The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is a series whose principal characters can never come out of the shadow of Captain America. Fans of the MCU have known this since the movie The Winter Soldier. This despite Steve considering Sam and Bucky to be his friends and equals. This series is about dealing with Steve’s legacy. For the US government Captain America and his shield are just tools in a PR war. The dark side of how his powers came to be were swept under the rug. Something Sam and Bucky are only now finding it when they are unexpectedly faced with new enhanced super soldiers. In order not to be entirely dependent on the new Captain America – John Walker (played by Wyatt Russell) they decide they need to tap into a new source, the one person known to taken on The Avengers and won.
And so in this episode they decide to spring Zemo out of jail. To be more precise, Bucky arranges the plan and only informs Sam after it has already happened. Zemo brings an odd energy to the team. His dislike for enhanced person’s is still there and is the reason why he is willing to help Sam and Bucky. But he also has a certain wit not matched by either. While hunting for the scientist who created the new serum in the city-state of Madripool Zemo is willing to kill anybody. And he does, after the information has been extracted as to the location of Karli and her Flag Smashers he promptly kills the scientist. Sam and Bucky would have the scientist arrested after extracting the information, but wouldn’t have killed him. That proves the strength of Zemo. He is willing, and able, to do get things done.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Agent 13 + Baron Zemo
And then we are introduced to Sharon Carter niece of Peggy. She has spent her time since the Civil War on the run – not being pardoned after the end of the Blip. Instead, she has made her money selling stolen art on the black market in Madripool. Like Zemo she remains well connected leading me to believe part of her existence is an act. Despite that Sam, Bucky and Zemo still need her help in getting connected with the Madripool underworld. Sam convinces her he will ensure she will be pardoned after all this is over. But Sharon and the viewer know he can never get that done. Her five years on the run has made her harder, I won’t call her an evil Peggy but it is clear she can get things done, like Zemo. I am glad Sharon is included in the series, it adds a feminine side.
Despite the quickly developing story of this series there is still much I do not understand. Perhaps that is on purpose. The Flag Smashers remain an enigma to me. They come over as being altruistic villains. They want to improve the world, help those displaced by the Blip, yet they also act as terrorists. Several conversations their leader Karli has in this episode make it clear they feel persecuted rather than driven to action. I started to sympathize with their plight and consider their use of the serum as possible a necessary evil. Yet, when they raid a supply depot at the end of the episode Karli ensures its guards are killed in a bomb blast. Her gang had already made good their escape. It is an unexpected side which makes me wonder what will happen if eventually Zemo or the US government catches up with her.
Something needs to happen
Whatever is meant to happen in this series hasn’t happened yet. While Bucky is ready to take the shield back from John Walker, Sam isn’t. This despite seeing the consequences of a black man being given the serum. To get Sam to take back the shield there needs to be a confrontation. In this episode we saw John Walker has a smug sense of superiority when he nearly beats a suspect. If elements within the US government are conspiring to take possession of the serum on whose side will Walker be? Especially if he was enhanced with the serum as well. The creative staff have carefully not over tipped their hand with Walker. While I think he will be revealed to be misguided and ‘unworthy’ of the Captain America mantle that does not make him a villain. We have three more episodes to find out who will get the shield!
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