Let’s Talk about The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 1-2
Previously on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Captain America appeared…but not that one.
Once Sam Wilson donated Cappy’s Shield to the Smithsonian, the government took it and gave it to a non-Avenger.
The new guy is John Walker, and we’ve learned much more about him this week.
Let’s talk about The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (TFAWS) episode 1-2, the one where everybody fights.
Meet John Walker
Remember the WandaVision episode that started with Monica Rambeau un-dusting in a hospital room?
That story caught viewers off-guard because it unexpectedly changed the narrative away from Wanda Maximoff.
TFAWS pulls the same trick at the start of this episode. We enter the world of John Walker at an odd time in his life.
The former football player gets caught fantasizing about his glory days when his wife, Olivia, busts him.
We can intuit that they were high school sweethearts who are still very much in love from the conversation.
Moments later, John’s best friend, Lemar, enters the room to discuss the recent changes in their lives.
Apparently, the two soldiers were embedded abroad before Walker received the title of Captain America.
Both of them understand the importance of the symbolism, a point the series drives home when we cut to a halftime performance at a football game.
Walker has returned home to his high school to perform a PR stunt as Captain America. Yes, this mirrors a plot from Captain America: The First Avenger.
The show acknowledges the jingoistic nature of the character as originally shown in that movie.
In fact, former Good Morning America host Sara Haines appears. She later left for The Talk but worked for Disney at GMA when the show was filmed.
Walker performs an interview that reveals he’s a decorated war hero who allegedly doesn’t have superpowers.
It’s an “aww shucks” interview that I missed the first time because all I kept thinking was, “Yup, that actor is unmistakably Kurt Russell’s kid.”
They look so much alike that Walt Disney, whose last words were “Kurt Russell,” would have adored the casting.
An Odd Reunion
Bucky Barnes doesn’t own much in his apartment. Still, he does possess a television, one he watches in horror during the interview.
Almost unconsciously, Barnes does the unthinkable. He flies to where Sam Wilson is, determined to convince his frenemy to take back the Shield.
Bucky lays into Sam without even acknowledging that the men haven’t spoken in ages. As a reminder, Bucky didn’t return Sam’s texts.
The Falcon acknowledges that seeing someone else carrying the Shield broke his heart. Still, he’s got a mission to complete.
Sam wants to find the Flag-Smashers and stop them from a swath of terrorist activities. Bucky volunteers to go along, against Sam’s wishes.
Of course, before that can happen, they discuss the combatants’ skills they’ll face, which leads to a hilarious point.
Sam discusses The Big Three, the enemies that Avengers always face.
Apparently, the baddies always fall into one of three categories. They are aliens, androids, and wizards. And he’s not wrong.
Bucky protests that wizards aren’t real before his counterpart provides a counterpoint that Dr. Strange is a sorcerer.
And this statement leads to the assertion that sorcerers are merely wizards without hats. It’s dialogue like this that makes us all love the MCU.
In the next scene, the two board a plane and engage in a prolonged staring contest. Then, the Falcon flies out the door.
Not to be outdone, Bucky jumps from 200 feet and then uses his cybernetic arm to somewhat break his fall.
At this point, Redwing arrives, allowing Sam to taunt that he has Bucky’s mishap saved on camera now.
Folks, in case it’s not 100 percent clear, you’re watching an action buddy cop movie, except it’s a six-part television series.
Always Be Afraid of Freckled Teenagers
Sam and Bucky end up in a scary warehouse because that’s what Avengers do. They argue over the number of henchpersons there.
The Falcon desires intel and is in no hurry to proceed while the Winter Soldier is fiending for some action.
Both heroes drop the argument and spring into action when they notice what looks like a hostage in a truck that’s about to move.
Bucky interacts with the girl first, asking whether she’s okay. Moments later, he’s flying through the air and crashing into a windShield.
The “helpless damsel” here is a freckled teenager hopped up on Super Soldier Serum…or something like it.
After she punches Bucky into next Tuesday, she proves her villainy by breaking Redwing.
Before she can hurt either of the non-superpowered Avengers, help arrives in the unlucky form of…John Walker and Lemar.
Yes, the story turns into The Other Guys for a time, as a more effective version of our heroes arrives to save the day.
Well, they try. The teen in question, Karli Morgenthau, wipes the floor with all four of them.
She beats John Walker in one punch! Some Captain America that dude is…
At least Walker and Lemar have a ride. Bucky and Sam bicker as they walk down the road before their counterparts offer them a ride.
The four men interact for a bit, a clever bit of storytelling. They get to size one another up while we learn more about each one.
Interestingly, Lemar says that his callsign is Battlestar, which busts up Bucky. However, it hints that Lemar may get some special abilities soon.
John Walker very much wants the two Avengers to team up with him. Unfortunately, he possesses a natural arrogance that gets in his way.
To Walker, a superhero team-up involves The Falcon and the Winter Soldier working for him. That’s…not going to play.
The two duos split…and not on the best of terms. Bucky haaaaaates John Walker.
In fact, after a few hours of introspection, he says, “Let’s take the Shield, Sam.”
The Falcon dissuades him from this idea, thanks to a history lesson.
He reminds Bucky that Sharon Carter became an enemy of the state the last time they did that.
Meanwhile, Rogers and Wilson lived on the run for two years. Taking the Shield is a bad idea. Bucky’s not great at plans.
Later, the duo makes a visit to Isaiah Bradley’s home.
Comic book fans mark out over this, as Bradley portrayed a version of Captain America in the comics.
We learn that Bucky lost a fight to Bradley, a Super Soldier, in 1951, which is the only reason why the older man agrees to meet.
He wants to know whether Bucky repaired the cybernetic arm.
We also learn that after Bradley served his country, the government falsely imprisoned him for 30 years.
Nobody Fights Like Friends
Bradley’s revelation underscores the way that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier isn’t running away from racial injustice.
In the comics, Bradley’s story examined the “inherent politics of wrapping a Black man in red, white, and blue” and “a larger story … a metaphor of America itself.”
That’s what the show is doing as well, only using Wilson’s character instead.
To wit, when the men exit Bradley’s home, they argue in broad daylight. Almost immediately afterward, the police arrive and start to harass Sam.
They only stop when one of them recognizes the Avenger. Otherwise, he would’ve suffered racial profiling.
Then, Bucky winds up being the one who goes to jail because he skipped a therapy appointment, which is in violation of his de facto probation agreement.
The two men fight again at the station, but they get to focus their unbridled rage on Walker first.
Captain America appears and acts like the savior. Neither Sam nor Bucky is having it.
Then, Bucky’s therapist, Dr. Raynor, appears and demands a couples session.
This entire scene primarily plays out as comedy relief, but it serves a purpose. Bucky finally acknowledges that Steve gave Sam the Shield for a reason.
Here’s the dialogue that matters most. “So maybe he (Steve Rogers) was wrong about you. And if he was wrong about you, then he was wrong about me.”
Bucky’s still grieving for his trapped-in-the-past friend, but he’s also trying to walk the path to redemption. Sam’s actions have triggered self-doubts.
The Falcon listens before intently asking a simple question. “But can you accept that I did what I thought was right?”
At this point, the two men wash their hands of one another but agree to go on another mission together. They’re not friends, though.
The Developing Story
The Flag-Smashers don’t play a significant role in this episode, but we learn what they’re doing.
Eastern European civilians believe in the cause that the terrorists are fighting for, as demonstrated in one scene.
A person sets up a hiding area for the group of Super Soldiers that includes nice accommodations and even a good internet setup.
These struggling survivors of The Snap view the Flag-Smashers as heroes in the fight against restoring the world order of five years ago.
Karli may have more to her than just a freckled face and super strength, though. She has taken stolen medicine to needy camps.
While only referenced, the Flag-Smashers’ enemy is the Global Repatriation Council (GRC), which takes care of victims of The Blip.
Apparently, charitable acts are fine for Karli and her team unless the recipients had vanished for five years.
Later, in the final moments, we focus on the two (four?) heroes again. We learn that Walker has pulled some strings.
In exchange for getting Bucky out of prison and his therapy sessions – it’s even money which one he hates worse – Walker wants the four of them to work together.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier refuse, pointing out that they’re free agents who shouldn’t work with government officials.
The two groups will work independently of one another for now, but their next encounter feels inevitable.
Desperate for new intel, Bucky and Sam turn to the most unlikely source. They’re going to visit Zemo in prison and try to ally with him.
The odds that this arrangement works without bloodshed are about, oh, negative twelve percent. And that’s a problem for Bucky, whom Zemo brainwashed.
“What’s Rule #2?”
“Don’t hurt anybody.”
Feature Image Rights: Marvel Studios