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The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: The Star-Spangled Man

If he was wrong about you – he was wrong about me.

When the new Captain America is announced, Sam turns inwards and focuses on his work – until Bucky intervenes.

Wow, these characters are surprising me; I thought this was going to be a straightforward buddy cop show, but it's turned into a deeper psychological drama, and Sam and Bucky make a better pair than I would have imagined. One of them is someone who had no control over his own mind for a while, to generally negative reviews, and the other is someone who has made decisions nobody approves of. Both of these men arguably became heroes at the intervention of Steve Rogers, and are struggling to maintain the vision gifted to them by the original Captain America.

The 'content' for this episode was all about new Super Soldiers appearing to try to reinstate what society looked like in the five years between the Snap and Blip. It looks like some bad politicians were removed from power in the Snap; it also looks like those people are back in the Blip. I'm not judging this group yet because I don't know yet who they think was good – or who they think was bad. It's a nice frame for the series, since Sam returned from the Blip and John Wilson seems to have lived through it. Whatever they're fighting for, it's enough for them to self-sacrifice.

NuCap is also surprising me; I bet I'm not the only one who isn't sure if I like John Walker or not. In the beginning of this episode he seemed almost likable, the way so many of those tall white blond guys tend to, but by the end of the episode I was turned off – flexing the government muscle, using a police car with impunity. While Steve Rogers probably had similar powers due to his role with the government, I don't think I've ever seen him act that way. With Steve, the emphasis is on convincing people. John Walker in this episode said guts were basically his superpower. Steve Rogers, despite the Super Soldier serum, had a real superpower – the ability to inspire the hearts of others. I don't see that in John Walker yet, and despite his offer of a ride to Sam and Bucky, I think they see that gap. Both of them are adamant in resisting Walker.

The scene with Isaiah is really important in the context of this episode. Isaiah is a former Super Soldier, like Steve, but instead of getting that respect and support, Isaiah was put in jail and experimented on. This continues a theme we saw in the previous episode; I bet if it had been Steve Rogers applying for a loan, nobody would question who he was or require anything other than his presence to close the deal. Poor Sam doesn't even get recognized easily. In this episode, a local kid calls him Black Falcon. For Sam, heroism is complicated by racism.

In so many ways Sam is much more like Steve Rogers than Walker. Last episode we saw Steve's persistence in Sam's continuing to text Bucky without a response. In this episode you can see bits and pieces of Steve in Sam – the way Sam just seems to appear next to Bucky, the way Sam prioritizes saving his team over pursuing the baddies or wrestling with John Walker, the silence and focused preparation for his mission on the plane. You can also see that both John and Sam are trying to work out who they really are. I feel like if I went back through the Captain America movies, I would find callbacks to original scenes in the way the scenes were set up here. The showrunners and directors are doing very smart things in this series.

Bucky seems to feel his own identity development depends on Sam's. Despite going through everything he did with HYDRA and Steve, Bucky still seems to feel like a sidekick and doesn't seem to have come into his own yet. Dr. Raynor forcing Sam and Bucky to sit knee-to-balls close and stare at each other was a great way to squeeze the issues out - but also made it clear to me that there is more going on with Sam than he is admitting to himself about why he didn't take the shield. At some point I'm hoping to see more than 'I wasn't ready' and I wonder how much of it is connected to scenes like the policemen seeing a Black man in the street and needing time and reframing to see a hero. If I'm right then I wonder what Bucky is going to have to change in his thinking for this team to really gel.

Bucky's going to have to deal with issues of his own, too. After going through their existing options and even pulling out Isaiah, it looks like Sam and Bucky have no choice but to go to the enemy to find out who's making more Soldiers - so while this episode seemed more about Sam and his working out issues with the US, I have an inkling next episode will be more Bucky-focused. Looking forward to seeing Daniel Brühl reprise his role as Zemo.

Parting Thoughts

Winter Soldier watching the Captain America reveal on the floor like a kid watching Saturday morning cartoons cracked me up, but yeah, also callback to the fact that soldiers sleep on floors.

Aliens, androids, and wizards: oh my. Aliens, androids and wizards, oh my! And yes, a sorcerer is a wizard without a hat.

The Hobbit was indeed published on September 21, 1937. Only 1,500 copies were printed. If that copy is still around, it's worth about $30,000 today.

Both Sam and Bucky were in Wakanda. I'm getting the sense that Shuri, not Stark, may be providing upgrades now. Something about the look of the tech. In the comics, Sam's wings were rebuilt by the Black Panther.

Hilarious that the little redheaded freckled girl hostage turned out to be the superpowered baddie leader – loved that moment.

Can we have a moment to say goodbye to Redwing? In the comics, Falcon also develops the psychic ability to talk to birds.

I like Dr. Raynor, but I don't understand her therapy approach.

The scene with Sam and Bucky getting REALLY REALLY close to each other was kind of... *fanning self*



Quotes

Bucky: So, what, you're gonna fight Gandalf?

Sam: Is that because I'm Black and I'm the Falcon?
Kid: Well, kind of...
Sam: Does that make you Black Kid?

Overall

This was a nicely balanced episode with both plot and character development. 5 out of 5 broken Redwings :(

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love how they are doing this show.
Even though Bucky and Sam dont get on together in the conventional sense Bucky sees in Sam what Steve saw. But because he like Steve are good guys they dont see race as a factor they just see a good soldier like them..
While its easy to say Sam take the Shield Sam knows exactly what the response will be and the chaos without trying it would cause. Meeting Isaiah was also the worst thing for Sam as it reinforces some of his worst fears.
An easy way to look at it was when Sam gave up the shield none of the government people even 2nd guessed his decision. Nobody asked him why or are you sure this is what you want to do. Then they gave it to the first 'best' and 'right' candidate to represent the American people. Too others that might not seem like a big deal but as a Black man you understand all the unspoken decisions they made.
Love their Banter and the deeper look into both their psyches. I thought an amazing moment was when Bucky caught the shield on reflex and for a fleeting moment he was happy thinking he was teaming with Cap again but he quickly realised it wasn't.

Billie Doux said...

I liked this one much more than the premiere and kept laughing. Like you, Joseph, I especially liked the shrink making the two of them literally face each other and settle their differences.

I also agree that Walker, the new Captain America, doesn't seem like a bad guy, but he turned me off.

sunbunny said...

I liked this one a lot more than the premiere but I also feel like premiere was necessary to set up where we’re going. The action in this show is just perfection! Truly cinematic.

I lovvveeeee Carl Lumbly and Isaiah was a fascinating character. Thematically, it makes sense to have a Black super soldier who’s been used and abused by the system, but I’ve decided to nitpick and ask what super serum they used on Isaiah. Ross was still struggling to reproduce super serum at the outset of the MCU (hence, Bruce Banner) so what special sauce did Isaiah get? HYDRA had the technology to create more Buckys but they’re not exactly known for sharing.

Quibble aside, very good episode. We see the racism Sam faced at the bank last week again here. This time, he gets racially profiled while arguing with Bucky and the cops are totally antagonistic until they’re like oooh famous!

While I am loving the show, I’m wondering about the specifics of it all. Who is financing Bucky and Sam? Wasn’t it way too easy to get Bucky out of jail? What about the Sokovia Accords? I thought WandaVision established they’re still a thing.

I don’t like John Walker. Not a bit. I’m not sure he’s going to be a bad guy but I don’t like him. Also, not to be a massive bitch, but why didn’t they hire a good looking actor to play him? He’s just an odd looking man. When Bucky grabbed the shield I half expected him to run off with it lol

Billie Doux said...

Sunbunny, yeah, I was wondering about Walker's odd looks, too. When we first saw him, the mask made it look like his nose and chin were too big for his face.

And yay for Carl Lumbly! Forgot to mention that and should have.

Shari said...

I kinda thought John Walker's odd look was the point. He is not quite "The All American" looking guy that Steve Rogers was. That said, I don't think he's a bad guy. He's just not the right guy. I think they were hinting at that by having his girlfriend and best friend both be people of color. Regardless of the government's opinions on race, he is not a racist.

Speaking of which, they certainly aren't shying away from the racial aspects of the story. I'm so curious to see where this is going. Especially considering this is still Disney we're talking about.

Trousers said...

I also thought that Walkers look was perfect, I think they accentuated the fact that his face does not look right in Caps mask. I think the costumers did a great job, they've obviously redesigned the mask so his ears stick out a bit too much, hi chin looks too pronounced etc.

Wyatt Russell who plays him has Kurt Ruseell and Goldie Hawn as parents, so obviously has a fairly blessed gene pool, but like his Dad he's definately someone who looks better with a bit of a beard.

sunbunny said...

Rewatching the ep now and noticing that the band members and the cheerleaders who perform as John Walker's opening act are all Black except one girl (at least that's all I noticed). Can't help but think that's deliberate. Like...Black folks are expected to turn up and turn out (and fight the Winter Soldier to a draw) but aren't given any of the spotlight themselves.

In my earlier comment, I asked where Isaiah's super serum came from and I've been dwelling on it all week and what if Isaiah was experimented on before Steve? The Korean War isn't that far off from WWII and one of the side effects of the serum is aging more slowly so...I mean I guess we'll find out soon if that's the case or Marvel just made a continuity boo-boo or what. Thematically, Isaiah being Cap before Steve would make a lot of sense although it does raise the question of where he was during The First Avenger and WWII in general.