The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has ended its first season after six episodes. For a series that started slow and merely brought together two disjoint characters, Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky (Sebastian Stan), with a common friend it has evolved. The series has tackled world topics such as economic inequity and institutional racism. I won’t discuss the plot of the episode in full, you can watch it on Disney+ yourself. This will be a discussion on the stray observations that I made of this episode and the season as a whole. I am also not claiming this episode was perfect, but it will be discussed for a long time. Despite the title of the show there is hardly a character that was forgotten, with both Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) and John Walker (Wyatt Russell) getting no small amount of screen time for their characters.
The actual terrorist attack Karli and her Flag Smashers launched against the GCR is mostly for show. To give this finale a set piece battle. It allows each of the principal one last moment to grow. Bucky decides to no longer stand on the sideline while Wilson dons a Captain America style suite decides to act the part. Meanwhile John Walker also returns, somewhat contrite of his misdeeds in episode 4 and 5. The Flag Smashers have also evolved. Karli’s accomplices are aware the eyes of the world are on them and despite no willingness to understand the need for sacrifice. For all of the talk of understanding one another the fight between Karli, her followers and Bucky, Wilson and Walker is brutal. Only slowly do the latter gain the upper hand. But the fight does not really matter, it’s what happens immediately afterwards that does.
From Falcon to Captain America
The terrorist attack by the Flag Smashers ends with Karli cornered by Sharon, who joined the party. As I surmised Sharon is the Power Broker and she blames Karli for the loss of the serum. Batroc attempts to blackmail Sharon in a Mexican standoff. But is killed instead and Sharon ends up being shot by Karli. This moment sends Karli over the edge even more. She feels betrayed by Sharon who was only out for money. In her subsequent showdown with Wilson, she nearly kills him before being shot by Sharon. For appearance’s sake it looks as though Karli dies in Wilson’s arms, even asking for his forgiveness. It is a moment that cements Wilson’s desire to justice when he sees inequity. Than a strange thing happens, Wilson flies off with Karli’s body and places her in the care of EMTs, opening the possibility she did not die.
Falcon becoming Captain America felt good. It doesn’t do justice to all of the misdeeds the US government and SHIELD has done to those who wanted to serve but were black, or other minority. After the fight against the Flag Smashers is over it is time to sum up the consequences. In a hilarious twist Wilson ends up arguing the current state of refugees with the senator in charge of the Global Repatriation Council. The embarrassment that ensues convinces the GRC to hold off the vote they had planned and actually attempt to help those displaced after the Blip. For Wilson his journey becomes full circle, he now is visibly to the whole world Captain America even if one reporter asked if the US government had made him Captain America. Meanwhile Walker is also accepted back in some capacity and becomes US Agent, though his allegiance is in doubt.
From Winter Soldier to White Wolf (or just Bucky)
Then begins a long epilogue, taking up about a third of the episode. Bucky has his confrontation with Nakajima and admits he killed his son, as seen in the first episode flashback. Later on, we see Bucky watch Nakajima and Leah have lunch, and it is likely he will no longer be part of their lives. To his psychiatrist he donates his little book, with all of the names crossed out. The remaining Flag Smashers are arrested and then blown up by Zemo’s butler. Proving that while he may be incarcerated at the Raft he will return. Wilson has a long talk with Bradley about becoming Captain America without violating his personal standards. The scene ends with Wilson showing how the government will honor Bradley. The final scene shows Wilson rejoining his sister and their family on the boat they were attempting to fix, they are joined by Bucky.
Of course, that is not the end of it. There is an end-credit scene in which Sharon gets a pardon. Sharon asks to be able to rejoin the CIA and this is granted. Immediately she phones up her accomplices and tells them she has access to top secret information. While I guessed correctly that Sharon is the Power Broker, I cannot help but feel she is a double agent, or triple agent as she now works for the CIA. Somehow, I cannot believe in a dark Sharon even if she was on the run for several years. I see the hand of Nick Fury in this action, perhaps we will see him in season 2 as well. As for a potential season 2, apart from Sharon being the villain I cannot think of many potential storylines. And yet, I absolutely want to see more.
Really looking back at The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
Looking back I am amazed how far the characters came along. Bucky started as a brooding introverted man with nightmares of his time as an unwilling assassin. And now he is mentally rehabilitated, capable of confronting his past but also new challenges. Wilson’s personal doubt as to standing in Steve Roger’s shoes have disappeared. He has become Captain America, even if there is a risk of failing because he has not used any serum. In fact the series might well be renamed to Captain America and the White Wolf, or whatever name Bucky wants.