Darren from @darrenmoviereviews brings us his recap of the finale of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and the show’s overall connection to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. Give him a follow and be sure to catch him in June when he returns to cover Loki!
It’s time for the world to meet the new Captain America on the finale of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier as Sam and Bucky face off against Karli and the Flag Smashers.
After six weeks, the latest Marvel series has concluded. From the beginning of the series, we have had stellar action sequences, but this episode is very much the action packed finale that we have come to know from a Marvel film. It’s a thrilling episode that is heavy on action and quickly ties off each character’s individual story in the final ten minutes. While I wish there were an extra five or ten minutes at the end to better flush out the character endings, I was very satisfied with not only this episode, but the series as a whole. We got some incredible conversations about race and what it means to be a hero each episode that I never expected to see in a Marvel show. Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan were phenomenal from start to finish in this series, each of them giving excellent performances. Then there was Wyatt Russel as John Walker, who may be the most hated character in the MCU currently, but he was great. Do not hate on Russel for the character he played, because he did such a terrific job in the tricky role he had to play. I was shocked at the redemption the writers gave his character in the final episode, but do not worry MCU fans, this will not be the last we see of Walker in the MCU. From the second this series was announced, it was my most anticipated Disney+ Marvel series, and for me personally, it did not disappoint at all.
And into spoiler territory we go. If you have not seen the finale of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, stop reading now. If you have, keep on reading to find out what we learnt in the final episode…
The episode opens on Karli in New York City. The GRC building is under lockdown, and Karli sees Sam fly through the night sky, and decides it’s time to begin their attack. The Flag Smashers begin by releasing a gas in the meeting chambers, forcing the occupants to begin evacuating the building.
Outside the GRC building, Bucky has arrived. We see Sam’s silhouette fly by, but we don’t get a glimpse of what he is wearing…yet. Sam tells Bucky over comms that he has called in backup, and we see Sharon remove a mask. Yes, Sharon has returned to the United States to help Sam and Bucky stop the Flag Smashers.
As the building’s occupants are evacuating the meeting room, the Flag Smashers try to prevent them from escaping the building. However, Sam flies through the building’s windows, donning his new Captain America outfit courtesy of the Wakandans. It’s a great moment that for sure would have driven a Marvel crowd wild if there were a film being released on the big screen, but instead fans will cheer from the comfort of their own home for Sam’s big moment. Sam quickly takes out the Flag Smashers present and gets the occupants evacuating the building, but Batroc shows up. And Batroc is here for revenge, ready to kill Sam while preventing the occupants from evacuating the building. Let the fight begin…
While Sam is fighting Batroc at the top of the building, Bucky and Sharon enter the building’s lobby to help the occupants evacuate. However, Karli phones one of her followers in the building and has them pass the phone to Bucky. Karli begins by asking Bucky if he is tired of fighting for the wrong side, to which Bucky responds saying he’s done this before and knows how it ends. Karli tells him she does not care if she does not survive, because she is fighting for something bigger than herself. Bucky notes that he has fought for something bigger than himself twice, and failed both times. Speaking from experience and in an attempt to convince Karli to call off the attack, Bucky tells her that her cause won’t allow her to escape the nightmares that will haunt her for all the death she has caused. However, Karli won’t stop and hangs up on Bucky.
The main members of the GRC are being escorted out through the parkade of the building and the roof. In the parkade, they are being loaded onto two armoured vehicles, while the ones going to the roof are being taken away by helicopter. However, the Flag Smashers have anticipated this and have their men ready. Their agent loading the GRC members into the armoured vehicles is securing them with a special lock from the outside, while the Flag Smashers have their own man piloting the helicopter on the roof. Sharon and Bucky have made their way down to the parkade and see this happening. Bucky follows the armoured vehicles on a motorbike, while Sharon takes out the Flag Smasher who was locking the GRC members in the armoured vehicles.
Upstairs, Sam continues his fight against Batroc. But with the helicopter on the roof taking off, Sam flies out the window and heads off after the helicopter to save the GRC members who are unknowingly in the Flag Smashers control. Using Red Wing, Sam scans the GRC passengers in the helicopter and discovers that one of them has flight experience, which allows Sam to create a rescue plan. While chasing after the GRC helicopter, Sam saves the pilots of a NYPD helicopter that comes into contact with the GRC helicopter. After doing so, Sam contacts the GRC member with flight experience, instructing her to be ready to take control of the helicopter. Sam then flies directly at the helicopter, removing the pilots, allowing the GRC member to take control of the helicopter and flies it to safety.
On the ground, Karli is seeing her plan is not going to go as planned with Sam, Bucky and Sharon’s interference. She decides that the GRC members that are being evacuated in the armoured vehicles need to be killed to make the Flag Smasher’s message heard. While her followers are uncertain at first, they eventually agree. They ambush the armoured vehicles and take out the drivers. As they are readying to drive away, Bucky appears and Karli instructs her followers to set one of the vehicles on fire to distract Bucky to allow them to drive away with the other armoured vehicle.
While Bucky is distracted trying to save the GRC members in the burning vehicle, John Walker arrives on the scene and confronts Karli. Karli apologizes to Walker for Lemar’s death, saying that his death was not intended as it served no purpose for the Flag Smasher’s cause. However, Walker is full of rage and attacks Karli, intent on killing her. While the fight is quick, Walker is about to be defeated by Karli, but Bucky intervenes and saves an unconscious Walker. Walker wakes up and takes on Karli again, but Karli wins and escapes in the remaining armoured vehicle. She drives the vehicle into a construction pit and jumps out at the last second, leaving the vehicle balancing on the building frame, ready to plummet at any second into the pit.
Bucky is in the construction pit, looking up at the looking up at the armoured vehicle, which could fall at any second. Walker is on the building frame, trying to pull the vehicle to safety, but the Flag Smashers attack him. As they attack Walker, the armoured vehicle falls off the building frame, but Sam flies in and catches it, saving the GRC members. The public bystanders go wild, with one claiming it’s the Black Falcon who has saved the day, but he is quickly corrected by another saying that it’s Captain America who rescued the vehicle.
Sam flies down into the pit to meet Bucky and Walker. Karli is surprised that of all people that Sam has “bought into that bullshit”, referring to his new Captain America costume. Sam tells Karli that he is “trying something different,” and that she should too. However, Karli will not be captured as Batroc throws a smoke canister into the pit, giving Karli and the Flag Smashers the cover they need to escape into the underground part of the construction site.
Sam, Bucky and Walker follow Karli into the construction site, but they split up to capture both Karli and her followers who have separated inside the building. Karli runs into Sharon in the building. However, Karli and Sharon know each other. Sharon pulls her gun on Karli, to which Karli says she’s disappointed in Sharon. Sharon, smugly responds by saying I could say the same thing about you and lowers her gun. Sharon expresses her disappointment in Karli, after taking her under her care when Karli first arrived in Madripoor, giving her an opportunity, only to be betrayed by Karli. Karli tells Sharon that she had no interest in helping Sharon control the world that betrayed Sharon, but instead wanted to change the world. Sharon tells Karli to come back and work for her and that all will be forgiven, however Karli no longer wishes to be Sharon’s hired muscle. Then Karli takes a shot at Sharon, by saying that she only wants Karli back to replace the super serum she has last, and how sad it is for the Power Broker to be powerless.
Yes, as many fans have long suspected, Sharon is in fact the mysterious Power Broker. Significantly deviating from the character’s identity in the comics, Sharon is the mysterious villain of the show that we have only heard mention of but had not met until now. While it’s not incredibly shocking as we knew Sharon was up to no good setting Batroc up with the Flag Smashers, it’s an interesting development in Sharon’s story which will have ramifications for the MCU going forward.
Before Sharon and Karli can continue their conversation, Batroc arrives. After overhearing that Sharon is the Power Broker, Batroc demands four times the pay for the job in return for not revealing Sharon’s true identity to the world. Shots are fired, which are heard by Sam elsewhere in the building, which draws him into the conflict.
Elsewhere, the remaining Flag Smashers in the building are responding to a text message they received through their secret network, providing them an escape However, it’s a trap set by Bucky and Walker, using the phone Bucky was given earlier in the episode to talk with Karli. The police quickly swarm and arrest the Flag Smashers.
When Sam arrives, he finds Batroc dead on the ground and Sharon with a bullet in the stomach. Sam faces off against Karli, however he remains defensive in the fight. Karli screams at Sam to fight back, but he refuses to do so, which causes her to pull her gun on Sam. However, Sharon shoots and kills Karli, Sam catches Karli in her arms and holds her as she dies. With her last breath, Karli apologizes to Sam. Sam then flies Karli’s body to the paramedics outside.
With the Flag Smashers all captured, the GRC Members rush to Sam to thank him for saving them and stopping Karli. However, Sam confronts them on the events that led to this conflict. He calls them out for labelling Karli and her followers as terrorists, when in fact they are merely people displaced by the GRC’s actions. He says that by labelling them as terrorists, the GRC is steering the conversation away from why the Flag Smashers formed and rebelled against the GRC, which is a far more important issue. Sam points out that the Flag Smashers share a common struggle with the GRC, as they both know how it feels to be helpless. However, Sam takes it one step further and compares the GRC to Thanos wiping out half of Earth’s population from existence. The senator tells Bucky he just does not understand what the GRC is doing, but Bucky shuts him down quickly. He is a black Captain America, so what does he not understand. He knows that he will have millions of people hating him for picking up the shield and will be judged every single time he does, powerless to change it. But he will keep fighting, without any super serum, blond hair or blue eyes, only with his belief that they as a society can do better. Sam says the GRC has all the power, but asks who is in the room with them while they are making decisions: they people they are impacting, or more privileged people like themselves? Sam notes how Karli died trying to stop them, but not a single GRC member has stopped to ask why Karli would do this. Calling them out, Sam says they have to do better, or the next Karli will rise up against them.
It’s a moving and personal moment for Sam, encompassing the political themes that have been at play throughout the season. However, it’s in this moment that you see Sam display all of Steve’s qualities as a charismatic and pragmatic leader, looking out for the small guy and questioning the government’s power when they are not using it for the people’s benefit. If anything, this scene confirms what we as viewers knew all along: that Steve’s legacy is in the right hands with Sam taking up the mantle of Captain America.
After his discussion with the GRC, Sam and Bucky meet up. Bucky claims that he missed all of Sam’s speech as he was texting, though we as viewers saw Bucky watching, very proud of what Sam was saying. Sharon joins them, apologizes on how things ended but says that Sam looks great in the Captain America suit. Bucky thanks her for her help, and Sam promises Sharon that he has not forgotten about that pardon.
Elsewhere, the remaining Flag Smashers are being loaded into an armoured vehicle to be transported to The Raft, where they will be detained. However, the guard loading them into the vehicle places an explosive onto the vehicle. As the armoured vehicle drives away, it explodes, killing the Flag Smashers inside. We then cut to the Raft, with Zemo listening to a news report about the death of the Flag Smashers, giving him some solace that there are less super soldiers in the world.
And then Val makes her return. She is with Walker and his wife. She reminds Walker to check his phone when she calls, and says that Zemo must have got the last laugh with the death of the Flag Smashers. She further goes on to say that their death will prevent a government coverup and a lot of paperwork, hiding the fact that they had taken the super serum. Walker walks out in a new uniform: his US Agent outfit. Val says that this looks more like it, and promises things are about to get weird. Before leaving, she tells Walker and his wife that the world does not need Captain America right now, but instead they need US Agent.
Finally dealing with the ghosts of his past, Bucky visits his elderly friend and tells him that he murdered his son. It’s an emotional moment for both Bucky and his friend, and when his friend asks why Bucky killed his son, to which Bucky responds he didn’t have a choice. We then see a present that Bucky has sent Doctor Raynor. It’s his notebook with all of the names crossed off on his list, telling her that Bucky has made amends for his past, thanking her for her help in this personal journey for him.
Before heading back to Louisiana, Sam pays one last visit to Isaiah. Isaiah tells Sam that he saw him on the television and what he did as Captain America. He said the news said that the GRC is standing down from their plans, so therefore Sam must have done something right. He then tells Sam that Sam is something special. Sam is grateful for this compliment, but tells Isaiah that he is no Malcolm X or Martin Luthur King Jr. However, Sam tells Isaiah that he knows what he has to do, that he knows it won’t be easy being a black Captain America, but that he will take on the fight regardless. But Sam wants to show Isaiah something. He takes Isaiah and his grandson to the Smithsonian museum to the exhibit on Captain America. However, Sam has got the museum to add a part on Isaiah Bradley and his history that the world needs to know. Sam promises Isaiah that the country will never forget what Isaiah did for it. Isaiah is deeply moved by this, hugs Sam and thanks him for this.
Back in Louisiana, Sam and Sarah are having a barbecue party to celebrate Sam and the completion of the boat. Bucky stops by, and it’s great to see our heroes have this moment of celebration to end the season. The screen cuts to black, revealing the name of the series: Captain America and the Winter Soldier.
But this is Marvel, so stick through the credits as we have one post credit scene. The scene sees Sharon in front of a government committee, getting her pardon and welcoming her back to the United States. Sharon is given a role in her old division. However, after the hearing Sharon makes a phone call to an undisclosed individual. While Sharon tells this person that they have no more serum to sell, it’s time to start lining up buyers because Sharon now has access to government secrets, prototype weapons and other classified particulars that their buyers will want.
After six weeks, Marvel’s second series has come to an end. While this one has potential for a second season, it has done some major development for the MCU. The United States government now has a spy on the inside with Sharon Carter, who will for sure cause some major trouble for the MCU. While we do not know who Sharon is working for, it could be Val. However, I think there is someone else in the shadows, because if it was Val, I assumed the writers would have revealed this because they had Julia Louis-Dreyfus in the episode as shooting one quick scene would have been easy to do. So stay tuned to find out who Sharon is working with.
Most importantly, we have a new Captain America. Sam has taken up the mantle, and with the announcement of a fourth Captain America film in the works from the writers of the show, it looks like we will see more of Sam as Captain America soon. I’m sure Bucky will be back for the film, and hopefully we will see Torres become the next Falcon in that film as well. I never imagined we would see Torres become Falcon in this episode, however I would have liked to see a little bit more of Torres in the episode to tease his continued involvement in the MCU.
Finally, Val is creating a team that includes US Agent. It looks like the Thunderbolts are going to make their debut in the MCU soon.
To many MCU fans disappointment, after once again teasing the arrival of the X-Men with the setting of Madripoor in the series, we got not mutants making their MCU debut. We all know that Feige is working on their debut, and I’m sure we will have a few more teases in upcoming MCU entries before the X-Men make the big debut. But rest assured, the X-Men are coming.
Thank you for checking in the past six weeks for my recaps, and thanks once again to Joe for covering the show’s fourth episode. We are heading into a break in the MCU, with the next entry beginning on June 11 when Loki premiers on Disney+. So enjoy the break in Marvel content over the next month, and don’t forget to check back in for June when I will return to cover Loki every week.