The Falcon and the Winter Soldier left off with quite the cliffhanger, showing Sam and Bucky on their way to reunite with Zemo. This week picks up where last week left off and it offers one of the most interesting episodes of the series thus far.
Zemo’s re-introduction allows for some humorous scenes between him, Sam, and Bucky, showing that Daniel Brühl has some great comedic timing of his own. Zemo is a bit different than how we’ve seen him before, bitter but the show is a bit more lighthearted in its presentation. MCU Zemo is an entirely different beast than comic Zemo, but the show gives nods to his comic roots with a mention of how he’s a “Baron” and the introduction of the purple mask at last.
Sharon Carter also makes her big debut this episode, giving fans of the comics a much more familiar take on the character. Mark Waid’s work to reintroduce the character after her “death” seems to be the blueprint here, as Sharon is much more jaded and bitter towards the entire concept of superheroics. Of course, a major part of Waid’s Sharon is that although she’s hardened herself, she does believe in the cause — and certain heroes like Captain America — deep down.
She gets some great action sequences and it’s great to see the MCU finally utilize Emily Van Camp more. If this is really the route they’re exploring with her, seeing more Sharon is an extremely exciting prospect for future episodes.
The show continues to humanize the Flag Smashers, offering some great scenes with Karli and some of the other characters. It’s an interesting, but much-welcomed angle for the show. While the Flag Smashers continue to get a more sympathetic light, John Walker begins to slip into that darkness he’s so famous for having in the comics. Wyatt Russell plays these scenes great — he’s really doing a fantastic job of playing someone we’re supposed to hate, which is never easy for actors to do.
Zemo, Sharon, Sam, and Bucky are an unexpectedly enjoyable quartet, with their interactions being both humorous and action-packed. There’s some great character work for Bucky in this episode as well as he grapples with the person he used to be vs the person he is today — with Zemo sort of acting like a devil on his shoulder, someone who wants him to fail while Sam is the angel figure.
The appearance of Madripoor is also an extremely exciting addition to the MCU, if only for its importance in many comics — most notably of the X-Men variety. While it’s unlikely Madripoor’s existence will lead to any mutant cameos, its appearance is a neat little Easter Egg of sorts.
It’s clear that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is about Sam finding out what the shield means to him and discovering the kind of Captain America he will be. Sharon’s story is another major way the show explores how superheroes have ended up hurting innocent people, something Sam wants no part in if he is to become the next superstar hero.
There’s a great scene on the plane which is very Brubaker-esque, in which Bucky declares that if Sam won’t take the shield, he’ll take it back himself just to prevent someone unworthy like Walker from having it. It’s clear Bucky also believes Sam is the right choice for the role, but until he can accept that, he simply can’t stand to watch Walker taint the name of Captain America.
The music choices in this episode are interesting but in a good way. From Edith Piaf’s “Le Petit Homme” to Mel Tormé’s “Comin’ Home Baby,” the choices for the soundtrack are becoming much more unique — and fitting for the scenes they’re in.
The ending sequence includes a surprise cameo from the Wakandan warrior Ayo and a throwback to the “move your seat up” line, which Sebastian Stan joked started their show in the first place. As far as surprise endings go, this one is one of the best of the Disney+ show lineups, making The Falcon and the Winter Soldier feel truly expansive in its reach in regards to the Marvel Universe as a whole.
All in all, this episode was fun, thrilling, and sets up a nice cliffhanger for next week.
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