In episode 4 of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Bucky is quickly confronted with the Dora Milaje. They demand Zemo and remind Bucky of all the help they have given him. Contrary to my expectations they give Bucky some respite ensuring Zemo can help them find Karli Morgenthau. Sam, Bucky and Zemo scour a known safehouse of Karli and discover the ineptitude the various governments are showing in dealing with the aftermath of the Blip. The three of them are conflicted in how to deal with Karli with Zemo clearly keeping information back. Their plans are bust when the new Captain America John Walker shows up and attempts to detain Zemo. Sam convinces John that Karli is the real target and that they need Zemo. Previously I felt that John and Sam were working from opposite ends towards the same goal, but now I am not certain.
This episode also better established the character of Karli Morgenthau. Last week she was portrayed as a reluctant freedom fight turned terrorist until she kills a number of guards in cold blood as her Flag Smashers raid a warehouse. In this episode she seems almost desperate to keep hold of her personal ideals as a freedom fighter. Sam seems to sense this and tries to restrain her impulses when he confronts her. Despite a good talk it becomes clear to both they will never see eye-to-eye on how to deal with the world’s problems. Any attempt at rapprochement disappears when John attempts to detain Karli against the agreement he had with Sam and Wilson. In the ensuing chaos Zemo escapes and actually takes a shot at Karli but not before destroying all but one vial of the super soldier serum.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and the Karli
This presents a problem to Karli. She now has no serum to create more super soldiers. Also, the Power Broker who was mentioned in last week’s episode demands the serum’s return. Karli knows she is now fighting a war on two fronts. The Power Broker even states she is ‘playing revolutionary on borrowed time’. The identity of the Power Broker is still a mystery. It could actually be Sharon Carter, formerly known as Agent 13. Her continued exile in Madripoor is more than a little fishy. Somehow, I doubt she is working for the US government, not after taking Steve’s side in the Civil War. But with so many factions now at each other’s throats it is becoming hard to tell them apart and determine what their motives are. Anyway, that will have to wait, the second half of the episodes focuses on the downfall of John Walker.
Right from the introduction of John Walker as the new Captain America viewers knew it would end badly. Fans of the series may have sympathized with the character, the pressure of being compared to Steve Rogers must have been immense. Yet John Walker isn’t the real deal. Despite his skills it was predetermined he would fail to live up to Steve’s standards. Throughout this episode John desires to become a super soldier just like Bucky or Karli Morgenthau. When Zemo fails to destroy the last vial, he takes his chance and grabs it. However, doubts remain. The serum can affect a person psychologically. I enjoyed how John obliquely asks Lemar what his choice would be. John makes his choice when the Dora Milaje show up to detain Zemo. John’s condescending behavior and sexist arm grabbing quickly earns him a kicking. It is a fight that sends him over the edge.
The endgame for John Walker
It is a good segue into the final act of the episode. I must admit I became somewhat lost as to the story. One moment Sam and Bucky are having a conversation with Karli and the next they are fighting. While I enjoyed the character of Karli Morgenthau a lot in this episode I do not understand. Her actions make her a fledgling villain, not yet there. Zemo knows it, as do Sam and Bucky. But it is not like it is a tussle between good and evil. Karli just seems to slide to the dark side on her own. When the final fight comes, we quickly notice John Walker’s increased strength, as does Sam. John has taken the serum and it allows him to fight on equal terms with Karli’s enhanced squad. Yet, the death of Lemar sends John into a rage.
John ends up smashing in the head of a Flag Smasher in full view of the public with the bottom of the shield stained on dark drips of blood. It is hard to predict where the character of John Walker will go from here. Such a public display of violence won’t go over well with whoever is in charge (presumably still secretary Ross). John himself would know he has failed. The death of Lemar will also be a reason to quit. If it comes to it, John will have to be hunted down. The promo of the next episode does not give much information on what will happen. Sam and Bucky do manage to get the shield back. I am also glad to see the series returning to the US. Hopefully that means we will see characters return from the first episode such as Leah.
The endgame for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
With two more episode to go in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier I am seriously hyped. This series started off rather slow but has since become captivating by addressing issues of our own world. Check back next Friday for the penultimate episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.