The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Ep. #4 (spoiler review)

David Eckstein-Schoemann, Reporter

Wow….this show really keeps the ball rolling with this episode. I’m not going to lie, it’s going to be tough to talk about this one without spoilers. So, if you haven’t seen it yet, go check it out. Because the events that play out here, particularly the last five minutes, will make your jaw drop.

We continue where we left off with Bucky being confronted by members of the Dora Milaje, an elite group of female warriors from Wakanda, who want to capture Zemo and take him into custody for his crimes against their nation. Bucky manages to persuade them to give him and Sam time to have Zemo track down the Flag Smashers, particularly Karli Morenthau, whom Sam thinks he can reason with. If that wasn’t difficult enough, the new Captain America, John Walker, and his partner Battlestar come onto the scene to arrest Karli and get the remaining vials of super-soldier serum. Along the way, ideals are discussed, battles are fought, and it all unfolds in a shocking climax.

This episode stands out to me for many reasons. While it’s played out as an alliance of convenience, it’s not afraid to show what drives these characters and why they disagree with one another. While it’s made obvious that they have the same goal of stopping these terrorists, it’s made complicated with how they want to use different means to stop them. Sam and Bucky understandably see a chance to reason with Karli and convince her there’s another way besides violence. Walker wants to bring her to fulfill his role as Captain America. Zemo, on the other hand, is hellbent on taking down the super soldiers and making sure there aren’t any more left. 

I especially like the scenes where it’s just two people talking about what is morally right or wrong. It might feel odd, but the way they’re played out here really gets you invested. It’s a great opportunity to explore these character’s motivations in more depth so that you can understand the choices they make and why they do them. They’re sprinkled all throughout the episode with how Sam and Zemo argue over the dangers of superpowers, or Walker and Battlestar discussing what makes a good soldier. Or most notably, Sam and Karli trying to find some middle ground only to find that it’s impossible with different beliefs and circumstances. While it is fun to watch these characters go to large locations and battle criminals, it is nice to take time and look at these people in more depth. Even the tone here is more serious compared to other Marvel properties. This makes sense as this is a story that is unfurling a lot of mature themes and ideas.

Image courtesy of the Disney Platform Distribution.

Even John Walker is given some development here. Yeah, I know fans are divided over this character. I understand the series intention, as this is all buildup for Sam to become the new Captain America. However, as the story progresses, you see Walker’s side of the story more, particularly with the weight of the mantle on his shoulders. I remember predicting something like this happening in my episode #2 review, and you see that progression here. While there are times where he can come off as standoffish or make things difficult for the mission, you start to see his insecurities come to the surface. This makes sense as he’s been given this huge responsibility, and he’s constantly being sidelined or bested by people that Steve Rogers could’ve taken in his sleep. While he  and Battlestar aren’t the easiest people to get along with, you don’t necessarily want to see anything bad happen to them. Let’s be honest, they’re just soldiers doing their job.

I’ll even say it’s cool to see the Dora Milaje here. It’s been a while since we’ve seen anything Wakanda related and their appearance here was a welcomed surprise. They cleverly work them in here, particularly in the opening flashback scene where one of them helps Bucky overcome his Hydra brainwashing. The scene was really effective, especially Sebastian Stan’s performance as you see his fear turn to relief when he finds out the brainwashing is finally gone. It immediately establishes a connection so you understand why they would show up here. It also leads to some fun action scenes, which as expected, are on point with its fast pace, great camera work, and inventive choreography. I guess I shouldn’t be shocked as this is such a big universe it makes sense why this group of warriors would be involved here. I would love to see more of them. And yes, like everyone else, I’m waiting for that Wakanda series too.

Image courtesy of Disney Platform Distribution.

The episode did an excellent job at keeping my interest, but the last five minutes got the biggest reaction out of me from this series. The final action scene involving the main characters had a lot of surprises I wasn’t expecting to see, at least not yet. Walker taking the last vial of super-soldier serum for one was really cool to see. Though it did raise some concerns as we’ve seen what happens with the super-soldier serum when it ends up in the wrong hands with characters such as Red Skull or the Abomination. We know he means to do good, but there’s no denying this brash decision feels like the start of Walker’s downfall. The battle ends with Battlestar sacrificing himself to save Walker in the fight and getting killed by Karli. Let me just say from this moment on things get real. In a universe where we’ve seen our heroes turn to dust or sacrifice themselves in a blaze of glory, this death scene felt grounded, real, almost disturbingly quiet. Even though we haven’t been with these characters for long, you feel the anger that Walker feels when he loses his best friend. With all the pressure and responsibilities weighing down on his mind, it’s clear that this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It gets especially dark when the episode ends with Walker chasing down one of the Flag Smashers, and brutally murdering him with the shield in a fit of rage as a whole group of bystanders watches him. 

This scene caught me off guard as even though there’s been a lot of violence in the movies and shows, they’re usually kept pretty tame. Which makes it all the more shocking when you see something like this happen on screen. I don’t know about you guys, but the final image of Captain America’s shield covered in blood was so jarring that I was surprised they went all the way with this. 

Image courtesy of Disney Platform Distribution.

This cliffhanger was an effective ending as a choice like this is bound to have huge ramifications for these characters in the future. There’s only two episodes left, so let’s see if this series can continue the hot streak going forward.

Rating: 5 out of 5 Sails


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