy topics discussed, the episode had tremendous high points. In particular, Sam being completely in his element at home with his sister and nephews. And of course, Bucky and Sam working on the ship and bonding. While they may never admit it, they finally got over the proverbial hump in their friendship. Between Bucky being charming and flirting with Sarah, to the heartfelt conversations between Sam and Bucky about the shield — it was all the calm before the storm that’s brewing ahead of next week’s finale.
I do have some reservations about the series’ choice to turn a refugee and border activist into a violent, for lack of a better word, terrorist. On the surface, everything that Karli and the Flag-Smashers stand for should position them as “the good guys,” but then you have the series choosing to paint them in the worst light possible. I’m worried that there will be no redemption for their cause, but like Sam Wilson, I will attempt to be cautiously optimistic.
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier finally hit its sweet spot in the eleventh hour, paving the way for a spectacular finale next week. I know that I got chills watching Sam open up the box from Wakanda that Bucky gave him, so I’m sure seeing him in the outfit next week will be heart-stopping.
In typical Marvel fashion, there was a mid-credit scene… John Walker is about to go off the deep end and I think we’re about to see the U.S. Agent.