When early reports suggested that The Falcon and The Winter Soldier would be one of the most violent Disney+ series, they were not kidding. I was not expecting to watch that over breakfast and coffee. Now let’s discuss “The Whole World is Watching,” because there’s a lot to unpack.
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Takes a Dark Turn
I genuinely thought that this week’s review would be filled with glib comments about how we, as a society, must stop trying to convince people that Turkish delight is a delightful treat and the occasional snarky comment about Zemo’s head tilt, but this week was a heavy episode. A really heavy episode. So let’s start from the beginning.
In a flashback to six years ago, we see a great moment between Bucky and Ayo during his time in Wakanda. This was a great opportunity to remind audiences about Bucky’s connection to Wakanda and his evolution into the White Wolf while he was recuperating there. Back in the present, Ayo gives Bucky eight hours to get what he needs out of Zemo before the Dora Milaje will come to take him away.
From there, Sam, Bucky, and Zemo search for information about where Donya Madani’s funeral is going to be held, in hopes of finding Karli. We learn more about how the GRC is failing to provide aid to the people who have been displaced following the return of half of the population and it really had to take issue with the Flag Smashers outside of their slightly violent efforts.
While it is clear that Zemo has ulterior motives, he genuinely doesn’t seem to have truly nefarious intentions. There was a point where it seemed like he was trying to keep Sam and Bucky in the dark and then he promptly provided them with the information he acted like he was going to withhold. Zemo is just here to have a good time, saunter around in a bathrobe, and have some whisky. Big mood.
John Walker and Lemar Hoskins show up in Latvia, because John Walker really can’t stand not being the hotshot in charge. Following Donya Madani’s funeral, Sam makes a connection with Karli — which was a truly great scene — but everything goes to hell when John Walker decides he knows better than anyone else. In the chaos of the moment, Zemo breaks loose of his handcuffs and tracks down Karli on his own. He shoots at her, injuring her, and causes her to drop the remaining vials of the Super Soldier Serum. He smartly smashes most of the vials — but John Walker shows up, knocks him out, and steals a vial for himself.
Back in Zemo’s humble abode, Zemo tends to his vibranium-induced headache while Sam and Bucky try to figure out what to do next. Of course, John Walker shows up to peacock his authority, but so do the Dora Milaje. Everyone wants Zemo! Honestly, what a mood.
This whole scene was honestly my favorite in the episode. Not just because I too enjoy having a drink and watching chaos break loose, but because I really enjoyed watching John Walker get his ass handed to him. The Dora Milaje are such incredible warriors and it brings me great joy to know that they were the ones to absolutely crush Walker in hand-to-hand combat. I could watch an hour-long cut of that. Make it so, Marvel.
However, all of their fighting was for naught since Zemo escaped through the sewers to be seen another day, I’m sure. From there we see John and Lemar discuss the Super Soldier Serum over coffee, which in hindsight… I really wish the episode had just stopped here because now I have to talk about it.
Karli calls Sam’s sister Sarah and makes a veiled threat against her children in order to get to Sam. Sam agrees to Karli’s terms (mostly) and he and Bucky go to meet with her, dressed for battle. Their conversation goes fine, right up until Sharon clues them in that it’s all a ruse for the Flag Smashers to kill “Captain America” and make a statement.
A knock-out-drag-out battle ensues between the Flag Smashers and the superheroes (and John Walker) and a really bad thing happens. In the heat of the battle, Nico (Noah Mills) grabs John Walker and Karli comes running with a knife to finish him off. Lemar sees his partner in danger and comes to his aid, only for Karli and her serumed-up abilities to send him flying across the room into a column.
This was obviously meant to be the “wake-up” moment for John Walker. He has made so many snide remarks to Sam and Bucky about being partners and being there for your partner. Now, in his desperate need to have control and be the hero, he’s caused his own partner to die. I mean, the guy is a soldier — I’m sure he’s seen stuff in Afghanistan (their previous conversation confirmed that) but in no way does that excuse his following actions.
After realizing Lemar is dead, John Walker chases Nico through the alleyways, into a plaza where he… uh. Yeah, so Captain America beheaded a dude with the shield, in broad daylight, surrounded by onlookers. Did I accidentally turn on The Boys this morning? Homelander, is that you?
I want to hold onto hope that Lemar is just seriously injured and not dead, but with the way that John Walker looked for his pulse and appeared not to find it… I could easily turn this entire article into a piece about fridging. The optics of having a Black character senselessly killed as the catalyst for John Walker’s further descent into madness is certainly a choice. It doesn’t particularly feel like a good choice.
Is it too early to pull a Zemo and have a shot of whisky at 11 in the morning?
At this point, I don’t know why Sam would want the Captain America mantle and shield now. John Walker has corrupted the very foundation of everything Captain America stood for — and the whole world was watching. I know that, in canon, only Karli knows that Nico was a fan of Captain America, but there was something wholly unsettling about hearing him talk about his adoration for Captain America only to watch him be beheaded by Captain America.
I am curious to see how the series pans out over the next two episodes. They have a lot of ground to cover in order to install Sam as Captain America. I hope they allow it to be a conscious choice for Sam and not a consolation prize because America’s psycho Captain America murdered someone on international soil in front of the whole world.
Instead of doing whisky shots before lunch, here’s an hour-long cut of Zemo dancing, courtesy of Marvel Studios. They clearly knew that we would need it.