Each Friday, Darren from @darrenmoviereviews will be recapping the most recent episode(s) of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and the show’s overall connection to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe.
It’s not Darren this week, but WHO IS IT? It’s Joe from @guyatthemovies, here to take you through The Falcon and The Winter Soldier – Episode 4. After the reintroduction of Emily VanCamp’s Sharon Carter last week and the pleasure of watching Zemo feel the vibe on the dance floor, we head into Episode 4 with a little more knowledge of what is going on with the Super Soldier Serum (S3) and only three more outings to bring the story to a close. I must admit, though… I personally am feeling a bit underwhelmed.
Last week’s episode also ended with a surprise visit from an unexpected character. What’s in store for us in Episode 4? Let’s dive in.
As Darren would say, into spoiler territory we go!
We go back six years and see Ayo speaking with Bucky in Wakanda, during the time that he was being hidden there, where they had worked to remove the Winter Soldier program from him (where he was first referred to as “The White Wolf”). Flashing forward to today, Ayo is none-to-happy with Bucky helping free the man that murdered King T’Chaka (Zemo), who she was protecting. Bucky says that Zemo “is a means to an end” and Ayo gives him eight hours before they “come for him.”
Back inside, Bucky lets Sam and Zemo know that the Wakandans have arrived before reading on his smartphone (which makes me laugh) that Karli bombed the GRC supply depot and had a list of demands. Zemo goes on to explain his belief that anyone with the S3, who is enjoying the superhuman abilities, is a supremacist and can’t escape that, and that Karli will continue to escalate her violence.
One of the things I am most enjoying about this series in particular is the exploration of Black culture and experiences through the lense of Sam Wilson, details that are spliced into the overarching story with such precision and genuineness. For instance, when Sam is trying to explain something, he refers to his TT, which Bucky immediately questions. Sam responds with “fine, when my aunt…” which is a quick explanation of what that term, commonly used, means. It is brilliantly subtle yet aware writing.
Sam goes around asking about Donya Madan (the ill woman we saw Karli with last week) as they attempt to find a link to Karli. During this quick questioning, the symbol of the Flag Smashers (the red hand) is spotted. A man then explains that they are not refugees, but “internationally-displaced outsiders.” We learn that the Global Repatriation Council (GRC) had promised teachers and supplies six months ago, but nothing ever arrived. This would go to further explain the animus against the GRC. Whe Sam offers to make a call and try to help, he is told that he can’t be trusted.
Zemo, meanwhile, is singing a creepy song and enticing the local kids with candy (white van down by the river not present). He references Donya as his late friend, trying to find the location of the funeral, and a young girl whispers to him the location. Zemo then tells the kids that Sam and Bucky are not to be trusted, and that Donya is their secret. Let the double-crossing begin!
Talking about Karli, Sam tells Bucky that she is not motivated by the same things as others that they have fought, that she’s doing something in the eyes of those who were displaced after half of the population blipped back. Zemo, for his part, is making tea, as a villain does. He talks about the funeral for Donya being this weekend, but that he is keeping his leverage, and Bucky is having none of it. Sam diffuses the situation and says that he is going to make a call.
We shift to Sharon Carter, the recipient of said call. She says she’ll use her satellite access to see what she can find out (about the funeral and the camp), but then adds that The Power Broker went nuts after Nagel (“The Golden Goose,” as Sharon refers to him) was killed and that he wants the S3 back. “Madripoor is about to get real nasty,” she warns.
Meanwhile, Karli and company are at a cemetery where they push a block away and recover a case of S3. She asks her buddy if he thinks she’s making a mistake “making more of us.” He tells her a bit of a tale, then says “I never thought there could be another Captain America until i met you.” He says that people today are wanting someone who looks like them and is like them to fight for them. “The serum is how we make change,” she says.
“Karli Morgantheau is too dangerous for you guys to be pulling this sh*t,” says John Walker as he arrives on the scene in Latvia. He’s a little hot about Zemo being broken out of prison. Walker wants to apprehend Karli at Donya’s funeral while Sam wants to chat with her alone because she is vulnerable. Hoskins is the voice of reason here, saying “if he can talk her down, it might be worth a try.” An unhappy Walker acquiesces.
The little girl that Zemo got the info from earlier leads the group to the funeral. Karli is speaking about Mama Donya’s impact on her life, saving her and taking care of her when she had nobody else. Sam is looking on from above when Karli spots him. Once the room clears out, Sam heads down to chat with Karli. “It doesn’t have to be a war, Karli,” he says, to which she replies “They started a war as soon as they kicked us out of our new homes and onto the street.” Sam says he understands her, the feelings of frustration and helplessness. Walker is on the outside, meanwhile, getting antsy. He tries to head in to where Sam and Karli are, but Bucky stops him. Walker convinces Bucky that Sam is in trouble and that his blood would be on Bucky’s hand.
The conversation between Sam and Karli is actually going really well, the two of them understanding one another, Sam tells her that he agrees with her fight, just not the way she’s going about it. Walker comes in to arrest her, Karli is pissed, and she blasts out of there. Bucky goes on the S3-induced chase but loses her. Oh, and Zemo got out of the handcuffs that Walker had put him in earlier. He shows back up and shoots Karlu multiple times, finding S3 that he ultimately destroys before the Captain America shield pops him in the head, knocking him out cold. Walker finds an unbroken vial of S3 on the floor and pockets it.
Karli is pulling herself together, taking to some members of her group, when a text arrives from The Power Broker. “You play revolutionary on borrowed time, little girl. I want the serum back or… I will find you, and I will end you.” Well, that is quite problematic.
Speaking of The Power Broker, I feel like this is being teased as a big reveal, leading many fans to spiral down multiple tunnels of theory. I, for one, feel like Mutants are slowly being introduced and have said it would be cool if Magneto was the MCU’s version of The Power Broker and that is how all hell breaks loose. I want to be clear that I don’t believe that will happen, but one can dream. Other fans theorize it is actually Sharon Carter herself, disgraced and on the run for years. Who knows. Anyway, back to the action.
Karli et al decide that they need to separate Sam and the group, then kill Captain America.
Zemo is once again trying to convince Sam that Karli is a lost cause and that super soldiers cannot be allowed to exist. “Isn’t that how Gods talk?” Sam asks. Enter Bucky, who is suspicious of Walker, who he describes as crazy. Walker bursts in and says he is ordering them to turn Zemo over. Walker is really turning into a real jabroni, fyi. He is about to challenge Sam when Ayo throws a spear across the room. Oh heyyyyy, Ayo! She has a fellow Wakandan with her this time and they demand Zemo. Walker introduces himself to them, condescendingly of course, when Sam warns him to take it easy. Walker says the Dora Milaje don’t have jurisdiction and Ayo corrects him that they have jurisdiction “wherever the Dora Milaje find themselves to be.” Walker puts his hand on Ayo’s shoulder and subsequently pays the price in pain. A battle ensues between Walker/Hoskins and the Dora Milaje.
Sam, speaking to Bucky: “We should do something.”
Bucky, loudly: “Looking strong, John!”
When Hoskins is about to be speared, Sam steps in and stops her. WIth everyone distracted, Zemo slips away. A spear traps Walker’s shield. Ayo and Bucky are tangling when she disables his vibranium arm, which falls to the floor. As Ayo looks for Zemo in the bathroom, the other Wakandan pulls the spear out and kicks the shield up onto her arm. Ayo instructs her friend to leave the shield while Sam asks Bucky if he knew they could disable his arm (he didn’t). Hoskins walks over to Walker, who says “they weren’t even super soldiers.” Somebody is feeling a bit less-than. I wOnDeR iF hE wIlL tAkE tHe SeRuM?
The dynamic that is being set up here is quite interesting. Like him or not, Walker has been trying to do what he believes is right from the beginning. Each incident that we’ve seen so far only further separates him from Sam, Bucky, and the rest, isolating him and backing him into a corner. He’s about to pop off, for sure.
Hoskins and Walker are getting coffee and chatting. Walker signs an autograph for some fans, then asks Hoskins if he would take the serum given the chance. Hoskins emphatically replies, “Hells yeah.” Walker asks if he would be afraid that it would change him, leading to a really great exchange, in my opinion.
Hoskins: “Power just makes a person more of themselves, right? Karli Morgantheau… Steve Rogers.”
Walker: “And me?”
Hoskins: “You already have three Medals of Honor. You consistently make the right decisions in the heat of battle.”
Walker: “Three badges of excellence to make sure i never forget the worst day of my life. We both know that the things that we had to do in Afghanistan that we had to be awarded those medals felt a long way from being right. Being Cap is the first time i’ve had the chance to do something that actually feels right.”
Hoskins: “But God! Imagine how many lives we could have saved that day if we had that serum.”
Walker: “I know. I know.”
Will Walker share with Hoskins that he has the S3? Walker is totally going to take it, right?
We cut to Sam’s sister Sarah, receiving a call from… Karli! Sarah says she has seen her on the news, leader of the terrorists. “Is there a reason you’re calling me?” she asks. “I’m trying to figure out if i need to kill your brother,” Karli responds. Karli references Sam working for “your new Captain America.”
Sarah: “I didn’t choose him.”
Karli: “Who would you have chosen instead?”
Sarah: “My world doesn’t matter to America, so why should I care about its mascot?”
Again, the grounding of this conversation in today’s societal challenges is brilliant writing and a remarkable use of this series. We have never had a Marvel property dive into such relevant and impactful conversations the way they have here, granted the level of depth is varying.
Sarah: “Karli, if you believe one thing, believe this. My brother is not working for that man.”
Karli asks Sarah to send along the coordinates of where she wants to meet Sam along, saying that Sarah being involved will show that Karli is serious and that her trust should not be betrayed again. Karli has Sarah’s number, literally and figuratively, referencing her kids.
Sarah calls Sam, who tells Sarah to pack a bag and go into hiding. Sam, in his Falcon gear, goes to meet Karli with Sam in tow. Sam is pissed about Karli calling his sister, but Karli lets him know that she would never hurt her. Karli says that she was going to ask Sam to join her “or do the world a favor and let” her go. Cut to Sharon who is casually sitting at a bar on a giant iPad of sorts, following a tracker of Walker via satellite. She tells Sam that it “looks like he found them, or he found them.” Bucky gets ready to go, Karli attacks, Sam flies off. Who “them” is isn’t totally clear.
Walker and Hoskins are stealthily entering a building, guns drawn. Hoskins goes ahead, shots are heard, and Walker goes to investigate. They’re in a dilapidated hospital of sorts and Hoskins has been taken by the Flag Smashers. Walker encounters one of them who disappears just as quickly as he attacked. They’re outmatching Walker, furthering his inferiority complex.Sam arrives on the scene and sees Walker BEND A PIPE while battling a Flag Smasher. Sam, looking stunned, asks, “What did you do?” TOOK THE S3, DUH!
Hoskins is all tied up and working on cutting himself out when Bucky arrives downstairs, quickly intercepted by a Flag Smasher. Bucky makes short work of the guy. Meanwhile, Sam and Walker are upstairs battling two Flag Smashers as Hoskins breaks free. He wipes his nose, blinks, and suddenly his eye is distorted with an orange hew. Bucky joins in the fight upstairs and Karli soon is on the scene. She runs to stab Walker, but is intercepted by Hoskins, who ends up getting thrown into a stone column and looks very much dead. Walker is beside himself. Karli runs off and Walker blasts through a window after her. He chases down Karli’s buddy and beats him to death with the shield as onlookers record the scene on their phones. Bucky and Sam arrive and look on in shock. Karli is in the crowd, watching stunned. Walker looks around slowly at the crowd, the shield covered in blood.
Whoa. What an ending! Episode 4 saw the transformation of the new Captain America into a stone-cold killer and the antithesis of what Steve Rogers stood for. The action was crisp and entertaining and there was a ton of story development packed into the 46 minutes (not counting the credits). I’m excited to see where this goes, but still can’t help feeling like the stakes aren’t that huge? Sure, Karli is in some serious trouble with The Power Broker wanting the S3, which has been destroyed, and Walker after her for seemingly killing Hoskins. But what is Karli’s endgame? What is she building up to/seeking to accomplish? It’s not totally clear to me.
Speaking of, did anybody else catch the eye thing I referenced with Hoskins aka Battlestar? I’m not convinced he is dead. I could see him popping up and being ashamed at what Walker has become, creating even more conflict.
One area that I am not completely sold on is the inclusion of the Wakandans. It seems like a bit of an afterthought that has not been fully fleshed out. Hopefully that changes in the last two episodes.
So here we are, a solid episode that keeps me intrigued for what is to come. To recap where we are and some outstanding questions:
- The Power Broker is out there, but who is he?
- Zemo escaped and the Wakandans are hot on his trail.
- The Super-Soldier Serum has seemingly all been destroyed, with the exception of a vial that Walker found.
- Did Walker take the S3? Sure looks like it.
- What is Sharon Carter up to? She was sidelined much of this episode.
- Will we see Isaiah Bradley pop back up?
- Couldn’t other Avengers help squash this terrorist movement, not just Sam and Bucky?
I still have some gripes, but i’m interested to see where this all goes after arguably the best episode thus far. Thanks for hanging with me this week and check back next week when Darren returns to take us through to the end!
Follow Joe on Instagram at @guyatthemovies