Let’s Talk about The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 1-6
Only six weeks ago, Marvel started a story regarding the fate of the Shield and the future of Captain America.
Since then, Sam Wilson has ceded the title, the American government has hand-picked precisely the wrong person for the gig, and terrorists have risen.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier are juggling many balls in the air as the season comes to a potentially explosive finish.
Let’s talk about the season (series?) finale for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
One World, One People
At the end of episode five, Sam Wilson had symbolically dropped his Falcon persona, as he finally accepted that he must take on the mantle of Captain America.
Bucky Barnes wasn’t having it, though. He called in a favor from his Wakandan friends, and the tech witches over there hooked him up.
We learn this in the episode’s opening moments, as the Flag-Smashers try to intervene when world politicians meet to finalize new laws.
These rulings would follow the directives of the Global Repatriation Council, which is why Karli Morgenthau is hell-bent on preventing the proceedings.
Her people infiltrate and attack the gathering, dispensing a gas to force an evacuation. The Flag-Smashers want to lure the guests into a trap.
However, Wilson arrives to save the day…and he’s got a new outfit. Yes, he’s sporting the red, white, and blue, including a white mask but blue goggles.
This new Captain America look has gone over exceptionally well on social media and will almost certainly be available on t-shirts and Funko Pop!s soon.
More importantly, from a storytelling perspective, Sam proudly wields the Shield. He has officially taken over for Steve Rogers.
While the updated costume comes with Wakandan flying components that mirror his work as The Falcon, Wilson is 100 percent Captain America now!
Elsewhere at the invasion, Sharon Carter has met with Bucky and agreed to assist. They’re trying to stop the Flag-Smashers from herding the attendants.
Meanwhile, Batroc, the pesky French warrior, arrives and seeks revenge against Wilson.
Once again, Batroc cannot stop Captain America…but he survives yet again!
That French dude has fought Captain America three times across a movie and a television show, and he’s still okay. Impressive.
Zemo Was Right
Karli appeals to Bucky as a fellow “terrorist” who understands the imperfections of the world.
For his part, Bucky does the one thing Zemo told him wouldn’t work. The Winter Soldier tries to talk Karli out of her evil plan.
At this point, Karli reveals that she’s just stalling for time, which means that it’s the superhero who just committed the cardinal mistake of monologuing.
The head of the Flag-Smashers isn’t doing well, though. Karli confirms that Zemo was totally right about her decision-making.
She tells her people to murder some innocent civilians if needed to achieve their goals. She’s a zealot and a lost soul now. She must be stopped.
In fact, soon afterward, Karli realizes that Bucky has caught up with her. She asks her people to give him “someone to rescue” as a diversion.
Simultaneously, Wilson must prove his worth as Captain America, though.
An action scene requires him to chase a helicopter flown by a villain. At this point, we learn that Redwing still lives! The Wakandans rebuilt the drone!
Wilson uses it to verify that someone on the helicopter can fly it. So, he takes the pilot straight out of the moving aircraft.
The new pilot lands the helicopter safely. Sam’s crushing it on his first day at the new job!
Karli’s distraction works on Bucky, but there’s another player remaining on the board.
John Walker appears, and he’s thirsty for revenge. He yells for her…and also displays his cheap knockoff of the Shield.
Morgenthau destroys his psyche by stating that she didn’t mean to kill Battlestar, as she doesn’t “wanna hurt people that don’t matter.” Ouch!
Imagine if someone said that to you about your recently deceased best friend. You’d want to throw them a beating, too, right?
Super Soldiers Everywhere
Roughly ten super soldiers remain in play at this point in the episode. We’ve got old-school Bucky, terrorist Karli, her friends, and newbie Walker.
Feats of superhuman strength abound as people start swinging poles at one another. Bucky gets knocked down to a lower level, which proves important.
Karli tries to drop a packed van to a lower level, which would kill everyone inside and probably Bucky as well. Her parents really need to put her in time-out.
At this point, Walker’s heroism gene kicks in as he loses the bloodlust long enough to try to save the people in the armored vehicle.
Symbolically, his bruised and battered fake Shield falls to the ground beside Bucky. However, Walker isn’t strong enough to save the day, though.
Enter the real Captain America! Uncle Sam flies in and uses the propulsion from his Wakandan suit to save the people inside the vehicle.
An onlooker calls Wilson Captain America for the first time. Wilson has become the people’s choice.
Oddly, Walker, Bucky, and Wilson work together as if they hadn’t just tried to kill one another last episode.
Critics have pointed out several plot holes in the last two episodes. I suspect that these concessions stem from the production’s pandemic-related filming woes.
The fact that this story proves the least bit cohesive is remarkable, all things considered. And there are definitely some terrific moments in the finale.
Who Is the Power Broker?
To wit, Sharon Carter gets the drop on Karli, which leads to the “shocking reveal” for the episode.
When Karli arrived in Madripoor, she started working for the Power Broker, whom she outs as Sharon Carter. You may recall that was my episode three theory.
Since then, Peggy’s niece has done some shady stuff that doesn’t seem very superhero-ish.
We will learn later whether Marvel provides a valid explanation in a future MCU story.
For the moment, Batroc shows up and points a gun at Karli. Then, he demands that the Power Broker pay him four times his quote.
Sharon Carter shoots and presumably kills Batroc. That dude could hold his own against Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson, but Sharon Carter puts a bullet in him.
For her trouble, Carter gets shot by Karli just as Wilson arrives. Uncle Sam misinterprets the scene as Karli shooting his friend and proceeds to throw down.
Actually, that’s not correct. Karli repeatedly throws punches at our hero while he refuses to fight her.
This lovely storytelling moment shows that the world has provided Karli with so much pain that when she finally meets a good person, she cannot trust him.
Once again, Zemo pegged the situation perfectly. Meanwhile, Walker and Bucky work together to call the cops on the other Super Soldiers. And then there was one.
Karli finally knocks the Shield out of Sam’s hand and tries to shoot him. A gun fires, and a shot rings out. Sharon, the Power Broker, has killed Karli.
The Flag-Smasher’s final words are, “I’m sorry.” Sam cradles her as she dies.
Sharon is in too much pain to look self-satisfied, but she’ll survive to betray on another day.
The Big Speech
Captain America flies outside, where camera crews and law enforcement officials are waiting. He’s still holding Karli’s body as he lands.
In the aftermath of the battle, the politicians thank him for his actions, but he’s not in the mood.
I won’t quote the entire text, but the 27:30 mark of episode 1-6 is when The Falcon and the Winter Soldier makes its closing argument.
Wilson argues, “These labels – terrorists, refugee, thug – they’re often used to get around the question, why?”
Sam lectures the world leaders for quite a while, passionately maintaining that the world finally has a common struggle.
Walker and Bucky watch in respect and awe as Wilson justifies Steve Rogers’ decision to become the new Captain America and wield the Shield.
The most significant moment occurs when Wilson states, “I’m a black man carrying the stars and stripes…Every time I pick this thing up, I know there are millions of people who are gonna hate me for it.”
That’s Marvel speaking directly to the audience right there. Anthony Mackie, a terrific actor, is the new Captain America, and people need to accept it.
The dialogue functions as an open call to world leaders and politicians to ask for perspectives beyond the ones of other world leaders and politicians. It’s admirable.
The series teases the next step for the surviving Super Soldier recipients. They enter a van heading to The Raft.
Just as we’re all thinking that a Raft breakout is in the offing, the van explodes. Cut to Zemo’s super-loyal butler holding the detonator.
Then, cut to Zemo sitting in a prison cell at The Raft, smiling as he hears a news update about the explosion.
Make no mistake on the point. Zemo’s the scariest dude in the MCU.
Back in the United States (I think?), the Contessa is hanging out with the Walkers. John’s got a new outfit, too. He describes it as “the same…but black!”
Comic book fans know what’s coming next. Valentina refers to him as her U.S. Agent. There we go.
In another part of the country, Bucky finally does the hard thing. He explains how Yori’s son was murdered by the Winter Soldier, “And that was me.”
Moments later, Bucky’s psychiatrist receives a gift, a book with all the names of his atonement recipients crossed out. He thanks her.
We also see Bucky’s one-time date serving a beverage to Yori, showing that the two will move on without him. Life remains lonely for the Winter Soldier.
But there’s always Sam’s sister…
Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. Sam visits Isaiah Bradley and explains his perspective on the mantle of Captain America.
Then, he takes his elder to a secret destination. It’s the museum that honors Steve Rogers, only it has a new wing and statue.
Wilson has restored Bradley to the history books as a vital member of 1950s American history. It’s a lovely touch.
Everybody in Sam’s hometown is ready to throw a party for Sam, the local man made good. He’s Captain America, and that makes everyone proud!
Bucky shows up to join the celebration…and hit on Sam’s sister some. And that’s where we think the season ends. Then, a post-credits scene arrives.
I’ve got good news and bad news here. The good news is that Sharon Carter receives redemption, an apology from the American government.
Once again, she holds the title of Agent Carter, only that’s only a half-truth.
The bad news is that she’s better described as Double Agent Carter. Moments after her hearing, the Power Broker makes a call.
She requests that an unknown associate start setting up buyers, as she’s “about to have full access to government secrets, prototype weapons, you name it.”
I sure hope that Sharon Carter is a Skrull. Otherwise, she’s kind of a jerk…and a traitorous one at that.
Is the new big bad in the MCU…Peggy Carter’s niece? Yikes!
Feature Image Rights: Art by Bella Grace. Photo: Marvel Studios