Bucky and Sam sit in the backseat to allow some other notable characters to SHINE in episode three. What were the best moments? How does the episode grade out?
SPOILER WARNING!!! This Falcon and Winter Soldier review contains HEAVY SPOILERS AND THEORIES about the direction of the series and the next phase of the MCU. Click below for my series premiere review.
Last week, it was John Walker’s time on center stage. In fact, other than the opening moments the new Captain America has very little screen time. This week, Baron Zemo was by far the standout. Played by the great Daniel Brühl, the Captain America: Civil War vibes really stood out this week. From the score to the heavier emphasis on espionage, this felt like a direct sequel from the film. If you’ve been enjoying the nods to previous Captain America films, then you’re in luck. The tone of this episode was the closest to the chest of The Winter Soldier yet.
Daniel Brühl had very little screen time in Captain America: Civil War. He was a black ops Sokovian soldier who lost his family following the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron. However, it’s clear that Civil War was more interested with unfolding the amazing dynamic between Tony and Steve than elaborating on an interesting villain. Unlike the Civil War however, Brühl clearly had a lot more to work with here and I loved absolutely all of it. Zemo is as charming and sassy as he is nefarious. His scenes with Sam and Bucky really stood out and there was some real dynamic there. Like many of you, I can’t help but feel that Zemo is up to something during every scene which makes it all the more fun.
…Guess who’s back, back again
Sharon’s back, tell a friend…
Sam, Bucky and Zemo find themselves on the run after the death of a crime boss in Madripoor. This leads us to the other standout of episode 3, Sharon Carter. That’s right everyone, the amazing Sharon Carter is back! Unfortunately, the last 5 years haven’t exactly been great for the once potential love interest for Steve Rogers. After stealing the Captain America’s shield and Sam’s wings for Civil War, she’s wanted by the government and on the run. Sam agrees he will clear her name in exchange for her services, who points the fearsome threesome towards the direction of Doctor Wilfred Nagle, a scientist who has figured out how to create the super-soldier serum.
While Dr. Nagle’s role was mildly interesting, he did drop some interesting nuggets about the plot. It turns out that Isaiah Bradley’s blood was the catalyst for making the serum. Apparently 20 vials of the serum was created, only to be stolen by the leader of the Flag-Smashers, Karli Morgenthau. Played by Erin Kellyman, Karli had some intriguing character moments this week including her sick friend who is fighting tuberculosis. But let’s circle back to Isaiah Bradley, his role for the series so far and the brilliant Sharon Carter.
If you read my review from last week, then you know how much I enjoyed Isaiah Bradley’s character. In that review, I thought was an excellent device to further ground the series and significantly raise the stakes. Like Baron Zemo says in this week’s episode, we’re quick to ignore the flaws of many of our heroes and where they came from. Fingers crossed that Carl Lumbly gets another appearance down the road because Isaiah Bradley is an extremely interesting character.
Back to Sharon Carter, who was terrific in this episode and probably had her most screen time in any MCU medium. The sequence of her taking down the thugs outside of the lab was fantastic. I really enjoyed seeing Sharon as this lone wolf in exile since Civil War. With all the terrible people that have seemingly taken over since the blip, Sharon being an outcast and on the run makes total sense. I’m not sure how much Sharon Carter we’ll get the rest of the season, but I think it adds another interesting layer to her character. Here, her attitude has clearly changed during last 5 years and for the better.
As for the episode itself, Baron Zemo shoots the doctor, John Walker finally agrees to get his hands dirty and that leads us directly into an AMAZING cameo at the end of episode 3.
It’s hard to write about this not only because I respect Chadwick Boseman so much as an actor, but his death still hurts today as it did last August. “I’m here for Zemo,” says Florence Kasumba’s Ayo, who is part of the Wakandan royal guard. What an incredible moment for this series. With Zemo on the run, I love the fact that the death of King T’Chaka has not been forgotten. As mentioned before, this show does an incredible job of continuing to raise the stakes for our characters. Baron Zemo’s advice has clearly gotten Sam and Bucky on the right path. Adding the threat of Wakanda to the mix will no doubt make things increasingly difficult for Bucky and Sam to locate the remaining vials of the super-soldier serum.
I have to say this. What is the point of the Flag-Smashers? Is it to introduce a character that has clearly gone down the wrong path? On one end, Karli doesn’t seem to be a bad person. I think the chances are strong that she’s a misguided orphan or refugee, a running theme we have seen from The Winter Soldier and Civil War. I believe her backstory will continue to unfold during the series last 3 episodes.
But where is this ball of yarn taking us? It’s clear that all roads lead to the introduction of the Power Broker. I enjoy the concept that not all villains are black and white. Just as it was for Bucky joining the Avengers, there is a gray area for villains as well. I think it’s a great concept that would be fun in a series with 10+ episodes. However, I can’t help feel that this additional plot line is simply taking away screen time from the amazing dynamic between Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes.
With only 3 episodes remaining, I still feel that all signs point to John Walker to eventually become the true antagonist when all is said and done. My prediction remains: John Walker will eventually inject himself with the serum and things won’t go according to plan. I could be wrong, but the Flag-Smashers seem to be nothing more than filler at this point.
Final Thoughts & Grade
The stakes continue to raise as the real villain of the series has finally been revealed. Just as I said in these reviews and on our Suit Up Geeks Podcast, I never thought Baron Zemo or the Flag-Smashers was the true antagonist of this series. This week’s episode added more questions than answers. Who exactly is the Power Broker? Could it be someone we haven’t seen yet? Could it be Sharon Carter? As you can probably tell, I loved this episode. With all these amazing characters joining together (for better or worse), I can’t help but sense this series is leading to something big.
It was also fun to get our first tour of Madripoor, which was previously mentioned by Maria Hill. Madripoor has significant ties to mutants like Wolverine, Storm and Captain American. In fact, this is where the X-Mansion was located and served as a safe haven for mutants in the comics. Investigating the underbelly of Madripoor was similar to season 7, episode 5 of The Clone Wars where we see Ahsoka Tano exploring the dark underworld of Coruscant. I love the fact that we keep seeing the real life ramifications that have come from the blip with these characters.