The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: The World is Watching

“Blood isn’t always the solution.”

There were dueling themes here and at the heart of the episode we have a singular question; “Would you take the serum?”

Each character had to answer that question, from Zemo outright destroying the vials, to Sam’s certainty that he would never take it, to Battlestar saying he would in a second just for a chance to have the power to help people. But it was of course Walker’s choice that ultimately proved to be the whole point of this episode.

While that question was fundamentally tied to the plot, and the ultimate conclusion, the point was more of an exploration of what it means to be a hero. Karli isn’t trying to be a hero, but she isn’t truly a villain yet. While her motivations are just, her methods are more than questionable. She has proven to be violent, perhaps more so now that she has taken the serum. The flag smashers are almost sympathetic, if weren’t for that whole killing people business.

Now Sam is an actual hero, and is perhaps as good a person as Steve Rogers. He is actively trying to be the one who solves the problem in the best way, in the most non-violent way, and it almost worked. I mean the factors working against him here are pretty strong, with Walker needing to prove himself and Zemo desperately trying to rid the world of the serum and any active super soldier. Which makes me worried he will eventually turn his attention towards Bucky.

Speaking of Bucky, I have to admit I wasn’t super fond of the character up till now. He was fine, but kind of mostly just a foil for Steve. Now that he is basically on his own and we’re getting a chance to explore his demons, well, there is a lot more to like than I expected. It isn’t that he is playing the character any differently, and we don’t even know that much more about him. It is perhaps that just spending time with him outside his relationship with Steve Rogers has brought out who the character truly is.

Bucky’s whole purpose in this episode was temperance, and being an example of someone using the power of a super soldier. While Steve is the ultimate example of how that power can be utilized for good, Bucky has been used for nearly a century as a living weapon. Now that he has autonomy, he is struggling with how to use his power and so far he is doing a good job with it. He also had the best moment in the episode, during that flashback when he was able to hold onto himself when the code words were being spoken.


Which brings me to Walker, and what happens when someone who shouldn’t get power is given too much. He was borderline before, being a little too eager and perhaps a bit too aggressive. But the combination of the serum and the loss of Battlestar just pushed him over the edge. His anger got the best of him, and he used his new power to brutally murder one of the Flagsmashers in front of a large crowd. That final shot of him with the bloody shield was brilliant as a symbol of what he has become, and what he has done to the mantle of Captain America.

Bits:

Zemo is slowly becoming one of my favorite MCU villains.

What the hell was going on in the background with Sharon? She seems to be rather important in Madripoor.

You can see what kind of monster Zemo is. He will use anyone to get to his goals and yet he wouldn’t intentionally hurt an innocent.

Karli using Sam’s sister was not good, and speaks to how close she is to going full villain.

Ayo from the Dora Milaje played a key role in Bucky’s rehabilitation. She was also part of one of the best hand to hand combat scenes in the series, showing us why the Dora Milaje are so dangerous.

Quotes:

Sam: “It's not a better place if you're killing people. It's just different.”
Karli: “You're either brilliant or just hopelessly optimistic.”
Sam: “Well, can't I be a little bit of both?”

Zemo: “Sam, you can't hold out hope for Karli. No matter what you saw in her, she's gone. And we cannot allow that she and her acolytes become yet another faction of gods amongst real people. Super Soldiers cannot be allowed to exist.”
Sam: “Isn't that how gods talk?”

Bucky: “Something's not right about Walker.”
Sam: “You don't say.”
Bucky: “Well, I know a crazy when I see one. Because I am crazy.”
Sam: “Can't argue with that.”

This was an interesting and thought provoking episode that will have consequences that should ripple out through the rest of Phase 4 of the MCU.

3.5 out of 4 Bottles of Super Soldier Serum

Samantha M. Quinn spends most of her time in front of a computer typing away at one thing or another; when she has free time, she enjoys pretty much anything science fiction or fantasy-related.

9 comments:

Billie Doux said...

I'm really starting to like the buddy movie vibe between Sam and Bucky. And I'm also wondering if Walker is quote unquote evil. Would Walker have lost it if he hadn't just taken the serum? It's an interesting question.

Falcon and WandaVision are starting to remind me of Diana Gabaldon's short stories and novellas centering on Outlander's supporting characters.

Terrific review, Samantha.

Mara Fabella said...

I was hoping that Bucky would be a bit more proactive in his stance toward the Flag Smashers. I thought maybe he'd be the one to be a little sympathetic, considering he's struggling with the idea of whether he as a Super Soldier really can be a good person or not. That being said, his moment at the start of the episode broke my heart. It's not often we see these strong tough guy characters break down in that way, and it was both touching and sad seeing it happen to him. So glad Sebastian Stan is getting the chance to flex more of his acting chops beyond Bucky's stoic personality in the films. If you've seen even a bit of "I, Tonya," you'd know he's so talented it's crazy.

I also loved the scene between Sam and Karli. I'm glad we're finally seeing more of the therapist side of Sam. I love that he approached it the way Steve Rogers would have done, but also in a way that was totally unique to him.

The character work they're doing with Walker is phenomenal and some of the best we've seen in the whole MCU. I think he may even be one of my favorite parts of the series so far. Cannot wait to see where they take him these last two episodes.

Anonymous said...

For anyone else who watches The Boys, Walker was really channeling Homelander in that last scene. It was chilling.

Anonymous said...

Walker in this episode was so predictable. But that actually made him more sympathetic to me. I realized very early where the episode was going and as each inevitable beat hit and each L Walker has had to absorb since the opening episode on top of this one, combined with his own issues and the outside pressure of being Cap. Just watching a good soldier almost de evolve and break into pieces as the world watches was heartbreaking and the feeling of dread that led up to that scene.

Really disappointed that Karli and Sams talk got cut short. Speaking of Sam he was his most heroic in this episode and you saw the reasons why Steve entrusted him with the Shield. Also the small things like not rising to Walkers attempt to fight him and even trying to tell him about the peril he was in running his mouth to the Dora Milaje. Who were amazing.
Ayo's arm dismantling move on Bucky is one of my fav MCU moments period.
The surprise and hurt on Buckys face sold it. Also the other Dora who whupped Walkers ass than took the Shield flexxed with it shamelessly and than gave it back with the full knowledge they could have taken it.

JBA said...

I'm finding Walker fascinating, as far as what direction they are going, but I'm informed by my knowledge of the comics. In the comics, John Walker is not a "bad" guy, in that he truly wants to do what is right, and I get a seriously similar vibe with him in the show. The problem isn't that he's evil, but that he wants to be as good as Steve Rogers, but where Steve already had those qualities that would make him such an excellent Captain America, John Walker is a normal human being, with normal human being problems. Remember, the Super Soldier Serum enhances the qualities already in a person, so good becomes great, bad becomes worse. Steve Rogers was inherently a totally good person, but most normal people aren't so clear cut good or bad. John Walker has good in him, but his bad qualities are being brought out by the serum, at least in a more visible way than whatever good qualities he has. I just can't tell whether the show wants to go all in with him, to create a real hero who has some human problems, or if they're just going the easy route, by turning him into a villain.

Baz said...

I can't see Walker as even remotely evil here, he might be the villain, but even then he's a victim of circumstance more so than anything. Just a normal person put in extraordinary circumstances. You can't follow up Steve Rodgers with a normal guy and expect him to not buckle under the pressure.

He's an interesting character, certainly more interesting than 90% of the movie MCU villains anyway.

sunbunny said...

I was so sure Walker was already a super soldier. Ah well. Personally, I have very little sympathy towards Walker whose self pity at losing a fight to the Dora Milaje was actually annoying. They’re an elite team of bodyguards why did he think he would be a match for a group of them? It almost came across (and maybe I’m reaching) as misogynistic. Like oh if girls can beat me up what’s the point I’ll just inject myself with drugs.

The decapitation or near decapitation was GRISLY and bleak. Coupled with the fact that he was the “nice” Flagsmasher is no bueno. Will the shield ever be the same? Its symbolic power has to be diluted after that, surely?

RIP Battlestar. You had very little to do but seemed like a decent guy.

I still don’t think Sharon is the Power Broker.

Great review Samantha?

sunbunny said...

I don’t know why there is a question mark at the end of that lmao. This is what I get when I leave comments with my phone.

RandallJosephSmith said...

What rattled Walker is that he registered off the charts in abilities for a normal human. He knows he wasn’t a super soldier so he could accept losing to the flag smashers (or at least deal with it better). But then he lost to people who, while elite, are not super soldiers, hence his line “they weren’t even super soldiers”. If it were mysoginistic then he would have reacted more badly to losing to Karli in episode 2.