Let’s Talk about The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 1-4
Hey, do you know about the Dark Avengers?
I ask for no particular reason as we talk about The Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode 1-4, coincidentally entitled The Whole World Is Watching.
The episode doesn’t quite start where the last one left off, but it does set the table for that encounter.
We begin with a flashback to Wakanda, as Ayo of the Dora Milaje sits with the White Wolf.
Bucky fears what may happen, with Ayo calling out the trigger words that summon the Winter Soldier.
The bodyguard to kings assures her new friend that she won’t allow him to harm anyone. Then, she proves to him that those words no longer hold power.
The White Wolf cries as he realizes that he’s finally free of the brainwashing technique.
All this happened six years ago, an important storytelling decision. I briefly worried that the fate of T’Challa might receive a casual drop-in mention.
Thankfully, the producers understand this series is neither the time nor the place. Marvel should save the entirety of that talk for Black Panther 2.
Returning to the “present” of 2024, Ayo cannot believe that her ally, a person she helped during a time of need, is working with Zemo.
Ayo warns Bucky that he has only eight hours to use Zemo as “a means to an end” before the Dora Milaje bring the terrorist to justice.
This moment will NOT be the last time we watch the fearsome warriors in this episode.
Sidenote: Bucky goes out of his way to mention that Shuri also assisted him with his deprogramming.
That seed may not bear fruit for years, but lines of dialogue like that tend to matter in the MCU.
The body of this episode involves Zemo, Bucky, and Sam learning about one another.
The Baron correctly believes that Karli Morgenthau is beyond reason…and he should know. They’re a lot alike, a recurring theme this week.
Meanwhile, Zemo spends time taking the measure of Sam, the optimist whom Steve Rogers believed felt worthy of the Shield.
The three men argue over who has the will to complete the mission, with Zemo having faith only in himself. What else is new?
Daniel Bruhl chews through these scenes, relishing the chance to dig deeper into Zemo’s psyche.
The actor received his 15 minutes of fame between episodes three and four, as the weird dance scene from last week went viral.
However, there’s no comic relief in The Whole World Is Watching. Zemo views the Flag-Smashers as a threat to society.
He hated super-soldiers in Captain America: Winter Soldier and nothing has changed since then.
Hidden in plain sight is the incongruity that he doesn’t mind Bucky, who is also a super-soldier.
Is that something tilting toward guilt Zemo’s experiencing?
The Baron isn’t as sunny about Karli, whom he believes is a supremacist. He believes Karli cannot be deterred.
Bucky points out that the serum never corrupted Steve Rogers, a point Zemo concedes.
Notably, he locks eyes with Sam Wilson as he states that there’s never been another Steve Rogers.
The smartest guy in the room can’t help but wonder whether that’s true.
Even a murderous terrorist like Zemo senses that Sam Wilson may prove incorruptible, too.
Speaking of Corruption…
John Walker and Lemar Hoskins don’t appear in this episode much, but they’re the vital pieces on the board this week.
The two men have deduced that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier do a better job investigating and unearthing clues.
So, the government’s chosen buddy cops show up to let Sam and Bucky know that the dude with the Shield is in charge.
Sam’s casual dismissal of this premise might be my favorite thing so far in the series. No, wait! That’s Zemo giving candy to children.
Don’t worry. There’s nothing nefarious about it. The Baron needs to know the location of the funeral that Karli will attend.
The adults won’t talk to any Avengers. They bear no love for the people who lost the Battle of Wakanda and allowed The Snap to occur.
Kids love the same candy that was Zemo’s son’s favorite. Yes, the man responsible for splitting up the Avengers received a moment here.
For just a second, he seemed sympathetic enough to make everyone forget that he killed a dude in the last episode. And what kind of monster kills someone defenseless?
Hey, look! It’s John Walker again! The current Captain America wants to attack Karli immediately to stop her movement in its tracks.
At this point, Wilson’s backstory from Captain America: The Winter Soldier comes into play.
He helped soldiers dealing with trauma in that film, remember? Conveniently, that status currently defines Karli as well.
Who Fights at a Funeral?
The Flag-Smasher agrees to talk to Sam after she spies him looking down at the funeral wake.
The younger woman recognizes that The Falcon could have interrupted the service. He showed respect for her loss instead.
Karli seems at least somewhat receptive to Sam’s argument, particularly when he mentions the Supremacist Argument.
As the woman attempts to refute that line of thinking, she says some…pretty supervillain-ish stuff. And she knows it. Sam’s reaching her.
Right on cue, Walker gets twitchy and springs into action, ending the conversation in its tracks.
The writing here is impressive, at least with the benefit of hindsight. Walker accuses Bucky of having it easy due to his super-soldier serum.
Then, Captain America asks, “Do you really want his blood on your hands?”
Since you’ve already seen the episode, you appreciate how chilling that dialogue is.
A fight breaks out as all parties appreciate that the building they’re in is a maze.
Karli catches the first bad break of the episode as she encounters Zemo. That dude doesn’t mess around.
The Baron shoots a teen girl in the belly and then recognizes what is on the ground. She has dropped her payload, the remaining super-soldier serum.
Marvel tells a tremendous story here as Zemo remains consistent to his beliefs. He crushes all the vials lying on the floor.
That dude haaaaaaaaaates super-soldiers.
Speaking of which, John Walker sucker-punches him with the Shield. With Zemo out cold, Walker notices that one vial has slid almost out of sight.
The Baron missed it, but Walker pockets the serum that we are 100 percent sure he will take sometime soon.
You’ll Get More Flies with Honey, John Walker
After the recent events, Zemo lies on a couch, nurtures a beverage, and laments his headache.
He also quizzes Sam on whether the Avenger would have taken the serum. The Falcon doesn’t hesitate in saying no.
Impressed by this, the Baron tries once again to get his optimistic friend to understand that Karli is beyond saving.
To the villain’s credit, he listens when Sam points out flaws in the argument, noting that it’s similar to “how Gods talk.”
The conversation ends when John Walker barges in – his special skill – and demands Zemo.
Notably, Sam points out that Zemo has proven useful during the chase for Karli.
Walker’s all, “Screw you! Let’s fight!” He puts down the Shield to “make it fair.” What a hero.
Right then, the Dora Milaje show up in the apartment and start throwing spears at walls…and faces.
Walker gets his ass KICKED!
First, Bucky and Sam watch, but then the White Wolf tries to convince his friend, Ayo, to talk things over.
Now, everybody’s fighting…except for Zemo. While Ayo is busy disarming Bucky – literally! – the Baron sneaks out through the sewer.
Nobody feels good about the situation, and the women leave. Meanwhile, Walker laments that he cannot even win a fight against non-super soldiers.
That dude sucks.
Blood on His Hands
You would see where this is going even if you hadn’t already watched.
First, we must set the table. Karli pulls a dirty move by bringing Sam’s sister into the fight. She calls the woman in Louisiana and threatens her kids.
To avoid that fate, Sam must show up at a meeting with Karli. He’s supposed to come alone, but Bucky’s no longer willing to risk his friend’s safety.
Walker picks another fight with the super-soldiers…and the worst thing imaginable happens.
Well, I should mention that Walker chooses the “can’t beat ‘em, might as well join ‘em” side of the super-soldier debate first.
Captain America is now juicing like he’s Barry Bonds.
When Karli tries to save her friends from his rampage, she knocks Lemar across the room into a concrete pillar. Battlestar strikes headfirst and dies.
While we’ve only seen the two men together for about 20 minutes in total, we know that they’ve been friends since they were in school together.
The two men had fought together on the day when Walker won three Medals of Honor.
The sight of his dead friend transports John Walker over to the bad place. He’s a super-soldier with blood on his hands and a thirst for revenge.
Walker jumps out of the building and starts chasing one of Karli’s allies through the streets.
Eventually, the man succumbs to Walker’s attacks and falls on the steps of a populated area.
Inconsolable and out of control, Walker uses Captain America’s Shield to murder the man in broad daylight in front of dozens of witnesses.
All these people take out their cellphones and record the footage.
Captain America has mercilessly killed a person on camera, and Steve Rogers’s Shield is caked with the blood of an innocent.
What Happens Next?
So, I’ve primarily avoided suggesting where the story will go from here.
However, I’ll add one point to the discussion here, as I feel it’s important.
Rumors have persisted for several years now that Marvel wants to operate at least three versions of the Avengers in the MCU.
If you’ve read the comics, you know about the Mighty Avengers, the Secret Avengers, the Astonishing Avengers, A-Force, and so forth.
I’ve mentioned before on MarvelBlog that the Young Avengers will form a new superhero team soon. The women of the MCU may follow suit.
The other possible group I’ve talked about exists in two forms. In Marvel Comics, the Thunderbirds function as the Suicide Squad of this realm.
They’re a combination of villains forced to work on dangerous missions and failed heroes desperately searching for redemption.
A Thunderbolts team-up has seemed likely bordering on a foregone conclusion for a while now.
As a murderer, John Walker now makes perfect sense for a role on that superhero/supervillain combo team.
You should keep an eye out for the possibility of something else, though. In the comics, the Dark Avengers debuted in a legendary arc called Dark Reign.
These stories told about how bastardized forms of the Avengers took over the roles instead.
Norman Osborne portrayed the Iron Patriot, a combination of Iron Man and Captain America.
The treacherous Moonstone played Captain Marvel, Venom became Spider-Man, and so forth.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has now positioned John Walker perfectly to turn into one of the Thunderbolts or a featured player in Dark Avengers.
In the immortal words of Monica Gellar, “It. Just. Got. Interesting!”
Feature Image Rights: Marvel Studios