Full spoilers for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier below.
Happy Monday, folks! Another weekend has come and gone which means it’s time for us to talk about episode three of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier as a family. While I felt episode two struggled in the pacing department, this week bounced with an episode that was mostly killer, very little filler.
Episode two ended with our titular duo deciding to pay Baron Zemo (Daniel Brühl) a visit in prison. Bucky’s interaction with Zemo was understandably icy and quickly re-established Zemo’s gift for manipulation. After their brief tête-à-tête, the show cuts to Bucky and Sam in a random garage. I really enjoyed watching Bucky breaking down how they could “hypothetically” break Zemo out of prison, while the show cut to show him already having executed the plan.
Can we talk about how great Daniel Brühl was? Off the jump, dude just pulls up with the sauce. He had the vintage cars on deck, the private jet, surprisingly astute observations on Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man, and not to mention his sick-ass dance moves.
The trio travels to the fictional Southeast Asian country of Madripoor to track down the scientist who’s responsible for cracking the super soldier serum. This requires Bucky to pretend he’s still the Winter Soldier (Hydra Edition) and for Sam to assume the identity of an African socialite so they can meet with Selby—an underworld boss who may or may not have the info they need.
This obviously goes to shit, with Sam’s sister, Sarah, calling them during the meeting and blowing their cover. Selby is shot through the window resulting in a bounty being placed on our heroes; heads. Sharon Carter (Emily Van Camp) pulls up and saves their ass from getting shot up and reveals that she has been on the run since helping Sam, Cap, and Bucky in Civil War.
Meanwhile in Latvia, we get a little more context for why the Flag Smashers have beef. After everyone came back from the Blip, many of the folks who survived the five years were put in displacement camps by the Global Repatriation Council. This gives solid motivation as to why they’re raiding one of the camps for supplies, but we still don’t have much of an inkling as to what their overarching plan is.
There’s a lot of rhetoric about a unified world, but it’s not clear how they intend to get there. It’s apparent they’re planning...something, but what that something is? I couldn’t tell you.
Granted, it’s looking more and more like the Flag Smashers aren’t the ultimate enemy, as the mysterious Power Broker seems to be the one pulling the strings.
Sharon, Sam, Bucky and Zemo manage to get a lead on the scientist who cracked the serum and track him to a container yard. The scientist explains that he used cells from Isaiah Bradley, the Black Super Soldier we met in episode 2, to perfect the serum. The man made 20 vials at the behest of the Power Broker, and as we know the Flag Smashers are currently in possession of those vials.
Remember that bounty on their heads? It leads to one of the best action sequences in the series so far. While Sam, Bucky, and Zemo are interrogating the scientist, Sharon is outside beating the asses of a group of assailants who are trying to collect on that bounty. The sequence ultimately expands to include all four characters, but it was truly Zemo and Sharon who shined the most here, with Zemo donning his signature purple mask and wrecking shop.
Episode 3 ended with a fun surprise, as the Dora Milaje, Ayo (Florence Kasumba), pulled up in Lithuania and demanded Bucky deliver Zemo to Wakanda. Considering that Zemo’s plan resulted in former King T’Chaka dying in Civil War, it’s not surprising they still have beef.
One thing that has been the undeniable strength of both WandaVison and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, is the depth of characterization the shows have given to the supporting characters of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Both Zemo and Sharon were far more interesting over the course of this hour than they were in their respective film appearances.
So far, the show’s villains are the weakest link, with the Flag Smashers still feeling vaguely defined, John Walker has big “Do you know who my father is?” energy, and we don’t even know who the Power Broker is or what they want. This should be the death knell for a superhero series, but the strong characterization, as well as the themes and ideas the show tackles has managed to keep it an engaging watch.
We’re officially at the halfway mark, so I’m hoping that in the next few weeks we get some kind of big reveal on what the Flag Smashers ultimate plan is, who the Power Broker is and what they want, and how exactly John Walker is going to fuck up so hard that he loses the shield. The show has quite a few threads going on right now and I’m really hoping that they’ll all intersect in a satisfying manner as we approach the finish line.
-Man, fictional white boys crack one equation and are always quick with that “I am a God” talk.
-The government really ain’t shit in the MCU. How Winter Soldier got a pardon and Sharon out here selling stolen art in Southeast Asia?
-I really hope Zemo is a recurring villain in the MCU. Also, I’m happy we’re doing more recurring villains as opposed to just killing them once the heroes beat them.